With thanks to Shakespeare for the quote, otherwise known as “small dog syndrome”.
The pup and I have been facing some challenges together this week. It’s fair to say, I think her first season is imminent and her hormones are likely all over the place. But I’ve also been thinking about the reputation of small dogs as stroppy and irritable (which is how she is behaving!).
Here’s the thing:
Small dogs are not snappy by design. Or even by default.
They just have a lot more to put up with than big dogs.
Small dogs are easy to push around. To lift up, pull, push, hold still, prevent from moving in a certain direction. Almost as if they were on wheels. What’s more, it’s hard to take them seriously when they growl or snap (both legitimate doggie-warnings of discomfort) and often they get ignored.
This lack of freedom to choose must lead to a lot of frustration, at least, and possibly fear in some cases. Not being able to move away from an approaching scary thing, or get to where you really want to go, being forced to walk when you don’t feel up to it, or not being allowed to walk when you really want to… All these things are part of the doggie-bill-of-rights, but it’s my belief that often only bigger dogs get to follow through on their wishes a lot of the time. (After all, who can stop an 80 lb labrador in full flight?)
I’m not suggesting for a moment that there should not be boundaries, house rules and polite behaviour. These things lead to a harmonious canine-human household, which is what we all want after all. But even small dogs have the right to “be a dog”. To run, bark, sniff, pee, play and exercise an appropriate level of autonomy.
Here’s my small dog mantra. Remember this, and you should avoid your little one falling into that unattractive stereotype:
If you wouldn’t do it to a Rottie, don’t do it to a “littly”.
That’s it. So simple it’s silly really.
[Dedicated to long-suffering small dogs the world over.]