On Thursday, as Toby and I left the park at 6:45 in the morning, I passed two guys who were making their way home from a big night. As they approached me one of them said in a nice, big, voice, ‘Small dogs are for losers.’ I just rolled my eyes and said a, ‘Whatever,’ in my head and kept walking. But it got me thinking, are smaller dogs considered less of a dog than big dogs? And if so, why?
To society, large dogs are viewed as independent, brave, strong, masculine, protective and so on. Whereas smaller dogs, not so much. Smaller dogs seem to have a bit of a bad reputation, a lot of people see them as too dependent on their owner, yappy, jealous, whiny, scared of everything, little pieces of fluff. Because small and large dogs carry these connotations, depending on the dog you choose, can end up saying a lot about you.
At the end of the day, it is us humans who have created these stigmas. We have allowed small dogs to get away with a lot of things that we wouldn’t let big dogs get away with. For example, it’s not so bad when a small dog jumps on you, however if a big dog does, that’s just bad behaviour. It’s OK for small dogs to sit on your lap, not so much for bigger dogs. When a small dog barks, no one blinks an eyelid, when a large dog barks, people pay attention. When a little dog is constantly your shadow, you hardly notice them, bigger dogs get in the way. Basically little dogs can get away with a lot more than larger dogs and therefore smaller dogs grow up to view life in a different way to larger dogs.
If we do let little dogs get away with too much you may notice them developing a condition called Small Dog Syndrome. It’s basically a term to say, you ruined your dog. Not training little dogs properly and treating them like a human results in bad behaviour, separation anxiety, aggression and other stress related symptoms. If this sounds like your dog, experts say, the only way to break these beahviours is by you acknowledging and discarding bad owner behaviours.
Experts believe bad owner behaviours include treating your dog as a person, picking them up all the time, picking them up when they cry, yelp or jump on you, carrying them around, constantly fussing over them and letting them sleep in your bed. Most of these actions are things owners of large dogs don’t do, resulting in bigger dogs being treated in a different way and therefore behaving differently in the world.
Other reasons why smaller dogs may seem like ‘losers’ is they aren’t as ‘manly’ as the bigger dogs. With a big dog, you can get away with playing really rough without them yelping because you have gone too far. Playing tug of war with a big dog is a massive workout. You clearly look tougher with a large dog beside you, no one ever looks tough with a small dog by their side, ever. Big dogs have serious, pay attention, barks that people take note of and a group of large dogs together look much stronger and cooler as opposed to a group of small dogs.
So, are small dogs for losers? Definitely not. Are big dogs different to small dogs, besides size, definitely not. If you train your pooch correctly, regardless of size, they will be able to showcase everything that is so incredibly awesome about the dog race and there is nothing loser-ish about that.