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[Destructive Chewing]   [Jumping up]   [House Breaking]    [The 'OFF' command]  [Coming when Called]   [Being Alpha]

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Destructive Chewing:

On occasion a dog will take to chewing on a household item or even their crate, many folks are advised to spray the area with a dog repellent product (Bitter Apple is an example) but find the dog is not bothered by the taste, some say the dogs even seem to like the taste  :-))  I think the problem lies not in the product but in the manner it is introduced to the dog.

The secret to making these products work is to create an *unpleasant association* in the dogs mind, here is what works for me.
I take a tissue and soak it with Bitter Apple then place the tissue in the dogs mouth, close his/her mouth and firmly hold the mouth closed for about 1 minute, you will have to get a good hold on him/her as the dog will struggle, do not use your voice to discipline the pup while doing this, just calmly hold him/her for a full minute (say nothing). Then, release (again say nothing, no good dog or poor baby) remove the tissue, pup may even spit it out before you get a chance to remove it. Now repeat this 3-4 times over the course of the day, again, do not lose your temper and DO NOT call him/her to you to do this, remember, you are creating an unpleasant association to the Bitter Apple, not to him coming to you when called, this is important.

If this is followed as above you can now apply the product to the areas the dog was previously chewing with success.


I have found the most important aspect in quickly housetraining a pup is restricting his freedom within the home.  In order to train your pup not to eliminate in the house you must be able to keep your eye on him constantly, the easiest way to do this is to restrict him to the room you are occupying.  When you see any signs that he needs to eliminate, sniffing, circling, leaving a play area and heading to the edge of the room, that is the time to run him outside.  Anytime you or another family member cannot have an eye on the pup he should be placed in his crate with a toy or, outside.  I find it very useful to give the act of elimination a name or phrase, I use Hurry-Hurry.  When I take the pup outside, I repeat the command Hurry-Hurry until, and during, the act of elimination then finish with Good Hurry-Hurry and a treat as soon as he completes his business.  This will come in very handy when travelling with your pup, a quick stop, his command, and you are back on the road again.  Sure beats spending 1/2 an hour walking the dog at the side of the road hoping he will get the idea.

Your pup will be housetrained as quickly, or, slowly, dependent on how diligent you are, I have yet to come across a pup that cannot be trained to eliminate outside.  Remember that every time the pup has an accident in the house you have set yourself back, it will take that much longer to successfully train him. 

The other complaint I here a lot is "We were doing so well and suddenly he has begun to wet in the house again"  I find that we become complacent about watching for the pups signs once 'we' think he is housetrained.  Do not rush things, keep up the training until you have gone at least four weeks without an accident, at this point you can start to relax the rules a little bit, but one mistake and tack on another four weeks before you loosen the rules again.

QUESTION:My schnauzer continually jumps up on us, I have tried teaching him the OFF command as described below and although he eventually gets down he still has to jump up at least once or twice before obeying - can you recommend another method?

One of the most effective methods I have found for teaching Standard Schnauzers to keep their paws to themselves is the 'pinch method'.  When the dog/pup jumps up to greet you, as soon as those feet come in contact with your body, reach down with both hands grasping the paws.  With your index finger and thumb pinch the flesh (almost like a webbing) between their toes.  Pressure should be firm and constant (you want it to be uncomfortable not cause bruising) as you tell the dog/pup 'OFF' and lower the front paws to the floorDo not yell or raise your voice while doing this, you are not trying to frighten him, just to make it unpleasant for his feet to touch your body.  To be effective do not release the constant pressure (pinch) you are applying to his feet until you have lowered the pup to the ground, then release, praise lightly (a simple good dog) and carry on with whatever you were doing.  If the dog should jump up again, the moment those feet make contact repeat the process.  You should find the dog correcting himself very quickly - praise this behavior, tell him good dog when he drops his feet to the ground.  Standard Schnauzers are very exuberant and love to jump, as long as those feet do not touch my body I do not mind the jumping.  One word of warning, the first time you correct in this manner the dog will cry, this is not from the pain (remember this is a firm, even pressure) but from the surprise!  Do not feel badly about this squeak or the dog will not take you seriously, just ignore and lower the legs to the ground.  Also note I stress praise lightly, if you really fuss the dog up he will just get excited and the jumping will start again.


