Can small dogs have a napoleon complex?

posted: 05/15/12
by: Josh Clark
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Can Small Dogs Have a Napoleon Complex?
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You've heard of the Napoleon complex — the idea that short-statured men compensate for their size by being overly aggressive. It's named for French general and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who had big ambitions but measured only 5 feet 6 inches tall. That sounds small, but his 1.67-meter frame was really taller than average for his era… and there's no proof that a Napoleonic height-to-might ratio drives bad behavior in smaller men today.

But what about in smaller dogs? Every dog lover knows that small dogs can be big on personality. They're spunky and they let you know just what they're thinking — especially when they're thinking they'd like a treat or a nice walk. Small dogs are adventurous, and they love to take charge and lead the way. So perhaps it's no surprise that small dog owners also need to keep an eye open for symptoms of the canine version of the Napoleon complex — small dog syndrome — in their pups.

Spunk vs. Spite

There's a big distinction between a typically spunky small dog and a dog that with small dog syndrome. Symptoms of the syndrome include not following instructions, becoming territorial over areas of the house, toys, food or people, and even biting. A small dog with spunk is ready to play when your grandchild crawls into your lap alongside him. A little guy with small dog syndrome will probably growl menacingly and may even try to bite.

As with most doggie problems, in small dog syndrome, the dog isn't misbehaving for fun. The syndrome starts when a pet owner doesn't have all the information he or she needs to bring up a happy small dog. What it all comes down to is taking your small dog as seriously as you would a larger breed. After all, everyone wants to be taken seriously, right? This is a battle for dominance. Take charge.

Raising a Happy, High-personality Pup

Two of the most important goals of raising a healthy, happy dog of any size are bite inhibition and socialization. There is a narrow window in puppy development to teach a dog that it's unacceptable to bite. Dog trainers and veterinarians generally agree that the window closes at about 12 weeks of age. If a dog hasn't been taught to abandon its natural urge to bite, it will always see biting as an option for solving a problem.

The same goes for other naturally dog-like behaviors, such as leash aggression, territorial behaviors, and dominance and possessiveness of areas, objects and people. If these behaviors aren't addressed early on in life, they may persist throughout adulthood. Your small dog could turn out to be a frustrated handful.

Sure, you want to have a lifetime of fun with your small dog — but remember that he wants to be taken as seriously as any other dog when his spunkiness does go over the line. If you battle with your small dog over dominance of your lap or your little one has a biting problem, call in a specialist for help.

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