Tips for a Happy Standard Schnauzer ... and Owner

1. Always keep your puppy (and adult dog) in a secure fenced yard or run when he is outside unattended. When you are away from home, keep your puppy indoors confined in a safe area or a crate where he will be safe from thieves, storms, hail, escape, predators, cold or hot weather and abuse or teasing or poisoning from passersby. Keeping the puppy confined indoors when unattended also will keep him safe from electric cords, household poisons and falling objects and will keep your house safe from a puppy which hasn't yet learned that chairs are not chew toys and carpets are not pottys. Finally, never leave him alone chained or tied (See item #6 about crates),

2. Do not leave your dog outside for extended times, especially in cold weather. Puppies chill easily and this is NOT an outdoor breed, even as an adult. You must be especially careful after grooming as this removes the warm, protective coat and is the equivalent of you going out in your summer clothing. Not only is the Standard Schnauzer not physically adapted to be an outdoor breed, it also is a very sociable breed and would be miserable if separated from the family as an outdoor dog.

3. Housetraining is a lot of work for a puppy of any breed, but diligence and kindness will pay off. For your own well-being, it's best to make your puppy earn house privileges and only let her run the house when she has proven reliable. Otherwise, keep the puppy where you can watch her; this will speed up housetraining because the puppy won't be making mistakes where you can't see and correct her. If you want to leave her unsupervised for a while you can confine her to a small area that is covered with papers, put her in a crate, use paper training as an intermediate step or put her outside in mild weather. House training is hard work but your commitment to it will pay off in direct proportion to your effort and consistency.

4. Do not allow behavior you don't intend to continue. If you don't want your dog on your furniture, don't allow it right from the beginning. In particular, don't let him get away with puppy biting. Say "no!" firmly and then show him the correct behavior, then praise. Each puppy is different; correct only as firmly as necessary to achieve the desired results. It won't be long before you see what works.

5. Keep your corrections fair and consistent and remember, the best trained dog is a happily trained dog. Use praise, praise, praise and you will have a happy and willing worker.

6. A crate will be your best ally during housetraining, keep your puppy safe in your absence and can be a secure home- away-from-home when you travel. You can usually pick one up at a reasonable cost at yard sales (be sure you clean it thoroughly with Clorox and water then rinse it well before using) or you can get one through a wholesale catalog or pet food retailer. Place the crate close enough to the family so the puppy will not feel abandoned , but far enough away from areas of activity to be quiet and restful. The puppy will object at first, but you must be firm; her objection is not so much being in the crate as it is being away from you and the attention she is used to. Do not use the crate as punishment because you want your puppy to regard her crate as her own space and as a place of refuge.

7. Keep early encounters with children brief, pleasant and always supervised. Children can be cruel or rough without meaning to be.

8. When people are coming and going or when there are children who can leave the door ajar or let the puppy out accidentally, be careful to make sure all doors are closed and that the puppy can't escape. The puppy is very quick and can run out an open door before you even realize he is gone.

9. Puppies are youngsters and need frequent periods of rest.

10. Always use a leash if taking a puppy or adult dog away from the security of her house or yard. This is a very inquisitive breed and will investigate or chase anything that moves. All it takes is one encounter with a car and your beloved pet is gone. Always play it safe.

11. Choke collars, especially the nylon ones, are great for walks but can get caught and strangle the puppy if left on all the time. Get a buckle collar if you are going to keep a collar on all the time, and put tags with your name and address on it just in case. If you don't use a collar, such as with show dogs, get the puppy microchipped.

12. Socialization is important to a well-adjusted dog. A dog that has been exposed to a variety of environments and a lot of people is one that is comfortable in almost any environment. Get the puppy used to car rides, crowded places and unusual circumstances gradually, but start early. Training as a puppy is the most effective and lessons learned early are not forgotten. Just don't take the puppy to dog shows or classes or any -place there are dogs until a week after he gets his 16-week shots. Then go to puppy kindergarten or beginning puppy obedience classes at a reputable training center that uses positive training techniques.

13. Make sure your yard is secure and safe. Check for holes in the fence where she could escape, sharp objects that could be chewed or swallowed and for poisonous plants such as rhubarb or pointsettias. Get a padlock for the gates. This will keep them from inadvertently being left open. Additionally, be careful when applying herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. Keep the puppy away from these areas for an appropriate time (see package directions for warnings), and used organic alternatives whenever possible.

14. Never transport any dog in an open vehicle or truck bed and NEVER leave in a car when the temperature outside is more than 70 degrees. Even under 70 degrees, try to park in the shade, put up your windshield shade and leave the windows cracked enough to allow ventilation but not so much he could escape or a passerby could reach in or unlock the car. It really is best not to leave the dog alone in the car if at all possible and it's best to leave him at home when you go to the store or run other errands.

15. Always provide your puppy with a sufficient amount of high-quality food and fresh water.

16. Remember, your puppy is a baby and the only things it knows are what you teach it. The puppy, just like a baby, needs to learn what is expected. And, just like a teenager, an older puppy will test your authority. Be positive, patient, firm and consistent and be prepared to repeat the same command a number of times to reinforce behaviors. Also, it's very important to stop unwanted behavior and reward good behavior immediately; five seconds later won't do any good because the puppy will not associate the behavior with the correction or praise. Keep in mind that the puppy has no way of knowing your brocade couch is an antique and that the fern is not there for his enjoyment; you must teach your puppy everything and it's up to you to make sure the couch is not accessible and the fern is out of harm's way until your puppy learns the rules and is reliable. A Standard Schnauzer is very intelligent and may try a number of ways to accomplish the same goal; you may need to correct or reinforce several variations of a behavior before you make your point.

17. Antifreeze is deadly to dogs; store it out of reach. Also, powdered carpet deodorizers can irritate a dog's lungs. Keep cleaning supplies, prescriptions, etc., out of reach just like you do with children. The puppy may not be able to open the bottle of clorox, but they can chew through it.

18. Finally, ALWAYS treat your dog as a family pet with affection and kindness -- unconditional love and a desire to please will be your reward.

Further reading:

How to Raise A Puppy You can Live With Rutherford and Neil, Alpine Press.
The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete Little, Brown and Company.
Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog Carol Lea Benjamin, Howell.

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