Small Dog Syndrome and How to Fix It

by admin on February 6, 2011

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Small dogs or lap dogs or even comforters as they were one time referred to as have a very substantial background, encompassing thousands of years. Small breeds were often kept by nobility and given as presents to royal figures. It was also thought that small breeds were good for ones health. The Pekingese, Pug and King Charles Cavalier Spaniel are three examples.


Many dog owners have a preference for small dogs over larger breeds, and for many different reasons. However, by virtue of their diminutive size, these dogs are much more affordable to keep, need less exercise in relation to larger breeds in general, and are simple to transport for example.

Small dog syndrome is a behavioral problem found in small dogs. This issue causes the animal to act in a manner that is considered disobedient and uncontrollable. You will notice that the dog does not listen to your commands. Moreover, the dog may bark excessively, show aggression toward his master and strangers, show aggression toward other dogs and animals, and act possessive.

There are two primary causes of small dog syndrome: instinct and poor training/leadership from the owner.

Perhaps the largest cause in bad dog behavior is the same cause in bad child behavior: coddling. Because they’re so small and cute, owners tend to treat little dogs as they would a human baby, fawning over them, picking them up and cooing, letting them sleep in laps, and just generally failing to discipline or punish them when they should be. Barking, jumping on people, sitting on furniture – things that would be punished in larger dogs – are let slide to the point where the bad behavior is tacitly encouraged by the owner and the little dog is unaware or uncaring that its behavior is unacceptable.

The reason this starts manifesting itself in the traditional “small dog syndrome” manner is rooted in dog psychology. A dog that is never disciplined assumes that the reason he is never disciplined is that he is the leader of the pack, the alpha dog. The leader of the pack (or, in this case, the family), is responsible for the safety of the rest of the pack. That’s why the small dog will barrel around nipping at strangers, barking at presumed intruders, and generally acting like he owns the place.

The problem here is a bit difficult, since you won’t be able to say “no” to the dog. Since it sees itself as the top dog in the pack, it doesn’t think it has to listen to you. You’ll have to show your dominance rather than vocalize your dominance. It’ll be hard at first, but remember that you’ll have to break your dog of these bad habits or forever live as #2 in your own house. If you can’t do it on your own, there are plenty of dog trainers out there who can help.

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