How to Prevent/Reverse Small Dog Syndrome

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Many small dogs are burdened with the reputation of having small dog syndrome, a condition that is largely the result of how the owner has raised the animal from a pup.  Small dog syndrome is when a dog has certain problems with house training, aggression, jumping, barking, separation anxiety, and even phobic reactions.  The main reason small dogs acquire this syndrome is simply this: what is not okay for large dogs becomes cute in small dogs; therefore they get away with behaviors large dogs would be corrected for.

For example, if a German Shepherd jumped up on a visitor, the dog would be immediately corrected and would begin to learn that particular behavior is wrong.  If a small dog like a Chihuahua greeted a guest in the same manner, the behavior likely goes uncorrected and is seen as a cute gesture of welcoming someone into their home.

When behaviors like this are not corrected with proper training as a puppy, small dogs believe it is okay and begin to exhibit dominant traits.  You may be thinking that all hope is lost if you already have a small dog that is a victim of small dog syndrome, but there is good news!  It is possible to reverse the effects of allowing this behavior to get out of hand, but it starts with you, the pet owner.

The first step to modify the behaviors of small dog syndrome is to recognize that there is in fact a problem and want to correct it.  As a pet owner, you must understand that a dog is a dog and no matter their size, unacceptable behavior must be stopped.

A few ways to start to reverse the effects of small dog syndrome are to modify the way you interact with your dog.

-When walking with your small dog, it is important they learn to heel and to stop and sit when you stop.

-Do not allow your dog to sleep in bed with you.  This may prove especially hard if you have always allowed it, but it does contribute to small dog syndrome.

-Do not offer treats unless a behavior has warranted it.  Any dog must be taught they receive treats as rewards for good behavior.

-Always show your dog that you are the pack leader, not him.

-Depending on the severity of the behavior problems, you may want to enlist the help of a dog trainer.

There is nothing wrong with showing dogs of any size love and affection, but it must be done with a certain sense of leadership, allowing the dog to learn what acceptable behavior is and what is not.  Do you have other suggestions to reverse the behaviors of small dog syndrome?

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