Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things only Tiny Dog Owners Need To Worry About

Most people who own dogs from the toy group enjoy them for their size not in spite of it.  After all people have spent hundreds of years breeding an animal that naturally weighs 30 or so pounds to be the size of a loaf of bread, we must have done it for some reason.  I love my 6 lb dogs for a lot of reasons- portability, how cheap they are to feed, how little and adorable their faces are...  Needless to say there are plenty of good things.  With that small size however comes a set of special worries reserved for owners of dogs less than 8 lbs.*

  1. Birds of prey.  That's right, my dog is hawk bait!  I don't let my chis off leash in wide open areas because they can easily be eaten by any number of raptors.  Being the same size as, but slower than a rabbit makes them an easy meal.  Also to all the people who think I am crazy on this one- IT HAPPENS.  I personally know one yorkie owner who lost their dog to a bird of prey and a chihuahua owner who's dog was attacked by one while on the end of the leash. Still don't believe me, try these articles from various local new stations: Hawk Flies Away With Family Pet, Hawk Tries to Fly off with Toy Poodle, or from the AKC a few stories of people whose dogs have been attacked are in this Q&A.
  2. Peeing in tall grass.  When grass is just a little too high my female chis have a hard time peeing in it because when they squat down the grass pokes them in the tummy.  It is pretty funny to watch, but they never really get used to it.  Luckily in my backyard my dogs pee on the rocks so it is not a problem.
  3. Doors slamming shut on them.  When it is even the slightest bit windy my back door can blow closed if not stopped properly.  That door slamming shut on my chihuahuas would end them for sure, no matter what part of their body gets hit.  Same thing with my garage door.  That one has a spring closure, so if you open it and let go it naturally falls closed behind you.  We stop and close that door by hand every sing time we open it because of the chihuahuas.  While it probably would just bounce off a bigger dog, or the dog would hold the door open, it would be sure to crush a tiny chihuahua.
  4. People picking them up without permission.  On several occasions people have reached down and picked Kerri up without asking my permission.  Two people have even continued to grab her after I told them "don't pick up my dog" usually telling me "it's ok, I love little dogs!"  I know it seems like I would really have to not be paying attention for this to happen but it is just so fast.  I only have to turn my head for a second and suddenly a person who was walking by is picking her up.  For a lot of reasons this is really unnerving.  Particularly the people who pick her up even after I tell them not to.  One women even refused to put her down and I reached over, put my hands around Kerri and told her if she didn't let go I was going to start screaming for the police.  Actually my plan was to start screaming and kick her but luckily she just let her go and I walked off.  I don't think she meant any real harm (although you never know) but she just didn't see what the big deal was picking her up.  Personally I think it is very reasonable to keep your dog out of the arms of strangers.  They could easily drop her, or otherwise injure her.  Also Kerri loves being picked up by anyone but that is not the case with all dogs.  Going around picking up strange dogs is certainly going to get you bit eventually.  This is not to say that I don't want ANYONE to pick up Kerrigan.  After all she does love it.  I don't mind my friends picking her up, or my neighbors when we see them out on walks.  There are also a few people at the library where we do therapy dog visits who pick her up every time we visit, but those people I know and they were given permission to pick her up.  For some reason I don't think that Mastiff owners have this problem.
  5. Rolling over/sitting on/falling on them.  I check under throw blankets before I sit down on the couch, I don't fall hard onto my bed and I have to watch where I step around the house.  Having a dog that could be fatally crushed by you plopping onto a couch cushion they have burrowed under just changes how you do things.
  6. Keeping them warm.  I know people often judge "dressing up" small dogs, but as I have written about before, we have bred dogs to be very tiny.  So tiny that in some cases they are no longer able to regulate their body temperature as well as "full sized" dogs.  In the case of my 6 lb dogs and many other small dogs they need to wear sweaters for most of the winter.  Even in a mild winter like we have here.
  7. Finding treats that are small enough.  I do a lot of training and also a lot of hiking.  These are both activities that require a lot of healthy, small treats.  I need them for training to keep her interested and for hiking to keep her energy up.  Unfortunately most hiking food is GIANT and even training treats are absurdly large for my dogs.  To give you an idea Kerri could not eat a regular sized milkbone because she can't get her mouth open wide enough to get a piece off of one (not that I would feed milkbones anyway).  I buy cat treats, make my own treats and also have found a few select dog items that work great for training.  I find myself using freeze dried just meat treats a lot because I can "count" them as part of my chihuahuas meals.  With them eating so little food in a day every little bit counts and sugary or starch filled treats can really add on the calories for the day for a tiny dog.  A friend of mine used a training treat for their high energy mastiff puppy and three of them equaled Nova's entire caloric intake for the day!  Those are even healthy treats that work great for their training, but as you can imagine they would quickly be a problem for us.  In other news I am an expert in how much dust comes off every commercial dog treat available when you break it into 8 pieces...  Some hold up better than others.
I don't mean to say that little dogs can't do what big dogs do- because they can!  Kerri can do a six mile hike like a champ, eat an entire raw game hen and run an agility course.  She just needs a little extra thought when it comes to certain things.  Anyone else have a particular challenge with their little dogs?  Feel free to share in the comments!

*I didn't mean to exclude anyone here, many people probably have these worries with slightly bigger dogs too.  HOWEVER I am tired of hearing from beagle owners about how tiny and fragile their dogs are.  I own a 18lb dog.  I also own a 5.75 lb dog.  There is a big difference between your worries with a 6 lb dog and a 20 lb dog.


  1. Good points and crikey the thought of birds of pray is quite scary. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. 4 and 6 here! Nola's 10.5lbs, and is pretty much the perfect size.

    1. 4 is the one that really gets me! I would be even more worried if we had dachshunds like Nola- picking them up wrong can be very bad for their back.