Sunday, February 24, 2013

True Confessions

I have a confession to make. Until recently, I absolutely HATED little dogs. Every little dog I had ever known yapped, nipped, jumped on and peed on everything (and everyone!) in sight. I saw no purpose in living with such unruly, neurotic little dogs. As an animal control officer I’ve learned something: It’s not the dog. Through my job I’ve met lots of little dogs. Many of them are the nasty little dogs of my childhood. However, some are really neat little pets. The difference: the actions of the owner. (I know, DUH!) This is what I’ve discovered:

Nasty little dogs:
  • Are treated as accessories. Think Paris Hilton.
  • Are often substitutes for friends, spouses or children. Poor things are never allowed to be dogs. (I know, people do this with big dogs too, though I don't see it as often. Trust me, a future rant is coming on this very subject!)
  • Are usually carried. They have purses, backpacks and strollers to keep them from touching the ground.
  • Are coddled -- often to their detriment. I've seen little dogs terrified of the entire world because their owners never let them "work through" something. These dogs were never socialized with strange people or situations. Not surprisingly, these dogs are often biters.
  • Have “pee pee” pads in the house. Though male dogs mark anyway. eeewww. I even had one pee on my leg when I was talking to the owner about a barking complaint. Surprisingly, the owner did nothing about it!
  • Have owners in denial. Jumping is considered “cute” (regardless of the feelings of the person being jumped upon); barking is ignored (the neighbors just have to suffer); growling is dismissed as “being protective” and bites are seldom reported. BTW, if large dogs do ANY of these behaviors Animal Control is called immediately.
  • Have little or no obedience training. Example: I have one woman whose three Chihuahuas get out on a regular basis and run the neighborhood, chasing children and running into traffic. The woman will spend an hour trying to shoo them back into her yard because they don’t come when she calls – ever! And want to talk about denial? Her daughter was outraged that I wrote Mom a ticket because “It’s not like they’re pit bulls or anything.”
  • Are often neurotic, much like the dog in this video. This won on America’s Funniest Home Video -- hear all the laughter? -- but in reality it's not funny. This is a scary, unstable dog.

  • Have no doggie etiquette. I’ve handled countless big dog vs. little dog calls. Overwhelmingly, the little dog started it! Unfortunately, the little dogs always get the worst of it too.

Great little dogs:
  • Are treated like dogs.
  • Are socialized.
  • Are housebroken.
  • Are trained to sit, stay and be quiet on command.
  • Are leashed trained and walked regularly.
  • Can be excellent athletes. I was amazed by all the papillons I saw at an agility trial. And look at all the Jack Russell terriers participating in Flyball.
  • Can be obedience champions. Likewise, I saw some excellent little dogs at the last obedience trial I went to.

Little dog owners, do us all a favor and PLEASE treat your dogs like dogs. To quote Cesar Milan: “Exercise, Discipline and Affection.”

Interesting note: Some of our older German Shepherd Dog Club members have switched to Pembroke Corgis, saying that those little dogs think and train like German shepherds. Who'd of thunk it? How about you? What are your experiences with little dogs? -- K

A purse to fit MY dogs!