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Author: Angie Longacre
Angie and Petey

Points to Consider Before Adopting A Small Dog
by Angie Longacre, Washington

If you’re considering adopting a small dog, first ask yourself "why?" With answers like "I want something to just lie in my lap", "I don't want to have to walk it.", or “I want something to dress up and take places” perhaps you should reconsider.

Don't get me wrong, small dogs can make great "lap" companions and are wonderfully portable where larger dogs are not, but there is a very unfortunate misconception that all small dogs are easier to care for than larger dogs. It's an uneducated view that often results in many little dogs ending up in shelters after their owners find out how much work they do require.

For example, the smaller the dog, the smaller the bladder...the less time the little guy can hold his bladder, hence more trips outside. And small dogs can be more difficult to potty train. Dogs in general do not like to defecate near their food, bed or play area. But for a very small dog, even a tiny apartment can seem looming and large with those corners and nooks being an acceptable distance from their "living" area. Little dogs can often slip behind the couch or under a table to take a quick pee and because the quantity of urine is typically minimal, it may go undetected, unwittingly enabling a pup to establish a "potty area" indoors.

Another major misconception is that small dogs don't need walks or exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. Breeds such Jack Russell Terriers (as with most terriers) and Miniature Pinchers are high energy, needing a great deal of exercise and interaction. Lack of exercise is frequently a basis for behavior issues in dogs, large and small. All dogs need to get outside of their daily environment for mental and physical stimulation.

Many people also believe smaller breeds don’t need training or are not trainable - i.e. not smart - when quite the opposite is true. The Bichon Frise, Boston Terriers and Chihuahuas are considered very intelligent canines. It is true certain small breeds, including the Chihuahua, can be stubborn and require more patience on the owner’s part, but with diligence, dogs of any size can be trained.

Just because you can scoop your dog into your arms doesn’t mean it should not come when called. If nothing but for the dog’s own safety, commands like “sit”, “stay” and “come” should and can be taught. What if your dog begins to run after a cat across the street in front of a car? If your dog is trained to “stay” then this one simple word can potentially save your dog’s life.

Small dogs can make superb companions if chosen for the right reasons and given proper training. Big or small they are, after all, dogs.

Before adopting any dog it’s wise to research and make certain the breed you have in mind is a good match for your lifestyle and personality. Pets should be viewed as life-long commitments, not a sweater that can be returned because it doesn’t fit.

The following link has some great information on all dog breeds and they evaluate them on 26 attributes such as Ease of training, Intelligence, Need for exercise and Tendency to bark or howl. htt../../images/dogtime.com/dog-breeds/characteristic/energy-level

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