Small Dog Syndrome: Don’t let your Small Dog Rule the House

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Small Dog Syndrome
How to Solve a Big Problem with Little Dogs

“If your small dog has already assumed control of the household,
you need to reassert yourself.”

Small dog syndrome is the name for certain kinds of bad behavior in small dogs. This kind of behavior can go unnoticed at first, but can lead to worse behavior problems. The original behaviors may initially seem cute because they are being done by a small dog, and not by a large dog.

For example, if a small dog is growling, many owners find it “cute.” They would probably never put up with this kind of behavior in a larger dog, but if a Chihuahua does it, they may think it’s adorable. Until the Chihuahua ends up biting them.

Small Dog Syndrome – Whose Fault is It?

The reason small dog syndrome occurs is due to the owner. Instead of treating the small dog like any other dog, the owner treats them like a baby or a small human child. Or they feel they need to give the small dog special protection or attention because of its small size. As a result, the dog is allowed to misbehave.

The dog might be allowed to growl at people, bark too much, snap at people, be bossy, try to dominate other pets, jump up on people, and do other things that most ordinary dogs would not be allowed to do. As a result, the dog starts thinking that he can do whatever he wants to do. He sees no reason why he should listen to the owner at all.

Small Dog SyndromeThe owner has given up any position of authority by trying to please the dog so much. No rules or commands are being enforced.

Since there is no leadership in the home, the small dog thinks that he can assume the leadership position. That’s when you really have a problem. The dog will do whatever he wants to do, including bossing around the owner. At this point someone can get hurt.

Unfortunately, this problem is fairly common among small dog breeds and their owners, but it is not the dog’s fault. It is the owner’s fault.

How to Prevent Small Dog Syndrome

You can prevent small dog syndrome from occurring by treating your small dog like a real dog, no matter how small he is. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a Chihuahua, a Yorkshire Terrier, or how small or cute he is.

He is still a dog. He thinks he is a dog. He doesn’t know that he is small. If you allow him to misbehave, he will try to assume control of the household.

Small dogs do not lack confidence in any way. Most of them are quite bold. Unless you maintain your authority as the owner and the person in charge, your dog will be telling you what to do, and no one will be happy.

If your dog has already assumed control of the household, then you need to reassert yourself. Sign your dog up for some basic dog obedience classes to help you restore your position as the leader in the home. Take charge of your dog’s meals and start feeding him by hand.

If you take away your dog’s dish and feed him by hand, it will remind him that he must look to you for his food. Do not restore the dish until his behavior improves.

Regaining Control from a Small Dog

Take back your place on the sofa and bed and only let him up on those places when you invite him there. In other words, start putting yourself first and showing your small dog that you are in charge in the home.

You do not need to be rough or mean to your dog, but you do need to be firm and in charge. Your dog will be glad to give up control once he knows that you are assuming the leadership role.

Once you are in charge again, you can start working on some of the individual dog behavior problems such as growling at people or other dogs, or jumping up on people. These are not cute behaviors, no matter how small your dog is.


Small dog syndrome is a collection of bad behaviors carried out by small dogs when they feel they have the upper hand in the home. This bad behavior occurs because the owner has treated the dog like a baby or tried to treat him like he’s special because of his size.

If your dog has small dog syndrome you need to regain your authority in the home as soon as possible.

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