Today's episode is all about small dogs. If your dog is 30 pounds or smaller, this episode is for you. You might also have a puppy that's only temporarily that size. All of the information in this podcast is going to help you too. And if you're looking for a dog and considering if a small dog is right for you, this is your episode as well.
This episode's guest is the owner of London, Ontario's Treat Yourself Dog Training, Tess Morgan. You might also find her running the positive training for small dogs group on Facebook- a supportive group for people who love their small dogs.
Tess is passionate about using the most progressive and evidence-based methods to train dogs and prides herself in offering effective, integrated, and non-judgmental support to the family she works with. Tess is also a mom to two small dogs, Lily and Alvin, and has a special interest in helping small dog families reach their training goals while improving the welfare of small dogs.
This is a fun episode that's going to make you think of things you never did before about the tiniest of our friends.
Check out her small dog parent facebook group:
Visit instagram.com/thedoodlepro for behind-the-scenes peeks at the doodles Corinne works with daily!
[00:00:00] Today's episode is all about small dogs. If your dog is 30 pounds or smaller, this episode is for you. You might have a puppy that's only temporarily that size. All of the information in this podcast is going to help you. And if you're looking for a dog and considering if a small dog is right for you.
This is your episode as well.
Today, we're going to be interviewing Tess Morgan. The owner of treat yourself dog training. In Vancouver, British Columbia.
You might also find her running the positive training for small dogs group. On Facebook, it's a supportive group for people who love their small dogs. This is a fun episode that's going to make you think of things you never did before about the tiniest of our friends
Doodle breed. Dogs are easy to love, but can be challenging to parent. I'm Doodle Expert Car Gearhart, also known as the Doodle Pro, [00:01:00] and I'm here to help doodle parents have a more fulfilling and rewarding experience with their doodles. No one has professionally worked with as many different doodle breeds, or has more experience with doodles than I have, and I love to share my expertise in a fun, compassionate, and non-judgmental way.
From my years of work and education in the pet care and dog training industry, I have an incredible network of skilled training. Grooming and veterinary professionals to share their knowledge with you and give you the doodle specific answers you are looking for. I hope you enjoyed today's episode as I help you parent your doodle like a pro.
congratulations to one year old f1 baby mini Bernadoodle mia for winning doodle of the week your mom erica loves you so much and is happy to tell the world why you are so deserving Hi, I'm Erica from [00:02:00] Indianapolis and my doodle name is Mia. She is a mini bernadoodle, and the quirkiest thing that our little girl does is self soothing. Every time she wants to go to bed for the night or take a nap, she will literally run and grab her. Stuffy, whatever it may be at the time. Right now it is a gigantic lamb chop and she will go put that in her mouth and start pulsing with her front paws on it.
Imitating what puppies will often do during nursing and will. Almost instantly fall asleep with whatever stuffed animal she may have grabbed in her mouth. She started doing this almost immediately after we got her, and she is 14 months now and she still does this every single day. We love our sweet snuggle bug to pieces.
Who is the [00:03:00] absolute happiest when all her humans are all home around her and she can see everybody. So thanks for the opportunity to highlight Mia. We sure love her.
If you think your doodle deserves to win doodle of the week? Send me a quick voice firstname.lastname@example.org slash doodle of the week.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: I'm so happy to have our guests join us today from Canada. Tess Morgan. Tess is a certified trainer and counselor through the Academy for Dog Trainers, also known as the Harvard for Dog Trainers, a certified separation anxiety professional trainer, a licensed family paw parent educator, and a certified control unleashed instructor.
Tess is passionate about using the most progressive and evidence-based. To train dogs and prides herself in offering effective, integrated, and non-judgmental support to the family she works with. [00:04:00] Tess is also a mom to two small dogs, Lily and Alvin, and has a special interest in helping small dog families reach their training goals while improving welfare for small dogs.
Tes, thank you so much for joining.
