Champdogs Information Exchange
Hi, I have an adorable 9 week old miniature schnauzer bitch and, on the whole, she's doing great. She sleeps in a cage at night and only howls when she's ready for the garden on a morning. She's very playful and loves to come for a cuddle but over the last few days she's started to growl and snap at us, even when she's come to us to ask to be picked up to go on our knees. I have two boys (10 and 6) and the they are both a bit timid of her and she growls and bites them the most. I've had Yorkies before (never brought one up on my own though) and they never did this. I'm worried she's going to have an aggressive nature even though her doggy family were all lovely. She does the usually puppy nipping and growling when playing, but the other times are worrying. Help please! PS she made my eldest cry when she nipped him and that calmed her down - though not an ideal solution!
17.09.11 08:53 GMT
17.09.11 08:57 GMT
This is normal behaviour at this age and if the pup was still with Mum and litter mates the growling and biting sounds and looks awful but they would be teaching it manners and when it has gone too far by squealing which stops the pup in its tracks and the play mate walks away teaching the pup that if it wants to play then it has to do it without biting so hard.
You and the kids need to shout " ouch", turn and walk away or give the pup something it can chew on, if it persists then the pup needs a brief time out away from the humans. Everyone needs to be consistent,
You can't allow the pup to bite one minute and then get annoyed the next.
The pup will be teething soon and the biting and chewing will get worse for a while so you need to get this under control now.
If you Google " the bite stops here" by Ian Dunbar it advises you how to train your pup so as the bite is controlled rather than stopped altogether and why this is the way to go.
This topic comes up a lot so a search on here will come up with many comments.
17.09.11 09:04 GMT
>I'm worried she's going to have an aggressive nature even though her doggy family were all lovely
Puppies are babies. This is not aggression, it's normal puppy behaviour. Don't forget that if the kids are excited and squealing, that she will treat them like littermates that want to play biting games. Training kids as well as pups is the way to go! :-)
Your children are at least old enough that it is going to be easy to explain things to them. If they are told to be calm around the puppy, it will help a lot. Remember too, kids move fast, and that encourages chasing by your puppy. I agree with the other poster. Ian Dunbar is marvellous. If you google his article, he explains things so much better than we can. :-)
In addition to all of the above, remember that puppy teeth are extremely sharp and hurt like billyo. A pup can easily draw blood on a human when playbiting- it does not mean they are vicious.
Do read the Dunbar piece. Try the squeal yourself and watch pup's reaction. If it stops her all well and good, if not and some pups may get more excited by squeals and bite more (terrier types especially) then you may have to try alternatives. Time outs and tie up stations are also good. The key is that pup is effectively ignored and momentarily 'excluded'- this way she learns to control her behaviour and her biting, because all normal pups love attention and fun. Don't expect overnight success- your pup has to learn how to fit into your family life and the rules of conduct.
If you go to this forum www.schnauzer-forum.co.uk you'll get a lot of advice. I'm a breeder of this breed and I find that the yelping can sometimes serve as even more exciting, instead I give out an ear-splitting yelp and stand up, turn my back, cross my arms. Either that or isolate them in a room you're not worried about them being in alone; NEVER their crate or the garden. I actually used the naughty step!
Kids can often serve as over-exciting. Remember that you're setting this pup up for life, you need her to know that in the evenings it's time to chill, no one should be on the floor with the puppy, just settle her with a Kong or similar, then let her out for a pee, do a bit of training to tire her out, and pop her to bed at a set time. Pups thrive on routine, remember that; my pups go to bed at 9pm sharp, then are woken up at 11pm or similar, just before we go to bed, to be put out to pee when they're still sleepy and aren't upset or crying.
I would always look at WHY they're biting; are they in a playful mood? How can you channel that into something better? Use a toy to play, and then do some training, then go for a socialisation walk in your arms, then the toilet, then lunch, then bed. Basically, if your pup has enough energy to bite, she has enough energy to be worn out and do a little bit of work. That's what I love about puppies; two minute exercises can wear them out!
yes, good point. Sometimes offering a toy or a suitable chewy (pups can easily damage teeth, so tiny, pup friendly chewies only) can channel the behaviour.
Follow all the above advice but if it continues to worry you call a local trainer in for some help. And at this stage you should be looking for a trainer now as well to get enroled in group etc.
