If you live with small dogs, you know all about their winning personalities and fun-loving natures. Small dogs make popular pets among people with limited space and/or busy lifestyles. Thanks to their size, they can often go places larger dogs cannot -- like into a handbag or on an airplane.
Learn more about your petite pooch’s physiology, personality and charm:
Small Dogs and Barking
It’s a common assumption that small dogs bark, but why? The answer is simple: all dogs bark for different reasons and, in small dogs, it is often a product of communication. Little dogs love to talk to their human and animal companions and, as such, they often bark more than large dog breeds.
Small Dogs and Aggression
Humans often manhandle small dogs. Although this rough treatment is often accidental and owing to the dog’s size more than anything else, it can make small dogs aggressive. Because of this, these breeds often learn to nip, bite and snarl as a way to send the “back off message.” Additionally, because small dogs tend to attract more attention than larger dogs, they may be more prone to being overwhelmed or suffocated by human attention, which can contribute to aggressive behaviors.
Training Small Dogs
Small dog breeds thrive on reward-based training (just like most other dogs) and will do very well in an environment that recognizes good behaviors and reinforces them. With proper training, many typical small-dog behaviors, such as biting and barking, can be effectively reduced or eliminated. Additionally, small dogs can learn fun tricks (like hops and spins on command) that keep them engaged and active.
Punishing Small Dogs
Generally, punishment does not work well with small dog breeds and, in fact, it may only serve to exacerbate negative behaviors and make the dog fearful and resentful of human contact. Instead of punishing your small dog, seek to reward positive behavior and reinforce good habits.
House Training Small Dogs
Because they are small and more vulnerable to the outside world, small dog breeds may be difficult to house train. In these instances, it is wise to enlist the help of a professional pet behaviorist or an obedience trainer to help you effectively house-train your small dog.
Socializing Small Dogs
Just like large dog breeds, small dogs need socialization and will do particularly well when started young. In order to produce a happy, healthy, well-adjusted small dog, it is wise to expose the dog to as much as possible without violating its comfort zone or inspiring fear. Small dog breeds should be exposed to children, other pets, dogs, social settings and environmental stimuli often and should receive plenty of positive praise during these outings. This fosters small dogs with confident personalities and the skills to take on the big world around them.
Small dogs can be exciting companions who offer enough personality, energy and curiosity for a dog ten times their size. In addition to being portable and fun loving, ankle biters are generally intelligent and energetic, which makes them wonderful pets and partners. It is a big dog world, but many pet parents would argue that small dogs keep stealing the show.