If you’re a small dog owner or are considering becoming one, there are some potential issues and needs to be aware of that are unique to miniature dog breeds. Here are a few things you need to know in order to provide the best care for a tiny pooch.
Grooming and Health
Small dogs tend to be more sensitive to changes in temperature than large dogs since they have less fat underneath their skin. If your dog’s breed has a longer coat, you may want to consider letting it grow out more in the colder winter months to add extra insulation. Dog sweaters and coats and function more than a fashion statement, and can help your pooch stay warm and cozy during cold weather walks.
Another thing to watch out for in small dogs is the increased risk for dental problems, in comparison to larger breeds. Brushing is a must for good oral hygiene, as well as having your vet check your dog’s teeth and gums at annual checkups.
Regular grooming is important for all dogs, but keeping nails short with a trimmer or dog nail grinder is particularly important for smaller breeds. It’s more likely that a very small dog is kept indoors more often, meaning less opportunity to wear its nails down naturally outdoors.
Diet and Exercise
One big difference between small and large dogs is nutritional needs. Smaller dogs require less food because of their size, but because they tend to have a faster metabolism they also need more calories and burn through energy faster. Ask your vet for advice on the best food for your dog’s size and breed. Some kibble, for example, comes in smaller pieces that are easier to chew.
How much exercise a small dog needs will vary by breed, but typically smaller dogs are very active and playful. Make sure they have a variety of toys in different shapes and textures to keep them stimulated when indoors, and get outside for a walk at least once or more a day if possible.
Keep in mind that your small dog’s tiny legs won’t go as fast as a larger pooch, so you won’t be able to go as fast, or as far as you would with a larger dog.
Training and Socialization
Researching the specific traits about your dog’s breed will help inform what type of training it needs. Some breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Poodles, tend to be more territorial and yappy, for example.
Making sure that your pup is properly socialized with other dogs and people early in life will also help develop good habits. But even if your dog is older, it’s never too late to learn good behavior. Positive reinforcement can do wonders for training, and if that doesn’t seem to be effective for your dog, a professional dog trainer knows what to do to help your specific dog’s breed learn good behavior.
A little research and ensuring your small dog has what it needs depending on its unique breed will help make you and your dog happier and more stress-free. Be sure to include a regular vet check-up into your small dog care plan too, to optimize their health and wellbeing from puppy to old age.