When people think of little dogs, they think of cute, baby, sweet, innocent and less work. Little dogs can have big issues; so I want to talk about some of those issues and clear the air about “little dogs are so much easier”. In some ways, they definitely are easier to handle and care for, but it all depends on the pet parent, the household lifestyle and the expectations of life with a dog. Before I continue with the pros and cons thing, I want to discuss biting. If you do a search about the pressure of a dog’s bite, you will find that most claim it to be in the two hundred to three hundred psi range. There are many discrepancies and many theories of how a dog’s bite pressure per square inch is determined. However, for the purpose of this article I want to make it clear that even the bite of a small breed dog can do some serious damage; especially to a child.
This is a photo of the metal cap from a jar of baby food. The bite mark, which has gone through the metal completely, was done by a nine pound toy poodle. Let me add, that is was done in one quick bite and not over a period of time.
Let’s do the pros and cons thing.
1. You can scoop them up and carry them anywhere.
2. The amount of their urine and stool is smaller.
3. They can use wee wee pads if you prefer not to walk your dog at a particular time.
4. They eat less.
5. They’re less destructive.
6. They’re easier to walk.
7. You can travel with them on a commercial airline if they are small enough; and even some railways.
8. Bedding, clothing and other supplies are less expensive.
9. If you sleep with them they take up less room on the bed.
10. Smaller breeds tend to live longer than large breeds.
11. Bathing is easier and grooming is less expensive.
12. If they are pad trained, you don’t have to walk them in bad weather.
1. They need more care nutritionally especially as puppies.
2. They are more susceptible to illness and complications like hypoglycemia and dehydration.
3. Little dogs tend to bark more than large breeds.
4. Toy breed dogs usually do not like to go out in rain or bad weather and do not like to walk on wet grass.
5. Small dogs are easily injured.
6. Sometimes, the smaller the dog the more difficult to train! Now you’re thinking…why did she say that? I was hoping you would. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE little dogs, and have my own as you know. But as a trainer, I get more calls from people with small breeds than large ones. Most of the homes I visit for training, have toy breed dogs that are not housebroken. I actually get calls about Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas and Yorkies that rule the roost and their human families are afraid of them because they snap and bite and terrorize members of the household. When I come to their home for the first time they actually have the dog locked in a kennel because they are afraid it will bite me. This is not a joke, and getting bitten is certainly not funny. So if you have a situation like that, here’s some advice.
Because these toy breeds are definitely so adorable and almost puppy-like forever, people tend to carry them around or pick them up when they are doing something inappropriate or annoying, instead of trying to correct them or teach them. You know the expressions,” you can’t be a little bit pregnant”? You are or you aren’t, it is or it isn’t…that’s the point. In the dog’s mind he can or he can’t! If he does something wrong and he is picked up, you just validated his doing it. You gave him affection for chewing your Jimmy Choo shoes. You told him that barking and biting your leg was the way for him to get attention. So he will, without a shadow of a doubt, keeping doing it.
Second thing to remember; the higher the dog’s head is, the more he is in control. Nine out of ten times when I go to a house with a small dog that is terrorizing everyone, his first instinct is to jump up on the highest part of a couch or chair so that he is now bigger than life.
First thing is put a leash on him inside the house and keep him on the ground. As soon as you get him off the couch his attitude will change. If you are down on the floor with him in a puppy play position, he will take charge. So what do you do? Stand up and say “NO”. Use a strong voice if he does something wrong. As soon as he stops, tell him “GOOD BOY” and pet him. He’ll get the idea. Little dogs also tend to get less exercise. And “YES” I believe that a bored dog will get into more trouble. Get out there and take that little guy for a walk, play ball with him, and stop letting him make his own decisions. He’s a teenager with nothing but time on his hands, looking for something to do. Well it’s time to TAKE AWAY THE CAR KEYS!
It’s a hard concept for most people to understand but dogs prefer structure and having a place in the family unit. Dogs are very smart and big or little, if they can get away with doing something, they will keep doing it…just like us!