Size does matter – socialising – from little to large!
Little dogs, big dogs, we see them all at Dog Comm. Teeny tiny dogs snarling and snapping at people, great big dogs lunging and barking, showing all their teeth at other dogs. It all looks scary, and it looks aggressive.
The definition of aggression, according to the dictionary, is as follows:
The origins of the word aggression – early 17th century (in the sense ‘an attack’): from Latin aggressio(n-), from aggredi ‘to attack’.
We all have our own definitions too, depending on our experiences, some people will see a dog growling and see that as aggression, when in reality often a dog growling is a good sign as they’re showing us how they feel, and giving us a warning that if we don’t listen, they may escalate their warning. The moral of that is – don’t ignore a growl and don’t punish it either – listen to it, and respond appropriately.
Back to the little and large dogs.
Imagine how big the world must seem if you’re 6 inches at the shoulder? Quite often the chihuahuas we see have been bowled over by a ‘he only wants to play’ type dog, who really didn’t mean any harm but sadly, may have affected the Chihuahua for life. Or perhaps because their owner was scared to let them socialise when they were a half-pound puppy, they didn’t meet other dogs until they were a year old? What’s going to happen then – of course they’re going to be scared of dogs bigger than themselves (which means every dog). A scared dog starts off by hiding and trying to get away. When that doesn’t work, they start to work out what does work… showing teeth, snapping… biting maybe. And then this becomes a learnt behaviour. They anticipate that all dogs are going to bowl them over, possibly hurting them, definitely scaring them, so they start to display the behaviour that works straight away, instead of giving the other dog a chance. And there you go, a snappy aggressive little dog.
But if you’re a teeny tiny puppy and you grow up around gentle bigger dogs, who are respectful of your diminutive size, and you have lots of good experiences, then you grow up confident and not scared. (see our Lifeskills Shy Guys classes if your little dog is showing behaviours that concern you, we can definitely help).
If you’re a great big puppy and you have virtually no control over what your mahoosive paws do, then sometimes you might tread on a teeny tiny puppy by mistake, what if it squeals or yelps – wow that sounds like your squeaky toy… and then it might become fun. If however, you’re taught in a controlled way to be gentle around little dogs then hopefully you don’t grow up learning that they’re fun to ‘play with’.
To summarise – if you have a teeny tiny dog, socialise it very carefully so it gets on with dogs of all shapes and sizes – if you have a big pup – socialise it very carefully so it gets on with dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Most of all be a considerate dog parent, don’t assume that just because you have a notoriously friendly breed, that they will automatically know how to behave around dogs of all shapes and sizes.
And if you do have a problem, call us at Dog Comm and we’ll help you!