Yours may be closer to teapot than teacup in size, but if your furry friend weighs less than your neighbor's cat, you've likely discovered the charm of living with one of the toy breeds. These petite canines generally have extra-large personalities, making them hard to ignore and easy to love.
Feed him a quality, protein-based food portioned according to the manufacturer's directions for your dog's size. Prevent digestive issues, such as bloating and vomiting, from gulping down large amounts all at once by giving him two to three smaller meals a day. Moisten dry food with warm water or mix in a small amount of canned to entice a picky eater to finish his portion.
Protect him from large dogs and his own self-confidence. He may have the heart to square off against a canine Goliath whose head is larger than his entire body, but even a curious pawing from a gentle golden retriever could cause significant injury. Keep his lead short or pick him up if your pup appears ready to do battle with an unfamiliar dog. Monitor him carefully around young children who may not understand your pint-sized pooch's fragile bone structure.
Train him to mind his manners for his safety and your sanity. The tiniest dog becomes a big problem if he ignores simple commands like sit, stay or down. Don't ignore negative behavior such as biting or growling just because he's so cute -- he needs a leader to teach him how to interact with other dogs and people. Enrolling him in a group obedience class will provide him the opportunity to meet other dogs and learn how to act in a crowd. Practicing obedience also gives him a job, which helps prevent boredom and frustration.
Exercise him daily. The good news is, you won't have to travel miles to give your small dog a workout. A quick trip around the block is enough for most Chihuahuas. A lively game of ball in the living room will help keep a stylish Yorkie fit and happy. Some breeds, such as the energetic Papillon, may need a few extra minutes to wear out.
Dress him warmly for outdoor activities when temperatures dip, especially if he has short hair or a clipped coat. His small size and weight means he can quickly develop hypothermia, a life-threatening drop in body temperature. Choose sweaters or coats of natural fibers that fit snugly without binding and, of course, pick a style that leaves room for taking care of business.
Get him off the couch and mingling with other dogs his size. Check for events with categories for smaller breeds, including agility trials and obedience competitions. For example, flyball is a stimulating dog sport that takes him down a lane at top speed to a box with a paddle he must press to release a ball. Exercise his creativity with free-style dog dancing, where he learns to move with you through a series of steps!
by Sandra King
American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Yorkshire Terrier
American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Chihuahua
American Kennel Club: Get to Know the Papillon
American Kennel Club: AKC Breeds by Group – Toy
Animal Planet: Can Small Dogs Have a Napoleon Complex?
Animal Planet: Top 5 Ways to Stop Your Small Dog From Gobbling
Animal Planet: Top 5 Sports for Small Dogs
About the Author
A medical writer since 1990 and successful home-based business owner for more than 14 years, Sandra King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She uses her formal education, professional insight and extensive volunteer involvement to cover topics on health and fitness, pets, parenting for a lifetime, building healthy relationships, conquering business basics and developing career goals.