Big Changes in Miniature Schnauzer’s Life

Miniatures Schnauzer Max isn't the happy dog he once wasMax is four years old and for the first two years of his life he was the most important thing in his owners’ lives. He had three long walks a day and they took him everywhere with them.

Then they had their little girl and now a four-month-old baby. They have also moved house.

Max now is not the happy little dog as he used to be and this is demonstrated by his change in behaviour. Because of his behaviour, his owners are not enjoying him any more, to the point where he’s almost too much trouble. Consequently their own behavour towards Max has changed. It’s Catch 22.

Max barks excessively. He has become touchy. He snaps at the little girl and he snaps when he’s disturbed. His walks are no longer so enjoyable and he is unpredictable with other dogs.

In response and in order to try to do something about the situation, they have watched Cesar Millan. Cesar makes things look so quick and easy on TV. Copying some of the dominance techniques on our own dogs can cause much more harm than good. Humans trying to act like ‘Alphas’ have caused defiance and an escalation in aggression. I would ask people – is this the way you would treat your child if he was frightened, misunderstood and unhappy?

In no time at all, this little dog quickly became eager to cooperate with me. He came alive. He looked joyful and attentive. And all because I showed him just what I wanted of him – in ways that he understood; I encouraged him and I rewarded him.

I hope Max’ people can now see that if they treat him with understanding, patience and encouragement they will see a huge difference.  At the same time they must play safe. I suggested a small dog pen for their big sitting room with his bed in it, a child-free area where he can come and go freely but shut in when necessary, so that children are always safe but at the same time he can remain part of the family.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.

Billy, Upset and Scared Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer is a very uptight little dogBilly is a Miniature Schnauzer of just eighteen months old. He goes frantic when anyone apart from family and close friends come to the house. He lunges, barks and growls, very upset and scared. He has to be restrained until he calms down.

Billy is never taken for walks now because it is such a nightmare. Virtually anything can cause him to lunge and bark with hackles up – people, other dogs, bicycles, joggers – you name it.

He has twice quite badly bitten family members who tried to put a harness on him. On occasions when they need to take him out like a visit to the vet, he will cower, try to hide and do all he can to avoid the lead. Billy also growls around the feet of anyone who is moving about whom he thinks may be leaving the house.

Imagine how it must be, constantly living in such a highly wound up state.

The family thought they had done all the right things when they chose Billy. He was Kennel Club registered. I am sorry to say I don’t feel this is particularly significant if it’s a family pet we want rather than a dog that physically fits the breed standards for looks rather than temperament. The puppies were upstairs in a bedroom. The family did not meet the mother dog. It’s obvious the puppies had little or no socialisation or encounters with everyday things, people or dogs outside that environment. Inadequate exposure to everyday life before eight weeks of age can contribute to a dog being temperamentally fragile.

One very positive thing is that he seems very much at ease with their 10-month-old crawling granddaughter. It seems she is the only person who can touch him freely and his body language is a lot calmer around her – he even brings her his toys which is lovely. He does not feel threatened by her at all.

With an inadequate start in life and possibly unstable genes where temperament is concerned, Billy’s owners have more work to do than most. Billy needs convincing that he is safe in his own house – protected by his humans.  He needs the right sort of calm, encouraging and consistent leadership. He also needs to know that the family can come and go as they like and he need not worry.

Introducing him again to his harness and preparing him for going out on walks will be an exercise in patience and kind encouragement.

It is so easy to get cross and shout at a dog when he growls or shows aggression. Unfortunately this can only make things worse. The dog isn’t bad, he’s scared.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

The Importance of Early Socialisation

Miniature Schnauzer Bertie is starting to get used to meWhen Miniature Schnauzer Bertie, now fourteen months old, was picked up at the breeder at eight weeks old, he was shaking with fear. This is not a good start. Already he should have been handled and played with by various different people, adults and children, he should have been introduced to household things like vacuum cleaners and maybe even taken for a brief ride in a car. He should have spent time in the the house and time outside so that he learns to tell the difference for toileting purposes.

