Dealing With “Small Dog Syndrome”
Many small dogs don’t realize that they are small dogs. As far as they’re concerned they’re as big as the biggest dog on the block and won’t back down from anyone. Unfortunately, sometimes they can take this attitude a little too far and start to run roughshod over the humans in their home, too. When this occurs, it’s often referred to as “Small Dog Syndrome.”
Many small dogs are pampered and spoiled by their owners due to their size. Small dogs are often allowed to sit on an owner’s lap, a behavior which would be considered dominating in a larger dog. Small dogs are also often allowed to bark a lot which often isn’t tolerated in larger dogs. Bad behavior may be tolerated in a small dog because it may seem amusing or the owner is reluctant to correct a small dog.
However, when a dog is allowed to get away with bad behavior, even a small dog, it can lead to the dog believing that he can do what he likes in the home. Adorable naughty behavior may gradually become quite unacceptable bad behavior. Your small dog may start snapping and growling at you to defend his territory, which could be his place on the bed or sofa. He may urinate in the house to mark territory or decide to forget his housetraining. (Many small dogs are notorious for housetraining problems.) He may guard food or toys and dare you to try to take them away from him. He may even bark, growl or try to bite you if you try to pet or touch him.
In short, owners often allow small dogs to become the boss in the home. This means that your small dog thinks he can put you in your place, take things from you and guard anything that he thinks is his. It can take a lot of work to re-educate your small dog but you have to begin by changing your own attitude toward him. It is important to start thinking of your small dog as an actual dog and not a small child or baby. Do not carry him around or make excuses for his bad behavior.
Once you have started to think of your small dog as a real dog then you can start to work on his behavior. Please note that if you are ever concerned that your small dog may reach the point that he could bite you, you should enlist the help of a professional trainer or canine behaviorist to work with your dog. Do not risk getting bitten.
You can do some things to re-establish your position as the person in charge. Send some not-so-subtle messages that your dog depends on you more than he realizes. For instance, if your small dog growls over his food and won’t let you take the bowl from him, try removing the bowl completely and feeding him by hand for a couple of days. Your small dog will need to take every bite from your hand. This will do wonders to remind your dog that you are the source of his meals. It usually stops the growling.
You will also need to evict your small dog from your bed until he earns the privilege of sleeping there again.
If you change your own attitude and follow these suggestions you can stop small dog syndrome. You and your small dog will both be happier if you do.