Tess Morgan: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to talk about small dogs today.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: We are thrilled to have you and we were talking before we got started. You also have a toddler at home?
Tess Morgan: I do. His name's Theo. He's 18 months old, so a lot of management with him and the dogs for sure.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: Thank you. So for our pet parents, when you say a lot of management, can you explain a little what you. .
Tess Morgan: Sure. So in training lingo management would be anything we do to prevent the practice of problematic behaviors or bad situations from happening. So with toddlers and dogs, that's a lot of baby gates, , Uhhuh, , a lot of active supervision and just basically setting everyone up for success so that we don't have as toddler with no impulse control, approaching the dogs while [00:05:00] they're eating or that kind of stuff.
So just keeping a really hands-on approach and then separating them when we're not able to do.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: and you'll get there. Like your toddler's, developmentally going to get there. And your dog's going to learn to be comfortable like it's possible. , yes. . But it takes being proactive, right? Yeah, for sure.
For sure. Yes. . I have a friend of mine who wanted to get a tiny dog. She picked a Yorkie. because her daughter's tiny . Have you heard that before? My kids are little, so I want them to have a little dog. .
Tess Morgan: I've heard about getting a puppy, like growing up together, but I haven't heard the little dog
with little kids.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: I hear the I wanna raise them together so they grow up as best friends. Yeah, exactly. Yes. . And her idea was when the puppy comes home, my little eight year old daughter wants to have a party with her girlfriend's over and they could pass the puppy around. Oh my God. , what are your [00:06:00] thoughts for.
Tess Morgan: I have my own. I wanna hear yours, .
I think there's good intention there, right? Because socializing that puppy to kids and body handling and all that stuff is amazing. Yes. And that just means we want the dog to be used to kids if they're gonna be living with kids and around kids and used to being touched.
That being said, Socialization is a positive experience, right? It's not just exposure to kids and just exposure to body handling. And so my fear with that would be, is that going to be a good experience for the puppy, or is that going to be a bit overwhelming? And with a smaller dog, we also think about dropping, potentially dropping or picking up and handling in a way that's not gonna be
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: comfortable for.
Yes. And, you're right, socialization isn't just frequency or exposure. It could take one bad experience.
Tess Morgan: They're so sensitive at that age,
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: right? Yes. Excellent. All right. We're on the same [00:07:00] page for compensation that I am with my dear friend. So what is different about training or living with small dogs versus big.
Tess Morgan: I think there's so much that is the same in that they all learn the same, right? All dogs learn the same. I think there's a lot of rhetoric out there saying that different breeds need different training and that's not necessarily true. What I do think is different is our mechanics, and what I mean by mechanics is the actual physical situation we're putting the dog in when we're training.
If I have a big dog that's right at my hip, it's a lot easier to, for instance, deliver a treat really effectively and really quickly cuz their mouth is right here. Yes. Whereas with a little dog, we're thinking about how can we not be bending over constantly? How can we save our back? And then also, how can we deliver treats in an effective way where we're not saying yes and marking the behavior and then trying to get the treat to them in time. So I think with little dogs, we're doing a lot more treat [00:08:00] tossing and treat catches and just have to be a bit more creative about reinforcement with little dogs. So that's a big one for sure.
Yes. And then the second thing I would say for training is watching our posture. Are we looming over? Are we standing? Just cause think about how little that dog is compared to us. Especially if you're a tall person just looming over them. That can be pretty threatening and I think it's easy to forget that.
So starting from like a kneeling position or a seated position even would be a great first step with a little dog. And then also just watching how we're handling them. I know when I first got my little dog who's a Chihuahua mix, it's so easy to pull the leash a little bit too hard, which might be like nothing for a big dog, but if we're accidentally pulling the leash a little bit too hard, you could be knocking that dog off their feet.
Yes. So really being careful about remembering how small that dog is and how much they weigh in comparison to you, and making sure that training is comfortable and not scary for. .
