If you have a small dog, you know the joys of picking up your pet with one arm and heading out the door. Small dogs are perfect lap dogs, and many love to be carried around, pampered and preened over. They’re also prone to something that some trainers refer to as SDS, or Small Dog Syndrome.
If your tiny dog has ever shown extremely aggressive behavior toward a big dog, you might be dealing with a case of SDS. Some people don’t take it very seriously because of the a dog’s size. But you should consider if that same behavior would be all right if your dog were a pit bull or a larger breed. If not, it shouldn’t be allowed in a small dog.
Fortunately, there are ways to put an end to this behavior.
A Dog Harness and Leash
Many people let their small dogs off their leashes in places they’d probably never dare do so with a larger dog. This is often because a tiny breed isn’t seen as being able to do much damage, especially to a larger dog, even though they might charge and bark aggressively.
If your dog shows this type of behavior, use a dog harness or collar and a dog leash until you’ve trained your pet not to do these things. This allows you to control her better and teach other behaviors. Never let her run up to a bigger dog aggressively. You can use a shock-absorbing leash from EzyDog and harness for comfortable control to keep her still when she pulls against the small dog leash.
Take her around bigger dogs to see how close she can get before exhibiting the behavior. Try to get her in this range and distract her pleasantly with treats and praise. Soon, she’ll come to see that being near a big dog can be pleasant. If she starts barking and acting aggressively, don’t shout or punish, but gently move to a distance that’s comfortable. Slowly get closer and closer to big dogs over time, with treats and praise to distract her, until she no longer barks and acts up near them.
Depending on how much the aggressive behavior was reinforced before you begin, you might benefit from using an actual trainer to at least get you started.
Prevent SDS in Your New Dog
To start training properly from the beginning and prevent Small Dog Syndrome completely, don’t reward the behavior of barking and rushing bigger dogs (no matter how cute it might seem at the time). Always have your pet on a dog leash around other dogs so you can stop this behavior in the beginning.
And don’t avoid big dogs in an effort to protect your small one. Socialization as a puppy can help your dog be comfortable around dogs of all sizes so the bad behavior never starts.