Often referred to in a joking manner, Small Dog Syndrome is actually a very real, very problematic issue for many owners of smaller dogs. It’s all fun and games with your little terrier until he or she starts barking their little head off at the sight of a bigger dog. Even if that big dog is gentle and non-confrontational, your little one is convinced that if he doesn’t attack, the big one will take his head off. Why does this happen? And how can we help?
What Is Small Dog Syndrome?
Chances are, you have a little to do with it, and so does your dog. We’ll start with you: Do you find that it’s a little less annoying when your little dog barks and causes a ruckus, as opposed to a bigger dog? Most people do, and that’s why for generations, little dogs have become a little spoiled. Very rarely will a little dog get a “knock it off!” in response to barking at the mailman, whereas a big dog barking at a mailman, since it’s more disruptive and slightly scarier, will get a stern, “NO!” and possibly find himself sitting in the backyard for a few hours. Little dogs simply are less frightening, so they get away with much more.
The other problem is how you act when your little dog walks near a big dog. You pick your little pup up and assure them of their protection against the big scary dog, your dog, in turn, learns to associate big dogs with fear and anxiety, simply because you won’t let him or her keep four paws on the ground whenever they’re around. This is a problem, and breeds erratic, disruptive and completely unnecessary behavior whenever your dog gets around bigger dogs.
Reference – Best Apartment Dogs
As far as your dog is concerned, it may be in his genes after generations of his breed being babied by human. it also may be a need for him to show that his bark is as big as his bite (even though we all know it’s not).
How You Can Help?
Here’s the deal: You’re going to need to take corrective action in order to fix your dog’s issues. Gradual exposure with positive reinforcement is key. On a daily basis, bring your dog as close as he’ll get to a bigger dog, without fussing. He must see the big dog there, but be okay with the distance. Shower him with treats and positive gestures and words, and then turn away. Inch closer and closer as the days go on (and as your pup tolerates), and eventually your dog will learn that being in the presence of big dogs is actually a good thing.
Also see – Health Issues that Affect Small Dogs
Small dog syndrome, while a very natural occurrence, doesn’t have to be permanent. Be proactive to prevent and to help your little dog overcome this very real syndrome.