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From the time he was a pup, my mini has been exposed to dogs (friendly ones) of all sizes, and plays pretty happily with most, including a lurcher two feet taller than he is. For obvious reasons, his best mates are a Border Terrier and a Jack Russell ... they can wrestle and chase each other comfortably.

He's been run over (inadvertently) by big dogs in the past, and now can be snappy with big dogs if he feels they are in his space. But always telling them off with lots of vim and attitude. I don't correct for this, he's not being aggressive, but setting boundaries for the bigger dog.

There's a guy in the park with two big 6 mo. GSD pups, nice dogs, but in the boisterous puppy stage. The other morning, they were playing with Vasco, and sort of tag-teaming him, past the point where he was having fun. I went to his rescue when he tucked his tail and started snapping for real. Unusually for him, he stuck right by me, mostly between my legs, for a good long time after, while the other (bunch of morning regulars) dogs were romping happily.

Absolutely nothing the GSD pups did wrong, they were truly playing, and their owner called them straight away when he too saw V wasn't having fun. They are just big teenagers.

No question it was the right thing in that situation, he was really uncomfortable, but I also don't want to be overprotective. I think I lean towards being a bit overprotective anyway; he's the smallest dog I've ever had, and his skull is disturbingly the size of a tennis ball! A big dog that meant him harm could actually do serious damage.

So how do you balance the need to protect your small dog with their need to learn to deal with bigger dogs?
 

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I know exactly what you mean - trying to walk that narrow line between being sufficiently protective, and undermining your small dog's confidence. I was briefly in the "they need to sort it out for themselves" school, but with Sophy - and especially Poppy, who went through several very nervous spells - I am more proactive. I do not let them play off lead with big adolescent pups (or rather, I don't let the big bouncy pups play with them!), and I am always ready to step between them and any dog they are wary of. They both have good social skills - Sophy in particular - so it is rarely needed, but I have decided it is safer for all of us if I try to never put them in the position of having to defend their space.

Small dogs ARE more vulnerable, especially to accidental damage by bouncy large breed dogs - older dogs have usually learned to self-handicap, but I watch body language carefully, and call mine away if it looks as if play might get too rough. I don't think it is being over protective to step in - over protective is sweeping your dog up into your arms every time anything bigger approaches. Being protective, on the other hand, aims at protecting your dog from bullying, and ensuring your dog is never put in a situation where he or she learns that attack is the best defence. My neighbour's little terrier is prone to that - makes her something of a liability to walk.
 

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Teddy loves playing with big dogs. He's very alert and spry, so he usually jumps out of the way if they're too bouncy. Or he just rolls over on his back and lets them sniff him. That usually stops the bouncing. For a bit. LOL
 

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We have a 52 lb dot in our house, so I don't worry too much about playing rough. Usually if the play gets too rough, one or both of them remove themselves from the situation. Honestly, I hear my bigger dog whine in pain more often than the mini, he's faster/more agile than she is anymore.
 

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Nat is 7 pounds. When he was two we added a GR puppy. I always let him boss the GR and it worked out nicely. The GR quickly learned she was not ruler of the house. Never once was there any sort of problem between the two.

Jasper has pounced on Nat a few times. For the most part I let Nat, even though he's old now, fight his own battles. When it's too much I step in of course. It's taken a while but Jasper is learning who the king is around here.

I'd be careful around big dogs that you don't know. I've always gone and retrieved Nat in those situations. He's always taken care of himself and doesn't take crap, but you never know how the other dog will respond. My doing this hasn't caused him to be needy or anything else. He's still a big dog in a little body :).
 

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I was a bit more nervous when Jager was a young puppy. I didn't let him play rough with big dogs, including my father-in-law's spoo, who got too rough with him. As he's grown bigger and stronger, I allow more rough play with big dogs. He's pretty good at holding his own, but I will step in if it looks like he could get hurt (if the other dog is being too rough, or is too young to know when to back off).
 

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I think you did the right thing. The way I look at it -- a big dog can easily injure a small dog - but not the other way around. Its up to you if you own the smaller dog, to make sure the bigger dogs are not playing too rough.
 

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So how do you balance the need to protect your small dog with their need to learn to deal with bigger dogs?
We have 2 standards and 2 Poms that live in our home. The small dogs will growl every now and again - sometimes I correct them............and sometimes I do not.

