Combating Little Dog Syndrome
Our Tampa dog trainer knows that Little Dog Syndrome is not a syndrome at all. It’s simply a term used to describe a small dog that is actually in a state of anxiety. The symptoms of barking, biting, and cowering that are seen with small dogs are all signs that the dog is in an anxious state. Imagine if we saw these symptoms in a larger, or average sized dog. We would conclude that the dog simply had behavioral problems; we wouldn’t call it Large Dog Syndrome or Average-sized Dog Syndrome—sound silly now, right?
A small dog may tend to be afraid of more things, but this is only its first reaction. What matters is whether or not its reaction is reinforced or corrected by showing them that they are safe and have nothing to fear. Dogs feed off of people’s energy. They use it as a clue for knowing what state their “pack” is in. Dogs feed off each other dogs’ energy as well. If an overly-anxious and aggressive small dog comes into contact with a larger dog it can actually bring aggression from the larger dog onto itself, simply because the larger dog views it as unstable and a potential hazard. An observer may just think the larger dog is picking on the smaller one, but this isn’t true. A small dog can scare a big one, just as a big dog can scare another.
What all this means is that a small dog’s anxiety is the problem. They don’t have a condition, or some unchangeable quality about them that makes them behave poorly. They behave poorly for the same reason as any other dog, regardless of size. To combat a small dog’s problems we approach them in the same way as any other. We begin training in the home and work to establish boundaries, respect, and give the dog a true understanding of its place in the home. We teach your dog that they don’t need to handle situations themselves by barking or becoming aggressive. They learn to rely on you and trust that you will keep them safe.
Little Dog Syndrome is really just a misconception about how the dog world works. Bayshore Dog Training is happy to help you and your small breed dog get through the anxiety they’re suffering from so that they can live a healthier, happier life. Give us a call to get started. Your little friend needs all the help they can get. You can reach us by phone at 800.649.7297, or send us a message with our contact form.