I get lots of calls from worried owners at this point frightened they have a future aggressive dog but very rarely does it happen. A point to remember as well especially with boys in the house is no tuggy games until she's learnt to withhold her teeth a little more. Tends to be blokes who encourage these games and teeth slip over toys onto flesh accidently we allow it and then it becomes acceptable behaviour.
Squeaking can sometimes turn you into the worlds biggest squeaky toy with some breeds so a louder different noise is needed and VERY clear BODY language from you guys to state not playing those games. Then use a toy to teach acceptable play. She's just a baby and it's a learning curve for all of you.
To reassure you I have not really ever come across a people aggressive schnauzer in nearly 15 years, doesn't mean they're not out there just very rare!! In fact personally I love this little breed think they make fab pet dogs and when I've moved getting a little black one is on my wish list!!
Thank you all for some brilliant advice. Sherbet is settling into her routines really well. I've noticed that the growling followed by a quick nip is mainly when she's picked up, even by me a couple of times. I do this by supporting her front legs/ribcage area and never pick her up like a child. Might she just not like being lifted?? She always comes to snuggle up when she's tired so she does like contact. My youngest never lifts her, by the way
Children should be discouraged from picking pups up as they may drop them,not only giving them a fright but injuring them too.
It is very exciting getting a pup and daunting too as you are trying to observe the pup and the kids. Has the pup got a safe haven to go that the kids know to leave it alone to rest, overly tired pups can become snappy and over excited and need to know if they go to their bed/crate[with door open] they can rest undisturbed, this even applies if it is other dogs in the house with the pup.
I am sure that with time and patience you will all settle down together and the kids can enjoy learning how to take care of their new friend and help with its training too guided by yourself.
17.09.11 16:38 GMT
She may be objecting to you picking her up but you have the right and I would make sure you do it several times a day until she accepts it because she will need grooming and will have to put up with being handled, so pick her up often and if she is good give her a treat and praise. However as already said children should not pick up a pup & not be allowed to play unattended by an adult.
Make sure when you pick her up you do it slowly, rather than scooping her up quickly. The swooping sensation can be quite scary and unpleasant, which might be what she's objecting to. And of course use two hands, one under her chest and the other supporting her bottom so that she feels secure.
17.09.11 21:02 GMT
I have a litter here which are 6 weeks old. They are little beasts!!
Biting and ragging each other constitutes a large proportion of their waking hours...it is normal.
Youve been given some great advice to ease your puppy through the transition from a little puppy pack member to a well adjusted family member.
Be patient and try to find out as much as you can about how pups learn.
17.09.11 21:24 GMT
> Might she just not like being lifted??
I agree with Jeangenie on this one. Dogs don't naturally want to be lifted through the air. And with a small dog, it's quite a scarey long way to be whooshed through the air. I will always hold a dog reasonably close to my body when lifting, so reducing the flying through the air thing.
I once had a visitor bring her children, along with the family pet. A Yorkshire Terrier. I was told that I couldn't pick the dog up because she would bite. It was so easy to see why. The children had been allowed to pick up this little dog whenever they wanted. I only had to watch the way she looked for an escape to see the little dogs fear.
We were sat with my back door open, and I said to the little girl "If a big giant was outside and put his hand down to lift you up, just to see you, it would take some time to reach his face, and you would be whisked through the air, and it's likely that you would feel frightened."
I couldn't think of a better way to point out why the dog bit when touched. Unfortunately I don't think their Mum took it on board. The dog had been bought as their plaything, and probably still bites (due to fear.)
Don't let the children lift her up, and as others have said, pick her up gently and slowly, supporting bum/back legs as well as front legs/ribcage. I groom a little terrier cross whose owner warned me about picking her up, but after seeing her pick her up just with the ribcage hold, I am very careful to pick her up slowly and support the back end, and make sure she realises she is about to be moved, and she's fine with me.
I also que a word to picking up, 'up' is ours, when I say it now mine go onto hind legs ready for it. Make sure being picked up is a lovely experience too.
All your advice is fantastic, thank you. I've started using cue words for most things for her and she's also beginning to respond to my different tones of voice - though my hubby can still do 'NO' the best! She has such a loving nature, I'm making sure we hold on to that, that she feels secure and loved but equally knows her place. It's a learning curve for us both :-)
Keeping a puppy diary can be a very revealing and useful tool. If you are open to watching your pups natural rhythm and timings you'll soon notice patterns associated with sleeping and eating as many pups get bitey and silly at certain times of day. For instance you may soon start to notice that zoomies (hurtling around the room ricocheting off furniture) happen just before your pup is due a sleep and biting happens when your pup is over tired. Keeping a diary helps you to identify the patterns then use them to your advantage. Do some training when your puppy is awake and receptive, sneak off for a shower etc when your pup is due a sleep.
