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Small Dog Syndrome – How to Stop a Small Dog’s Misbehavior

Small Dog Syndrome – How to Stop a Small Dog’s Misbehavior

Small dogs or lap dogs or comforters as they were once called have a very extensive history spanning several thousand years. Small breeds were often bred by the nobility and given as gifts to royalty. Small breeds were also believed to be good for health. Pekingese, pugs, and King Charles Spaniels are three examples.

Many dog ​​owners prefer small dogs to larger breeds for many different reasons. However, due to their small size, these dogs are much more affordable to keep, require less exercise than larger breeds in general and are easy to transport for example.

Many owners of larger dogs, and often those considering taking in new dogs, avoid smaller breeds because of the perceived differences in their behavior compared to larger dogs. It is believed, and wrongly understood, that smaller dogs are naturally snappy, aggressive, possessive, overprotective and demanding, etc.

If this assumption is not true, then why do so many small dog owners experience problems with their dogs being aggressive towards other dogs and people and exhibiting possessive and demanding behaviors etc.?

To understand the problem, we have to start at the beginning. All puppies are cute and adorable, even the largest breed was small and cuddly back in the day. However, small breeds tend to retain the look and size of their puppies, long after the cute Rottweiler puppy has grown and gained 50 kg of weight, for example

Researchers have found that humans have developed a biological response to “cute” things, especially baby animals. The need to nurture and protect perceived defenseless creatures is believed to be automatic.

This is where the problems often start; the owner protects the dog, can carry it, let it sleep on the bed or jump on the furniture when it chooses, and picks it up in the presence of strange dogs and gives in to its demands for attention. This is often done through the mistaken notion that a dog needs protection by virtue of its size and ‘baby’ qualities.

So how is all this worked out in the mind of dogs? Although our domestic dogs are very different in many ways from their ancestor, the wolf, they have inherited much of the instinctive behavior of their ancestors. Part of this instinctual blueprint is the desire to be part of a group or pack. Although most dogs are more than happy to be a follower in their human pack, if they are not the obvious leader, or the dog receives signals from its owner that it is the pack leader, then the dog will have no choice but to fill the role, as that’s how life goes in the dog world.

Over time, a dog may exhibit behaviors that to the experienced eye would be considered dominant, but to the dog owner, these behaviors are perceived as either breed-specific, such as “that’s what Chihuahuas are like,” or an integral part of the dogs personality. for example, “he’s always been like that.” This type of behavior would be cause for concern if seen in a larger dog, but is somehow overlooked or not considered serious in much smaller breeds.

There are a number of behaviors that are common to small dogs acting dominant, so much so that this type of behavior seen in smaller breeds has inherited the label “small dog syndrome” or “small dog syndrome”. Some of the common behaviors that characterize “small dog syndrome” are listed below.

  • Your dog has developed the habit of sitting on you, jumping on you, or next to you whenever he wants.
  • Your dog doesn’t let you near him when he’s eating or has a toy to play with
  • Barks excessively to get your attention.
  • Your dog is overly protective when other dogs or people approach you.
  • Your dog growls when you try to move him from his favorite resting spot.
  • Your dog is usually stubborn and refuses to follow commands given to him.
  • Your dog exhibits an exaggerated response to being left alone, characterized by constant barking or destructive behavior.

Much can be done to change this problem, but owners should first consider the role they play in encouraging this type of behavior in their dogs. Owners need to understand that their small breed dogs are actually animals, not small people.

Second, owners need to understand that it is natural for dogs to be part of a “pack” and more importantly, a pack where they would rather be a follower than a leader. Understanding just these two concepts will help reduce the problem significantly.

In terms of retraining, owners need to communicate to their dogs that they are the leader, provider and protector of the team. This can be done by controlling all of the dog’s resources, for example food, toys, treats, walks and favorite resting places, and allowing the dog access to them when the owner chooses.

Any demanding behavior eg barking for treats or being picked up etc should be ignored and any appropriate behavior praised.

A dog’s aggressive and possessive behavior towards other people can be dealt with by having a place for the dog to go when the owner interacts with others. This could be towards his chest or for example a pillow in the corner of the room.

Owners should be aware that retraining takes time, especially in the case of dogs that have been allowed to exhibit this type of behavior for a long time. With patience and repetition, however, the dog will be content to become a follower rather than a leader of his human pack.

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