I have recently acquired a one year old beautiful schnauzer and I lover her dearly already. However I have also have two young children ages 8 and 9 and if they approach her the wrong way she will snap at them. What is the proper way to address this issue?
Congrats on getting a schnauzer!! Here’s to many happy years with her as part of your family.
However, you first need to quickly address this very serious issue.
There are some questions I have
- how long have you had the dog?
- has the dog been through obedience training?
- was the pup taught bite inhibition (by 18 wks)
- was she properly socialized as a puppy (around 12 wks)?
- did she have any adverse experiences with children as a young pup?
- why did you choose this particular dog?
- is she exhibiting this behavior with anyone else?
However, I will base my answer on the information I have.
I think the answer is in your question: “if they approach her the wrong way she will snap at them” What is the “wrong way” in this case? Roughhousing and “aggravating” should really be avoided. Overexciting her will exacerbate the situation. Make sure the kids only approach her in the “right way”. (Which, of course, isn’t the easiest thing for a kid to do, so keep an eye on them)
Dogs snap when they are frightened, and she is probably showing warning signs that she is frightened before she snaps. Does she suddenly become tense and stiff? Can you see the whites all around her eyes? Is she growling or are her ears laid back? These are all signs to back off and allow her to not feel threatened. Continuing to interact with her if she is exhibiting these warning signs or actually snaps is very dangerous for your kids.
Obedience training is needed in this situation. A trained dog is a happy dog, and the kids can learn the proper way to interact with her and create a great bond. Find a good trainer asap.
Most trainers emphasize never letting children play with dogs unsupervised. This will help you in that you will probably be able to read (faster than the kids) the dog’s warning signs.
If she does snap again, maybe try employing a technique used in bite inhibition training. Step away, say Ouch!!!! and then give her your back or even leave the room for a few seconds. Since she is young, this may send the message that you don’t like biting, and since she is probably feeling frightened or threatened, will allow her to calm down. Praise her for showing any submissive behavior during this.
Bite inhibition is crucial to teach a puppy, by 4 months. If she wasn’t taught this, consult a trainer immediately to find out what to do. Also, make sure she has a safe “kid-free zone” she can retreat to, and make sure the children respect this zone.
Some of a dog’s temperament is inherited, but good and consistent training can sometimes help improve their faults. And, with mini schnauzers, consistency in training is imperative.
Visit these links:
Also, here is a link to some helpful books.
Hope this helps—remember supervise your children when they are with the dog, teach them the proper way to interact with her, and be sure to get training as soon as possible.
disclaimer: I am in no way a certified expert on this subject. In situations as serious as this, a professional should be consulted for proper training. : )