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What Is Small Dog Syndrome And How To Fix It

Welcome to the Napoleon Complex of small dogs, the nightmare scenario for any small dog owner.

It’s easy to think that you can avoid establishing you’re the alpha because of physical dominance. But small dog syndrome is a battle of mental dominance.

What Is Small Dog Syndrome?

Don’t worry small dog syndrome is a common behavior in small dogs. Small dog syndrome makes smalls dogs capable of mentally dominating bigger animals.

This syndrome often makes your dog more aggressive to dominate physically larger animals.

This is a problem because when you are not seen as the alpha, your dog will decide what they want and when they want it.

Your commands will most likely fall on deaf ears and your small dog will be out of control.

Why Is This Happening?

There are many causes for small dog syndrome and most of them are due to fear. Fear will make dogs aggressive because they don’t know how to handle situations.

What are you doing that builds up fear and small dog syndrome? Here are some specific ways you may be causing small dog syndrome.

Carrying Your Dog

They are small like a baby, but they shouldn’t always be treated like one. When you go for a walk, carrying your dog shields them from solving situations on their own. Then, your small dog will get aggressive by default because they fear the unknown.

Your Dog Is The Leader (Alpha)

Don’t worry, this can be fixed. This has happened because your dog has demanded something and you listened. This sounds odd but bare with me.

When your dog barks at you to get something and you do what they say, your dog is taught to bark and you will submit.

Your dog thinks they are the alpha. They repeat bad activity because they think that is how your relationship works.

Your Dog Is Compensating For Physical Size

Size is something that you cannot control, your dog is naturally going to be small if they are a small breed.

Since they are smaller than most other animals and humans, small dogs feel they have to act tough to survive.

Humans have a similar syndrome called Napoleon Complex, or Small Man Syndrome. Which originates from the famous French leader Napoleon.

A short, but aggressive and dominant leader in several battles.

How Do I Know My Dog Has It?

If your dog has small dog syndrome they might have several behavior problems because of it.

Some of those problems include excessive barking, growling, disobeying commands, etc.

Generally, you might know your dog has this syndrome because of alpha behavior.

If you feel like you can’t control your small dog as an adult and you feel like the beta, that is a major sign.

If your small dog has all these behaviors it is very possible they could have small dog syndrome.

A good way to confirm this is to talk to a professional and get their diagnosis and advice.

How Do I Fix It?

Enough gloom and doom, even though your dog has been taught this behavior it can be resolved. Now, it is time to go one by one through each cause and assign it a solution.

No More Carrying On Walks

Put your dog on the ground and don’t pick them up. Attach a leash to your dog’s collar and let your dog learn how to deal with each situation independently.

This will dissolve your dog’s fears over time and teach them confidence.

The less your dog fears, the less your dog will force dominance out of fear of unknown situations.

Here is a great video with a real dog!

Establish Dominance And Leadership

This is done by ignoring your dog’s aggressive demands and teaching them how to act properly.

This is done by fixing the bad behaviors your dog has learned. Like barking at you to get food, barking at you to get picked up on walks, barking at you for attention, etc.

This DOES NOT mean ignoring your dog’s needs. This means being more proactive and teaching your dog better behaviors.

For example, your dog should not have to tell you when they need food or water.

You should have a daily routine based on your dog’s required daily food and water intake. Make a schedule and stick to it, then your dog won’t have to bark.

If your dog is barking to get your attention, avoid this by ignoring them when they are barking at you.

This teaches your dog they can’t demand your attention whenever they want it.

If you want to avoid your dog demanding attention, give them some before they ask for it.

Set aside at least 15 minutes every day to play with your dog and they will be satisfied.

Lots Of Positive Reinforcement

You should use this with other strategies to reward your dog for doing what you ask. By doing this your dog will gain a positive association with the correct behaviors.

They will also learn to take your orders and give you the leadership role. Because they are getting something they want in exchange for listening to you.

Positive reinforcement is rewarding your dog when they do something right.

For example, when your dog is walking by another dog and they don’t get aggressive, give them a treat.

Wrap Up

That’s all there is to it! Never give up on your dog they are very smart animals and can learn new behaviors if you put in the time.

Small dog syndrome is more common than you think, you aren’t alone. The dog community is full of people who are willing to give advice, just ask.

But remember, if you want to solve small dog syndrome, try these steps. Stop carrying your dog, start establishing leadership, and reinforce good behavior.

Small dog syndrome pinterest image


I started this site because I am a dog lover. Most of my social feeds are full of dogs and I am always learning more about them. I also have a lifetime of experience with dogs packed with tactics, tips, and funny stories that I want to share with the world!

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