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Why Small Dogs Develop Small Dog Syndrome

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4

How To Avoid Small Dog Syndrome In Your Pet

Unfortunately, small dog syndrome seems to be becoming an accepted way for a dog to behave. This is a shame as no-one bar the owner likes a yappy, snappy dog however small and otherwise cute it may appear. So what has happened to make a cute little pup grow into not-so-cute little dog?

Besides yapping and snapping, small dog syndrome manifests in other symptoms such as being jealous and overly protective of its owner, wary with strangers and untrustworthy with children. Such behaviours should not be accepted in a dog, however small. If you wouldn't want to see the behaviour in a large dog, it should not be tolerated in a small one.

Some of the less attractive behaviours include growling, jumping, owning space and humans, and aggression. The innate nature of dogs and their behaviour in the wild has important clues for their owners in understanding why small dogs behave as they do.

Killer Chihuahua

It seems to be the nature of most animals to climb the social scale as high as possible. Dogs are no exception. They NEED a pack leader. If they sense that they don't have a strong leader, they will attempt to take over the position. Some just want to be the leader anyway. It doesn't matter what size the dog is, many have a wish to be leader of their pack which, with domesticated pets, means their family.


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Most owners are aware that letting a 100 pound Rottweiler do pretty much as it likes is asking for trouble. Because the dog is too strong to be physically restrained, more care and thought is giving to its training and socialisation. If small dogs yap or growl, they can be picked up and tucked under the owner's arm. If they continually pull on the lead, they can still be held whereas a large dog would pull away and get free.

Angry Dog

 While it may seem a bit tough, dogs are much happier if they are treated as dogs and not as family members. Chastise them if they growl at visitors or if they jump up on people. These are signs that they are trying to assert their dominance. Small dogs should be invited onto your lap, not just allowed to jump up whenever they like. Or, even worse, be picked up when they bark at you. When this happens, you are obeying the dog and he starts thinking he is the pack-leader.

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The lapdog that sits on its owner's lap and growls at anyone who gets too close is not cute. It is saying 'this person is my property. Keep away'. Would you let a Great Dane get away with this behaviour?

Dogs don't know that they are small or large. They just think they're dogs. Most want to be leader of their pack. A pretty good rule to followis: don't let small dogs get away with behaviour that isn't acceptable in a large dog. If you wouldn't let Great Dane or even a Cocker Spaniel behave in a particular way, don't let your chichuahua or silky terrier get away with it either.



Jan 21, 2013 10:08am
Oh my gosh your Killer Chihuahua photo is awesome!

Sounds like small dogs can get some pretty psycho issues if you don't make it clear who the boss is.

Jan 27, 2013 2:16pm
I think they're little and cute and generally spoilt rotten. Thanks for the comment.
Mar 15, 2013 9:11pm
Great info on those little terrors. Personally I have a Blue Heeler and normally loves to make friends because that is how we trained him. He normally is well behaved. BUT, when confronted with these little terrors(they are terrors) they come along all friendly like wagging their tails and we have our dog in most cases on a lead. But the next minute the little one growls or snaps. When they do that naturally any dog will react.
The trouble is a blue heeler or any normal aggressive type dog would get the blame because lets face it their bite is bigger.
We do our best to keep them separate. But some handlers push the limit saying its ok hes friendly. It is not always the case though, and it can be embarrassing for them.
Mar 15, 2013 9:35pm
Some people are really blind about their pet's faults, aren't they? The other one's I hate are those that jump all over you and the owners never bother to prevent them. They'll stop them after they've scratched your legs or put pawmarks on white slacks but they can't manage to stop them before that first jump. Thanks for the comment.
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