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What is the small dog syndrome?


The small dog syndrome is a behavioral disorder that is caused by inadequate education of the animal. Although you may not always be aware of it, allowing your pet to do what it wants is the first step towards developing small dog syndrome.

Usually large breed dogs are not allowed to do certain inappropriate behaviors such as, for example, jumping on people, occupying the bed or sofa, growling at strangers, pulling the leash during a walk. However, when it is a small dog, it is usually more permissive because even in these situations, mini dogs seem harmless and even funny and adorable.

In short, the small dog syndrome is the consequence of an inadequate education in which behaviors that are intolerable in any breed of dog are accepted.

These inadequate behaviors damage the sociability of the dogs turning them into temperamental animals and also very annoying when it comes to coexisting with them.

However, do not think that all is lost. With training and patience you will be able to revert and eliminate this type of behavior.



What are the consequences of small dog syndrome?

Giving him some of your own food, letting him get on the sofa, barking for attention without being scolded, confronting other animals, going ahead of you pulling the leash, … This excess of “pampering” and lack of discipline that generally occurs in small breed dogs entails a series of consequences, which are the most noticeable symptoms that can give you a clue about whether your pet has small dog syndrome:

  • Loud, energetic barking for no reason.
  • Confrontation, rivalry and aggressiveness towards other dogs.
  • Socialization problems with people and other animals.
  • Continuous asking for food.
  • Difficult coexistence.
  • Disobedience to orders.

In short, these are issues that are only allowed to small dogs, since all this would be impossible to manage in a large animal.



Is it true that small dogs are more nervous and aggressive?

Well, actually there are many types of small dogs. Each breed and each dog has its own particularities in terms of behavior, needs and reactions. Therefore, we should not generalize, since there are small dog breeds that stand out for being calm.

But it is also true that some small dogs are aware of their size and this makes them more vulnerable and may be afraid, which forces them to be more aggressive than large dogs.

In addition to the excess of consent and cuddles typical of small dog syndrome, there are other reasons why your dog may be very barky or more aggressive. You will see that all of them are related to the education and socialization of the animal:

-Separation anxiety

Abandonment syndrome in dogs also causes behavior similar to small dog syndrome. In this case, dogs cannot be left alone and become barky and able to bite everything and lose control of hygienic behaviors.

Both syndromes coincide in barking, compulsive behavior and that again a correct education and socialization is the key to solve it.


-Inadequate socialization

We have explained in many articles how important it is to get a proper socialization of the dog. In Las Almenas we try to start this socialization from the first weeks of life of our puppies.

If a correct socialization is not carried out, it is possible that the dog develops some fear, insecurity or has strange reactions in which it starts barking. Due to a lack of socialization, your dog may be aggressive with other dogs or people who are strangers to him.

When they are puppies this is very easy to solve, so it is very important that your dog is socialized as soon as possible, although you will have to be aware of the problem until he is vaccinated. If you want to know when to take your puppy outside, you can clear your doubts with this other article: When can a puppy go outside?



A bored dog is a bad combination. Dogs are terrible at being bored. They need to work, run, play and burn that energy they have. If your dog is often bored, it is easy for a multitude of behavioral problems to appear. That’s why, if he has nothing to do, as soon as he hears a sound or something different, this will attract his attention and he will start barking or doing something crazy.

To avoid this, try to stimulate him and take the opportunity to train him in useful things. This is how he will forget about other noises or stimuli that do not contribute anything.



Fear is a pathology that can appear in dogs for different reasons. The typical response of a dog to fear is flight or aggression if he is in a hurry. For this reason, many times a dog that is really afraid is labeled as aggressive. This happens precisely with small breed dogs that may be afraid of larger dogs and therefore bark or become aggressive.

In this case also the education of the dog is essential before the fear worsens and makes the barking and avoidance reactions end up becoming more aggressive behaviors.



How to avoid small dog syndrome

If with all your good intentions you are letting your dog do whatever he wants because you think it’s cute or funny, this has to stop.

It is very important that you set limits and rules and that you are not so permissive with everything he does.

You need to understand that, even if he looks like a small dog, your dog has to behave like any other dog. And he will have to be corrected when he misbehaves.

If you feel identified and want to begin to change this situation, take note of certain changes that you can undertake right now:


Don’t give up your space

Your bed is yours and so is your couch. The most convenient thing is that your dog can sleep in his own bed, if possible, in another room of the house away from yours. If you don’t do it, your dog will eventually get used to it and will understand that he can do whatever he wants in any area of the house.

-Always walk your dog on a leash.

Do not carry him in your arms, in a cart or in a carrier. Your dog is a dog and therefore has to walk on the floor with his paws and on a leash, like all dogs. Do not let him pull or lead the walk, you are the one who imposes the rules.


Don’t feed him when he asks for it.

Routines are essential for dogs and you should respect fixed feeding schedules. Feeding your dog is very important and you cannot feed him all day long with your food. If you want to give him a treat, do it when he has earned it with a good behavior.


Correct his bad behavior

If he climbs on the bed, if he barks at neighbors and visitors or is aggressive with other dogs, don’t calm him down with petting. If you give him cuddles instead of scolding him, he will think he is doing something positive, when it is just the opposite.

The right thing to do is to call his attention to the moment when he is acting badly. Keep in mind that dogs recognize social hierarchy and know who their leader is. If you don’t show your leadership, your dog may start to fight for this social position.


Don’t punish him

It is not about punishing the dog when he does wrong, but to establish clear limits from the beginning of the upbringing and apply positive reinforcement such as small rewards that will help him to detect what he should do and what not.


Keep him entertained

As we have already mentioned, a bored dog is not a good option. Train him, stimulate him, play with him,… you already know that you have a great offer of toys ( that will help you to keep him active and away from bad behaviors.

Walks and physical exercise will help him burn energy and channel the anxiety he may accumulate during the day.


Work as a team with the whole family.

It is no good that in the family there is one who pampers the dog and another who scolds him for the same action. Make sure you all have clear guidelines and keep the same limits at home.



In short, the small dog syndrome is a common problem that can be caused by the dog’s own character, by an inadequate upbringing or a bit of both. As you can see, with the right boundaries and teachings, every small dog can gain confidence and acquire the proper habits. Put these tips into practice. The sooner the better, you’ll see how well they work!

If you found this article on small dog syndrome interesting, share it with others who may be in the same situation as you. And if you have any tricks to correct small dog syndrome, we invite you to share them with everyone in the comments box below or through our Facebook, Instagram and YouTube channel profiles. We can also help you solve doubts regarding the socialization of small breed dogs because you already know that in Las Almenas we are dedicated to the responsible breeding of these adorable puppies.

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