Small Dog Syndrome

By The Dog Daily Expert

Small Dog Syndrome

“Small dog syndrome” refers to tiny dogs with a big attitude. In humans, a comparable phenomenon is called the “Napoleon complex.” That’s a phrase used to describe an inferiority complex held by people who are short in stature. Napoleon stood about 5 feet 6 inches, but what would today be considered a short stature obviously did not stand in the way of his military and political achievements. People with this complex are said to be driven by a perceived handicap to overcompensate in other aspects of their lives.

Small dogs, in turn, “get a bad rap for being yippy, yappy, snappy and high-strung,” say Wendy Nan Rees and Kristen Hampshire, authors of the Dog Lover’s Daily Companion. Rees and Hampshire, however, add that these little dogs don’t seem to care much about size. They think they’re big, so they act like it. The writers astutely ask: Have you ever seen a Bernese mountain dog back off from a feisty Chihuahua? The Chihuahua will probably be the one that doesn’t back down. (Owners, however, should be present to take control of such situations and prevent them in the first place.)

Rees and Hampshire propose a very interesting theory about small dog syndrome. They believe it is rooted in people’s willingness to overlook bad behavior. They explain that because small dogs can usually just be scooped up in our arms, we tend to slack on obedience training. With larger dogs, such training is often not ignorable.

The solution to curing a small dog of this syndrome is to just stick to a training plan. Be sure to teach your little dog foundation commands. That way, the next time your dog goes into a yapping fit or decides to dig on your furniture, you can rein in the behavior before it becomes habitual.


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Posted on March 10, 2012

Atsushi says: It's a fine fine line that rescues walk and I rlealy respect the way *most* rescues handle it. The screening process works not only to protect the dog, but to ensure the owner will be happy with the pup they bring home. But it is a fine line we were rejected by THREE local rescues because we both work and Felix was not UTD on one vaccination. The catch? He is allergic to it, so we maintain titer tests on it and give it only if the vet feels it is absolutely necessary. And we work opposite shifts, so about 80% of the time either me or my other half is home AND my MIL who lives with us is home most of the time as well. I think our dogs spend less than two hours alone each week usually in 10 15 minute chunks. Some weeks, they aren't alone at all, but the rescues had a no working policy and that was that. I personally think that an approach that if it's good folks and the dog is a good fit for their lifestyle, that any other issues (ie. working schedule, yard, training etc.) could be addressed. The pup we wanted to adopt is STILL with the rescue two years later, as no one else has been willing to take on her separation anxiety issues. Poor little thing.`

Posted on May 31, 2012

Bastos says: Introduce the dogs and the puppy in a park where neither has toitrrery, that should prevent any aggression over space. If they seem to get along, feel free to bring the pup home. If not, don't. Your adult dogs will probably dominate the puppy after he moves in, but that's normally and perfectly acceptable. The puppy needs to know where he is in the pack and the adult dogs will teach him that pretty quickly as long as you let them do their thing.And, I would suggest enrolling your puppy in a Puppy Obedience class. I know for a fact that PetsMart is a great starting program that will not only socialize your puppy, but give you tips on how to continue with training after the program is complete.

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