A DOG FOR THE FAMILY
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Toy Dogs Are Not Toys
by Karen Rhodes, Family Dog Consultant
I have three small dogs, two Toy Fox Terriers and a Miniature Pinscher and they are the apples of my eyes even though I’ve always had large breed dogs in the past.
Formerly my life centered around large breed dogs, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs and a tribe of Chinese Shar-Pei. In my older years I have found companionship and delight in the smaller varieties who are not only easier to lift but, they tend to live longer and are more portable for me.
Their companionship, antics and presence are one of the biggest delights of my day from the time I wake up until the time we all retire for the evening.
These little girls love to camp, walk, hike, explore, visit friends, lounge around and accompany me outside as I do the daily chores.
At first it took some adjustment to the needs of the smaller pups and I was tempted to baby them as you would a small child. However, they have surely taught me how they want to be treated and allowed to be the true canines they are.
Granted you will have some small dogs who love to dress up in costume, be carried like an interesting accessory and constantly pampered but I find this is definitely not the case with my girls. They are bred to be hunters. Hunting and digging is ingrained in their DNA and behavioral programming.
The first week my youngest terrier came home she killed nine moles! I actually have flower bulbs in the garden this year. They can get downright filthy with dirt and they revel in the ability to be themselves and follow their natural born instincts.
Allowing a dog to do what they were bred to do can be challenging but balance and training is the goal here.
My girls occasionally will wear coats of funny homemade costumes for special occasions but they really prefer to be dogs: jumping, retrieving balls and small frisbees, tearing up prey, even if it is a stuffed toy or a used cardboard towel rollie, it keeps them healthy and smart.
Their favorite outdoor pastime is what I call “Border Patrol”. Their duty is waiting for the intruding chipmunk, vole, mole or squirrel to intrude on their beloved turf. It is then game on!
Most of you know all this but for new owners, here is the takeaway. I find my Toy Breed dogs are the happiest when I allow them do what they are bred to do - hunt, play ball, run, socialize, dig in the sand, invent new games, play some more, guard, and cuddle.
This is why I say Toy dogs, particularly Toy Fox Terriers, are not toys. They are enjoyable small packages of canine happiness. There is truth to the saying a good dog is a tired (and trained) dog and my little terriers and mini-pinscher are living proof of happy little companions who I cherish.
Allowing your toy dog to be a dog can provide you many gifts and the occasional dress up sure can be entertaining for all. Do yourself a favor and take your dog(s) somewhere fun today.
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