When you feel you have a handle on your pups rhythm you can make adjustments to suit you and your family. For instance you might want to structure your day so that your puppy is sleepy and droopy when the kids get home from school to minimise that hectic time, or organise things so you have a clear greeting protocol for kids and pup to reduce the chance of both getting overexcited at the same time :)
I second the notion that more often than not it's the children that need training. My children always enjoyed snuggle time with the dogs (still do!) so they were encouraged to maintain calm behaviours around the dogs and wait for the droopy time so that they could grab a dog each for some TV watching. Even now the dogs tend to gravitate towards the children if they see a dvd coming out. However dogs and kids needed to be taught to be calm around each other - any silliness from either and they had to leave the room :) At 9 weeks though it's still very early days and you need to be clear about your house rules - keep play time and cuddle time very separate. Perhaps making sure that play happens on the floor and she comes on your knees only when she is tired and ready for a sleep.
Finally be careful about picking up - I totally agree that handling is necessary but many dogs dislike being picked up and it isn't always wise to force the issue if she isn't ready. Make sure you aren't just picking her up to suit yourself - if you want a cuddle sit on the floor with her and let her decide. Give her a small step to enable her to get onto the sofa (if you want her there) and gradually work on teaching her a cue for when picking up is necessary. As others have said dogs that like being picked up will soon learn how to ask for it.
19.09.11 17:53 GMT
I totally agree that handling is necessary but many dogs dislike being picked up
From my view point that is the point of training the dog, whilst a pup, to be used to being picked up, handled and placed on a table, this is a breed that will require a fair amount of grooming and it needs to be confident with being picked up and placed on a table and then being groomed and the younger you start the easier it is for both dog and handler.
Totally agree, especially with a Schnauzer which needs grooming every six weeks and brushing every week. We start this at eight weeks, three times a day, up on the table, comb through, treat, down again. My dogs really enjoy being picked up, too, my bitch especially is desperate to be in my arms when she greets me, best place to lick my ears. ;)
> it needs to be confident with being picked up
Sure, and I'm not suggesting the OP avoid this training altogether but I am
advocating they take it in easy stages for exactly the reason you've stated above. There's little benefit to the pups training in forcing the issue at this stage. As I mentioned in my post I do think that it's well worth the OP examining their reasons for picking her up too. It's so easy for owners of cute small puppies to fall into trap of whisking them up off the floor for a cuddle without considering the dogs needs. IF the biting is real resistance to being picked up (rather than overtiredness etc) then the OP will need to rethink how/when she does it and how to build it into the pups training.
However I expect the breeder will have been scooping these pups up on a regular basis for cleaning, feeding etc so perhaps it's just the timing, or the way in which the OP and family are helping the pup get up onto the sofa? If you're sitting then it's not a terribly easy position from which to assist a scrabbling pup if she is approaching from the front...
19.09.11 22:04 GMT
> It's so easy for owners of cute small puppies to fall into trap of whisking them up off the floor for a cuddle without considering the dogs needs.
I think this is an important observation. I don't feel that it's enough to keep whisking pup through the air "just because you can."
Puppy Update! She is responding very well to the use of the word 'up' before I pick her up - she often stands still now and waits for me to do it. When she asks to be picked up onto the settee I say 'up' and she turns round so I can hold her in the correct position, rather than picking her up like a toddler, as suggested. You're right about the children needing training - when she is giddy my youngest races across the room to safety and guess what - the dog races after him! They are learning to let the dog come to them, not the other way round. Unfortunately her giddy time is from 4 to 6pm but, as I plan to structure her walks to make this work better. I took her for a visit today and ended up with her in my arms for quite a long while - she got loads of praise as she behaved beautifully and whined rather than bit when she thought I'd been chatting for long enough! Thank you all for your wonderful advice - I was so worried, never having brought up my own dog before, that she would end up nasty, but she's simply very loving and playful with a little independent streak which we can work round.
Lovley to get your feedback (sometimes people don't come back to update). Keep up the good work, sounds like she's lovely.
It's a big learning curve,a nd even those of us who have had quite a few pups find we have forgotten after a couple of years what it was like and having to remember to keep things calm, remove things out of reach of puppy teeth etc etc.
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