BIG DOG little dog. What Is It and Why You Should Care.

"Did you know that squeak is there to mimic what happens in nature when a feral dog goes for the kill?"
Big Dog Little Dog A

By Shelly Allen

BIG DOG little dog is a big problem but let’s start at the beginning. When people learn that I own a pet magazine, one of the first things they do is tell me some horror story about a pet they “used” to have. Usually, it’s a bird story but after 10 years of owning this magazine, I have heard it all…or so I thought.

In full disclosure, I’m not a dog owner. I grew up with dogs so I do have plenty of experience, and I LOVE DOGS! So you can imagine how disturbing it was when I recently became aware of a phenomenon veterinarians call, “BDLD” or Big Dog Little Dog.

What is Big Dog Little Dog or (BDLD)?

It’s how veterinarians refer to an attack on a little dog from a big dog. It happens ALL. THE. TIME. Read that again, it happens all of the time! Usually, these attacks are extremely severe and potentially life-ending for the little dog involved.

According to Dr. Stewart, an emergency veterinarian, “These attacks often result in serious unseen injuries like brain and spinal cord injuries, as well as severe damage to internal organs.”

But why do these attacks end up being so vicious, especially when many big dogs seem to be perfectly docile before an attack?

Think about how your dog plays with its rope toy or stuffed animal that squeaks when he jaws on it. Did you know that squeak is there to mimic what happens in nature when a feral dog goes for the kill? Think of how your dog grabs and shakes his toy vigorously. Many times this is exactly the way a big dog attacks a little dog.

You may think that your little dogs’ injuries are all just surface wounds. However, more often than not, his wounds are more than skin deep.

Dr. Stewart tells us, “While external injuries may appear minor, the power of a dog’s biting jaw can cause serious internal injuries that may result in the loss of your pet — especially if you don’t act quickly to get them proper veterinary care.”

An Ounce of Prevention

So how can you protect your dog from being involved in a BDLD situation?

First, pay attention! Make no assumptions. No matter how safe you think another dog is, you have to be vigilant. If you have a big dog, it is your responsibility to make certain your dog is controlled at all times. If your dog pulls on his leash and doesn’t listen to your commands, you have got a big problem. Your big dog needs to be well-trained.  

The same goes for little dogs. It’s not okay for a little dog to instigate a big dog, it could cost him his life. Too many times I have watched as owners laugh at their little dog acting, “tough.” Little dogs need to be well-trained, too. They should listen to your commands. Well-trained and obedient dogs are much less likely to be involved in a BDLD altercation.

Second, don’t intermix large-breed and small-breed dogs. There’s a good reason why dog parks separate big dogs from little dogs and you should, too.

If you have a small dog in your home, don’t go out and get a big dog and vice versa. Keep your home a safe haven for your pets. Think about the potential ramifications should the two breeds not get along. You will save yourself a LOT of heartache by preplanning your pack.

Third, don’t make the mistake of complacency. If you already have a big dog little dog situation, watch them closely. Look for signs and make certain they are getting along as well as you THINK they are.
That goes for your friend’s dog as well. There are plenty of reports of little dogs being attacked by their friend’s big dog after having supposedly gotten on well together before the attack.

Fourth, remember…your dogs are not human children. They have instincts and wild natures that children do not. They can’t be reasoned with like children, they have to be trained. When a dog attacks another dog, something in its wild instinct takes over. It’s your job as their puppy parent to train them right so that they can overcome those few seconds of instinct by listening to your commands.

Last, it is heartbreaking for me to hear these sad stories but the silver lining is that I get to pass the “heads up” on to you. If you just take some preventative measures, your dog never has to be in a BDLD altercation. Whether your dog is the victim or the perpetrator, everyone loses, especially the dogs.  

If you’re feeling a little wary about your problem dog breed, check out this training article now!


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