There is a critical time in a puppy’s development for introducing new things, and experiences both good and bad can have a lasting effect. Ideally there should be a variety of experiences – all good ones.

A consequence is that, through fear, Bertie will nip people – especially the couple’s grandchildren. He may suddenly fly at them from across the room. He barks and growls when people come in the house.  He is scared of everyday items and unknown things. He is very protective and on guard which can be a big burden brought about by insecurity. Looking at his picture it’s hard to believe, but day times are spent in quite a highly aroused state – often looking for trouble! A stable, calm dog will probably sleep about seventeen hours a day.

Bertie now needs to learn that he is not the centre of the universe along with the responsibilities that carries, and to become more confident in general. He is a well-loved little dog whose owners are already doing many of the ‘right things’.  A puppy that is already scared of people at eight weeks is going to be harder work. I have already experience of this with my own German Shepherd, Milly, who was born in a puppy farm and had no real human contact until she was twelve weeks old when her first owner bought her.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Being King Isn’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be

Giant Schnauzer is ver larger and very regalYesterday it was a Miniature Schnauzer and today a Giant Schnauzer!

Benson is very Big and very regal. He is magnificent – a really lovely boy, and a teenager! He runs the show. After being let outside in the morning he runs upstairs and leaps all over people in bed, may even hump them and may growl if removed. He jumps up and barks while his meals are being prepared (ignoring repeated commands to sit and wait). He jumps up and barks while they try to put his lead on to go out and then pulls like a train down the road until he reaches the park. When let off lead, he may jump up and grab his owners. There is nowhere indoors he is not allowed to go. Benson and the other dog can’t have toys or chews because Benson commandeers them and becomes possessive. He is becoming increasingly protective and wary both when meeting people outside and at home. His owners are getting worried because signs of aggression are increasing.

He has some major plus points. He is aloof and ignores other dogs, so no trouble there.  He can be very affectionate. He likes to keep an eye on his human family, so apart from one time when he was spooked by a bicycle and took it upon himself to run home, he stays near them when out. When called, he comes – but only to within a few feet. Then they have to go over to him! He is still an adolescent and is pushing his luck. The power takeover can creep up on people as they give way bit by bit until they suddenly realise they are being controlled by their dog!

For Benson there is a downside to being King in that without leadership he feels exposed and unprotected so easily scared of things like bikes, pushchairs, umbrellas and so on.  He also is scared when certain people, men mainly, look at him or lean over, approach directly or enter his personal space. A dog with convincing human leadership is much more relaxed and less touchy about his own personal space, less likely to worry about collecting and possessing trophies, jumping up, humping and dominating.

I read somewhere that a leader has a much greater need to lead than a follower has to follow. It can be a long job gently and fairly convincing a dog like this relinquish his responsibilites – to be more relaxed. Trying to do it through domination and force would make things a hundred times worse.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Adored Miniature Schnauzer

pepper is small Miniature SchnauzerI have been to quite a few Miniature Schnauzers of late. This won’t be because they are more troublesome than other breeds but because they are very popular at the moment.

Pepper is very small example of the breed and one year old. She is worshipped by a mainly female household. She is carried about, picked up, cuddled, kissed, greeted with high voiced excitement and obeyed. They all dote on her. Considering all this, Pepper is surprisingly well-adjusted!  She must basically have an easy going by nature, given the chance.

Her main problem is excessive barking at people walking past, and at people coming to her house. Protecting the family group should be the job of the head of the family – or the leader. By being constantly ‘told’ that she is the most important member, this protection role falls upon Pepper. A dog already aroused with excited squeeky greetings and so on, will be much more ready to go into a frenzy of barking on hearing a noise outside.

Calm needs to be encouraged. The family needs to show Pepper that they are there to look after her – not the other way around. Leaving her to ‘get on with it’ when she barks as they often do simply isn’t leadership – neither is scolding her.

