Dogs can be as small as 1.5 kilograms, and as large as 75 kgs. With such enormous differences in size, the little guys tend to be at a disadvantage, whether they're trying to participate in group play at the park, or sharing a home with a much larger "sibling." With safety precautions in place, bigger and littler can have fun, enriching relationships.
Big Dogs And Little Dogs Sharing A Household
Small dogs and big dogs can get along beautifully, and may even snuggle up and share beds. Others peacefully coexist. As with all doggy housemates, it's important that you do not show favouritism, and try to avoid situations that can lead to resource guarding. Aggression due to resource guarding is especially common when dogs value comfy spaces, edible chews and favourite humans. Give your dogs food and bones in separate crates, or use a puppy pen to give each dog a safe space of their own.
Meeting Dogs Of Different Sizes
Take caution around dogs that you do not know, whether your dog is large or small. Only let your dog off-lead if you are able to supervise them closely, and recall them away from dogs with which they cannot safely interact. On-lead greetings can actually be more dangerous than off-lead greetings because the dogs may feel trapped, and may snap because they are not able to get away. If you allow your dog to greet other dogs while on-lead, always ask the owner for permission first. Then, only let your dogs sniff one another for up to ten seconds, then praise your dog and encourage them to continue walking. It's perfectly acceptable to not allow your dog to greet others on-lead, especially if you want to train them to walk without being in a habit of sniffing every dog you see.
On-lead greetings can make dogs feel trapped and nervous, which can lead to aggression. Make sure you're fluent in dog body language. A dog with pinned ears, a tucked tail, and any tenseness in their face or body may be fearful, and might resort to biting. Loose, playful body language is key.
Do Big Dogs See Small Dogs As Prey?
Dogs typically recognize another from their own species, though it is possible for large dogs to think small dogs are prey, and they may lunge, chase, even kill small dogs. Stop immediately if either dog shows signs of prey fixation: stalking, stiffness, staring and lunging. If possible, avoid grabbing your small dog and picking them up, as this can sometimes make a large dog mistake the small one for a toy. It's more effective to get between the dogs, distract the attacker with toys or treats until they are under control. If you regularly walk your small dog in a neighbourhood full of off-lead, large dogs, you may need to carry around Pet Corrector. Pepper spray is not s safe option because it can get into your own dog's eyes. In a pinch, waving a walking stick or rocks thrown in the dog's direction can divert the large dog so you can get to safety. Loose dogs are harmful to everyone, you should call your local animal control if you are not able to get the owner to confine their dog.
Encouraging Safe Play Habits
When large and small dogs play together, look for signs that the bigger dog is accommodating their little buddy. Often, large dogs will slow down, even lie down to get on their smaller friend's level. Play fighting is normal, even if it's noisy, just make sure both dogs are relaxed and bouncy, and neither dog is actively trying to get away. Praise your dogs when you notice that they are playing nicely.