What is Small Dog Syndrome?
Even those who aren’t sure what small dog syndrome means exactly would still recognize the behaviors. Some Pomskies and other small dogs tend to be nervous, yapping, growling and overly excited precious little bundles of love. Everyone knows it.
Many people think its genetic and due to breeding practices. Others think that most small dogs just have that type of personality, and no amount of training will correct it, so they continue to allow their tiny friends to control the home and people in it. However, none of this is right. Small dog syndrome can be defined by behaviors that in a large dog would never be tolerated.
The owner of a Great Dane would become very concerned if their baby started growling at small children or who wouldn’t let a friend onto the porch. They would take immediate action to stop the aggressive behavior and to show their pet just who is the alpha dog (the humans of course). Not so with Pomskies or other little dogs. They’re small and vulnerable, and we treat them that way.
The problem is that dog behavior is very different than human behavior. Cuddling a frightened dog may seem right but in the dog world cuddling and comfort are the same as saying we are weaker than they are. In short you’re not protecting your little one you’re giving them the green light to be the dominant pack member.
Behaviors Connected With Small Dog Syndrome and What They Mean
Typical small dog behaviors would include jumping on people, especially visitors. In human behavior this is seen as cute, your Pomsky is excited to see you. Not true, in the canine world invading space means the invader is asserting dominance by claiming the space of another is occupying. They are demanding that they are seen as a pack leader.
Other behaviors include yapping, pulling at a lead, destructive behaviors when the owner is gone. All of these are behaviors that can’t be tolerated in large breeds yet them seem cute and innocent in small ones. They are warning signs of what could be coming. Yapping is the leaders way of demanding attention, pulling at a lead indicates that you a mere pack member should be following the alpha dog.
Often destructive behaviors, when the owner is gone, is a show of disapproval. The pack leader can leave when they choose, pack members are never to leave the leader. You show poor pack behavior by moving.
How To Prevent or Correct Small Dog Syndrome Behaviors
In all humans and dogs interact very differently to their environment. Human adults are driven to protect their young and small through emotional attachments, cuddling, holding and reassurance. It’s so easy to do the same with a 15 pound Pomsky and feel you’re doing the right thing. To be a good parent to a Pomsky, you must understand the meaning behind behaviors and treat them right away.
Is your little dog afraid of lightening? Offer verbal reassurance in a reasonable tone. Resist the urge pick up the Pomsky and cuddle it. By doing so, you have just let your baby know that there is a good reason to fear lightening. The cuddling will only make your pet more nervous when the next storm comes.
Does Spike like to sit tall on your lap and growl at anyone who comes near? He’s not protecting you, he’s claiming you. By sitting on your lap, he has established that you are his possession by sitting on you.
His growl is a warning to others that you belong to his pack. Don’t scold him and place him on the floor, he must get down by himself to break dominance.
The easiest way is to poke him with your index finger repeatedly until he moves. The poking finger in dog language is the equivalent of a nip. You have just reclaimed your dominance.
The same goes for bed behavior. A small dog who is allowed to share a pillow with their person is now at the highest most comfortable place on the bed. In the dog world, this indicates pack leader behavior. In order to be a good human and pack leader the dog must understand that her place is either at the foot of your bed or in her own.
Do not let your little one leave a room or building in the lead. The lead position always belongs to the dominant member. By allowing Betsy to go first, you have just told her all she needs to know about her place in the world. Teach her to follow your lead when entering or exiting a room or building. She won’t like it at first, but she will soon learn that you are the leader here, and you get to decide where and when to leave.
Let her explore the world around her in a safe manner. Human parents often lead their infants and toddlers in exploring the world, after all we want them to become socialized in a safe and constructive way. We want the same for our Pomskies. With big dogs, this is easier to do as their size somewhat protects them. With little dogs, we put them in bags or dog purses to keep them safe. Stop, this won’t work in the dog world.
Let your little friend down, let him explore. Of course, you should be cautious around big dogs or children who could unintentionally harm them. If your pet is to learn to handle everyday situations that will involve larger beings without fear, they must be free to interact with others is a safe way.
Small Dog Behavior Can Be Prevented and Corrected
The hard part is to remember that Pomskies and other small breeds are still dogs. They think and react like dogs. They love human interaction and feeling secure, but the things that will make them most safe can’t be given to them if we continue to treat them as human infants. To make sure they and you have the kind of loving relationship, you both deserve you must understand canine behaviors and what they mean.
Your 15 or 20 pound Pomsky should be trained the same way a 150 pound Alaskan Malamute is trained. The emotional needs of both are the same. Most dogs don’t want to be pack leader; they’re happy as pack members. If you don’t take the lead though they will try to fill the hole and in doing so they often become nervous, easily excited insecure pets.