This topic arose not by chance in our blog. The situation that arose in the life of my little pet, a young girl of the Shih Tzu breed, forced me to consider this issue. The baby, thanks to her breed, is distinguished by deep obedience, excellent calmness and boundless friendliness in relation to everything that and who surrounds her. A quiet, meek dog never allows itself to bark, quiveringly trusting and stretching out its paw to every passerby.
Once, a cute, furry, large dog took root in our city courtyard. Rumor has it that he is at home, lives in one of the houses of the private sector. But, the owner does not particularly hold him, so the dog boldly wanders through the streets of a big city. Everyone knows and loves him, especially children.
And who would have thought that my little girl would have a friendship with a big yard dog, boundless mutual interest. And it manifests itself in a terrible way for me. It looks like this: every time a huge mouth almost swallows my little dog. The mongrel drags the girl by her long ears, pinches her withers with her teeth, drags her by the top knot, fills her with huge paws and presses her to the ground. And the baby at this time is thrilled with happiness, exposes her stomach to him, wags her tail and from time to time tries to throw her plush white paws on his huge muzzle. And not a single sound comes from them, except for the clattering of the teeth of a huge dog.
It’s scary to look at this, but it’s also impossible not to notice how happy the baby is with him. What is going on? And is it worth it to fear for the integrity of a small dog? What can friendship between dogs of large and small breeds lead to?
In order to understand such friendship between dogs, I turned to our friend, zoopsychologist and trainer Konstantin, for advice. After describing the situation, I received a fairly broad and very understandable answer. And now I will try to share my experience with you in order to help you avoid mistakes. After all, such a friendship between dogs of large and small breeds can actually be not entirely harmless and even deplorable.
What are the behavioral factors of dogs of different weight categories based on during games? What happens between them?
Let's start with the fact that dogs are pack animals. They demonstrate their status to each other always and everywhere. For example, if a dog lays on its back, exposes its stomach, it says “I obey you, my status is lower than yours, I am weaker, I agree.” Another dog, on the contrary, can jump, knock down, show teeth, thereby showing that it is higher in status - “I am stronger than you and better, if anything, I can beat you.” And all this, of course, can be observed in the game:
The danger lies in the fact that most often a domestic small dog does not understand, does not know its status (it has a distorted idea of itself due to improper upbringing in a family where it is very loved, pampered, everything is allowed, exalted). In the meantime, a large dog fully understands that it is taller, bigger, stronger than a small one and boldly takes a step forward, demonstrating its superiority. And so they meet, and the same game begins - who will fill up whom, squeeze, pinch with their teeth, etc.
Such a game can lead to the fact that a small dog, not understanding its status, begins to boldly demonstrate its majesty in front of a large dog, as it usually does at home in the circle of its owners (jump on it, lay its small paws on the nose of a big friend, bite his paws). And the big one, not agreeing with such behavior of the small one, begins to counteract with the same methods.
As a result, a small dog clings to the ground and completely agrees with his friend - "yes, you are stronger, I obey you." But, it doesn't end there. The big dog remains satisfied with his victory, he liked that a new cute dog began to obey him, and he gets excited.
- I do not move, I see that you are strong, that you have teeth, I obey you!
- yes, I’m all so cool, strong, I have big teeth, here they are ... lie still, otherwise it will hurt you if you don’t move correctly!
If somehow, again during the game, the small one obeyed, and then decided that she did not want to always obey and decided to show that she was better in some ways - more nimble, agile, mobile, then the big dog would have to apply even more strength in relation to the shallow. At the same time, he will press, press down, bite her harder in order to complete this game that has begun in his favor, and this can end badly in relation to a small dog. And it will be a fair "game" by nature.
What happens that initially it is the owner of a small dog who exposes his pet to this dangerous game, and does not even suspect it? Is it all about neglecting the correct upbringing and determining the status of a dog in the family?
Oh sure! At home, in the family, in most cases, the dog feels like a leader due to improper upbringing. This can be seen from her behavior: she sleeps above the owner (on the pillow, on top of the owner), takes food first (many first feed the dogs, and then sit down at the table themselves), the first comes to the threshold of the house (if the dog considers its owner a leader, it will skip ahead), etc.
