Little Dog Syndrome

by Sep 28, 20220 comments

I recently experienced a highly educational moment thanks to Mother Nature—a lesson in how dangerous a dog-aggressive “little dog” can be.

I was walking my small dog and stopped to chat to an older man with a Jack Russell called Jaffa. She’s the sweetest little thing with humans, but it appears she thinks she’s the Dragon Overlord of the Universe when it comes to bigger dogs.

Jaffa had been having a playful time with my timid, gentle Toy Spaniel, Tequila. Then Jaffa saw a passing Border Collie. Immediately, she reared on her back legs, stiff and straining on her harness, barking, shrieking and snarling like a dog possessed.

Because Jaffa and Tequila had bonded, “pack drive” kicked in and super-gentle Tequila also lunged at the Collie, barking and growling. When the Collie (thankfully) ignored them, Tequila turned her frustrated aggression towards Jaffa, snapping at the Jack Russell’s face. My dog is now 11 years old; I’ve never seen her exhibit anything like that type of behaviour. It’s very lucky all three dogs were leashed!

The episode lasted no more than seconds, but it was a really beautiful example of canine nature at work.

This is how it works:

Playing together, Tequila and Jaffa had bonded as a pack of two. Therefore, when Jaffa observed a perceived threat, Tequila joined the fight. It was completely instinctive, because that’s what a pack does; protects itself against aggressors.

After the sudden unpleasant kerfuffle, Jaffa’s owner surprise me by grinning down at her saying “she’s always like that with dogs, she thinks she’s the boss.” He thought it was amusing. Which it certainly wasn’t— particularly for the owner of the border collie.

I explained that to him a very small dog could get herself killed if she aggressively confronted a big dog who reacted badly and bit her back. He just said “oh well, she’s 2 now and it hasn’t happened yet, so it probably won’t.”

Well, I can almost guarantee you—without professional intervention, Jaffa’s dog-aggressive life could very well end in tears…

As a dog owner, (whether you have a Chihuahua or a Pit Bull), you are responsible for making sure your pet is calm, balanced and easy-going around other dogs.

If you don’t know how to do that, please, look for professional help.


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