I had always been a medium, English Springer Spaniel, or large, Shepherd-Husky, dog owner until 6 years ago when we adopted our French Bulldog/Pug mix dogs. With bigger dogs, it seemed natural that they would need to be trained to fit into the household. Larger dogs tend to potty train easily and it seemed as though they followed most rules without difficulty.
Our small dogs are another story. I think part of our problem was our perception, likely a misperception, that they didn’t need as much structure or activity because they were small. A trainer once told us that smaller dogs are more difficult to potty train because their view of the house is more vast and therefore there are more spaces to pee on. We tried to make their space in the house smaller so that they would be less likely to pee where they live. This did seem to work for one of the dogs, but the male still pees on the refrigerator and the dishwasher. While I agree that we have not been the most diligent of trainers, I do wonder if small dogs just have some disagreeable traits.
A recent study by Applied Animal Behavior Science looked at small dog behavior in relation to owner training, or lack of training. Researchers found that:
- Small dogs are seen as less obedient, more aggressive and excitable
- Small dogs are seen as more anxious and fearful
- Small dog owners are more inconsistent in interactions with their dogs
- Small dogs owners engage less in training and play activities than large dog owners
- More consistent owner behavior with more frequent engagement in training and play resulted in better obedience in small dogs.