Pepper ‘belongs’ to the eight year old daughter (though she won’t know this!) and the child has quietly and calmly taught her a very neat routine of actions. It was wonderful to see Pepper wait one end of the large garden while the little girl walked away, and then run joyfully to her when she was called. It was a perfect example or how good a relationship between a child and a dog can be. Pepper is getting the best leadership from an eight year old! The rest of the family need to tone down the homage and put a few boundaries in place. Pepper has legs! Pepper can then learn to trust them to take on protection duty.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Schnauzer fearful of dogs and children.

Look at this for a face! Hector is an eight month old Miniature Schnauzer who looks like a teddy bear. He is a remarkably calm pup most of the time. He is intelligent and biddable. He has been given sensible boundaries from the start, but is now quietly testing them as teenagers do! It is amusing to see how much he can get his unsuspecting humans to do for him, on his own terms, and how he chooses just what he does for them on their terms. He knows exactly hminiature schnautzer Hector looks like a teddy bearow far to push it!

This is typical puppy stuff which makes owners wonder whether it will ever end, and even causes some to give up.

The problem with Hector is his fearfulness. He is a very confident little dog when at home with his family, but when someone new comes into his house he barks at them and backs away.  Out on walks when on lead he is likely to bark at people and dogs. The worst is that he barks at children. When young children come to the house from time to time he is very scared, and if they are toddling or walking about he barks incessantly at them and this sounds aggressive and scary. He is very reactive to children playing outside or riding past on bikes.

It is natural for a dog to be wary of small children. They move suddenly and upredictably, they can be noisy, and they often approach in what the dog perceives a threatening manner, directly and staring, and most likely with arms outstretched. The owners then get anxious or cross when the dog is barking or growling, which compounds the problem. If there isn’t opportunity to acclimatise the dog to young children every day or so over a period of time, then he needs to be protected and to have a ‘safe haven’ where the children can’t go. In Hector’s case I suggested putting a gate on the kitchen doorway to keep the dog in and the children out. Maybe the child can throw little bits of the dogs dry food through the bars – but only if Hector is sufficienlty relaxed and not barking – so that he associates children with something nice.

Whether the dog is frightened of children, people, other dogs, traffic or anything else, it needs to be worked on gradually in a controlled way. Complete avoidance to start with and then introducing the trigger slowly and gradually whilst dealing with it the right way – never forcing the dog out of his comfort zone and being ready to retreat. Complete avoidance gives no opportunity to rehabilitate, but pushing ahead too fast can even result in shut down or aggression.

Hector is only eight months old, and with the right guidance and responses from his owners, over time he should gain his confidence.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Miniature Schnauzers

Miniature Schnauzer

Tom

Miniature Schnauzer

Sidney

Yesterday I visited two great characters, Tom and Sidney, two Miniature Schnauzers who have just come back from Singapore. They now have a very different lifestyle. In Singapore the doors to the garden were always open so the dogs were free to come and go, but dogs were not allowed off lead at all outside. The lady had a helper who did most things for the dogs – walking, feeding, grooming, playing and so on. I suspect the dogs may have thought she was their servant as well!

Tom

Now Tom and Sidney are in cold wet England! They may be a little unsettled because it is a big change, and their lady owner is learning what to do with them. Tom is easier because he fortunately will do anything for a food reward, but Sidney is very clever and food doesn’t do it! He only responds if he so chooses! He has no recall, either from the garden or when out. I found when I was there that outwitting Sidney worked well. He ran out when I arrived (the front was gated) and the lady went out to try to get him in. I suggested we went in and shut the door loudly. He was there in a trice!

Tom’s face looks as if he is wondering what restrictions my presence might impose on his future lifestyle!  There will be a few fair rules and boundaries that, once decided upon, must be consistently stuck to.

There dogs need to learn to walk nicely together on loose leads. Before Sidney can be let off lead again after a hare-chasing episode last week, there is a lot of work to be done on his recall. However, for him to want to come when called, he must see the point. Whilst he thinks dogs rule people, then why should he come? So, there is work to be done at home also!

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.