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The Wonderful (and Challenging) World of Small Dogs.

Updated on July 30, 2010

The Wonderful (and Challenging) World of Small Dogs

   Forget about running with the wolves. In many ways , small dogs teach us more about the mystery and magic of canines that their larger cousins can. There is no more intimate experience in dogdom then sharing your life with a small dog. This little guy undoubtedly follows you from room to room; he probably even follows you in the bathroom, just to keep tabs on your activities. He hops on your lap When you're reading or watching TV. You routinely take him with you on every errand, and he may even come work with you. If you're retired, this pooch is with you 24 hours a day. Even if your small dog sleeps in bed with you.

The Joys of Small Dogs

There's a pocket-sized pooch for every kind of dog-lover: scrappy, teeny terriers; energetic Papillons who love to herd, jump, and run; patient Shih Tzu and Japanese Chin who like nothing better than to share the TV with you; stalwart Pomeranians; cheeky Miniature Pinschers-every small breed (and mix) has its own delights.

Though small in stature, little dogs have tremendous hearts and an abundance of love and affection to share.
Though small in stature, little dogs have tremendous hearts and an abundance of love and affection to share.

  These dogs can do everything their large cousins can do, but they do it in less space, and the humans in the household don't have to be toned athletes to keep the dogs in shape. Your small dog has a spirit that's every bit as big animals that are ten times his size. He just comes in a handier package.

    Small dogs fit into our lives in a way big dogs just can't. Living so closely with each other, we breathe the same air, we experience the same places, we feel each other's heartbeats. Your connection with your small dog may be the most profound bond you'll have with an animal in your life.

   The popularity of lap-sized dogs is growing exponentially. In fact, 12 of AKC's 20 most popular breeds of 2002 typically weigh 15 onus or less. While registrations of most breeds have dropped over the last few years, registration of almost every toy and small breed has risen, and sometimes their numbers have doubled in the space of just a few years.

The Challenges of Small Dogs

  While it can be incredibly rewarding to share your life with a small dog, it can also be plain frustrating. The toy breeds are notoriously hard to housetrain. When they diced not to come when called, you have a packet-sized rocket careening around --even racing between your feet--that you can't grab. Then there's the barking, barking, barking, and more barking that quickly becomes the habit of many little dogs. And having a tiny terror that snaps and growls at everyone within 10 feet of you. Really isn't funny.

  Traditional training methods don't work well with little dogs. You may have had the stomach-wrenching experience of giving your dog the same kind of tug on the leash that you used to give to your labrador, just to see your poor little pooch fly through the air. Or you've tried to teach your Dachshund to lie down by putting a treat on the floor, only to realize that even standing on his tip-toes, your dogs nose is already on the floor. The advice to push lightly on a dog's ramp to teach him to sit, can injure your toy breed puppy. These Hubs on the small pooches life with you, will give you practical methods that work for your small dog and are fun and positive for you both.

  Why Training Matters

 Lots of people will tell you training your small pooch is optional. Really, how much trouble can a little ball of fluff get into? The answer, sadly is a lot.

   If your small dog doesn't come when he's called, he's in special danger. Let's face it: It's harder for the driver of a car to see you 5-pound maltese than the neighbor's 150-pound Mastiff. Coming when called can't be an option, but way too few people train this simple command to their little dogs.

 Then there are the armpit piranhas: little dogs who bare their teeth and growl at everyone who comes 10 feet of their humans. That seems pretty funny until for leadership. This dog will certainly be happier and may even live longer if you teach him some basic boundaries.

 Just as important, training your small dog is plain fun. Your little dog has all the brains and the instinct of dogs that outweigh him by 100 pounds. Too many little dogs live lives of constant boredom. Not only do these dogs sometimes get themselves into big trouble (humans almost never like if when dogs make there own fun), but they're missing out on the profound, magic bond that comes from sharing positive obedience training together.

 You already love your dog, and he loves you. But, after you follow the training suggestions in this book, you'll find yourself more bonded and attached than you could have ever imagined before. This kind of training will open doors of communication and joy between you and your pooch that you've probably never experienced before.

 These Hubs i make are designed with the small dogs in mind. It will take you, step-by-step through techniques that will work for your small-breed dog or puppy. Every technique is positive, leaving your dog wagging his tail and you smiling with pride at your clever little friend.

 Putting Yourself in Your Dog's Paws

   Because our dog's have all the intelligence and instincts of there larger cousins, sometimes we forget that they're little. But the fact is that it's not the same to be a 3-pound dog, or even a 15- or 20-pound dog, as it is to be a sturdy 80-pound or 150-pound giant breed. Just think: There's the same difference between an 8-pound dog and an 80-pound dog as there is between a 150-pound person and a 1,500-pound horse!

    Lie down on the floor and put your eyes at your dog's level. From your little dog's perspective, you seem as tall as a four-story building seems to a human. Imagine how scary it is to your little one if that huge creature starts yelling.

 People often say," My dog thinks he's a big dog." Nothing could be further than from the truth. Your dog may have all the courage of a big dog and certainly has all the brains. What he knows he doesn't have is a big dog's size, and he's right. When he's growling and snapping at the big dogs, it's because he figures that he's safer being an aggressor.

