Growing up we only ever had large breed dogs, but I have been a small dog owner for many years now, we currently have three tiny rescue dogs Ellie (a 3kg mini aussie mix), Gracie (a 2kg yorkie mix), and Sophie (a 1.5kg Chihuahua) and I often get comments telling me how well behaved my small dogs are.
There are a few reasons for this and I’d love to share them with you, first off, they’re exercised regularly. They accompany us on all sorts of adventures such as hiking, camping, road trips, going to parks, visiting family, and even dressing up and going trick-or-treating with my nieces. Ellie tags along on trail rides with and they all love helping with barn chores with our dog-friendly horses.
Regular exercise helps keep their energy under control and therefore reduces anxiety and promotes confidence and relaxation. Exercise also helps reduce the risk of obesity which is a common problem in small dogs, and keeps them fit and agile therefore reducing the risk of injuries, diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, etc.
I also try to socialize them with other people and pets as frequently as possible, luckily for me, I have lots of friends that are dog-savvy that own other well socialized dogs that mine get to interact with on a regular basis.
They get lots of mental stimulation. They know all sorts of tricks such as sit, down, stay, shake, high five, roll over, spin, sing, crawl etc. and they’re all fantastic on or off leash. I taught them these things during short, persistent training sessions as I want to keep their attention and not have them get bored or flustered from what they’re learning and I of course want them to enjoy their training time as well. Trick training improves their concentration and balance and increases their confidence in you and their desire to listen.
And just like children, they have rules that need to be followed. For example, they must sit and wait for their food, when I say “okay” they get to eat their meal. They’re also not allowed to be in the main area of the kitchen when I’m cooking, this is for their safety as well as mine, they won’t be accidentally stepped on or tripped over this way nor have anything dropped on or around them. Another big rule is that they aren’t allowed to pick things up off the floor without permission, and they know the command “leave it” very well, this one is very important as it prevents them from eating food that has been dropped and could potentially be toxic to them such as onions, garlic, or chocolate.
Overall I try my best to keep them happy and healthy by giving them as much exposure as I can, and by getting them looked after by the doctors here at McPhillips Animal Hospital.