Building Up a Miniature Schnauzer’s Respect for His Guardians to Stop His Barking

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 16, 2015


Melman is a five-year-old Miniature Schnauzer who growls at the family’s 1 year old daughter, gets too excited at times, jumps up on people and over barks.

After discussing the situation with Melman’s owners, it was clear that the dog had appointed himself the head of security due to a lack of rules and structure. His owners hadn’t communicated any real rules, boundaries or expectations to Melman and rewarded him with affection and attention whenever he scratched / nosed them or jumped up onto their laps.

Many of my client’s dog problems stem from a similar lack of structure. Now not all dogs need clear rules, boundaries and limits in place to behave, but if your dog has a problem, its a good bet that adding these elements to your dog’s life will go a long way towards eliminating the unwanted habits or behaviors.

I suggested some simple rules and how to enforce and correct the dog when it breaks them, then went over a recall exercise to help condition Melman to come to them when called. It only took a couple of calls before Melman was running over and siting respectfully in front of whoever called him as if he had been trained for years.

Because his guardian’s number one issue was barking, I opened up the blinds to the window facing the front of the home so that Melman could see anyone passing by. We were working on the recall exercise when Melman spotted someone walking in front of their home. I used this opportunity to show them how to claim the space in front of the window and disagree with his barking.

His owners were surprised at how easily I was able to move the dog away from the window and get him to stop barking. While my experience certainly helped, the work we did earlier (adding new rules and correcting him when he broke them) were equally influencing his behavior. Thats one of the great things about working with dogs. Once you communicate what you want, in a way the dog understands and respects, changes can come very quickly.

A couple minutes later one of his guardians spotted a couple walking a Boston Terrier across the street. I went out and asked the couple if they would mind walking in front of the house so that Melman’s guardians could practice the technique I had just shown them. But because the couple was so nice and accommodating I asked if they would mind bringing the dog into Melman’s home. The woman was a little concerned about going inside as their Boston had been aggressive to some dogs in the past, but after I assured her I would control the situation and keep everyone safe, they were game.

As we approached the house, I could see Melman’s guardians applying the technique to move the dog away from the window. When I popped in the front to let them know I was going to bring in another dog, they were also concerned due to his previous reaction to other dogs.

I took the Boston’s leash and brought him into the home but stayed in the entryway. Melman charged down the stairs towards us, but I blocked him about 12 feet away. While he was barking in an excited, not dominant way, his energy and excitement were far too high for an introduction. I told him to sit and we waited a minute or two before Melman’s energy was calm enough to allow an introduction.

Usually I try to position dogs so that they don’t meet face to face, but my taking the time to get Melman to sit and calm down had allowed the Boston to do the same. As Melman approached, I observed both dogs closely to make sure neither was showing any dominant behaviors. There pupils were not dilated and their body language was relaxed so I allowed the approach to continue. When Melman got an inch from the Boston, both dogs started flicking their tongues which is a calming signal that dogs use to communicate that they are not acting in a dominant or aggressive way.

The greeting lasted a few moments and both dogs acted perfectly. When I looked up and saw one of Melman’s guardian shooting the other a “Can you believe this look,” I couldn’t help but smile.

By the end of the session, Melman was exhausted, but also carried himself with a little extra pep in his step and his head held higher. The barking and other unwanted behaviors had dramatically diminished, he was responding to their commands and corrections immediately and already following most of the new rules on his own. It will take enforcement or the new rules and correcting the dog with good technique and timing, but based on how much progress we made in the three hour session, Im confident Melman’s days of barking like crazy are at an end.

Melman Pooped


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This post was written by: David Codr

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