The struggle is real. In a dog eat dog world, size matters! As a professional dog walker and pet sitter, I love dogs of all statures… but did you know there is special care to consider with small dogs? Do you own a small dog, or are you considering getting one? Read on for tips and considerations for tiny tots, and how care for a small dog can be unique.
It’s a big world out there. Remember back when you were a kid, and everything seemed bigger than it is now? Well, for a small dog, this is their world every day, and special considerations need to be taken on a daily basis for tiny statured pups. Find canine play buddies who are respectful of your dog’s size. Dog parks and doggie daycares may not be the best option for a small dog, who could easily get trampled, hurt, or attacked by another larger dog. Consider hiring a professional dog walker for your small pooch, to ensure more safety while exercising and socializing. Want to take your wee bit to a dog-friendly public event, like the South Shore farmer’s market or PetFest? Consider a front pack carrier, to ensure your adorable munchkin doesn’t get stepped on, or overwhelmed by the large crowd. Also remember that for every step you take, your teacup pup might need to take 5 or 10 steps! Keep walking distances reasonable to each individual dog’s needs. Carry or front pack your tiny tot on longer adventures, so they are not over-worked.
Handle with care. Tiny dogs have tiny, easily breakable bodies. For this reason, consider your environment and lifestyle before getting a small dog. If you have lots of stairs in your home, this can create unique struggles for an itty bitty pup, requiring you to carry or assist your canine. Prevent falling or injuries by gating off or restricting access to stair cases when you cannot help your dog up and down. If you are clumsy and known to trip over yourself, having a tiny pooch beneath your feet may not be the best option for you. Children must be taught how to safely handle, pick up, and put down a small dog. Never allow a small dog to leap out of your arms onto the floor (like a cat might do) — what appears like a short distance to you, may be like miles for your tiny pup. Tumbling out of someone’s arms can be a common cause of injury in small dogs. Similarly, jumping up and off furniture is a much greater leap for a small dog, and could cause serious injury as well. Pet stairs are now widely sold as a great alternative for allowing your small dog up and off furniture and beds. Small dogs don’t regulate temperature as well as large dogs, so they may require clothing and outerwear to keep warm in colder months.
Tiny doesn’t mean training is exempt. As a professional dog trainer, I consistently see significant behavioral problems, such as aggression and anxiety, in small dogs. In fact, due to the unique challenges a small dog faces every day, I find that it is vital to train your tiny tot, if you want a well-socialized and emotionally healthy dog. Being small can be scary. This can create a world of problems, such as fearfulness and aggressive behaviors. Unfortunately, the general public will flock to your adorable miniature canine, regardless if your dog wants to be approached or not. Train your dog to love being handled, held, and approached by strangers and children. Do not hold your dog all the time — this will only create an exalted, Napoleonic complex in your small pup, or perhaps encourage the makings of serious separation anxiety. Please remember even though you may love your dog like it’s your child, not to treat them like one. A dog is a dog, no matter the size. Keep your dog emotionally stable and happy by using consistent, positive-reinforcement based training, offering plentiful exercise, and being a benevolent leader of your pack!
Written by Katelyn Schutz CPDT