Super friendly little Miniature Schnauzer Alfie just loves people. Not other dogs.

Sometimes he ignores dogs. Other times goes nuts at a distant dog the other side of the park.

He shrieks and screams.

Much of Alfie’s day is spent at the window barking at passing dogs. He barks Go Away. They go. Success.

This not only increases his general stress levels. It also rehearses the very behaviour the lady doesn’t want when they are out.

Doorbell

Alfie also goes mental when hears doorbell – so he’s build up a head of steam before the person even comes in. He barks and jumps all over them.

To start with, she will immunise Alfie to the sound of the doorbell using her phone. He will learn to associate it with food and not a potential invader.

Alfie is a 4-year-old Miniature Schnauzer – a little guard dog. Miniature Schnauzers were originally bred to be ratters and guard dogs on farms.

Alfie is a gloriously cheeky little dog and the lady finds him great fun. She loves it. If she’s on the phone he may pinch something from upstairs, ‘look what have I got’ – but he doesn’t guard items.

He barks at approaching dogs – not at people.

Alfie seems fine off lead.

Last weekend they walked past dozens of dogs. He was off lead. He played with a dog in river.

Later, with his lead back on, he ‘went for’ the next dog they met. A Pointer. He told it to go away in the way dogs do.

This suggests typical trigger stacking. A lot of things happening and building up. Then the lead went back on making him feel trapped. This will have been the final trigger. He snapped.

On lead, Alfie barks all the time as they walk past another dog. The lady tries to divert his attention and distract him, walking away if she can. 

She needs to find dogs but keep at a distance Alfie feels safe.

This can be a lot easier said than done.

At a comfortable distance she will point the dog out. Food food food. Then walk away.

The lady will be teaching Alfie, ‘Dogs trigger food. Now come away with me’.

Eventually, if she holds back on the feeding he will look to her instead. Where’s my food? Now she’s reinforcing looking away from the dog and at her.

This means changing the nature of walks.

She will need to change where she goes and how she gets there. She may need to go by car to the nearby river walk for now.

Comfortable equipment

The lady uses a slip lead for convenience. When Alfie barks and reacts to a dog it will cause the lead to tighten on his neck which could cause him discomfort.

We don’t want him to associate other dogs with anything negative so she will now use his harness. Comfortable equipment and longer lead could make a big difference to how he feels about other dogs.

A loose lead won’t transmit her own anxious emotions down it.

Now on lead he can mooch and sniff, keeping distance from any other dogs but not avoiding altogether. She can let him choose what he wants to do and where he wants to go within reason. 

At home the lady will block his view out of that window.

The next day: “By chance I had some frosted window film in the garage. Within 20 minutes of it going on to the bottom panes, Alfie was fast asleep on his back in his usual stand-and-bark spot. He’s never slept there before! He’s had a couple of barks since at passers-by who have made noise, but saying thank you and calling him away has ended it fairly quickly. I can’t thank you enough – I don’t think I’d realised quite how isolated the situation was making me feel.”
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help

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