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: It's really [00:09:00] easy to do when you have a 70 pound dog. And they stop to pee or pull on a leash. Or just to get a sniff.
Like you notice. Yeah. And when you have a six 12 pound dog and they stop to pee when I used to own my dog walking company, I'd have to coach my walkers. You have to be in tune cuz you might keep walking. And that poor little thing is trying to dribble along and is being pulled along.
Tess Morgan: Yeah.
It's really easy to yank them for sure.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: Accidentally not out of anchor or trying to use force,
Tess Morgan: but you just kept. . Yeah.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: Yeah, exactly. Yes. Another thing I noticed with a lot of our clients, when you have a 50, 60 pound dog and you need them to go potty, or it's time to go to bed or time to kennel up, you ask them to do it.
Or tell them to do it, and you lead them there. And when you have an eight pound dog, there's a lot of scooping up and taking [00:10:00] yes. And how does that affect behavior for the.
Tess Morgan: I think a lot of people assume that because their dog doesn't necessarily growl or bite if they don't that they're fine with it. And I think a lot of little dogs get used to it and tolerate it, but that doesn't necessarily mean that. It is comfortable for them or that they're experiencing good welfare in their life, if they're constantly being moved around, if you just think about yourself, right?
Would you want to be picked up and put somewhere else, or would you want someone to take a couple extra seconds and just be patient with you and teach you some behaviors so you can help? Move on your own versus being scooped up. There's also a startle element, like I think a lot of people, one thing I love to teach people is some kind of cue to warn your dog that they're gonna be picked up.
Yeah. If you are going to pick them up, pick up right, is what I say with my dog. And it's just because the imagine how startling it would be to not know you're gonna be picked up and then to suddenly be scooped into the air. So I. We can definitely [00:11:00] do more with small dogs to teach them ways to move like a hand target, little things like that.
So that they're moving through space voluntarily. Yes. And we're avoiding picking them up as much as possible. And then when we do pick them up, we're warning them.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: And to me that counts for when all dogs are puppies as well. Yeah, for sure. So that 70 pound dog started a lot smaller.
And during that phase, the same rules apply. .
Tess Morgan: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And especially in that puppy phase, we really wanna make sure they're having good experiences. So with a small, but with any dog, but especially when I used to teach puppy classes, I would always tell, especially the people with the little puppies that were gonna be small breed dogs.
Like your dog is probably going to be picked up more in their life, obviously, than a bigger dog. And so to work on that proactively and help them get comfortable with being picked up is gonna pay off long. for sure.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: So I have a 18 pound dog, so I'm in your niche here. Yeah. And I treat [00:12:00] him as if he's one of the big dogs.
Yeah. He prefers it. That is his default. And he would prefer giving consent and me saying, let's go and going on his own little pause than me scooping him up. , but I defer to him walking on his own than me carrying him. If you have a little dog, is there a preference for them as to how they should get around?
Tess Morgan: I think it depends on the dog, so yeah. Good example is I have two smaller dogs, one's very small, she's 12 pounds, and the other one is closer to 25. The 25 pound dog does not enjoy being picked up. Really, doesn't like it. Yeah, I could potentially work more on that, but with him, I just don't pick him up unless it's like an emergency pretty much.
I just move him with a hand target or I teach him to move with me so I don't have to pick him up. Whereas the small dog , I would say she more tolerates it than like loves being picked up, but she's not as concerned about it. So I think [00:13:00] some dogs another example is like reactive dogs, right?
Some dogs feel safer if they're scared of something being scooped up, and some dogs feel trapped. So I think it's very individual to the dog and just knowing body language so you can tell if your dog is enjoying it. And then the other thing is just being able to opt out. So if you go to pick up your dog, and I see this all the time, people go to pick up a dog and the dog is like backing away from them.
Or like very clearly not wanting to be picked up. Taking that as a sign that, oops, you don't wanna be picked up right now. And if I pick you up, I'm gonna give you a bad experience with being pick. .
