GO!

Do big dogs really not see little dogs as "dogs?"

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 6:22am PST 
I've seen this brought up a few times, and it makes me question it.

I've never seen a big dog truly think a small dog was really prey. At a distance, they may take off at something small moving, but once they really see what they're chasing, which is in a matter of seconds, they switch mindsets.

At the dog park, I've never seen a big dog mistake small dogs as prey.shrug
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Tyler

Whippy- The- Whipador
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 6:26am PST 
Same here Sanka. I would consider a dog that would physically kill or maim a small dog as unstable and NOT normal behaviour.
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Savannah- Blue Belle

A Heart of Gold!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 6:34am PST 
Savannah and Samoa are both big. They regard small dogs on the street as dogs, for sure. One maybe ten pound peeky-something and a little fifteen pound pug-mutt are among their best friends.

Savannah seems to think the pug-mutt is boyfriend material.

Samoa has a strong prey drive, but never seems to consider any little dog we happen across as anything but a dog.
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Olive

Lab/Rottie/Chow/- Shepherd Mix!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 6:48am PST 
Olive is 55 lbs and we took great care to socialize her with other dogs at the dog park when she was just 14 weeks old.

She not only recognizes small dogs as dogs, but will adapt her play behavior to "fit" a small dog. With big dogs, she can be incredibly rough - but it's like she understands that small dogs are small and she has to be more gentle.
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Jackson Tan

Lad about town
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 7:04am PST 
The dog I used to live with (Alaskan Malamute) did used to view small dogs as prey and I have no doubt would have killed had he been given a chance. A GSD in my old town also killed and ate a small terrier.

I agree it's not the norm. Jackson views all dogs as dogs regardless of size. But it can happen.
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Savannah- Blue Belle

A Heart of Gold!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 7:24am PST 
Olive, I've seen Savvy do that too! It's so cute. She will actually lay down near a small dog so they can check her out on their level.
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Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 7:34am PST 
Big dogs who have been well socialized with a range of dogs know small dogs are dogs, and often will adapt their play styles to avoid hurting smaller dogs.

Big dogs with high prey drive who have not been well socialized with a range of dogs--sometimes there can be problems. They may recognize small dogs as dogs if they meet them, but not if they see a small dog running--and they may not realize their mistake until they've picked the small dog up in their jaws and shaken it. Too late then.

A small number of big dogs seem to actively regard small dogs as prey. Yes, these dogs are probably not "normal" psychologically. No, the owner of the small dog does not have any sympathy for your big dog's emotional traumas, while he's holding his dead dog.
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Savannah- Blue Belle

A Heart of Gold!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 7:45am PST 
I don't think anyone here is suggesting that they would, so kind of wondering why you felt that was necessary.

When I have my dogs off leash, they will run after a small running dog. The big ones do this as well as the "little" ones. If they catch up with the dog their reaction depends on that dogs reaction. If it is defensive, they sidle off. It it is playful, they play.
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Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 8:04am PST 
Too often when a small dog is injured or killed by a big dog, there's a rush to explain what the owner of the small dog did wrong, or how the small dog "triggered" the attack and the big dog just acted like a normal dog.

And yes, some of those "discussions" have been here on Dogster.

But what you describe you dogs as doing is normal behavior, the behavior of dogs who have been well socialized and have experience with dogs of a wide range of sizes.

We also expect a lot of dogs, in that no other species has the incredible range of size, shape, and appearance that dogs have. That's why dogs who have no problem recognizing small dogs as dogs if they meet them, can make mistakes about fast-moving small dogs at a distance--which can result in tragedies in which no one is really at fault. I'll take Addy into the "big dog" part of the dog park, if there is no one in the small dog section--depending on the mix of dogs currently there. There are some dogs I absolutely avoid. Dora, though, is so small that mistakes are just too easy--and there's a sweet but clumsy Saint who could hurt small dogs without even intending to, because of his size and clumsiness, not because he mistook the dog for not-a-dog.
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Savannah- Blue Belle

A Heart of Gold!
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 22, '12 8:10am PST 
gotcha. And I guess I have sometimes had the opposite reaction, laughing when 100 lb. Savvy is intimidated by a tiny terror.

I know I would be HORRIFIED if my dogs caused another actual physical damage.
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