Tag Archives: little dogs

Little dogs are brave souls

Last week we talked about how little dogs have a different view of the world. Can you even imagine living in a world where everything, literally everything, is bigger than you are? It got us thinking that little dogs are brave. Amazingly so.

We aren’t big people – Fran is “taller” at 5’ 2 ¾” (she insists on the ¾), and Hope is downright short at 5-foot nuthin’. And there are lots of things we can’t do, or see, without step stools, or ladders, or climbing foolishly on top of things we probably shouldn’t. The potato chips are stored on top of the refrigerator so giving in to temptation requires effort. It usually works.

Everything requires effort

Picture of a brave little dog in a red sweater next to a person's jeans-clad legs and sneakers.

Think, just for a minute, about the tremendous expenditure of exertion and timing for a Chihuahua to climb a flight of stairs. When the dog isn’t even as tall as two steps. It’s the equivalent of a person climbing a 10+ story building in seconds. How amazing is that! And how daunting for the dog when it’s learning to navigate around the house.

Little dogs can’t see what’s up there – anywhere. Everything they do, or try, is based on the trust they have that you won’t steer them wrong.

Leap of faith

Hope has had French Bulldogs for decades. A few years ago she and her dog Teddy were visiting a friend and staying at their home. Teddy was very accustomed to jumping up on furniture to see better, or get closer. He was following Hope’s friend around her house one day – including into the bathroom. He’d never seen a furniture-styled built-in tub before. He jumped. And landed “PLOP!” in the deep, empty tub. 

He was fine – but a little untrusting for a while. The world as he knew it had sturdy surfaces, not hollow, slippery bits to trap dogs!

Take a look around

Every place your dog goes, everything you do together, is because your dog trusts you. Can you imagine being a visitor on an alien planet where everyone is bigger than you, you can’t understand anything people say, you don’t know how anything works. Not to mention the noise! You have no idea what all the noisy things do, or whether or not they’ll hurt you!

There are terrifying things all around us in the environment. The puppy in the house sits and stares when we’re outside and he hears a car go by. Or lawn mowers, string trimmers, and leaf blowers. Not even mentioning the garbage truck or the sound of backing up!

Appreciate your dog’s courage

If you’re ever impatient because your dog seems wary of some new thing – like your new robotic vacuum cleaner, give them some credit. The only reason they can function in our world is because they love and trust us. Dogs truly are amazing creatures.

Small dogs are different

In lots of ways, dogs are dogs. Their commonalities far outweigh their differences. But in a few significant ways, small guys differ from their larger counterparts. Some of those ways are purely physical. Others are more a matter of perspective.

Focus on the physical

Just in terms of the size differences – little dogs are prone to some specific maladies. Collapsing trachea is one of the most common, which is why it’s always a good idea for little dogs to wear harnesses instead of collars. Other specific issues common to toy-sized dogs include dental issues, hypoglycemia, and slipping knee caps. 

Bigger dogs also have size-related physical issues, they’re just different issues. Joint dysplasia, bloat, and wobbler syndrome are all more common in giant breeds. 

Every size of dog has something going on. As do we all. To put the physical in context – no one gets only the “best” genetics from their ancestors. There’s good and bad in everybody’s genes. Same for dogs.

Differences in outlook

Picture of a Shih Tzu illustrating that small dogs are different

Small dogs see the world from a different point of view. As a thought experiment – picture yourself walking through a forest of giant Redwood trees. Now imagine that all of those giant trees had two legs and were moving around. And you have no way of knowing which way they’re going. Not mentioning that those trees, with their long legs, are going so fast that you can barely keep up. Or get out of the way.

For a more realistic sample, get down on your floor. Not on your hands and knees. That would be a medium or large dog’s point of view. Get down on your stomach and see your surroundings from your little dog’s viewpoint. Be sure not to kick your dog while you army-crawl around to take a look. 

Small dog issues

The world’s a different place when your sight line is less than a foot off the ground. It’s likely you’ve seen all kinds of nooks and crannies around the place you never noticed. And dust bunnies even the most meticulous housekeeper had no idea were there. Not to mention all the cords there are to chew. When you think about all the trouble your small dog could have gotten into, and didn’t,  it’s marvelous she’s such a good girl. 

Small dogs are often faulted for being hyper, or yappy, or jumping on people. But let’s face it. Behavior that people don’t tolerate in larger dogs, like jumping, is often not addressed with little dogs. Their jumping doesn’t hurt, and likely won’t knock anyone over, so small dogs aren’t trained not to do it.

Same with walking calmly by your side. Little dogs learn quickly how to avoid getting stepped on. And most people don’t care where their dogs are walking, as long as it’s not underfoot. Many little dogs are actually afraid of feet. We can’t blame them. Getting those tiny paws stepped on a couple of times would teach any dog that feet are scary.

Call for attention

Of course there’s no reason that little dogs can’t be trained to behave appropriately at home and out. But many people don’t bother, knowing they can simply pick up their dogs to get out of a difficult situation. It’s certainly more fun to bring your dog anywhere with you, knowing he’ll behave himself. But there is some effort involved in acclimating dogs to society.

We know one woman whose Chihuahua is a hostile, reactive menace. Both at home and, when she used to take it places, away. Offered all kinds of resources to help her dog become more comfortable with the world, this woman refused. She feels safer knowing that no one can approach her, or her home. That’s her choice. But we feel a bit sorry for the dog.

