All too often we hear these phrases, "my dog is too small, it doesn't need training" or "are there any small dog classes or do you only train big dogs?" Granted that all dogs are individuals and have their own special personality and deserve to be trained and treated as individuals, it does not take away from the fact that your dog is still a dog. Their natural behavior and the way they process things is still the same. Dogs are some of the most opportunistic beings out there and will try take advantage of any situation out there. It is up to us as owners to manage each situation so they do not develop any unwanted behaviors.
The management, or should I say mismanagement, of small dogs is probably one of the most common issues I see as a trainer. This mismanagement shows in the form of barking, nipping, and the insecurity that small dog displays from usually being carried or from their owners saying "it's ok, it's ok, it's ok" over and over. The outcome of this mismanagement results in owners creating a life for their dog that is unbalanced, lacking in structure, and exposure which only breeds fearfulness and possession issues in small dogs.
Fast forward to the solution - Yes! Your 2 pound mini Yorki needs balanced motivational based training with the same management as a 120 pound Presa Canario. Not just because of the liability of a dog attack, but for the sake your dog's own mental stability and state of mind. Pushing their behaviors to the side is not okay and should definitely be taking seriously. A dog who is allowed all over the house and treated like a house cat will not only develop bad habits such as possessiveness and territorial issues, (which will lead to uncontrollable barking and biting) but it puts your dog in a mindset where they are unsure and reacting because they do not understand their place in your pack or in some case they do and they recognize themselves as the leader.
No dog should be allowed on furniture or be lap dogs without first understanding the rules of the house. Once they understand that through a series of dog management exercises such as crate training and having them drag a leash then they can be allowed those privileges. When this is not done properly or at all you end up with a dog who nips or growls when moved or if being held does the same to anyone coming close or touching the person who is holding them. Those are most definitely bad behaviors and should be treated seriously.
When people carry their dog everywhere, they are enabling that dog's insecurities and never allow that dog to overcome their fear or show them that they are okay in that environment. Constantly carrying a dog will lead to whimpering and jumping up to you so you'd have to pick them up or in some cases the owners will pick them up when they are growling at another person or dog and taking them out of the situation which is also bad behavior training. Dogs need to be exposed to all scenarios to ensure that they feel comfortable in every situation and understand that you as their pack leader have their back and will not let anything happen to them while also letting the dog know that an aggressive reaction is not okay no matter how scared they are.
The moral of the story is; please as a dog owner seek proper training (and I am not talking about petsmart or any other one size fits all cookie cutter style training) for your dogs. And yes, small dogs require just as much training as big dogs, and all bad behaviors should be treated seriously. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask any training or management questions you may have.