The other day I had a client ask me about "small dog syndrome." It was something they had read about on the internet and wondered if I had any advice for them to avoid it while training their Havanese (a pretty small dog). I thought this was a great question, and one that I don't get asked too often. I see signs of this "syndrome" in some of smaller dogs I work with. They can be unusually aggressive, guarded/guarding, and loud, which is not what we want from small dog breeds that are supposed to be friendly and loving!
So the advice that I gave them was to set up the same rules they would have if they had a larger dog, like a lab, and enforce them the same way. Many cute things people let small dogs do (jump up on your lap uninvited, jump on visitors, etc.) are things they wouldn't let large dogs do simply because they are too big and could hurt someone. The problem is that many of these behaviors are ways for dogs to show their dominance. When you don't allow a large dog to do these things you are telling them that you run the house. By letting a small dog get away with the behaviors you are essentially admitting that they are in charge. When they get the sense that they are the pack leader is when many issues start arising (like small dog syndrome, fear aggression, separation anxiety...).
This was just an interesting question that I had a client ask me that I thought would be helpful here on this forum! It's actually a pretty complex issue and I could go into more detail, but I just thought I'd pass along a little information because in my experience if 1 person asks about it there are 10 more that WANT to ask about it!
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I go along with a lot of what you said but had to stop at the dominance part. You are using the old outdated dominance theory in pack leadership and that is just not the case. The latest research by David Mech and others have found that a wild wolf pack is lead by a father (alpha male) and mother (alpha female) and all their offspring. So a wolf pack is much like a human family. The younger ones follow their parents because the parents are much more experienced than the children. The children learn from the parents and willingly follow them. They don't try to dominate them any more than human children try to dominate their parents. They don't want to "take over the pack" or become pack leader. Yes, they try to get away with things from time to time just as human children do but the pack is not ruled by domination of the biggest meantest SOB in the pack. It is lead by the dad.
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace. - Milan Kundera
When we use the term small dog we group together all sorts of breeds with all sorts of different temperaments together. Sure a Shih Tzu will push the boundaries and develop selective deafness and act as if the rules don't apply to them, but their 'small dog syndrome' is very different to that of a Jack Russell Terrier. They don't seam to know that they are small dogs, they have egos as big as their hearts and they often behave as if they believe they are big enough to tackle anything. I think that having a well behaved dog (of any size) depends on knowing your dog and putting in the time to train it.
I would agree that some breeds don't seem to know that they are small.
This kinda answers a question about Koopa he is 6 wks old and has just started to follow my partner around and pay lots of attention too him but Lil Koopa is mine I fear he is going to listen to my partner instead of me I'm just guessing that I will have to inform my partner on how I want training to commence. Also Koopa is mini foxy cross caviler? And is as small as a shoe I'm having trouble determining if he is doing a wee as sometimes he is standing sometimes stretching and sometimes squat sitting and don't see the stream until it hits the floor and changes the colour of the carpet. What method of toilet training works well for this small breed as he is flipping out when I put him in a safety gate sealed off room and won't pee or poop on any scedual as yet?
Although many dog lovers who prefer medium and large dogs think that ALL small dogs act up in these obnoxious ways, it's not natural or even necessary.
6 Snippy Signs Your Dog Has Small Dog Syndrome
Does your dog rule the roost? She barks, you jump up to do her bidding. She knows she’s in charge of the house and you follow her rules. By giving in to her every demand and not correcting any bad habits, you’ve given her the idea that it’s her way or the highway. She’s a little dictator who will bully every member of the family—human or animal—until she gets what she wants. At this point, she doesn’t listen to the voice of reason (that should be you). Basically, you’re walking on eggshells around your dog; the household revolves around what will keep her content and quiet.
Is she too good to walk? Why would she walk if she has you to carry her everywhere? She’s so cute and small, and you’re afraid she’ll get hurt, so you scoop her up…and soon, she expects these travel arrangements. But even small dogs need to walk. Daily walks are great exercise for them because they are at risk of becoming overweight. Even an extra pound or two can put pressure on joints, organs and limbs, which leads to expensive medical bills, pain and suffering.
Does she bark at every dog she passes? The size of dog doesn’t matter—your precious pooch turns into a snarling beast when another dog crosses her path. But the barking is a sign of an underlining issue—that she’s unsure, anxious and insecure.
Does she growl, snap or jump on people? She could just exhibit one of these nasty habits, or all three. It’s a sign of insecurity and she’s compensating for her size. Again, this is another way she’s showing you that she’s stressed, threatened, confused, upset, intimidated, or nervous.
Does she beg for food? Okay, a lot of dogs are guilty of this one, but your small dog takes it to the next level. She will sit, stare, whine and cry until you give her what’s on your plate. And on top of that, she may start ignoring her regular food in favor of your hand outs.
Does she pee all over the house? And this isn’t just your house; it’s any house she visits. The floor, the couch, the walls, the bed—nothing is safe from her piddle practices. This isn’t about house training; it’s about control and dominance. And she’ll do it everywhere—except outside.
Target stick dog hints there is a pencil or the finish of your finger or the spot of mild from a laser pointer all make super targets. Readiness trainers use a plastic nourishment area top, set on the floor or barrier.
target stick canine tricks. Wherever they need the dogs to stop. Post-It notes produce wonderful movable targets. Animal clicker trainers have taken to the use of orange plastic movement cones for focuses on that steeds can without a great deal of a stretch see at a separation.