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: So as you're a family paw educator as well. How do you describe to a child how to tell whether their small dog wants to be carried and picked up or not?
Tess Morgan: I think it depends on the child's
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: age so, we have a few members who have kids from age like 10 to
Tess Morgan: 15. So I think 10 to 15 is old enough to do to teach some basic body language. Like [00:14:00] it's pretty easy to tell if a dog is physically moving away from you, , right? Yes. So even something like that, a lot of what we teach kids. Let the dog approach you versus you approaching the dog. So yes, if the dog isn't enthusiastically approaching you to be picked up, then take that as a no versus if they're just standing still or if they're backing away from you. So if the dog is coming to you, likelihood is they're comfortable versus if you going to them, even if they're not showing overt signs of discomfort.
The fact that you went to them and they didn't come to you, tells you something. .
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: I completely agree. And my kids I have them sit down so we're not looming over and that already helps. make the dog feel more welcomed and less intimidated. And then the kids are planted. . They're not scurrying after the pup.
Yeah. They are planted in one space and then the dog, it's very clear. [00:15:00] If they're coming to them or not. And then we also do consent petting. Yeah. Do you mind sharing to our, listen. What that looks like.
Tess Morgan: Yeah. So in family Pause, we call it like pet, pet Pause. So that means yes, first of all, a dog is coming to you, so dog is approaching you, you're not approaching them.
Pet a couple times, and then you're gonna pause and see if the dog moves away or if they're done. or if they are still there, like my dog will nuzzle his head into you more, right? Yes. So the dog is enjoying it. They'll probably stay there and they'll probably show signs that they're enjoying it and that they want more.
So taking in that cue if they're walking away or if they're choosing to leave the situation when you pause as, oh, I'm not consenting anymore to petting,
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: and that's okay. I say That's okay to my kids and kids that we work with. Then they enjoy the next interaction more.
Yep. And. We are letting them know they have a voice before it's a growl. A snap. Yeah. So if you have clients that have small dogs and they [00:16:00] say for some reason my small dog, they used to be fine, but now they're growling and snapping more when I go to pet them or scoop them up. What advice do you have for those?
Tess Morgan: so sudden discomfort with body handling are being picked up. Definitely that check, right? We wanna make sure there's no pain. I think that's something people miss a lot. They jump straight to, oh, we gotta change how this dog feels about being picked up. If the dog's in pain training isn't gonna help that, right?
So we wanna make sure that there's no pain involved, because I wouldn't wanna be touched either if I was in. . vet check first and then if there's nothing physically wrong with your dog then you just wanna work on, first of all, consent. Not picking them up as much as possible. And if picking them up is something that you feel like you really want to be able to do, working on desensitization and counter conditioning. So helping them feel comfortable with being picked up at their pace.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: Yes, I completely agree. And people forget that dogs hide. . [00:17:00] Like they're not coming up to you and showing you.
Yeah. Like a little lip fog or, like a Lassie wood. Yeah, just to survive they needed to hide. If they were wounded or hurt. And they're really good at it.
Tess Morgan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it could even be something like their spine or something that they wouldn't necessarily be able to even show you where
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: What are the most common behavioral challenges with smaller dogs, and why do you think those are? .
Tess Morgan: So I think reactivity is a big one. Reactivity obviously is not just for small dogs. Lots of bigger dogs have reactivity, . But I think the reasons might be a little bit different for small dogs.
I think with small dogs. Sometimes we don't socialize them as much as we would with big dogs as puppies. And it could be for a good reason, fear of throwing your little tiny puppy in with a bunch of bigger puppies. Yeah. That's fear. Yeah. But, . Just people not taking their small dog and [00:18:00] exposing them to as many things because we know that reactivity can be caused often by fear, discomfort of those things that they're reactive to, right?
So having positive experiences with those things and just knowing that they're there and they're not harmful is so valuable, and I think people tend to miss that more with little dogs especially if it's not a dog. They plan to really take, I've heard from clients before. I don't really plan to take this dog many places.
