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Small Dog Syndrome (SDS) – Does Your Dog Display It?
A hefty percentage of phone calls dog trainers and behaviorists receive, are for help to angst owners of small dogs that appear Small Dog Saa (SDS). Small Dog Syndrome is also amusingly referred to as “The Napoleon Complex.” In your dog’s head, YOU are not their boss! Even though you may need a magnifying glass to see him or her, they are absolute and unchallenged sovereigns of their kingdom, thank you.
The problem is, most dogs don’t want to be the boss. They only do it because they understand that you lack the leadership skills needed for their pack to survive. Giving this responsibility to your dog can raise their anxiety and increase their stress level. Small Dog Disease does not make for a well-adjusted, safe and most importantly, happy dog.
What most small dog owners don’t realize or want to admit is, they are the source of the problem… not the dog! Dogs live in time. If they can get away with something, they will repeat the behavior. Now, he deals with a big issue and serious and dangerous behavior problems. It’s time for you to step up to the plate, and accept your responsibilities.
You are not doing your dog any favors, by accepting inappropriate behavior. Unfortunately what often happens is, the situation is out of control, that the dog is surrendered to a shelter. Since they will be difficult to place in a new home due to behavioral problems, they are often among the first to be naive.
So, before that happens with your dog, let’s look at the problem, the source and the remedy.
Dogs are social animals. They have survived for thousands of years, because of it. Most likely, your dog was taught doggie behavior when they were puppies, by their litter mates and their mother. They teach each member of a group their place within that group. Being cute is not important!
The dog is inherently programmed to follow the Alpha dog of their pack; male and/or female without question. They see you and their family as their package. In homes without justice, integrity and consistent leadership from human members of the pack, there is anarchy! Because you don’t enforce the pack situation by keeping your dog below the pack, your invisible canine has turned into a sympathetic bully. The forces are reversed… your dog rules the house and the pack! You are just there to serve them without fail.
Often, owners of dogs with SDS, have endless excuses for their dog’s erratic behavior. Everyone thinks he’s cute or funny when he’s a pup, so they allow him to get away with unacceptable behavior. What is ironic is that the same misbehavior will not be tolerated for a second, if their dog is big. In due course, there will be an unfortunate event. That’s when the owner is on the phone, begging for help from a trainer or behaviorist.
Below you will find a few inappropriate behavior issues that are often exhibited by dogs with SDS. How much does your dog show?
Separation Anxiety – becomes panicked, to the point of nipping, when the owner or guests leave the house or even go to the bathroom without them
Having food or toys
Bullying other pets at home
He has no respect for boundaries – possessiveness furniture – claiming a bed, couch or chair
Wary of visitors and/or children
A very hot forest
Jumping on people
Sit on your lap while driving
Urinate or urinate regularly
Instead of aggression
Unpredictable signs of furies: noise, teeth chattering, barking and even biting their owners!
Lack of socialization and coping skills
Jealousy – claiming ownership of their humanity
Insist on moving
Pull on the leash
Walk in front of people while walking or going through doors
You are the source of the problem. By allowing your dog to get away with inappropriate behavior, you are only reinforcing it. Since dogs live in this period, correction must be done immediately for your dog to integrate a specific behavior is not satisfactory. If correction is not made, the behavior will continue or worsen.
The repair is not easy, because until now let’s face it, your dog is spoiled. In order to be effective, you must first change your thinking and behavior. Fix yourself, before you can help your dog. The best way is to remember, when your dog pays your taxes and bills, you will follow their rules. Until then, you are the boss!
You can start with socialization and positive reinforcement, obedience training without punishment. Find a local trainer who applies positive reinforcement methods. Seriously, get your dog into a group class.
There is no free lunch! The little poochie lover must learn that they have to earn everything they get. That includes treats, treats, toys, walks, playtime, games, your attention…everything! No tick, no laundry!
Since you paid for that bed, couch or chair, your throne is not theirs. Get it back, today! Keep your dog off all furniture. Make a comfortable bed for them, and stick to it. They have to learn to respect your boundaries.
Ignore them when you leave the house. If they attack you, correct it immediately! You do not need your dog’s permission to leave the room or house. You are not their property.
Set boundaries. Keep them out of the bathroom when you need to use them. Do not allow them on your lap when you are on the computer, or on the phone.
Let them be able to sit on your lap. You design how much time they are allowed there, not them.
Keep them off your level, especially when you have guests. They are not allowed to claim you as their property.
Build your dog, people go through the first doors.
Don’t give in to your dog’s request to move all the time. They have four healthy legs! Let them use them.
Walk your dog. The exercise will help burn off some of that energy and anxiety. A tired dog is a good dog!
Exercise, exercise, exercise! You decide when the playtime starts and ends.
Dogs learn manners from other dogs. Not all dogs will tolerate your dog’s behavior. They may need to be knocked down a peg or two by another dog. This does not mean that they have to hurt, but if another dog is teaching your dog manners in an appropriate way, stay away from it!
Train your dog from the heel. Don’t let them walk in front of you. Remove that elastic cord. Shaking them in and out like a fish on a hook only increases the drag.
Don’t allow yourself to jump on it. Ignore them, until they calm down. Only then, he acknowledges them.
Do not pay attention to their requests. You decide when attention should be given… and it’s only when they don’t expect or ask for it. By constantly reassuring your dog, you are inadvertently increasing their stress level and their inability to cope with day to day life.
Take control over food and toys. You pay for them…they are yours! Have your dog earn their food and toys by following your commands, such as sit, stay, down, stand or leave, before they are rewarded with what they want.
Do not tolerate their bullying of other pets or animals. It’s not cute. Immediately adjust stability when your dog’s behavior becomes aggressive. You must enter as a leader, to protect the other members of the pack.
Most importantly, praise them when their behavior is appropriate, so they can join the team, this behavior makes the boss happy! That’s the behavior you want to reinforce. Good motivation goes a long way. They will soon learn that life is good and stress free, when the leader is happy.
Bottom line: The only way change in your dog’s behavior will occur, is when you change yours. If you are afraid of your dog, call a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. Your dog will sense your calmness and use it to their advantage. Before something regretful happens or before you give them up, help them learn to be a happy dog.
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