Home' Smart Farmer : June 2015 Contents Smart dogs
SmartFarmer • June 2015
Small dogs, big problems
THOUSANDS of years ago
when all dogs were wolves,
they lived in a den, which we
could call their “safe place”.
Inside the den was a hierarchy,
and various members of the pack
slept in designated positions in the
It worked something like this:
the younger members of the pack
(guards) slept nearest to the open-
ing. Further inside the den, the
leader of the pack adopted a posi-
tion between the guards and the
matriarch bitch. Well inside the
den, the matriarch bitch slept with
her pups, away from the opening.
Let’s call this position the “inner
den”. It was the safest and best
guarded place in the den.
Even today, if bitches don’t have a
proper kennel with a whelping box,
they will move back as far away
from any opening, and attempt to
dig a hole to make their inner den
or safe place for the pups.
Pups are brought up in this
environment and it is their first
memory. They see it as extremely
Letting dogs – especially smaller
dogs – into the bedroom can be the
beginning of a slippery slope.
Their earliest memories and their
wolf DNA tell them they are very
important when they are in the
bedroom. More important than
It’s the inner den, and it’s warm,
comfortable and safe.
People let them jump up on the
bed and sleep with them simply
because they are small.
Once the dog has established
himself in the bedroom, he thinks
“I’ll divide up the humans in their
When that happens, it spells
trouble. Little dogs are great at
dividing and ruling.
Little dogs can act cute and plead
with their eyes, but their innocence
is just a cover.
Remember, as cute as they might
seem, little dogs are often more of a
dog than a big dog.
Little dogs have to learn to bluff
more – just to survive. They have to
Little dogs snap a lot and the
main reason for this behaviour is
that a lot of them were rat catchers
back when they were functional
Snapping can be a problem, espe-
cially for those with children.
Often when someone puts their
hand over a little dog to pat it, it
goes to snap at them.
Some people think that sort of
behaviour is aggression. Most times
it’s not. It’s defence.
He’s so small, and the person is
so big and in a dominant position.
Little dogs and children
A big dog will usually take a bit
more punishment from children
than a little dog.
Being smaller, the little dog might
be more defensive and could pos-
sibly resort to violence.
A very good rule is never leave
any dog alone with children.
Little dogs dig a lot. It’s unfortu-
nate really, because people who buy
small dogs often do it because they
have a good garden and don’t want
They make the mistake of taking
their little dog out gardening with
When they go inside, the little
dog thinks, “He didn’t find the
bones, I’ll go and give him a hand”.
Next thing, the dog is digging up
the rose garden and the owner is
screaming at him.
The dog looks up and says, “I
couldn’t find the bones either”.
What else can we expect him to
He’s a specialised little digger and
is quite prepared to dig to China to
find those bones. The dog has no
idea or concept about the beautiful
All dogs need to be dogs. The
problem is, people don’t allow
them to be dogs.
Deal with the digging problem by
giving them their own little digging
It makes sense to provide the dog
with an area of its own where it can
dig all it likes.
It can dig and chew to its heart’s
content, and keep whatever it gets
out of the ground. It’s gardening.
Deal with digging problems by giving dogs their own little digging area.
Ask the Working Dog Whisperer
Got a question about working dogs?
Send it to the Working Dog Whisperer,
Ben Page. Perhaps you are having
trouble with some aspect of your dog
training, or your stock work? Do you
feel there might be an easier way? Or
do you simply wish to ask a question of
a general nature? If you’re having a dog
problem, then chances are that other
readers are too. Your questions will be
published along with the answers in
this column. We hope this initiative will
help readers, and their dogs.
• Please send your questions to:
with BEN PAGE
Working Dog Centre
Willunga’s wonderful wares
SHOPPERS had a wide
selection of produce to
choose from at a recent
Willunga Farmers’ Market.
OAKES headed along to
see what was on offer.
Free Range Eggs,
LEFT: Glenn and
Gina East, Gina’s Kitchen
and Field Berries, Mount
John Edmeades, Organic Veges and Bush
Gardens, Hope Forrest.
Julian Blackman, The Hundred Eaves.
Carly and Aida Dansie, Smaller Apples, Sellicks
Beach, selling almond milk and almond milk kits at
the Willunga Farmers’ Market.
Jay Kimber, The
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