New to Owning a Small Dog

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Barked: Mon Dec 26, '11 11:30am PST 
Ok so I have had a few puppies and raised them to be medium to big dogs, plus I have a big dog who adopted me well into her adulthood. I have never had a little dog and up until the last couple of years I never wanted one. Now I have a 8 week old puppy who is going to be a big dog, between 60lbs - 80lbs, and I just had a Toy Rat Terrier fall in my lap. The breeder says he will not get bigger than 10lbs. These two babies are getting along so well they play together and sleep together even though one is twice the others size. I am so excited to have a little dog but I want to know if there is anything special I should know about owning a little dog.

Member Since
Barked: Mon Dec 26, '11 5:38pm PST 
I'm not an expert, just someone who has had the honor of being a Mama to chihuahuas. So, this is just my experience.

They can dehydrate fast so I always made sure they had tons of water and at any sign of stomach trouble that resulted in vomiting or loose stools, I checked with the vet immediately. Also, chis in particular, can have blood sugar issues so I always fed mine regularly 2-3 times a day. Not sure if this is a breed thing or a "small dog" trait. Alos, it is so easy to overfeed a small dog, especially if you are used to feeding bigger dogs. I bet that, at first, the amount of food you put in the bowl will look insignificant. But, they really don't require all that much.
Other than that - their fragility. Small dogs are, well...small. I had doggie steps by the bed so they didn't have to jump and risk injuring themselves (our bed is really high up). They can get under fences where your bigger dogs can't. They can easily get hurt by being underfoot so it took a while to get used to that. We had to train our kids to be mindful of how delicate the dogs were and monitor play until they were old enough to understand. They were usually the smallest ones at dog parks so we had to keep a keen eye on them there. Also, they get cold faster than the bigger dogs. One of our chis had a really hard time regulating his body temp, especially as he got older. We had to make sure he had sweaters for going outside.
Hope that helps a little.
Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Mon Dec 26, '11 5:58pm PST 
I agree with Guest. Your rat terrier bud is going to need sweaters and such that your big dogs wouldn't need. Many (not all) small dogs need three small meals a day all their lives or they have problems with blood sugar dropping or vomiting up bile when their stomachs are too empty. And there is more risk of injury from things that wouldn't hurt a big dog at all.

There's one more important thing to remember. Many small breeds, and I believer rat terriers are among them at this point, have been bred primarily as companions for a long time. They are more than usually owner-focused, and want to be near their primary person as much as possible. This means it's vital that you crate train and teach your little one that it's okay to be alone, that there are some very good things (like stuffed kongs, or whatever) that only happen when he goes into his crate to be alone for a while, while you're out or working or training the other pup, or whatever. It's an important skill, and it's a kindness to teach it early and well, to avoid separation anxiety.

The Boys

The Three- Stooges.
Barked: Mon Dec 26, '11 8:22pm PST 
Are you getting a puppy? If so I would get a tube of Nutri cal. It's for in case they get low blood sugar. Expect to take him out a lot! They have very small bladders. They are little but all dog. They want to play and do the same thing big dogs want to do. Also watch play as the other puppy gets bigger.
Sweeney- (Todd)

The demon- groomer of Fleet- Street
Barked: Mon Dec 26, '11 10:26pm PST 
I agree with the boys. Play between your big dog and your little one should always be supervised. The size difference there will be... well, quite large. Some big dogs don't know their size, the same way some small dogs don't. That said, I've mixed big dogs and little dogs before - still do - and haven't had any play induced injuries yet. (*knocks on wood*) Key is knowing your dogs and supervision. Also, yes, you might need a sweater. Contrary to popular believe, many of us small dog owners don't use them just because they're "cute". They're actually very convenient for some small dogs during the winter months. I've learnt that Chi Chi, Sandy, and Precious are very prone to getting very cold very quickly. They don't go outside during the colder months without their winter coats.

Barked: Tue Dec 27, '11 12:14pm PST 
I am new to having a small dog under 5 pounds. I would supervise the big and little dog play time. Charlie plays with Black. I taught Black to be laying down when they play as he is over 70 pounds. So far all is going well. I do crate Charlie when I leave and never leave him alone with Black. I also noticed Charlie will try and take things away from Black and chase him away from me. I right away get after him for that. Last thing I need is Black to finally say enough and bite charlie. So far he has been very patient and lets me handle Charlie's misdeeds.
I also use a sweater on Charlie. He does not have a undercoat and I noticed he gets cold quickly. I made a lot of sweaters for him from old fleece sweaters and they work real good. Charlie also gets hungry and thirsty quickly so I keep his water bowl filled and feed him more often. Good luck and enjoy your pups.

Dreamy Eyes
Barked: Thu Dec 29, '11 10:52am PST 
Hi Boots. From a little different perspective, something I might throw out there is don't assume that because the dog is small that he will have less enegy or need less excercise than a big dog. People often underestimate small dogs.

Terriers are hardy breeds with lots of energy. The advantage of small dogs is that they can usually SURVIVE with less excercise but it is still important that they get some to maintain a healthy weight and curb behavioral problems (like the separation anxiety refrenced by another commenter). Our Doxies are bred for hunting small game and can hike for miles and miles. When we encounter non-Doxies on the trail they are usually terrier breeds. Just bundle your little guy/girl up and let them run with the big dogs smile

Also, be sure that you expect your small dog to be as polite and well mannered as your big dog. I see a lot of yappy, agressive smaller dogs that obviously got that way because their owner thought it was cute that they were "scrappy" instead of teaching them to be good, upstanding doggie citizens.