They mostly hang out at home, so I'm not like that concerned about it. And that's, an issue, . Yeah. Uh, So reactivity, I think reactivity also, when we were talking before about not giving small dogs a chance to opt out, I think that's something else that can cause reactivity where a dog might be uncomfortable with something, but we're picking them up and we're carrying them, or we're just not listening to their warning signs or taking their warning signs seriously.
And the doc has no choice but to escalate to re. Just to get outta that situation. Just to be heard exactly. Yeah. Yes. And I also think small dogs are [00:19:00] more prone to bad experiences in certain situations, like in big group dog situations, daycares, dog parks, small dogs with a bunch of big dogs.
They definitely can play nicely for sure. But higher risk. Higher risk for if not an injury, a scary. And that could cause activity. And then in terms of other behavioral issues, body handling I think is one. So dogs who are picked up all the time when they don't wanna be picked up, they might get to a point where they're like, Hey, I don't like this and this is my breaking point and I'm going to bike, or I'm going to growl.
And that's labeled like small dog syndrome a lot. Yes. Where you pick the dog up or people are trying to kiss their little chihuahua and the Chihuahua's growling and they think it's so funny. The chihuahua just is being a jerk just because he is a chihuahua, whereas the chihuahua has an option.
The Chihuahua's tiny compared to you . So really his only option is to growl or bite to get out of that uncomfortable situation. That's definitely one of the big issues. And then house training [00:20:00] sometimes can be a bigger issue, and I wonder if that's just because it's a smaller mess. So people. or it's a less of a priority than a Great Dane, right?
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: Yes. I completely agree. Our mentor, Jean Donaldson, she talks about like the consequence for an accident. From New Yorkie versus the Great Dane one is gonna really motivate you. Yeah. To make sure house training is on lock. And then one is this little thumb
Tess Morgan: nail. Little, like an annoyance versus a huge
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: issue.
Yes. And so it's wondered whether or not it's their smaller bladders or if it's their breed or is it that we just, we don't notice the little accident, or it's just not as urgent for us to Yeah. Make sure that it's,
Tess Morgan: yeah, it's unclear. It's unclear. And as not a vet. Save. I can't speak to the smaller bladder.
In, my Facebook group for small dogs, there's been some discussion. It's been really interesting to get different people's perspectives on [00:21:00] it. But I think what the issue is, worth taking into consideration if there is a medical reason, they have to go out more. But overall, you're gonna do the same protocol with a small dog as a big dog for
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: house training anyway.
And they can be house. . Yes. It's not . Yes, . I do see more frequent pad and like paper training. With small dogs when they come home. What do you advise your clients? For puppy pads
Tess Morgan: My preference is wherever you want that dog to go, long term to go to the bathroom, that's where you should be training them to go from the get-go.
Some people are fine, especially if you live in a high-rise apartment or something, having a litter box or a puppy pad long term. And if that's something you're comfortable with and that's what you want to create a habit for, then go for it. It's your, dog, it's your place. Yeah. I think it can be a bit confusing to have multiple places for them to.
[00:22:00] and it can slow down house training because they're still going inside. Yes, but I think it's personal preference as long as people understand that what they're training their dogs as puppies is the habit that they're building for
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: when they're adults. I agree with the Highrise apartment. And can this little pup make it all the way down the elevator or your flights of stairs until you get outside?
I'm a big fan of the grass patches. If your goal is just as you said, What is the long-term goal? What do you want your 10 year old dog to be doing? Yeah. Are they going to be going outside or are they going inside? And I personally find with my experience with small dogs that come and visit with me, if they started pad trained every soft surface.
Inside counts as that pad. Yeah. So I'll look carpeting my preference is to avoid it unless that's the long-term goal. Yes. So I think we're on a similar
Tess Morgan: page there. Yes. And I would say that's a case where, Assuming your [00:23:00] puppy is comfortable being picked up, that's a case where it would be a good idea to pick your dog up and carry them to the grass outside so
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: that you don't have to on the way out.
