If your toy dog is a pain in the neck, he’s probably suffering from Small Dog Syndrome and the problem originates with — YOU! So what exactly IS Small Dog Syndrome, and how do you overcome it?
Is Your Morkie a Spoiled, Snarky Brat?
Symptoms of Small Dog Syndrome
This syndrome defines the little dog who is spoiled and obnoxious.
It is the caricature of some breeds, like Chihuahuas or toy Poodles.
Yet there’s no biological reason for whiny, entitled dogs; they all started out as canines. But pets with small dog syndrome have been trained to act badly.
- being territorial over areas of the house, toys, food or people
- biting and yapping
- peeing or marking all over the house
- ignoring house training or potty training
- obsessions with certain toys, food bowl or people
You would never accept this behavior from a large dog.
Small Dog Syndrome is NOT the same as Separation Anxiety
Separation Anxiety is a serious problem, not a mere annoyance like Small Dog Syndrome.
A dog with Separation Anxiety is nervous, frantic, sad and agitated when separated from his main caregiver.
There are steps you can take to reduce Separation Anxiety in your Morkie, but it’s likely that the original causes are beyond your control:
- was your dog removed from the litter too early? Toy dogs should stay with their mothers until they’re at least 8 weeks old.
- was your dog surrendered to a shelter, abandoned or given to a new family?
- has the dog lost someone significant in his life?
- has there been a traumatic event in his early life, such as an attack by a large dog?
- time spent in a pet shop or an animal shelter
- being a puppy mill dog
For more about resolving this painful situation, please check out the ASPCA’s article here.
“Small dogs compensate for their size by acting big and tough when they feel intimidated, nervous, upset, threatened or afraid.”
Isn’t Small Dog Syndrome natural?
Small dog syndrome, or the tendency for tiny dogs to be yappy, untrained, snappy and generally obnoxious, is not something that is natural or common to small breeds by nature.
It’s learned behavior that is brought about by the way we owners treat our toy dogs.
As humans, we are programmed by Mother Nature to coddle and take special care of creatures we perceive as ‘babies.’ No surprise, it’s a biological response, and it’s how our race has survived. The problem is, toy dogs, with their big eyes and tiny size, bring out that same “babying” tendency in us, even when they are adult dogs.
So we keep over-compensating for their small size (carrying them everywhere!) and overlooking bad behavior that we would never tolerate in a medium or large size dog.
The good news is, with some understanding of the roots of the problem and active steps to counteract it, you’ll have a happier, healthier and more centered small dog.
What Small Dog Syndrome is NOT
- It’s not a high spirit, outgoing dog.
- It’s not a happy, sociable dog.
- It’s not a high-personality dog.
A dog with Small Dog Syndrome is a spoiled dog who has decided to take the lead in his or her household. The “SDS Dog” often doesn’t see himself as a dog.
But doubling down on discipline is not the solution. In fact, it can make an SDS Dog worse!
More firm discipline on its own can actually make Small Dog Syndrome WORSE
How to Conquer Small Dog Syndrome
Remember, your Morkie is:
- first an animal
- then a dog
- then the breed – a Morkie
- then, and only then, your pet named “X.”
Once you understand your role in treating your Morkie like a little person, not a dog, then you can start taking steps to combat the problem including:
- stop carrying your little dog all over – do you see a 15-year-old human child in a stroller?
- don’t let your little dog jump up on you – would it be OK if your dog were a Rottweiler?
- let your dog know with a sharp verbal correction, incessant barking and yapping are not acceptable. Or withdraw your attention to make your point.
- don’t let your small dog sit on you to “claim you.” As the owner, you set the time for snuggles.
- ensure your little dog has his own bed and designated quiet area; a corner or an open door crate works well.
- don’t encourage hysterical behavior by comforting your dog; just ignore it.
So what’s a Napoleon Complex and does your Morkie have one?
The Napoleon Complex is named after Emperor Napoleon I of France (1769 – 1821). A French statesman and military leader, he rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars (France vs. Great Britain)
Common folklore about him suggests that Napoleon compensated for his lack of height by seeking power, war, and conquest. His enemies, the British, mocked him as being small and short-tempered.
It turns out Napoleon was of average height for the time (5′ 7″ or so), but the term Napoleon Complex stuck. Today it’s the theory that says people overcompensate for short stature with aggressive social behavior and an attempt to dominate others.