Petite Pomeranians pack a ton of personality into their three to seven pound frame. They are descended from the much larger German Spitz, but generations of selective breeding to reduce their physical magnitude has in no way diminished the size of their character. Their renowned stubbornness and bossiness, traits which seem as if they should belong to a much larger animal, are particularly noticeable, but sometimes this may be just a manifestation of ‘small dog syndrome’: inappropriate aggression which should not be tolerated merely because a Pomeranian is tiny and can do little harm.
Understanding the Pomeranian temperament is the key to the happy co-existence of humans and their Pomeranian companions.
STANDARD POMERANIAN TEMPERAMENT
One of the effects of selective breeding is that certain traits are reinforced by being present in both parents, generation after generation, even though the resulting offspring are not inbred. For this reason it is quite realistic to put forward the idea of a typical temperament to which all Pomeranians are genetically predisposed, even though each individual animal will have his or her own individual personality.
Pomeranians are alert and inquisitive. They are smart, stubborn and bossy, and this can make them difficult to train. Some Pomeranians have a hard time socializing with anyone but their own family. Since they are agile bundles of energy, they need quite a lot of activity and stimulation in spite of their diminutive stature. Possessive attention-seekers, they prefer a strict routine with themselves at the center. At the same time they are eager to please, loving and loyal. In other words, they are a package of apparently contradictory characteristics which can turn out very successfully with firm training.
Pomeranians are naturally inquisitive. If something is happening, they want to know about it and be a part of it. Their curiosity, and often their bark, is aroused by something as simple as someone walking past their home while they are keeping a lookout on the windowsill.
Intelligence left unexercised will often find an outlet in mischief, and Pomeranians are no exception to this rule. Lots of playtime and attention to training will exercise your Pom’s brain cells in the right way, but you will still need to take care that your clever pet does not manipulate you in order to get exactly what he wants rather than what you know is best for him.
POMERANIAN STUBBORNNESS AND BOSSINESS
These two aspects of the Pomeranian temperament need to be discussed together, because they combine to make training a Pomeranian a difficult task unless you are prepared to take a firm stance. Use a gentle but resolved approach, be consistent, use food as a motivational tool and practice positive reinforcement techniques by being lavish with praise when deserved. Never forget that the human owner is the alpha animal and therefore the boss, no matter how loveable your pet is.
Early socialization is important and should begin when your pet is still a puppy. A Pomeranian’s typical aloofness in the presence of strangers can deteriorate into anxiety and aggression if not kept in check. Walking your Pomeranian on a lead rather than indulging in over-protective carrying is recommended, to encourage correct social behavior around new people and animals. Even well-trained Poms may continue to bark at strangers.
Pomeranians can get along with other pets quite well if properly introduced, but their relative fragility means they are not suited to rough play with larger breeds of dog. If your Pomeranian is going to live in a multi-dog household, it would be better if the other canine members were miniature breeds as well.
Agility training is a perfect form of physical and mental exercise for a Pomeranian, and they often do well in the agility trials at dog shows. Participating in agility training is a particularly good way for dogs to bond with their owners.
The favorable combination of compactness and energy means that Pomeranians are equally at home in small apartments, large, rambling homes and even farmhouses. Daily walks, coupled with running around playing fetch at least once a week, should be enough to steer their stamina into manageable channels.
A Pomeranian’s desire to be the center of attention at all times is not a problem if the owner has both the time and the desire to gratify their pet’s wishes in this regard. They make an ideal companion for seniors prepared to devote themselves to their pet, but in spite of their appealing size they can be less suitable for a household with small children. In this latter situation a Pomeranian can quickly become jealous of the attention given to the children, seeing them as competitors rather than as members of the alpha group. They may nip or even bite children who do not realize that it is never a good idea to take away a dog’s food or toys.
POMERANIAN LOVE OF ROUTINE
You may be surprised to discover that your Pomeranian appears to know exactly what time it is. This is because he prefers routine and will thrive on a fairly strict schedule. Do try to have fixed times daily for eating, exercise and sleeping, and even extend this to a weekly schedule incorporating grooming, teeth cleaning and nail clipping. If your dog knows what is coming next, and his expectations are fulfilled, he is less likely to become upset and find an outlet for his frustration in unacceptable behavior.
EAGER TO PLEASE, LOVING, LOYAL POMERANIANS
Pomeranians appear to be blessed with more than their fair share of canine devotion to their owners. This may even extend to wanting to share your bed, and many pet lovers are perfectly comfortable with this practice. Letting puppies sleep with you is not recommended however, since they are so tiny it would be very easy to roll over while asleep and accidentally squash or suffocate them. Also bear in mind that once this habit has begun you will find it very difficult to persuade your pet to abandon your bed in favor of his own bed or basket.
Anyone looking for a truly loyal companion with an entertaining mix of inquisitiveness and energy delivered in a compact package should seriously consider adopting one of these diminutive dogs with a plus-sized personality.