I figured it out. The DNA results are not back yet, but I think I know what they’re going to say. Here’s what made me realize it. All Paws recently took in a young dog with an attitude similar to Ziggy’s. He can be pushy and thinks that he always should have his own way. He will probably never be able to be adopted out to a family with young kids. He will need a dog savvy owner who will be able to set boundaries and rules and enforce them. As I talked to someone about this dog, I started to say “he is a stereotypical Chihuahua with small dog syndrome”. And then I realized. Ziggy has small dog syndrome. Ziggy must be part Chihuahua.
Rascal (related to Ziggy!?)
Suddenly it all made sense. The reason Ziggy is possessive of food and toys and other items was due to small dog syndrome. The reason he took on adult dogs that were much bigger than him even when he was a four month old puppy – again, small dog syndrome. The reason he is pushy and demanding – small dog syndrome. So I did some research on small dog syndrome. And I read about how small dogs get small dog syndrome because of their owners. When their owners allow them to sleep on the bed and jump on people and bark at other dogs, they are reinforcing this idea that the small dog is in charge. And when owners show affection without making the dogs work for it, they are setting the dogs up to be demanding and pushy.
Ziggy - part Chihuahua?
Sometimes people assume that I am the reason Ziggy is the way he is. After all, it’s easy to blame the owner when a dog is misbehaving or has some sort of issue. The owner was too harsh, or the owner was too lax in enforcing rules, or the owner never spent time with the dog, or the owner babied the dog when the dog was afraid, thus making the dog more afraid. There is some truth to this in most cases – owners are generally the ones guiding or reinforcing every choice a dog makes. However I’ve fostered, trained, and worked with over a hundred dogs in addition to Ziggy, and not one of them has had Small Dog Syndrome. Not even the Chihuahuas that I have fostered. So it’s something special about Ziggy. And although I’d like to find an explanation for his behavior, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Because I never let him sleep on the bed (he would have eaten it). I never gave him table scraps, or shared my food, but that didn’t stop him from begging and trying to steal it out of my hands. I never gave him unwarranted affection (I tried, but he doesn’t like to be touched). I never even carried him around or let him sit on my lap. He has been given rules to follow, and received consequences for misbehavior, since he was a pup. So what caused his Small Dog Syndrome? Then I read this wonderful post from The Charming Chi. And I realized that there probably isn’t a thing such as Small Dog Syndrome after all. And sadly this puts an end to my theory that Ziggy is part Chihauhua. His DNA results should be arriving in the next week or two, and then I won't have to come up with these theories anymore. Stay tuned!