Agree. But I am not scolding and punishing No. When I catch the midstream. Cuz all that leads to is a hiding. Peeing dog . Exactly. Yeah. . So I do a whoop and then we go right outside and then I praise if I could get a little dribble outside and reward. But you'll see shake cans of coins or do lots of clapping and yell at them and correct them when, you catch them in the.
And that just leads to a dog that's hiding behind the couch.
Tess Morgan: Yeah, that's a great way to have a dog who's scared of you. Yes. points in your relationship from the beginning.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: I totally agree. Jess. So we're talking about some of the challenges, but little dogs are wonderful. What are some of the benefits to living with a smaller dog?
Tess Morgan: [00:24:00] For me personally and professionally, what I see is it's, more convenient, right? There's lower cost for almost everything. Yes. Food, medication, a lot of stuff is lower cost because there's a smaller dog. Yeah. And you can take them more places. So that's one benefit with socialization is you can take a small dog and just put.
in a backpack and take them on the bus or take them to different places more easily. You can take them on an airplane in the cabin with you so you don't have to worry about Yes. Being in underneath the airplane. So I think the convenience of being able to take them a lot of places, and I think.
We miss a lot of small dog positive personality traits because there's so much negativity around small dog personalities. And even people look down almost on small dog people as if they're not real dog people. And I think, oh, that's garbage . Yeah, it's total garbage. And I, just think there's so many fun, like quirky small dogs that people would really [00:25:00] enjoy if they got to
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: know.
I totally agree. I hear from a lot of my clients actually that have small dogs. I, they told me this was going to be like a standard size golden doodle , or one of our members has a bead doodle and they thought it would be much bigger. Ah, and she's deliciously, adorably tiny. And it happens a lot actually.
You're gonna do something. Yes. I think there's I, can't tell if there's Yorkie mixed in. Yeah, there's some Merl. She's a delicious hodgepodge. If she ever got swabbed, I would definitely wanna see her embark results. For sure. Yes. . But that happens a lot with doodles where you're told one end and they're, when they're crossing two sizes you can have various sizes in the same litter. But people are almost apologetic of I thought I was getting a real dog. Yeah. And, but there are so many benefits it, when the dog is older and they need to be, they need to be [00:26:00] carried. In their. You'll hear people that had a big lab and they're like, I'm going smaller next time.
Yeah When they had a problem with their hin leg or whatever. Doodles, grooming is much less expensive. Cause it's often based on size. Yeah. And you're doing that every one to two months for their whole life.
Tess Morgan: Yeah. and also rent apartments. A lot of apartments have weight limits. So having a smaller dog just opens you up if you're a renter to being able to move into more places.
Yes. So it opens up a lot of opportunities that having a bigger dog would be
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: harder to find. Totally. And now that airlines are much more strict on travel. With dogs, you hear a lot of people saying to the breeder, , they have to be under 20 pounds. Yeah. Yeah. Like I need my dog to be able to travel with me.
Yeah, for sure. That is such a benefit. When we talked earlier about fear of your dog getting trampled or bringing them out different places. Having the little sling or backpack. Is such an [00:27:00] advantage when you have a smaller dog. They don't have to interact with the man on the bike. Or the train going by.
It's just that they safely know. Nothing bad happens there. Yeah. This is positive.
Tess Morgan: Yeah, exactly. You just toss some treats in the backpack. It's all good.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: Exactly. And that could start right when they come home. Yeah. And if you're really worried about parvo and stuff, little dogs are really great to give positive early exposures to things.
Yeah, for sure. To bring 'em everywhere as long as we are careful. Yeah. And we're not just grabbing 'em and throwing 'em in and ignoring all of their cues. Of course.
