Combating Little Dog Syndrome
Maybe you’ve heard people talk about “Little Dog Syndrome” when referring to their own dog or another person’s small breed. Perhaps you have a small dog and when you first got him/her, your friends and family thought your little dog would naturally be “yappy” to bigger dogs or people approaching them. This is an aspect of Little Dog Syndrome and this idea has been harming small dogs and their chances of getting properly trained.
A friend of mine asked me through social media about their neighbor’s dog, a Chihuahua mix that would bark at, literally, ANYTHING. People walking by with their dogs, squirrels, the garbage truck, even if the a leaf fluttered in the wind, this dog would be barking his head off. When bringing up his headache from this dog and wondering how to confront their neighbor about their dog’s behavior, another person chimed in on the conversation saying, “It’s a little dog, so it’s normal for him to be scared like that. You’re probably just gonna have to get used to it!”
Seeing that comment was really upsetting for me. Not only was it poor advice for my friend, it was a statement that completely discredited the dog from ever achieving behavioral balance and a stress-free life.
Dogs, little or big, will bark for a variety of reasons. If your dog barks when your door bell rings, he is probably giving off an alarm bark. If your dog barks and cowers away when a stranger approaches, that dog may be barking out of fear. If your dog is barking and lunging, viciously trying to bite another dog, then that dog is barking out of severe aggression. The dog in my friend’s neighborhood might’ve been barking out of fear or maybe hyperactivity, it’s hard to know as I’ve never met or evaluated the dog. But no matter the motives, the incessant barking is linking back to the core root of the problem — anxiety. Anxiety can cause fear, it can cause aggression, it can cause hyperactivity, and more.
This little dog in my friend’s neighborhood barked because he was taught that anxiety is normal for him, and that there’s no need to correct it, simply because of his size and breed (Chihuahua’s get an awful rep when it comes to obnoxious barking and even some aggression problems). A small dog is just as capable of being confident and stress-free as a medium or large breed. They might be more prone to anxiety because they are aware of their small stature and maybe they’re exposed to bigger dogs or a lot of careless people, but it’s foolish to think that this cannot be helped, where we cannot relieve the dog of any anxiety and allow him to feel secure and confident. This idea of a “Little Dog Syndrome” is robbing small dogs the opportunity to not only be behaved, but happy in their lives!
I’ve trained many small dogs, and they have had great success in a variety issues, ranging from excessive barking, aggression, hyperactivity, potty training, leash walking, basic commands, and more. If you’re tired of the Little Dog Syndrome as well and think you’re doing could benefit from some behavior training, give me a call at 800-649-7297!