Cute or Confounding? A Look at Small Dog Aggression – Animal Medical Hospital Blog – Charlotte, NC

Small dog breeds have a lot going for them. Beyond their extreme cute factor, small dogs enjoy smaller spaces, shorter walks, and less food (and other gear) than their larger relatives. What’s more, small dog breeds pack a lot of personality onto those little paws! While they can definitely be loving and easy-going, small dogs have a reputation for being little terrors. What’s behind small dog aggression, and what can be done to prevent behavioral problems?

The Boss 

It can be quite humorous to observe a teeny, tiny dog acting like they own the place. Because of their size, people love the bossy-pants antics of little dogs. While fun and amusing for strangers to watch, owners of these bite-sized bullies can endure real social problems.

Do They Know?

There is a popular theory that small dogs act aggressively because they know they’re smaller than everybody else. Painfully or awkwardly aware of their limited stature, they overcompensate for their size. 

Small dog aggression can be characterized by the following behaviors:

  • Making a scene of jumping up on others, especially people or larger dogs
  • Overly excited behavior, zipping around, hopping up onto surfaces, and otherwise attempting to make themselves the center of attention.
  • Growling, lunging, and snapping at individuals perceived as threatening.
  • Withdrawl from the social scene, hiding or running away from larger dogs.
  • Resistance during obedience training, refusal of commands.

A Glance at Genetics

It’s possible that genetics play a role in small dog aggression and other behavioral problems. Aggression has been bred out of many large breeds (it is, after all, not conducive to peaceful cohabitation), but not necessarily in small dog breeds. Because small dog aggression isn’t life-threatening (the way it definitely is in larger breeds), it’s tolerated and even rewarded.

They Aren’t Even Close to Scary

Owners of small dogs dismiss undesirable behaviors in part because their small dogs can’t do a lot of damage with those small teeth and jaws. However, living with a small dog who acts like a big bully can be miserable.

Take action in the following ways to curb small dog aggression:

  • Commit to regular training. Stay consistent and patient. Only reward good behavior, ignore behaviors that you want to see less of. 
  • Maintain a routine. Set clear expectations for your dog and do not stray from them. If you live with others, be sure to have a list available that everyone can consult when dealing with small dog aggression. 
  • Keep your small pet happy with daily exercise, play time, and close attention. Mental and physical stimulation are equally important. 
  • Set up opportunities for your small dog to safely interact with other pets and people. If they don’t have ample or positive experiences, their social skills can get rusty. Closely supervise and separate your dog if they behave aggressively toward others. 

Small Dog Aggression

Concerns about your dog’s behavior should be handled promptly. Please call us at (704) 334-4684 to set up a behavioral consultation. Our team is always here for your dog at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care

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