Tess Morgan: Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: When we talk about challenges with training, I found the difference between my standard poodle and my cav aoo.
The hardest part was teaching heel while standing upright. You really gotta get down there quick to reward that position. Yeah. I know lots of people have different tools like spatula with peanut butter. And stuff. What [00:28:00] are your favorite tips for kind of modifying your training when working with a smaller.
Tess Morgan: So when I first got my dog, before I was a trainer, I was told the peanut butter on the spoon trick . And it's kinda it's, creative for sure. It's my, issue with it was always, was it realistic to carry peanut butter. Because even with heel we're rewarding a lot at the beginning, but we're still wanna reward intermittently as to maintain the behavior as it goes on.
Yes. C, what's the solution for the spoon long term? Is that always my question? I agree. . So what I've found is really helpful is treat tosses. So teaching your dog, and sometimes we expect a dog to know how to follow a treat that's tossed. But a lot of dogs, if you just toss a treat, they're not necessarily gonna follow it automatically.
It's true. So even just training that like you would any other behavior for your dog to follow a treat? Yeah. Because if you. Say yes and toss a treat for them and they know to follow that treat. You're not bending over at all, you're just tossing the treat. So [00:29:00] that's a lot easier on your back. and I even train cues, different cues, so get it might be the cue to get a treat on the ground.
And then the other thing I use more so for taller dogs, like Corgi size kind of bigger small dogs treat catches. So just being able to train your dog to catch a treat that you can
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: just toss to. And that is a trained skill. A lot of us think oh, my dog just doesn't know how to do
Tess Morgan: that. Yeah. A lot of dogs, if you just do it without train, are just gonna get hit in the face with a train treat
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: which make the best lomo videos.
You mentioned earlier your Facebook group and I am a member of it and love it. It's a really supportive community. Yeah. For parents of small dogs and even some trainers join so that they can polish their skills working with small dogs. Can you tell our listeners a little
Tess Morgan: about that? Sure. So it's new.
It's only about a month or two old. It's called positive training for small dogs on Facebook. And basically [00:30:00] it's a community for people who are force free and either have small dogs or train small dogs so that we can talk about the best equipment for small dogs, different training methods to suit small dogs.
And we talk about a lot of general training and welfare stuff in there as well. I think it's a supportive community for people that know that they will be supportive with their small dog and the challenges that come with having a small dog.
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: Yes. Oh, it's been a delight to be a part of it and it's amazing how much it's taken off in just the short time since you both. Exactly.
Tess Morgan: Yeah. Yeah. . Clearly there
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: is a need for it. I agree. Yes. Their needs are different and. . If somebody has a small dog and people talk about small dog syndrome, which I often see as on walks like every time they see something is that inevitable or is there a way to work with your dog so that they don't [00:31:00] have that experience?
Tess Morgan: I don't think it's inevitable. I think there. Positive socialization experiences as a puppy during that socialization window. Up to 12 or 16 weeks depending on the breed really helps.
So protecting them from having negative experiences and giving them a lot of safe, positive experiences with everything you want them to be Okay with. Dogs, strangers, bikes, buses, everything, right? Yes. There is a genetic component, and I think a lot of small dogs and a lot of dogs in general come from not so desirable breeders accidental breedings, that kind of thing. And those dogs are gonna be more susceptible to being a little bit less resilient. So going to a breeder that breeds small dogs that are resilient. So if they have even like a small bad experience, they're not gonna crumble into a million pieces and they're gonna be able to recover from that.
And then also getting in and training and working with the behavior. It's not really an obedience issue. It's more of a fear and [00:32:00] discomfort issue. So understanding that we need to get in and address that underlying emotion by preventing more bad experiences and working with the trainer behavior consultant to help them feel better about the things that are triggering them and prevent them from having reactions in the first place is a good idea because I think a lot of people see that behavior as you didn't train your.
