Do you live with a toy dog? Toy dogs are classified as being 20 pounds or less. I have some helpful hints for you if you’re raising a little dog and you want to have a happy and healthy, well adjusted companion pet.
First, keep in mind that a little dog views the world much differently. EVERYTHING looks huge to a little dog. This is why they seem so much more reactive to their environment. Some of these little dogs don’t know they’re little, based on their behaviors. Many of the small breeds seem like they’re very big dogs in small bodies. Movement also creates a lot of excitement to them – they’re always afraid that they’re going to get stepped on.
Begin socializing your puppy as soon as you get him home. Each week introduce your new puppy to all sorts of different people, but not all at the same time. Introduce him to people coming into your home. Introduce him to your neighbors. Take him for walks in a park and teach him to sit politely for a greeting from a stranger. Hand the stranger a treat, and tell this person to wait for the dog to sit first, and then they can kneel down and offer the dog the treat reward. Try to find other friendly puppies or dogs of the same size or similar sizes to play with your dog. Put your dog in the car and take him with you on your errands. Take him to get gas in your car so that he gets used to someone reaching inside the car to give you change. Introduce your little dog to people in uniforms, like the mailman or a police officer.
THE WINDOW OF SOCIALIZATION CLOSES AT 12-14 WEEKS. If you do not give your dog sufficient socialization, your dog will never reach his full potential of being a friendly dog.
Little dogs seldom like it when people lean over them, or pet them over top of their heads. The best way for someone to greet your dog is to kneel down along their side, and pet them along that same side where they’re standing. If your dog shows any shyness or fearfulness, tell people NOT to make eye contact with your dog. Dogs consider staring as a threatening behavior.
When you’re housetraining a small breed puppy, don’t lose your patience, because it may be more of a challenge to housetrain him than it would be with a German Shepherd, or a Golden Retriever. First, they have very little bladders, so don’t expect your toy dog puppy to hold it in for long periods. As soon as he’s finished a meal, take him out to relieve himself. If you’ve been training him with treats, take him out immediately following your training sessions because he’ll have to go for sure. Take extra special care in getting your puppy out very often to go to avoid accidents.
So many people think that their little dogs don’t have feet! Put your dog down on all 4’s so that he can exercise. Sometimes, when you carry a little dog around all the time, you can give him a Napoleon Complex. Did you ever try to pet a Chihuahua or Pomeranian when their owners were carrying them around? You just might get bitten! Be very cautious about what dogs you introduce your little dog to. Big dogs sometimes see little dogs as DINNER!
One thing you should consider before bringing a toy dog home. Toy dogs and little children don’t make the best combination. Children can accidentally injure little dogs, and some dogs have been killed because a small child has picked up the dog and dropped it. Many of the small dogs, as mentioned before, are more reactive to things, and they can be a little nippy and growly. Teach your children to respect your dog by not pulling tails, ears or jumping on the dog. Teach children that not all dogs like to be hugged or kissed on the face! Many times, children will get nipped or bitten on the face because of this very same thing. Teach children not to chase the dog, nor allow the dog to chase the children. All dogs have, what is referred to as, PREY DRIVE. Little children often behave like wounded prey! Running, screaming, arms flailing get dogs all excited, and will create inappropriate behavior in the dog because of that instinctual prey drive. Remember to supervise ALL interactions between the dog and your children. NO MATTER WHAT BREED OF DOG, ALWAYS SUPERVISE THE CHILDREN AND THE DOG WHEN THEY ARE TOGETHER. If you can’t supervise, please crate your dog or put him behind a baby gate until you can watch everybody. Once your dog matures to adulthood, you will have a perpetual 2 year old living with you!
When walking your little dog, use a harness instead of a collar. I get very upset anytime I see a tiny dog being walked with a choke collar. Little dogs are prone to having a collapsed trachea, so putting any pressure on that area should always be avoided.
Teach your toy dog obedience. Obedience is the way to let your dog know that you’re his decision-maker. When dogs don’t have confidence in their people, they will assume the role of decision and rule-making themselves. If your dog is growling at you, biting you or your children, OR, if he is demanding your attention and pretty much, ruling your house, your dog is telling you that he is taking on “your role” of being in charge. I see this waaay too often with dogs who are spoiled! Become a good pet-parent by requiring he earn his privileges. Do this by asking him to sit (or lie down, or make eye contact with you) before being fed his meals, his treats, playing with you, getting the leash put on for walks and rides, and for getting petted. Teach him that if he wants his meals and treats, and other desirable privileges that YOU decide he can have, he must do a little something for you FIRST.
Little dogs are also prone to dental disease because their mouths can be crowded by their teeth. Learn to brush your dog’s teeth to avoid dental disease, which can also cause major health problems.
If you own a toy dog, I would urge you to purchase a book called, “The Irrepressible Toy Dog, by Darlene Arden. This book is available at www.dogwise.com
Enjoy your toy dog and good luck!