Little Dog Syndrome
3rd October 2018
Little Dog Syndrome or LDS, is a common disorder in small dogs. How do dogs develop LDS? Like with many disorders, it occurs over time and without us knowing and in too many instances, with our implied consent through inadvertent conditioning.
Two training concepts to consider to help determine if your dog has LDS:
- When we are being neighbourly we might say "come on over whenever." Do we mean that? Not really. The implied part of "come on over whenever" is "when invited." When a dog makes himself bigger he is showing you how great they are. After all, height matters. Judges sit on benches, lifeguards in towers, and kings and queens sit on thrones. So, consider the following scenario; you're sitting on the sofa, your dog jumps up, sits on you or over you on the back of the sofa and because they are cute and awesome, what might we do? Praise them and tell them how awesome they are. Now, I am not saying this is a bad thing, but stay with me here, and try to understand what is happening from a conditioning perspective. You are praising your dog for inviting himself into your space and praising your dog for acting assertive or dominant. So, you are potentially thanking your neighbour for barging into your home at 2:00 am and them paying them for doing so.
- When a little dog is acting up, an all too common means of correcting or teaching is to physically pick up the dog. Now, can you think of any custom, culture or religion on the planet where lowering your height shows you're in charge? Me either. So, from the dog's perspective here is what is happening. By lowering your height you're showing the dog a body language queue of praise or encouragement. When you pick the dog up and then stand up you are elevating the dog or giving the dog authority. You're putting the dog on a pedestal of sorts. Again, essentially and inadvertently rewarding the dog for getting adrenalised and intense.
So, with the above scenarios, we are inadvertently praising and rewarding the dog for being assertive and adrenalised. If we do this enough, your dog will be a good candidate for LDS.
But LDS can be treated and prevented. How? Treat your little dog, like a big dog. If you would not allow a big dog to do something, do not let your little dog do that thing. In short, treat your dog not based upon their size, but by the content of their character. For the record, my dog is allowed on my sofa, but just like my neighbour, when invited.
Bark Busters never condone picking up a little dog or holding a larger dog as a means of correcting or educating because physicality creates adrenaline. Adrenalised dogs have a very difficult time learning and being able to recall and do things previously taught. If you would like to learn how to teach your dog manners, you first must learn to speak #speakdogtheBarkBustersWay!