Dog Training: Why Is My Small Dog So Aggressive Towards Big Dogs?

Small aggressive dog.

Small dogs are cute, portable, friendly and so lovable! However, many small dog breeds have a reputation for being yappy and scrappy. Where does this behavior come from and how can pet owners handle these big-scale reactions from their small-scale companions? 

At Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital, we can help you with understanding dog training needs and handle this particular pet behavior, along with many others.

Fear-Based Behavior

Many experts believe that this behavior could be coming from a place of fear. After all, can you imagine how big the world looks to them from that position? Their stature is much lower and they are very aware of their size in this world.

These fear-based reactions can manifest in a few different ways:

  • Hyperactivity, excitement, and behavior that may be perceived as yappy
  • Jumping on people, dogs, or higher places
  • Barking or growling at people or dogs
  • Shaking
  • Lunging
  • Snapping
  • Avoidance behaviors, such as hiding or ducking
  • Resistance to commands

Learned Behavior

There is also the idea that dog owners could be encouraging this behavior and reinforcing it. After all, small dogs are not as threatening and their owners behavior is often easier to forgive. Essentially, they are getting away with it through ignoring the jumps or growls. It could even be unintentionally rewarded through comforting words,snuggling, treats, etc. 

One of the best ways to be successful in pet training is to increase awareness in your own behavior. Ask yourself—is this behavior that I want to continue? Should I be rewarding it?

How to Handle Small Dog Aggression with Dog Training

Through pet training, dog owners can deal with small dog aggression. It can help your dog’s relationship with you, your family members, and other dogs. Here are a few suggestions to get started:

  • Schedule obedience training
  • Make sure that the household is onboard with the training
  • Set boundaries and make rules for your dog
  • Be consistent
  • Reward behavior you want to keep seeing

Carefully Introduce Your Small Dog to a Big and Friendly Dog

If this is the behavior you want to see, you will need to dedicate time to making existing as a tiny dog in a big dog world easier to handle. 

Make sure to do it slowly and follow your small dog’s cues. You don’t want to put either dog in danger. Ensure leashes and collars are firm so you and the other owner are in control of this interaction. This exposure could help future interactions and get easier over time. 

Try Exercise

Small dogs have a lot of energy to burn! It can help to keep them moving. Additionally, more small interactions with different environments and pets could help reduce fear and anxiety. If you go to a park (or if your small dog is ready, a dog park), this exposure can help your small dog see and smell new things. 

The world is a big and beautiful place. Imagine how grand it all looks from ankle-height. 

These tips are a great jumping point, but you may want to learn more about small dog training. Contact the Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital team at (615) 646‑7387 and schedule an appointment today.