Ex: Coco (pom) sleeps with my daughter every night. I am up early in the AM and take the dogs out and feed them. Olie - Spoo will position his body into Coco just being a little pushy Coco does this growling / talking thing and I have learned to ignor these BUT only once - Olie was invading space and being a brat :eek:hwell: Now if Olie tries to get on the couch and my daughter is holding Coco on the couch and Coco growls, he gets corrected that's him being jealous.

So in a essence we do not baby the small dogs but we do not allow them to rule the house because they are small - small dogs will try this. Humans are boss in our house:)

NOW that being said - when we are not home or at night time the dogs are crated, bottom line big dogs like to play and accidents can happen and I do everything possible to minimize these.

All the dogs are great with each other, it takes time, training and patience but it can be done.
 

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watching this thread with great interest as I have similar questions with Fozzie.

Last weekend we went to visit my sister in law who has two 6 mo Scotties. (who are not neutered--I am working on that battle as we speak!).

Fozzie is very dog socialized and I have never seen him bite another dog or these terriers. This last weekend he started really biting them on the snout, even if they were just walking up to him and sniffing him (albeit with a lot of puppy energy). They are rambunctious puppies and each now outweighs him though he is taller and faster. hehe. They will tag team him. We spend a lot of time together as a family and we need the dogs to get along.

We took them all for a walk after the incident and everythign went fine, but after we got back Fozzie was still snappish. We're going to try going to a dog park first next time to see if the issue is territorial or not.

So please, keep up the great discussion, I'm learning a ton!
 

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This last weekend he started really biting them on the snout, even if they were just walking up to him and sniffing him (albeit with a lot of puppy energy).
Sounds to me as if your sister's Scotties are outgrowing their puppy licence, and Fozzie is, very properly in terms of dog etiquette, teaching them their manners. Adult males seem to try to squash juvenile males while they are still young enough for the lesson to stick! Unless he is really hurting them, or seriously upsetting them, this is one of those occasions when I would reckon the dog probably knows best, and reinforce the lesson Fozzie is teaching them, rather than blaming or scolding Fozzie. Sophy had a set of rules she enforced pretty firmly with Poppy - not always ones I understood, but Poppy clearly did. They have always been the best of friends, but Poppy learned where the boundaries were very quickly, thanks to Sophy's training of her. May be a bit difficult when they are your sister's dogs, and you are in her house, of course!
 

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Totally agree with fjm... Juvenile puppies can really annoying to adult dogs. It sounds like he is just showing them that he doesn't approve of whatever they are doing.
 

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ok good feedback folks, a follow up question:

Fozzie was growling, snapping, biting them on the snout and they were whimpering/crying really loudly and scarily, and one case ran away from him with their tail between their legs (but then they always came back).

is this "too much?" correction? Yes, it's a touchy subject. My sister in law has never had a dog, and isn't fully training them the way I'd do it. (she is getting better though after a neighbor reported her to the police for the dogs barking). I warned her about the difficulty in managing terriers but...:doh:

I do on some level think the terriers are too pushy right now. but in her house it's a challenge, and yet, we don't want to always separate the dogs. I may ask for a time in the house with the dogs and her more dog experienced husband to finish the socialization so it's less pressure for everyone.
 

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I find big dogs/little dogs are not a problem between my own and those of friends but our problem is on the meadows where we meet some out of control young labradors. Both my girls are toy poodles and whilst they are rough with each other, their weight compared to that of a lab is no contest. We have one in particular who wont take no for an answer and has even been known to jump on me. The owner saw all of this happening and did nothing to stop it. I usually keep the girls on a lead until we know other dogs are friendly, but this dogs crosses fields to get to us.
 

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I have a mini puppy that is 4 month old, the mother of the pup she is a mini and a lab in the house. Peek the puppy has grown up with the lab they wrestle and play alot. The only thing that really bothers me is Peek knows no bounderies when it comes to other big dogs. I havn't really had him around other animals but the girls, but seriously wonder if one day comes he wants to play with one and that one decides to take a chomp. Hope one day when he is an adult mini i can teach him about other dogs.
 

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Hope one day when he is an adult mini i can teach him about other dogs.
That may be too late for him to learn easily, Tina, especially if he is growing up around very long-suffering dogs who let him get away with rude behaviour. Do you have friends with friendly large adults he could meet? Or joining a dog club or training class would give him lots of opportunities to be around other dogs of all shapes and sizes safely, while he is still young and learning. Four months would be the ideal time to take him to a puppy class - safely immunised, but still an impressionable pup.
 
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