fifteen-week-old Miniature Schnauzer Herbie, in his bed surrounded by toysHere is fifteen-week-old Miniature Schnauzer Herbie, in his bed surrounded by toys!

What a little character!

His lady is a first-time dog owner and over some things she is being very sensible and over other things she has picked up mis-information. For instance, she is running him with other dogs for an hour a day when at four months old Herbie’s limbs are not up to this, and she may scold him for toileting indoors – both of which I believe to be wrong. She wants to do her very best so that Herbie grows into a stable and happy companion.

Puppies can be exasperating – especially when they are grabbing clothes, biting feet or latching onto jewellery! People can feel helpless because repeated use of the word ‘no’ only makes matters worse, and they don’t know how to stop their little terror from doing these things.

Herbie was a ‘solo’ puppy – he had no brothers or sisters on whom to learn bite-inhibition, so ideally his early humans should have been filling this role. It’s all very well to be cross with a puppy (and those little teeth both hurt and can do quite a lot of damage to clothes), but this doesn’t teach the youngster what he should be doing, especially when his antics are getting him so much attention.

Already Herbie is on sentry duty, barking at passing children and dogs from the large upstairs window, and at people coming into the house.  He can be intimidated by people approaching him too directly and by being loomed over, and he may leap up and snap at a hand that is held out over him.

We have worked on basic ‘dog-parenting’ rules and strategies, on removing temptation for now so that it’s not such hard work (why set him up to fail) – not wearing flowing clothes, boots with dangly zips, hanging neck chains and so on. A gate to pop him behind while he calms down will work wonders when he is being challenging.

Jumping up on people, flying all over furniture, barking at people walking towards him and so on are perhaps cute in a fifteen week old puppy but not so good in an adult dog, so the basics in rules and boundaries, taught by using positive reinforcement for the desired behaviour, need to be set in place immediately.

I shall be helping this lady and her lovely puppy for months to come, through the various stages of his growth.