Go against stereotype

Small dogs are just as smart, trainable, and terrific as any other dog. Some are smarter than others. Some are absolutely brilliant. A few may have candlepower that only flickers. But all dogs deserve the chance to live up to their full potential. Understanding your dog’s unique view of the world may be a door to letting your dog unlock the best she can be. The view from under the couch may be different, but it doesn’t limit their lives.

Why small dogs are troublemakers

Small dogs are troublemakers.

They can’t help it. It’s in their nature to explore every nook and cranny of their world. And, because of their size, they can fit into the smallest spaces. Especially the ones we can’t reach. 

four small dog troublemakers

They’re at their curious worst when they’re puppies. They’re even tinier and can fit into even smaller spots. Keeping track of Boston Terrier puppy is like being on a perpetual carnival ride. Both of you are in constant motion when the puppy’s awake. Fortunately, puppies nap a lot. And when they do, every bit of waking aggravation is eclipsed by their cuteness. 

Chaos is their job

A blanket statement like “small dogs are troublemakers” is just begging for contradiction. And, anecdotally, we know there are some incredibly angelic little dogs out there. We’ve just never met one. And we’ve encountered a multitude in our time.

It makes sense, when you consider their background. The vast majority of small dog breeds were developed as vermin-hunters. They have the size they do to fit into rats’ nests and vermin holes. Many people are surprised to find out that the elegant-looking Yorkshire Terrier breed was developed in the fabric mills of Yorkshire to rid the factories of rats. They look like fairy pets. They’re fierce like the dickens.

Where did this come from?

Small vermin-hunting dog breeds are also designed to work independently of people. Unlike most hunting and sporting dogs, little dogs “do their thing,” without any direction from their owners. The low-slung Dachshund are solo hunters, with badgers and other tunneling animals their primary prey. 

One possible exception may be the Toy Poodle. All Poodles are water retrievers, bringing back game brought down over water. Small dogs are not, by any stretch of the imagination, frou-frou, do-nothing creatures.

Which brings up a whole set of issues for people “downsizing” from bigger dogs. While it’s true that little dogs are easier to carry, you have to get hold of them first. Anyone who’s ever tried to coerce a little dog into staying where it doesn’t want to be (like the bathtub), knows the feeling. If you don’t know the taste of dog shampoo, you’ve never had a little dog. 

Problem solvers

These independent little hunters had to figure out, on their own, how to get to their prey. In modern times, this leads to all kinds of trouble, from figuring out how to open crate doors, to cabinets (where the snacks are), to climbing onto furniture (tables, kitchen counters). They can get under, and over, and into just about anything their creative minds desire. Which is why small dogs are troublemakers.

One of the best ways to make sure your dog stays out of mischief is to keep his brain engaged. If she’s trying to solve puzzles you’ve created, she’s not making up her own. One of our favorite games is “find it,” or a version of hide and seek. Deliberately place some treats around the house, in accessible but not obvious places. Small plastic leftover containers to keep the treats from getting too lost. 

A tired dog is a good dog

Your dog will love “finding” the treats. Even more than if you handed them to her. Dogs do feel a sense of accomplishment. Achieving a goal, using their natural abilities, and engaging their brains makes a good day for any little dog. And you’ll both have fun, too.

If your “find it” game whets your appetite for more, please check out our dog-training site: 2-Minute-Trainer.com You’ll find all kinds of training games to play with your dog, and new tips every week for more fun with your little troublemaker.

Does dog size matter? Big vs. little dogs

Does the size of the dog matter? Are little dogs smaller in anything but size?

There are all kinds of sayings about dogs. The one we hear all the time is “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog!”

Which is nonsense, of course. Except that it does point out that it’s attitude that matters more than actual size.

We love little dogs!

Many times when people come into the shop they say “We have big dogs, can we come in?”

And our absolutely truthful answer is: “We love all dogs – you and your dog are welcome here!” And the next comment, inevitably, is why little dogs?

Simply put – it’s harder to find “stuff” for small dogs, so, as small dog people, we created the shop we needed.

Put in perspective: there’s not a lot of size difference between a harness for a 60 lb. dog and a 70 lb. dog. There’s a huge size difference between a harness for a 5 lb. dog and a 15 lb. dog. The 15 lb. dog is three times the size of the five pounder!

Talking dog breed sizes

This week Hope was interviewed for a story about “small dog breeds for big dog people.” We suppose that when people are looking to downsize, they may want to shrink their dogs, too!

But as we told the reporter, different dog breeds were developed to do different “jobs” – and most of those jobs aren’t interchangeable.

Born this way

mastiff looking at camera

Most bigger dog breeds have the jobs of protecting, herding, sporting, or hunting. All of those jobs are done alongside people, with dog and human acting as a team. The sport of dog obedience, to this day, follows some of the traditions of long ago. Dogs “heel” on the left so that their humans’ right hand was free for fighting, or shooting, or using whatever tool the job required.

Different jobs, different looks

Smaller dog breeds do different jobs – the ones they were bred to do. Pest control is a specialty of most little dog breeds. For example, the adorable and elegant-looking Yorkshire Terrier is a determined little ratter whose original job was to keep the fabric mills of Yorkshire free of pests.

Bred for the job

Fox terrier head shot, 3/4 view looking to left

The other main “job” of little dogs is companionship. In today’s world, dogs of all sizes fill this role. Although it’s always a good idea to keep in mind the dog’s original function. A Border Collie isn’t well-suited to life in a city apartment where the owner works all day. Just as a Pug may not be the best companion for a marathon runner who wants an exercise buddy.