Schnauzers and mini schnauzers make great pets but they have a temperament that is somewhat unique. They are very intelligent dogs but they are also independent thinkers. Schnauzer can have a tendency not to listen to instructions unless they are motivated to do so on their own accord. Some people may call them stubborn, but their owners love the fact that these dogs seem to think for themselves.
The best way to get through to the temperament of the typical schnauzer or mini schnauzer is to help him or her understand that there is a common goal in mind — and that compromise is a good thing. The most effective way to demonstrate this is during your initial miniature schnauzer training sessions. You will be laying the foundation for a good relationship with your pet. Plan on using positive training, with food rewards and lots of excited praise when they do what you want during the training process.
One of the first things that you want to do when you bring a new pet home is start house training. You can teach your pet to go outside or to use special pads that are placed on the floor if you are not able to take it outside for long periods of time. House training is accomplished by ensuring that you teach your new pet that it is not acceptable to go in any place except where you have decided they need to go.
For instance, with a puppy, walking them outdoors right away after a meal will help them associate doing their business outdoors at a time when their digestive system is usually stimulated to produce a bowel movement. Overnight, you may want to use a crate for short periods of time. Dogs do not like to soil where they sleep and/or eat. They will learn to whimper, bark, or bang on the crate door to ask to be let out. Take them directly outdoors to pee.
You can then help them learn better by taking them straight outside or to a designated area and showing them where you want them to go. This is the same training method that you would use for most other breeds, but expect it to take a little onger with miniature schnauzers. You might expect to spend one to two weeks with most breeds, but with mini schnauzers it may take three weeks or even a little bit longer because of their temperament.
Rewarding Good Behavior
Some pets prefer treats while others simply want a pat on the head and to hear that they are a good dog. Your tone of voice is everything. These smart dogs can learn simple word commands quickly if are clear in saying their name and then the command without endless repetition.
You may also choose to reward your dog with playtime after it has successfully accomplished the task or a series of tasks. This is usually a good idea with mini schnauzers because they have a rather high energy level to begin with.
You also want to ensure that your dog can walk properly on a leash and that it can behave itself when it is off the leash. Learning to heel, stop, and sit are important for pleasant walks for both of you.
While you are training on the leash, you will utter verbal commands and then essentially demonstrate to your pet what you are asking him or her to do. For example, you can start out by giving the heel command and then gently stop. After doing this several times, your dog will get the hang of it that heel means to stop walking and be still. You can also let them walk into your legs to realize that they need to be at your side and paying attention to you.
Training Off the Leash
Do not rush this type of training. Schnauzers are terriers. They are easily triggered into chasing little animals that move and to run off in the process. Make sure you start this training in a safe enclosed area.
As your mini schnauzer training sessions progress you can start working with off the leash training. Do this indoors or in an enclosed yard until you are certain that your dog will not run away and get lost or injured. Start working on relatively easy commands like come, sit or stay. Handle these commands in the same way you taught the heel command. Be happy and excited in your tone of voice when the behavior is what you want, but matter of fact and flat in tone when they do not. Avoid yelling – it only scares your pup and they will not understand.
Be sure to reward your pet once he or she has done what you asked it to do. Keep your training sessions short and limit them to only 15 to 20 minutes at a time so that your pet does not become stressed.
Keeping Your Pet Safe
Finally, one of the most important commands that you can teach your mini schnauzer, other than to come when called, is to “leave it.” This is a command that you can say any time your dog has something in its mouth that you do not want it to have. Examples would include your shoes, dead little animals, garbage, or dangerous foods that drop on the floor and they snatch up before you can get to them (e.g., onions, grapes, raisins).
This is a difficult command to teach and may require that you get more creative and actually leave safe things lying around strategically that create training sessions. Again, stay with it and be patient, your dog will get it. Always reward your dog after they successfully perform a command.
It is worth putting in the time now to have a more enjoyable day to day experience with your schnauzer. And, by all means, enroll in a puppy or dog training class at your local Petsmart or Petco or a more experienced dog training service. You’ll be glad you did.