What to Do About Small Dog Syndrome

Small dogs often receive much coddling and pampering by their owners. One of the main reasons for inviting a small dog into the home is because they are great companions, while requiring less overall maintenance than larger dogs. Because of their cuteness and small stature, a lot of people tend to treat their pet like a child instead of a dog. It is common to see these miniature furry children getting spoiled and treated like royalty. There's nothing too good for their precious little one, many reason.

This continued catering to a dog's every whim can often lead to a dog developing what's known as small dog syndrome or (SDS). If your dog suddenly has a personality change from docile to irritable and snappy, it's most likely due to small dog syndrome.

Some of the symptoms of small dog syndrome are:

  • Excessive barking when approached
  • Biting, bullying and snapping at the owner, other people and animals
  • Destroys furniture and clothing when left alone too long
  • Possessiveness over food, toys and furniture
  • Jumping on people at inappropriate times
  • Demands to be carried
  • Refuses to follow commands and is overly stubborn
  • Unprovoked growling and baring of teeth

While this behavior is both disturbing and disrupting to your lifestyle, there is a good reason why your dog is behaving this way. All dogs are inherently pack animals. Regardless of how cute they are, a small dog will always consider itself to be a part of the pack. Most dogs prefer being a follower and not a leader. When you brought your dog home, it expected you to take on the role of pack leader. Instead, you began allowing your dog lots of freedom to do as it pleased. Every time you give in to your dog's unruly behavior, you are simply reinforcing this behavior.

Your dog is in a position where it feels like it has to be pack leader, because you have abdicated that role. To see this from another perspective, a dog's world has only two positions: leader and follower. Small dogs are not used to being leaders because of their diminutive size. However, they become anxious and fearful when left leaderless. Therefore, this causes them to feel they must become more aggressive in order to protect themselves.

Your dog is not acting out because it has suddenly become mean, it's acting out because you don't understand that you must be the authority figure in your relationship. Dogs with small dog syndrome are not happy at all. They would much prefer to relax and allow someone else to tell them what to do and when to do it. This doesn't mean you need to take on the role of strict authoritarian with your dog, but you do need to learn how to regain control and let your pet know that you are top dog in your household.

A good trainer or training course can show you how to patiently train your dog to obey your commands through the use of behavioral training. You will learn how to reward your dog when they do something good and hold back when their behavior is unacceptable. Over time, your dog will become calm and agreeable, and will be happy that they have a real leader who will love and take care of them.