Tips for Socializing Small Breed Dogs

Small Breed Dogs and How to Train and Handle Them EasilySmall breed dogs. People seem to either love them, or hate them.

The topic of small breed dogs can be a hot one. But why?

See, like any breed, (small, medium, or large) there are good apples and bad apples, so to speak. That being said, if you ask me, there are no bad ‘apples’ when it comes to pets, only bad owners. Which brings me to today’s post – Tips for socializing small breed dogs.

Before I get started, I want to point out that I am not picking on small breed dogs, or their owners. I am simply going over a few points as to why I believe it is important to socialize them. And FYI – it is just as important to socialize any pet, but today, lets focus on small breeds.

A couple months ago, partnered with my mother, I opened my own Pet Specialty Shop – Pawz N Clawz Boutique. Since being open, I have had the pleasure of getting to know the people in my town, as well as their dogs. And I quickly realized that the majority of my town has small breed dogs. And let me tell you, I have met my share of friendly, as well as NON friendly small breed dogs! From what I have learned, in my humble opinion, socialization would be the number 1 thing I would get started with, if they were my dogs.

Here’s Some Examples of What I See to Be Lack of Socialization:

  • Dogs being leery of other dogs/humans
  • Scared dog/vibrating when out in public settings
  • Dogs who growl at other people/dogs
  • Dogs who are only comfortable being held in your arms when out in public

Small Breed Dogs and Proper SocializationThose are just some of the things I notice. Now, I realize with small breeds, sometimes these things that I mentioned go hand in hand, BUT – I am a firm believer that with proper socialization, these behaviors could change drastically.

Start Slow

Don’t rush your dog into any situations where he is uncomfortable to the point of being absolutely terrified. This will accomplish nothing. Set a goal for you and your small dog, and take baby steps to work towards your goal. Maybe that goal is to be able to go to the dog park and let your dog run around with other dogs. If that is the case, start small.

Start by inviting one or two people (and their dogs) to an area of open grass (fenced in) and let them run around, see what happens. If it is too much for your pup, maybe try starting with just one other dog, go from there. Once your dog has become comfortable with being off leash, and playing with other dogs, add one or two more to the mix, and continue with your baby steps as you inch closer to your goal. Same goes for any instance of trying to socialize. Start small, go at your dogs pace, and don’t give up!

What sort of experiences have you had with small breed dogs?

Small Breed Dogs and Proper Socialization


jenna drady headshotJenna Drady

Jenna Drady  is the author and creator of ownedbyahusky.ca. She is a mother of two beautiful daughters and 3 Siberian Huskies. Being a husky mom for a long duration of her life, Jenna was inspired to begin writing about them. In doing so, she began doing massive research on dog behavior, and all things dog in general. Jenna is inspired every day by her family, and loves to bring her readers valuable information as well as a little humor too! Jenna has created her own business partnered with her lovely mother while blogging called Pawz N Clawz Jewelry N Things. They currently sell handmade jewelry with added pet charms, as well as a few dog toys too!  As an animal rights activist, and huge believer in helping pets who have been stuck in shelters, they donate a portion of their sales to local shelters throughout Canada.

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26 Responses to Tips for Socializing Small Breed Dogs

  1. Jana Rade says:

    People make two mistakes with socialization. One is they don’t do it at all, the other is that they don’t realize that socialization isn’t about exposure but it is about POSITIVE exposure.

  2. super important tips for us small pups!

  3. People can be so judgemental when it comes to small dogs – not saying you are, just in general. I have two and they are amazing dogs, but like any dog they each came with their individual challenges. One of mine is a breed notorious for not being crazy about strangers. We socialized him extensively as a puppy, but as he got older he started showing signs of being fearful of strangers. We got him right to an awesome, positive based trainer and I work with him every day to help overcome his fears. He’s not perfect, but he’s made amazing progress. A lot of people seem to view socialization as something you do with puppies, but I really feel, perhaps with some dogs more than others, that it’s a lifelong process.

  4. Rachel says:

    Great post. We have a medium sized dog that would be considered a smaller medium sized dog. He seems to ignore bigger dogs but gets really excited when he sees a dog his size or smaller. We definitely could use some tips you’ve provided here.

  5. Great post! So many people get little dogs and don’t think they need to do any training or socializing because they are little! I’m always really excited when I meet someone who works with their little dog.

  6. Good socialization is definitely an issue with small dogs for sure. I think part of it is though if people have a big dog that misbehaves, they just stick them in the yard. Whereas people will still take their un-socialized small dogs out in public.