And I don't think personally, reactivity to me is less of a training issue and more of a emotional issue. Emotional safety. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And we can help that with training. But it's not, I think a lot of people just assume that, it's just a bad dog owner and I don't think that's the case
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: at all.
I agree completely. Is there anything else you wanna add to our listeners before we stay on and talk to our members?
Tess Morgan: I think the biggest thing for small dogs is just making sure they have autonomy wherever we can give it to them. Giving choice to opt out of interactions, advocating for your dog.
Even if it's uncomfortable, if someone's holding [00:33:00] them and you can tell the dog doesn't like it. Telling that person, Hey, put my dog down, and they're not enjoying it, even though it's awkward, it's really gonna be a big benefit to your dog to know that they can opt out of situations. when they want to, because that's the biggest welfare challenge I see for little dogs.
And then the other thing is meeting their needs just like you would a big dog. I think a lot of people know that a big dog needs a regular exercise. They need to go hiking and they need to do sniffs. They need to go on a long line. All that stuff is neglected for little dogs a lot of the time. So making sure that we're meeting little dogs Sneeze
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: too.
Oh, I think that's fantastic advice. I see a lot of times with our littlest clients they'll just be scooped up and taken to wherever they need to go. And they don't have a leash around, which then just means we are assuming that they have no say, like the there isn't an option to put the dog down Yeah.
If they wanted to. Yeah. So [00:34:00] really being in the mindset of, They have a say. And I'm okay listening.
Tess Morgan: Yeah. Yeah. And it's, still so prevalent that , people dragging their little dog down the street and it's so normalized that people don't think about it, but just imagining what it's like to be that dog just constantly being forcefully dragged down the street.
Like how, is your da daily welfare and quality of life, if that's your. .
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: And I think if you have a lab that just lays down it is Ooh, I'm not going that direction. Then you have to work with them and you work on training and you work on Figuring out what's going, what's down that direction that they're uncomfortable with or what's going on.
And if it's an eight pound dog and their little paw, just try to hit breaks. Yeah. It's so easy to override without the intention to do yes, for sure. Thank you so much, Tess.
So our members's question, she has two girls and their [00:35:00] small dog has started putting teeth on them and.
growling and snapping with the girls. They love cuddling their dog. And treat the dog like their own little doll and teddy bear. And he's adorable. And so you can understand why they would wanna do what would be your first things that you would talk with this family about?
First steps to try?
Tess Morgan: So if, again, like we discussed earlier, if it's a sudden change of behavior, make sure there's no pain. , the dog is suddenly snapping. Make sure there's no pain with body handling of being picked up if there is no pain, and that's ruled out. , what situations are we putting this dog in and we setting the dog up for success?
Growling. Ideally, most people don't want their dog to ever growl. I don't think that's realistic. That's, the dog's way of communicating, especially if they're a small dog and they can't physically move away from the situation. Yes. So [00:36:00] making sure that we're respecting that the growl is not the dog being bad, that the growl is the dog saying, I'm not comfortable.
And if we're putting the dog in that situation, repeated. The dog is likely to escalate, and then we might have a bite on our hands so we don't have dogs so that we can do whatever we want with them. We have dogs so that we can be in partnership with them and, live together and coexist. And so I would say yes, you can work on helping the dog be more comfortable, but my first priority would be how can the girls interact with the dog in a way that is enjoyable for everyone?
And is it. One sided where the girls are really enjoying it, but maybe the dog isn't. Because the, we're not training the dog not to growl, that's not necessarily our priority because we want the dog to growl. We want the dog to warn us if they're uncomfortable so that we can adjust the situation and it's up to us to adjust the situation, not
Corinne Gearhart, The Doodle Pro™: the dog.
I think that's brilliant. Thank you so much, Tess. thank you.
Thanks for joining me on this episode of the Doodle [00:37:00] Pro Podcast. If you enjoyed the show, don't forget to rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts. And I invite you to follow me on Instagram at the Doodle Pro for behind the scenes peaks at all of the adorable doodles I work with daily.