  Look at the size of you dog's legs-- they may be more slender than your finger, and think of his fine spine and delicate hips. Your little dog needs to feel safe. Gentle, non-forced, happy training methods will give your dog that sense of safety and confidence.

 While positive training methods are good for all dogs, they're essential for small ones. Fortunately, today we don't have to yell, jerk, or pull to make a dog learn. In fact, dogs learn faster when they're given rewards (including food, toys, attention, and praise) for doing things right. And, because force just isn't an option for a creature that may be one-twentieth your size, you'll find that this dog will probably lear faster and have more fun than any other dog you've owned.

Because small dogs have little bodies, gentle, positive training methods will help them feel safe.
Because small dogs have little bodies, gentle, positive training methods will help them feel safe.

Fear Verses Motivation

  I start small dog obedience course i teach with a demonstration that shows just how much more effective positive methods are than negative ones. I pick out a (hopefully!) good sport from the class and ask that person to be my "demo dog". I ask the "demo dog" to sit in a bench in the training facility.

"Stand up!" I scream. The startled person usually stands pretty quickly.

"Sit down!" I yell. The person sits.

" Stand again!" I screech on top of my lungs. The demo dog stands more slowly.

" Sit down!"

"Stand up!"

After i repeat the commands a couple of times, you can see the person getting visibly angry. Some stop moving; others glare at me and respond slowly.

Then i ask for another "demo dog" from the group.

" Will you please sit over here?" I ask in a friendly voice. When the person does, I smile and give the demo dog a quarter. "That was excellent!" I exclaim.

"Will you please stand?" In a soft happy way. The person stands and gets a dime. "That was great!"

"And can you sit again?" Another quarter.

"Would you mind standing?" Then i clap my hands and tell everyone to cheer for the great way the demo do is standing. The person is always smiling and is happy and eager to try anything i ask, even though he/she knows it's a silly game.

I always ask the two demo dogs to describe their experience. The first ones uses words like "frustrated" and "angry" to explain what is was like to be my imaginary dog. The second demo dog always uses words like "fun" and usually asks to do more!

The same is true for your dog. If you are always yelling and demanding more and more of the dog without (in doggie language!) telling him you're happy, he'll get frustrated and upset. If you encourage him and tell him that he's great, he'll try to do even better the next time . Humans and dogs have a lot in common that way!

The Dog Game: A New Perspective

It's unbelievably hard to be a dog in our human world. We expect so much of all dogs and even more of our small dogs. They're supposed to understand our commands, be in tune with our moods, and live in our cities. And when they aren't perfect, we often label them as stupid or stubborn.

Once you play the Dog Game ( sometimes called the training Game) you'll gain a whole new insight into just how much we ask of our dogs. It just takes two to play this game: a "Dog" and a "Trainer." The Trainer picks a behavior she wants the dog to do. This should not be a typical dog command such as as sit, come, or speak. After all, the "Dog" already knows what we expect real dogs to learn. We want the Dog to experience what it's like to learn something new, from a real dog's perspective.

The Trainer should think of a single action. Example of behaviors include having the Dog touch her hand to her face, walk to a wall and touch it, hop on one foot, or walk in a counter-clockwise circle.

Once a behavior is decided upon, the trainer can't give any verbal clues.

(After all, dogs don't understand English!) The Trainer can just say, "Good!" to the Dog when she does something that approximates the desired behavior. So, if you want the Dog to touch her face with her hand, say, "Good!" every time the Dog moves her hand. When she moves her hand upwards, get very happy and excited.

This seems like a simple exercise, but it can revolutionize your view of dog training. If you are the Dog, you can quickly understand just how hard and frustrating it is to figure out what the Trainer is trying to get you to do. It will give you a whole new respect for what dogs figure out from us!

Recognizing your dog's perspective is the first step in forging a solid relationship with him.
Recognizing your dog's perspective is the first step in forging a solid relationship with him.

  If you are the Trainer, you'll realize that you're getting through to a dog much less than you though. Dogs are so good at trying to figure out what we want that we don't realize how hard we are to understand, until man tells us point-blank that we were very confusing.

  Take the time to grab a human friend and play the Dog Game. Reading about it is one thing--doing it is thousand times more dramatic. As you train your real dog, think about lessons of the Dog Game. Don't be too quick to assume your dog is lazy, stupid, or stubborn. More likely than not, he just can't figure out what you're asking him to do. Figure out what you need to do differently to learn.

When we train from dog's perspective, our dogs will learn faster and better than when we only think of ourselves. At least as important, we will strengthen and develop a bond of mutual respect and trust that will last a lifetime--the ultimate reward.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Great article. Are you still doing content writing?

    • velzipmur profile image

      Shelly Wyatt 

      5 years ago from Maryland

      Great hub, you are so right about how much training matters. Thanks for the information I will be checking out more of your hubs. Happy Writing.

    • Doggie Devotee profile image

      Doggie Devotee 

      7 years ago from Danville KY

      Nice hub with some great info. I love both large and small dogs alike but there are many advantages to having a pint size pup.


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