  7. Lack of socialisation can definitely be an issue with small dogs – and I’ve noticed that in Australia people don’t seem to take their dogs to puppy school as much as they used to.

  8. I’ve never had a tiny dog. Pierre is a 23 pound Westie so that is small. He is the happiest little guy you’d ever hope to meet.

  9. It took me about 3 months for Layla to be really comfortable in a dog park but although now socialized she still loves to sit on the bench watching so I have decided if that is what makes her happy that is all that counts. She does show interest when its small dogs of a similar breed then she will get up and check out.
    Thanks for this blog

  10. I agree. There are no bad pets, just bad owners. Animals act on certain behavior, and they learn a lot of that from us.

  11. Great post! I also believe small dogs need to be socialized and trained just as large dogs do. For some reason, a lot of people think they are so small that perhaps they don’t need it. But, that is simply not true. The pup, and the owner, are much happier with a friendly socialized dog whatever size they may be!

  12. Bryn Nowell says:

    As the owner of two smaller pups, I wholeheartedly agree that it is hugely important to focus on socialization early, and often. Thanks so much for sharing. I hope your new business venture has gone well! Love the name.

  13. This is a great post – I live with two doxies and our older guys wasn’t socialized well and has issues with children. I have to keep him away from children by using tools like gates and crates in our home. I wish I rescued him earlier in life and we’re still rehabilitating this but it’s tough.

  14. I love all dogs, though I have always had larger dogs in my life. At 48 pounds, Piper is my smallest dog ;-) so I can’t really say that I have experience from an owner’s perspective but I completely agree that what is happening on the human end of the leash is critical!

    I have a good friend with two small dogs. She absolutely loves them but never did any training with them because, in her words, “They are so little and I can just pick them up if need be.” She started having real issues with both of her dogs being dog and people reactive and she would scoop them up in an effort to “protect” them. One time, she picked one of her dogs up and he bit her on the hand and on the face. This was not because he was a small breed dog, in my opinion. This happened because of a lack of training. Thankfully, following this event, she did seek out training help and really committed to working with her dogs.

  15. Sadie says:

    There definitely seems to be a divide between large dogs and small dogs. We’re small dog owners but are fond of larger breeds also. I do understand why some large dog owners are frustrated at little dogs who demonstrate ‘little dog syndrome.’ Great post!

  16. Socialization of any dog is important, but especially small breeds. My observations are that many people to tend to carry their small breeds around in their arms, which could lead to the dog being insecure in a different environment out of their arms.

  17. Kia says:

    I’m a small breed dog owner. Awesome tips! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Beth says:

    My Maltese loves people, but I admit to being leery of letting her interact with some big dogs. As a child, my Bullmastiff attacked our Yorkie and it was pretty bad, the Yorkie needed to stay at the animal hospital for a few days. I can’t take the risk of having Nelly being attacked. Not too long ago a big dog came out of nowhere while we were walking and seemed very aggressive to her. If my husband hadn’t been there, I’m not sure what would have happened. That being said, Nelly loves my sister’s shepherd mix and they interact together all the time.

  19. Kilo the pug definitely does not consider himself a small breed LOL Great tips on proper socialization. Nothing worse than an owner pushing their poor nervous dog too early or too hard. It can be more traumatic and worse in the long run.

  20. FiveSibesMom says:

    It’s so true – socialization is very important. I, too, have seen many small breeds – including my neighbor’s Poodle, who are sheer terrors. I blame the pet parent, not the pet. My mother always had mini and teacup Poodles among many other dogs. They were properly socialized and they were the best!

  21. Carol Bryant says:

    I try to educate people who say they “hate small dogs.” As a small to medium sized dog mom, this stereotype is all too real. Thanks for the great post.

  22. This was one of the biggest things I worked on when I first got Matilda, and even now. She has only had good experiences with people, so she typically happy to see almost anyone. She even does well with most large dogs, though I’m always so scared that they’ll get too playful and crush her.

  23. Excellent tips thanks…. #Finndawg knows he’s smaller, but he’s not tiny. Tho, he is always cautious when approached by larger dogs. I am working on his confidence so this is helpful, thanks!

  24. Robin says:

    Like you, I’ve had good and bad experiences with small dogs. I personally prefer larger dogs, but there isn’t any big glaring issue that causes me to lean that way. I think you are right about taking things slow with small dogs – they cautiously live in a world that is much bigger than them!

  25. Cathy Armato says:

    Socialization is important for all dogs, but I think small dogs benefit from the confidence that comes with solid socialization, as well as training. I see it with my little one Phoebe. She doesn’t seem to be as confident as my Husky is around strange dogs. Great tips to start socialization!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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