If your tiny pup is the terror of the household, or the bully of the dog park, you are not alone. Many small dog owners complain that their dogs are little land sharks who get their way at all costs.

Unfortunately, these height-challenged pets can cause big problems when their behaviors aren’t corrected. Bites and injuries from small dogs are common, and often result from under-socialization and lack of training.

Small dog syndrome is a general term for bad behaviors. But is this a genetic or medical condition in all dogs? The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center are here to explain why these adorable pups can become challenging and what you can do to put a stop to aggression and negative behaviors.

Is Small Dog Syndrome Factual?

While it is a commonly accepted term, small dog syndrome, thankfully it is not a medical condition. It is not genetic, nor is it contagious. It is just a generalization of behaviors often found in toy and small dog breeds. Small dogs get a reputation for being babies, princess dogs, lap dogs, and so on. We dress them up in cute clothing, carry them in designer bags, and coddle them like a small child. This can be a fun way to bond and show how much we care about our pups, but it can come with a price.

Dogs of any size need the same basic instructions for becoming a good canine citizen. This means that they need to know the rules of the home, housetraining skills, leash training, and basic commands. 

Some pet owners overlook these skills because they think they’re small pet is portable and can’t really do much damage when they act out. This isn’t the case. Many bites reported annually are caused by small dogs. 

The other thing: small dogs need socialization. They need to be around other pets and people often, as well as handled frequently from the time they are young. In other words, they need the same as larger learned behavior and social development as large dogs.

How to Correct Small Dog Syndrome

If you are dealing with a landshark pup, you may wonder if it is too late for them to change. The good news is that any dog – small or large, young or old – can learn the correct behaviors that make for a well behaved pet. Here are some suggestions in making strides in training your small dog.

  1. Establish ground rules Discuss what your dog should and shouldn’t do so that everyone is on the same page with your family . If you don’t want your dog on the couch, then they need to be taught where they should be, such as on a dog bed next to the couch. Or, if you only want them to be in the furniture when you invite them, teach them to “sit” and wait until you give the command, “up”.
  2. Make your dog walk on a leash One of the biggest problems with the entitled small dog is that they want to be picked up and carried. This habit is generally learned from a young age and is reinforced through the owner’s willingness to transport their pooch everywhere. Teaching your dog how to walk on a leash is an integral skill to better behavior.
  3. Sign your pet up for professional training classes  – Many classes are designed with pet size and any behavioral issues in mind. Small dog training sessions offer you and your pet supervised, instructed learning that can build confidence in your pup. This also gives them a chance to safely socialize with other dogs their size.
  4. Avoid overcoddling If you treat your pet like a baby, chances are, they will take that role. Teaching your small dog entails understanding their true nature and needs. It’s not that you can’t love your dog, it just needs to be done without overemphasizing their smallness or dependence on you. Treating your dog with dignity means respecting that they are indeed a dog, no matter how small they are.

If you are dealing with an incorrigible little dog, we can help! Our training team can work with your dog to establish good behavior and make for a better behaved, happy, and more confident fur friend. If you have any other questions about s