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Little Big Dog

Little Big Dog
Little Big Dog

For the longest time I was not a fan of little yappy dogs. They can be crazy, barking at everything trying to run the other dogs as well as me. I preferred big dogs. I can’t go hiking or camping with a little dog, they might fall in a hole or get carried away by a large bird or something. How would I explain that at home?

My big dogs would listen. Once they barked a few times, they would stop unless there was real danger. They didn’t go crazy at every bird that flew across the field. Our little one was a complete psycho and would not stop barking. Training big dogs just seemed so easy and the little ones impossible.

Like many of you know, this is only a small part of the little big dog syndrome.

Dogs certainly don’t see size the way we do. If I jumped up in the face of a NFL linebacker I would be laded out cold, end of story. Not these little dogs, right up in the face of my German Shepard, not a smart thing to do. My GSD completely ignores this behavior despite getting nipped a few times on the chin. I’m glad he’s not provoked and that particular problem is getting better. All the same – this is part of the reason I never had much of a fondness towards these little yappy dogs. They seem to have no boundaries or respect.

To make matters worse, some of these little guys are just to damn finicky about what they eat. My big dogs can be the same at times but eat the best first and finish off the least tasty items last. If you offer a piece of your sandwich, they will eat it and not ask what kind or does it have mayo. They just eat it. By the way, well mannered dogs they are, little one too. Will sit and wait for the food to be served up.

Our “little miss yappy get her way dog” turns her tiny button nose up in the air and walks away if she’s not impressed with the menu. Ok, fine with me I say, you’ll eat it when you’re hungry. That’s my attitude.  No sooner than she walks away, she’s back. Apparently  she told on me and I hear…Did you feed my little precioussss? Ahhh – She won’t eat, I reply. Feed her the “special food”. You’re kidding me, right? Fine – she’s eating now.

Look – our dogs eat good and thought and education is put into creating meals even to the extent of adjusting based on the dogs activity level or health. Fresh meat & vegis combined with a high end kibble seem to work well.  Dogs need to be on the same feeding schedule but if one is more likely to be spoiled more so than the rest, chances are that one dog is getting a few more treats or handouts.

You see where this is going? It took me awhile to piece together why this little dog was running the house. It had nothing to do with the dog being small. It wasn’t some Napoleonic syndrome of sorts. It was me, it was everyone involved with this little thing. We had a completely different set of rules for the little dog vs. our big dogs.

Ask yourself if you are guilty of the following…

If you’re big dog runs across the yard and jumps in your lap to greet you, do you get up off the ground, brush you’re self off and pet his head? Or do you teach him to sit and allow you to come down to his level and greet him – Hopefully the latter? How’s this scenario any different for a small dog? It really isn’t.

People treat small dogs different. They’re cute – the little dog won’t knock you over when they come running at you, so we allow it. We talk with a pleasant tone and pat their head as to say this behavior is fine. After all, he’s coming to say “hi” and we like that.  The dog should really learn to be invited up into you’re lap if that’s what you want.

The rules should be very similar if not the same regardless of a dogs size.  If not, this can lead to a dominate role that the small dog starts to take on. Why wouldn’t he? He’s being encouraged and rewarded for a behavior we wouldn’t allow in our large breed dogs. That’s just how you train a dog to do what you want. Somehow most of us don’t realize we do this. The reality is simple, this cute little dog has dominated you and likely the other dogs especially within the house since small dogs spend much of their time indoors and tend to perceive the house as their territory.

So…this little dog is being encouraged by us to do what we won’t allow our big ones to do. Take this scenario and apply it to numerous different situations in how we allow and encourage small breeds to behave but reprimand the big ones for doing the same. It’s not the dogs fault. We instill the bad habits that we complain most about.

For the record, as I wrote this post the little dog I write of was sleeping on my lap.  What about the barking? Simple, she was bored. A well exercised dog is less likely to bark excessively. This is true for many behavioral concerns. Physical and Mental Exercise needs to be a regular and consistent part of your dogs life.

Having a good understanding of you’re dogs breed and a solid understanding of how you and  you’re family interacts with the dog is key. I for one have a new affection for a well trained small dog. She still gets her “special food” but I get some quite time and my big dog is finding life a bit more relaxed as well.