My Dog Barks Too Much
by Karen Brittan

There are several things that can be tried. First of all, the dog should *really* be obedience-trained. This is important for any dog, but particularly so for miniature schnauzers since most of them think they are "God's Gift". It is important for the rest of the family to be "alpha" to the dog, and most of us need obedience training with our dogs to learn how to do this.

The best way to get through to the majority of schnauzers is with food. Their daily ration should be measured out each morning and a portion set aside for the training "treats" so that by the end of the day the dog has had its full portion of food. Due to various possible health problems, it is extremely important that food rations be carefully rationed with schnauzers. Don't EVER let them get overweight!

The dog needs to learn a good, solid "come". Call it from various parts of the house at various times, and when it comes, give it a treat along with lots of praise ("goood come"). Once the dog is reliable at this exercise, the owner should be able to call it away from the window or to come inside whenever it starts to bark, distracting the dog from whatever it is warning against. Food might need to be rattled in the (metal) dish at first.

Now, if that doesn't work with the dog, there are other, more correctional things to try. Water in a spray bottle, set to shoot a stream across the room, is quite effective with many dogs. Many schnauzers don't care for water, especially if it is sprayed into their face. If the water is ineffective, it can be replaced with either lemon juice or Bitter Apple. These products should be sprayed directly into the dog's mouth initially, so the dog experiences their yucky taste. The Bitter Apple particularly also stinks, so some dogs just need to smell it to stop whatever they are doing. If spraying at the dog with either the lemon juice or Bitter Apple, special care must be taken to avoid getting it into the dog's eyes. The Bitter Apple can be sprayed in the direction of the dog's nose and the airborne particles will do the rest.

Some people put a few pennies into an empty pop can, sealing the opening with tape, and whenever the dog is doing unwanted behavior, the pop can can be rattled with a firm "knock it off" command ("no bark" or "quiet", for instance). Sometimes the can is thrown close to the dog's feet to startle it.

With any of these corrections, the dog must be quickly praised when it stops barking..."gooood quiet!" Praise should always follow any correction, but timing is EVERYTHING. Never praise or treat if the dog is making any noise, or the behavior will just be reinforced.

All of the above suggestions require work on the part of the owner and they will only be effective if the owner is consistent and can follow through correctly each and every time. Some people just have no "smarts" about training a dog. If this is the case, one can buy one of those citronella collars which spray citronella into the dog's face whenever it barks, or go to a shock collar which will give the dog a shock whenever it barks. Some shock collars will only work when the owner pushes a button (sort of a remote control), but obviously the owner must be around to do the correction, and most people have very poor timing and can easily make the dog worse; I have seen one of these make a nice, friendly (but noisy) dog very aggressive, so I do NOT recommend them. I have seen the citronella/shock collars in action, and they *DO* work very well, although some schnauzers are bull-headed and smart enough to empty the citonella collars all at one sitting.

The last option is to have the dog debarked by the veterinarian. It is a fairly simple procedure, but does require anesthesia, and the dog must be kept quiet for a few days afterwards to allow for proper healing. Most do partial debarks so that the dog still makes some noise, but it is usually a softer, deeper sound; some do total debarks so that the dog is completely noiseless. Some vets are better at debarking than others. Contacting collie or sheltie breeders will usually turn up the name of a good debarking veterinarian in the area since so many of those dogs are debarked.


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