Small Dog Syndrome In chihuahuas – What is it? How do To prevent it?

As a chihuahua owner or a dog professional, you will certainly hear and use the term “small dog syndrome” called also “Napoleon Complex Canine” every day. Small dogs, like Chihuahuas, have a reputation for being mean, nervous, and barky. Which is sometimes true.

Fortunately, you can definitely keep your lap dog from getting small dog syndrome by taking a few precautions and changing some of his daily habits. Today, we’ll talk about the bad habits that small dogs like chihuahuas often have, as well as what you can do to stop them.

What is small dog syndrome?

source: wikipedia


Small Dog Syndrome is a group of behaviors that include jumping, barking at other people or animals, not listening to commands, acting agitated, barking constantly or often, lunging, snapping, or biting, demanding attention, and so on. Any dog and regardless of his size can do these things, but smaller dogs like chihuahuas do them more often.

Napoleon syndrome “is the other name for small dog syndrome. It is named after Napoléon Bonaparte, a French king and military leader in the 1700s who, despite being just over 5 feet tall, was a powerful force. People around the world have used the term “Napoleon syndrome” or “Napoleon complex” to describe someone who tries too hard to make up for his size or stature. This is because Napoleon was short. The name “Small dog syndrome” comes from the fact that it is similar to “Napoleon syndrome.”

It’s not clear if chihuahuas with SDS fully know that they are small. Are they acting the way they do to make up for how small they are, like Napoleon? Or are they acting this way because, to express it bluntly, they’ve been spoiled rotten? Many Trainers think that SDS‘s behavior is just something your chihuahua has learned. We’ve let our small dogs break every rule, including things we’d never let a big dog do. And even though we think we’re showing them love and affection when we don’t correct them and let them do what they want, they end up feeling very nervous, anxious, and insecure as a result.


source: pexels

Reactivity is a problem that many small dogs have. Its causes are various. Such as people, other dogs, and sounds (such as car noise).
Reactivity is often situational. For example, your chihuahua might be aggressive toward other dogs when he’s on a leash, but he might be fine when he’s not.

Due to their size, this is a behavior issue that many small dogs like chihuahuas have. On the one hand, because they are so small, any trigger is more scars them. On the other hand, chihuahuas owners tend to ignore early signs of reactivity because they “don’t seem so bad.” A growling Doberman or Mastiff is much more likely to be taken seriously than a Chihuahua that weighs only 8 pounds.

The Fix

To keep your small chihuahua from being reactive, you should make sure he has a lot of positive experiences with different things. There shouldn’t be a difference between a teacup dog and a huge dog when it comes to socializing your chihuahua.

If you’re not letting your chihuahua meet new people and new animals because he’s still young, you should think again. Reactivity will be a hard and stressful issue when he’s grown up. It is best to stop it from happening by giving your chihuahua a lot of exposure early on.

Constant Barking

source: pexels

Another common sign of small dog syndrome is that the chihuahua barks all the time. Do you have a small dog that barks all the time at anything and for no reason? Someone could be knocking on your door, a dog could be barking at the TV, or you could turn on the vacuum. Barking needs to be adjusted in the same way that reactivity does: through well-planned exposure. You want your tiny chihuahua to have good feelings about the things that set him off.

The Fix

One secret tip for training your chihuahua is to record the sounds that make him bark a lot. Then, you play them at a low volume while giving your chihuahua dog treats. This will help him make a good connection between the treats and the sounds. Your dog will stop barking so much when he hears different sounds over time. Depending on how much their barking has become a habit, this training process can take a few weeks or even a few months for some dogs.

Continuous Movement

source: pexels

Some chihuahuas are always on the move. They are always running around the house and never have time to sit down and rest. Even though this may seem cute to us, dogs are not meant to be awake all the time.

Since they eat meat, their best time to sleep and wake up is different from that of humans. The best schedule for a dog is to be awake for 3–4 hours and then sleep for 1–2 hours. They need a lot more sleep than we do. If they don’t get enough sleep, they will be more irritable, snappier, and bark more. In short, their small dog syndrome will get worse.

The Fix

A schedule of things to do is a good way to help your chihuahua to keep a healthy daily rhythm. When You surprise the dogs with what comes next, they don’t do so well. When they know when they go for walks, play, and sleep, they will feel safer.

Make a plan that fits the way your family lives and stick to it! After a few weeks of the new routine, you’ll notice that your dog is less “wiggly” and can relax instead of always being on the move.

Not Paying attention

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Some chihuahua owners often have trouble getting their dogs to listen. This isn’t a problem that only happens with small dogs; it happens with all dogs that haven’t been trained well enough yet.

Like with reactivity, it is easier to ignore a chihuahua’s bad behavior than a large dog’s. Training a small dog takes as much time and work as training a large dog. If you don’t, your dog won’t behave well.

The Fix

According to some professionals, Small dogs like chihuahuas are almost never seen in their training classes. The ones that do make it through are very well-behaved and learn the training quickly. Most small dog breeds are very smart and love to do what their owner wants.

If you are unhappy with your chihuahua’s loyalty and manners, try sending him to training classes. The dog will surprise you with how well he does and how quickly he learns.

THIS ARTICLE MAY HELP: When a chihuahua won’t listen

Be The Alpha

source: pexels

Be the leader. Set the rules for your home and how your pets should act around your family. Don’t let them walk over or on you or jump on furniture or people without being asked. All of these are great advantages, but your pets including your chihuahua need to know that they don’t get them on their own. You give them to them. In addition, chihuahuas tend to be the Alpha dog in the household if they see weakness in their owner.

Last word

The cause of Small Dog Syndrome in chihuahuas is mostly the fact that people who own small dogs like chihuahuas don’t always work with them as much as people who own large dogs.
People often think that smaller dogs don’t need as much training, exercise, or good manners. If you don’t socialize, exercise, and train your chihuahua dog, he will pick up bad habits. Smaller breeds make it easy to ignore the first signs of disobedience because they are small enough not to be a big deal.

If you want your chihuahua to be your good friend, you have to treat him the same way you would a big dog. Take him to training classes, put him in different social situations, help him with any behavior problems he has, and set up a daily routine for him. If you do this every day for just a few weeks, you will soon see great results and no longer have to worry about small dog syndrome. Just remember, this is not a genetic issue in chihuahuas.


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