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Tips To Deal With The Small Dog Syndrome and How To Stop Your Small Dog Barking Excessively
Do Small Dogs Bark More?
Small dogs do not have to bark more, but they usually do. Find out some reasons why they bark a lot, and some effective methods to help them bark even less.
Okay, I know that all dogs bark. Wolves and coyotes almost never do, but for some reason many dogs feel like doing it almost all of the time. Dogs of all sizes do it. And, for several reasons, some dogs do it more than others.
If you have been around a lot of dogs, you have also noticed those dogs that bark more than others. A German Shepherd or Rottweiler may bark a lot, but nothing compared to some of the Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers I have seen over the years. Part of the problem is the high pitch (we really notice their barking), but that is not everything. Almost all small dogs seem to bark more, and some of them seem to bark a lot more.
Reasons Small Dogs Bark More
Little dogs bark excessively and then get away without training or other corrective measures (the small dog syndrome).
If you are a little dog your barks are more likely to be ignored—thus, small dogs have to bark more to be noticed.
Small dogs are often rewarded for their barking (by being fed, brought inside the house, put up on a lap, couch, or bed, etc.).
Some small dogs are bred to be barkers. (Shelties, some terriers, and Schnauzers are a few examples.)
Small dogs do not cost as much to keep so an owner may have many dogs. When one little dog starts barking, they all feel the need to join in.
What is Small Dog Syndrome?
And what are the five best ways to stop my small dog acting up?
Many dog experts describe a “small dog syndrome”. This is a condition that develops only in little dogs that are treated differently around the house. They are allowed to bark when they want attention, are allowed to growl without being reprimanded, and are also allowed to jump up on their owner´s lap whenever they feel like it.
These dogs are often allowed to sleep at the head of the bed, rest on the couch when the family is in the living room, and are fed special meals with the family.
The small dog syndrome develops in little dogs who feel a need to express their dominance among their human family. Dogs that behave in this way are allowed to bark excessively. If one of these small dogs was a Rottie or Doberman, do you think they would be allowed to bark at visitors or other dogs on the street?
The small dog syndrome is a common excuse for a barking dog and a small dog with this syndrome is one of the hardest to train because his owners are often reluctant to treat him differently. The small dog who is allowed to behave in this way is also one of the easiest to train. All of those bad habits need to be changed.
•Do not allow your dog to bark at you to get attention (like when he wants up on the bed or couch).
•Never allow your dog to growl without telling him “no”. If he growls at another dog, a visitor, or a child, send him to his bed (or crate, if you use one) for a “time out”.
•Do not allow your dog to jump up on your lap without being called.
•If you want to let your dog sleep on your bed, have him do so at the bottom of the bed, at your feet. He does not need a pillow.
•Feed your dog in his own bowl after the family has finished their meal. You can change this rule later if you want, but while dealing with the small dog syndrome he needs to realize he is a dog and will be treated in that way.
Are you the cause of your little dog´s Small Dog Syndrome
Teaching Your Small Dog To Bark Less
Now that your small dog no longer suffers from the syndrome, what are the five best ways to train him to bark less frequently?
Are some dog breeds more likely to bark than others? Sure, and if you choose a Maltese, a Miniature Schnauzer, or one of the small terrier breeds that is used to barking to alert you to any changes around the house, you need to start training your puppy early or are in for a lot of barking. Even though you can train your dog to bark less, some breeds are more likely to use a bark every time they feel the need.
Not all small dogs need to bark more than big dogs, however. Some dog owners will try anything, like shock collars or citronella spray collars, but some of them are cruel and most of those do not work. Some dogs modify the pitch of their barks so that the collars no longer work, and others will just wait until the collar is off and then start barking as much as before.
A collar is not the answer but there are some things you can do.
If you are the owner of a solitary French Bulldog or one of the other small dog breeds that do not bark much, here are a few simple methods to keep her from becoming an excessive barker:
- Never ignore your dog when she is barking to alert you. If she goes to the door to bark at a stranger, praise her with “good dog”, then tell her to lie down in her bed while you deal with the distraction. (Barking once to alert you is fine. Barking excessively is not.)
- Always ignore your dog when she starts barking for no reason or if she is ordering you around. If your dog keeps barking even when you ignore her, do not yell at her and provide her with an excuse to bark even more. You can put a leash on the dog and lead her to a room where she will not be able to be with you, effectively training her that barking means isolation from the rest of the pack.
- Never reward your dog for barking excessively. If your little dog comes up to you and barks to get up on your lap, tell her “no”, order her to her bed, and then (as long as she is no longer barking) you can call her to you and let her up after a five minute break. This goes for the bed at night too. If you want to let your small dog sleep in your bed, do not let her bark and tell her when she wants to get up.
- Even though your dog is small, she still needs daily exercise. Take her for long walks, and allow some of those outings to be “smellfests” where she has the chance to sniff markings on fire hydrants and other objects. If your dog is tired and content from walking she is going to be less likely to try to establish her dominance by barking excessively.
- If you have more than one dog, confine him as soon as he starts barking. He will learn that barking excessively leads to isolation.
More About Barking
- How to Train a Dog Not to Bark
The main cause of excessive barking in dogs is boredom, usually lack of exercise. Learn what to do.
- How to Train A Dog when to Bark and Stop
Teaching your dog to bark on command is useful for personal protection and guard dogs, but did you know that training a dog to bark also makes him less likely to bark without a command. Learn more.
- Dogs Bark At Ghosts
Are dogs that bark at "nothing" barking at ghosts?
Why bother doing something about it?
Genetics has a lot to do with it, and if you have a breed that barks a lot there is a lot more work involved. (The “record” I have read about is for a small dog that barked over 900 times in ten minutes.) No one wants a dog that barks too much, though, no matter the size. Neighbors that have to live next to a barking dog are likely to become “anti-dog” and do their best to keep the rest of us from enjoying our canine companions.
If you have a dog that is barking excessively, try to do something about it. Although you will have much better luck with training a puppy not to bark, even an older dog can be trained to bark less if worked with.
You should start as soon as possible for the best result.
Not all small dogs need to bark more. This little Maltese was taught that excessive barking was not allowed in his household and never developed the symptoms of "small dog syndrome".
© 2014 Dr Mark