Distortion of the status of a pet occurs not only at home, but also on the street during a walk. Imagine meeting for the first time dogs of large and small breeds. A small one will show leadership gestures in front of a large one in a special or random way: it will take a step forward, growl, bark, show its teeth. And then the owner will bark at the big dog so that he doesn’t come up and offend the little one - “fu, get out of here!” The big dog, sensing the man's leadership, turns around and walks away. The little one sees and understands this in such a way that it is her (the little dog) who is afraid and enjoys it - she, being so small, forced such a big dog to obey. And there are enough two or three such cases where the owner, unknowingly, reinforces such behavior and the perception of false leadership in his small dog. The owner himself helped the dog become more confident and made it clear that they might be afraid of it. But, from his point of view, he was just trying to protect his pet from danger. And instead of stopping his dog, he chases the big dog away.
When a small dog meets face to face with a larger dog, it will already have a distorted understanding of its status, it will not understand the elementary natural commandments "who is bigger and stronger is more important." After all, before they were afraid of her, they retreated (although this is the merit of the owner). And in the end, it can end badly for the baby. Even though initially their relationship looked like a friendly game.
What should the owner of a small dog do to avoid disagreements in status when meeting big friends?
The solution to the problem must be considered comprehensively. Initially, you should educate the dog, showing him that he is small and you need to obey the big and strong. You should initially cut down the flock signs of arrogance in a dog (whoever eats first is the main one, who sleeps higher and more comfortably is the main one). There are many nuances in the behavior of the owners, thanks to which the dog will understand that it is the main one in the family.
If we consider directly the meeting of dogs on the street, then here it is also possible to help eliminate the problem of leadership between unequal forces. If you see that your small dog, when meeting with a big dog, begins to show signs of aggression, or any other signs of leadership (pushing, jumping on his head, showing his teeth in the game), you need to stop your pet. The owner should not drive away the big dog, but calm his dog, show that he is wrong.
How to stop her little dog depends on the depth of the problem, how strongly she is sure that her status is "presidential". If everything happens at the initial stage, the owner himself must show the big dog the status of his dog:
- lower your dog to the ground;
- if possible, turn on your back;
- immobilize her;
- let the big dog come.
At the same time, a big dog will sniff a small one, understand - “yes, she obeys me, everything is in order here, according to the law!” and will no longer touch the small one, even if she is indignant. It is possible that the games will continue. The behavior of both dogs should be closely monitored.
In this way, the owner shows his small dog that he is wrong. She ceases to be self-confident and enters the correct status - a lower one. In the future, with a similar meeting with a big dog, she will already remember this incident and it will be easier for her to navigate the statuses. After all, even the owner himself said that you need to obey, this is not an equal fight - just give up.
It is desirable for the owner to repeat similar actions of his dog with a big dog several times and misunderstandings can be reduced by at least 50%.
The same goes for the relationship between dogs and cats. If the cats hadn't run away, the dogs wouldn't have caught up with them. When the cat starts hissing, the dog does not understand “how is it? I'm bigger and stronger, and you're small! and already goes to the principle, starts jumping, scaring the cat in order to analyze, assert himself - to be afraid of me or not to be afraid? Am I that weak? And as a result, we often observe enmity between a cat and a dog. But, that's a completely different story.
So let's summarize. As we found out, friendship between dogs of large and small breeds may not be friendship at all, but a competition for leadership, where victory is always behind the shoulders of a stronger and larger animal. In order to avoid physical damage to a small dog in this unequal battle, the owner needs to understand the situation, to suppress the arrogance of his small pet in front of a big dog. But, most importantly, the owner must initially, from childhood, make it clear to a small dog that it is small and has absolutely no right to claim to be the leader of the family. Except for a cat.
Let me remind you that we considered the case between a domestic small dog with a distorted perception of its status and a large yard dog that clearly understands its status. In the future, we will definitely consider the reasons for the leadership of cats over dogs, leadership between dogs and children, and much more.