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Spokesdog's Canine Couch

A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich

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In This Corner Weighing in at 7 Pounds

December 14th, 2012 at Fri, 14th, 2012 at 9:13 am by Diane Rich

Can and Should Large and Small Dogs Live or Play Together?

cDiane Rich 2012

Many of us share cute animal photos with friends depicting a large and small pet curled up together on the sofa or a dog bed. These special moments make us smile. When we watch gentle interactions between the weight classes it can produce precious memories.  Cuteness aside, size matters.

cDiane Rich 2012

Pets with an extreme weight differential can live well together or it can go horribly wrong. 

Would I recommend a toy or small breed play with your friend’s larger dog or play with unfamiliar larger dogs at a dog park. No.  But, in a home situation where the dogs are yours,  you understand the risks which could prove fatal for a small dog, but your level of comfort based on your dog’s predictable behavior is high then by all means go for it.  If you are comfortable with a friend’s dog or neighbor dog that has proven itself a gentle playmate for your small dog, then again, your decision.

Your little guy is not out of the loop of presenting good behavior and benefits by training and socialization around a variety of dogs and situations.

cDiane Rich 2012

cDiane Rich 2012

Even with housemates or long time playmates, sometimes accidents will occur during rough play or excitement. So, if you do allow your little guy to engage with a larger dog, that larger dog needs to have the experience and ability to dial it down.  Even if all goes well in play, a large dog may accidentally step on the smaller dog, a large paw could connect with a tiny bone.  Things can happen so be cautious and proactive should you choose to go forward.

Hopefully the toy or small breed is well socialized and trained well enough so they don’t get themselves in trouble. Many people parenting small dogs by pass training and social skills around various sized dogs so these dogs tend to react fearfully or assertively around dogs outside their frame of reference.

cDiane Rich 2012

If small dogs are allowed to squeal, yip at, lunge at or annoy medium to large dogs, or dart around like little hummingbirds their jerky behavior along with sounding like a squeaky toy could create a bad result. Should the larger dog’s prey drive kick in and react even if to vigorously investigate the dog, the little one could get into trouble.

Should pet parents with toy or small breeds want to visit a dog park I would recommend looking for one with a separate area for small dogs.  If there isn’t one in your area and you still choose to visit a dog park, be calm and vigilant about interactions and be proactive and leave the park should you observe less than safe canine social skills on that given day.  Should you choose to board your dog at a free range facility or someone’s home you may be in luck as there are people offering daycare and boarding services specific to the toy breed.

cDiane Rich 2012

Good luck
Big and Little Woofs,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

I have been training dogs and their people for over 25 years. I work with pups from 7 weeks old to senior plus dogs and offer basic obedience to advanced off leash training both privately and group classes. Other services include behavior consultations to help both ends of the leash with everything from aggression, puppy/dog manners and public manners to separation anxiety. As a "real world" dog trainer, I take training out of the classroom or home when both the pet and family are ready, and take training to the street. I also offer pet therapy training classes preparing both the handler and dog for their therapy test and future service as a therapy team. I also coordinate several pet therapy programs in the Seattle area. My complete bio, description of services, class dates and on line class registration is listed on my website at

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