The truth about small dogs is that they are dogs. And they should be treated accordingly. Socialization, obedience, basic training and your own responsibility should be taken as seriously as if you own a bigger dog.
Small dogs are not accessories, “canine cats” and do not come with a “no problem” package and a ticket that will remove any responsibility from you.
Let me tell you a story. A few days ago I was walking my big black dog. He was on the lead, smelling grass and bushes along the way, not bothering anyone, only sometimes stopping for a wee.
Luckily for my dog, I’ve noticed that a little girl (primary school age) was chasing us, lead by her tiny terrier. She had a great idea to approach me (an adult stranger) and my dog from the back, without even asking a permission or giving a warning (“Hello, can my dog approach your dog?” would do just fine). My dog suddenly realized someone is about to jump on him from behind and gave a little growl, turning his head to check what was going on.
I had to act fast and be strict. I stretched my hand in a typical motion and told the girl “no, no, no, stop!”. The girl stopped a meter away from us and had a genuinely puzzled facial expression. Probably, she thinks all dogs must be friends and it’s ok for her to swiftly appear out of thin air.
What makes me angry about the situation? Her mother absolutely didn’t keep an eye on the child and the dog. Her parents trusted her to run around with the dog but forgot to teach her to not bother strangers and to not approach their dogs in such an unexpected manner (without any warning, out of the blue). Her dog was a typical tiny terrier that did not display playful posture but rather an alert and focused one, which was not a good sign. My dog doesn’t like cocky dogs that look as if they mean trouble. The problem is, a lot of people are not aware of canine body language.
If I haven’t noticed the girl and she would not have stopped on my demand, my dog could possibly defend himself from her dog. My dog is a 35 kg large black mongrel resembling either a Rottweiler or a Doberman. Who would be the “nasty dog” in this situation according to society? I’m 99% sure my dog would be a bad boy. How can he win against a tiny terrier and a little girl?
I am happy things didn’t take the worst turn, but I’m still fuming. It is pretty obvious that small dog owners take less care in controlling their dogs and they tend to have an excuse for everything. Big dogs cause mess, small dogs are fine. Even children can be trusted to walk them!
The truth is every dog owner has to be responsible and respect other dog owners and their dogs, big or small. No child should walk a dog unless they’ve been taught how to be a responsible dog owner and their dog is socialized and trained.
Small dogs are more often off the lead. They tend to bark, be yappy and nippy but most people don’t see it as a behavioral problem. They don’t realize their size (Napoleon complex) and people find it cute instead of correcting them. The problem is, big dogs also don’t realize their size and when they get provoked by small dogs the latest can suffer.
The lack of responsibility and no involvement in correcting small dog’s bad attitude is disturbing to my eyes. People that don’t want to work on their dog ownership skills but want an easy dog should get a puppet instead. The truth is a small dog is still a dog.
I have great respect for owners of small dogs who act responsibly and do not hold a “small dogs make no trouble” card. My grandfather owns a pug. He knows his pug is a calm and friendly guy but he likes to say “Not everyone is a pug”. He doesn’t allow his dog to approach any dog with no exception, because he knows not all dogs want his pug’s friendship. And that is a sober attitude. There is nothing to be upset about. Not all dogs like to make new friends, everyone has boundaries.
When you become a dog owner, you become a part of a large community of dog owners. In my opinion, there is a certain conduct of behavior (manners) that every dog owner should follow and at the core of it should be respect for dogs and each other. If you happen to own a small dog, learn that size doesn’t matter, behavior does. Dog owner’s correct approach, responsibility and respect for other dog owners frames it all.
Dogs of all sizes are great pet companions and it is truly amazing how many different breeds and mixes are out there. Someone dreams of being able to afford a Boerboel while another person is happy to be a serial Toy Terrier owner. Things can work really well if we all do the following steps.
- Learn as much as possible about dogs.
- Get a dog that you are suitable for.
- Build a bond with your dog.
- Give basic training to the dog.
- Socialize your dog.
- Accept responsibility and cherish it!
- Respect your dog, yourself and those around you.
- Have an incredible life adventure with your pet companion!
No dog comes preprogrammed to be perfect, it’s up to us to navigate the journey and make things work.
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