Puppy Biting/Jumping and the OFF command

Very often the first question I hear from new puppy owners is 'How do I stop him/her from nipping, mouthing, biting?'  This is a common puppy problem and is often exemplified if in a household with young children.   One of the things to remember is that a dog, especially a young puppy has very few means to express itself.  The most obvious method is with it's mouth.  Up to this point he has been living with his littermates, they were much more tolerant of play nipping.  What is necessary is to teach the new puppy that gentle mouthing in play is okay but strong biting will not be tolerated.  The best exercise I have found for this is the
'OFF' command.   This word is used whenever we want the puppy off something eg: the furniture, your lap, the teeth on your hand. 


First lets teach puppy what the word OFF means:

Take several small treats ( soft textured treats if possible ) hand feed them to puppy one at a time always using the command 'take it' as each treat is released to the pup.  After several repetitions a treat is shown the puppy without the 'take it' command, if puppy attempts to take this treat ( and he will ) in a sharp voice we command 'OFF'.  Puppy will most likely stop and look at you in a confused manner he may even sit, GREAT! praise as soon as he does this then command 'take it' and release treat.  Only praise and treat when he has stopped mouthing, and always remember to say 'take it' before giving treat.  It is important to only command 'OFF' once then wait for the correct behaviour, if puppy insists on mouthing after the command put the treat away and leave puppy by himself for a few minutes to think things over, try again later in the day.

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Repeat this process several times a day for 2 days, at this point puppy should have the idea of what 'OFF' means, now you can begin to incorporate into daily events.   Pick up a favorite toy and tell puppy 'take it' and release, do this once or twice then pick up a toy and say nothing, when puppy tries to grab the toy use the 'OFF' command, when he lets go praise then repeat 'take it' and let him have the toy.  Now when pup attempts to grab your favorite pair of leather shoes ( which IDEALLY should be put where he can't get them to begin with ), command 'OFF' and puppy should leave the shoe alone .  If he grabs the shoe open his jaws remove shoe and repeat 'OFF' to reinforce.  Pick up a toy and tell puppy to 'take it' confirming that he may play with his toys not your shoes.   If you do not want the puppy on your furniture use the 'OFF' command when ever he places any part of his body on the furniture.  The first couple of times you will have to physically remove the puppy from the furniture but he should get the idea quickly.  The 'OFF' command should also be used when the puppy attempts to jump up to greet people.  Command 'OFF' and do not pet or praise until puppy is seated.  Often a slight jerk on the leash at the same time as the command will help to reinforce the correct behaviour.

**The command 'OFF' is used as opposed to the word no, which by now your puppy probably thinks is part of his name.  Think about it, how many times have you repeated 'puppy no'? ( insert your pups name ).  The word 'OFF' gives new meaning to the command and often stops the action faster then just shouting 'NO'.   Also you will notice I use it to have the puppy remove himself from your furniture or to stop jumping on people.  First impulse is to use the word 'Down' but this is a different action, we want the puppy to get off the furniture not lay down on it, don't confuse the puppy with double meanings.
Not returning when called, Introducing the 'Long Line'

Your perfect little Schnauzer pup is growing up and around the 6th or 7th month an adolescent monster takes over,  suddenly you are not the centre of puppies universe.  It is at this age that many new owners become frustrated with their pups.  This is also the time to sign up for obedience classes.  Hopefully you have attended puppy classes  and have already taught your puppy the basic commands: sit, down, stand, come, stay and of course off.

One of the most important commands you will ever teach your dog is to 'come' when called.  This was very easy when you had a young puppy but now you will be finding he no longer comes running to you, take heart most pups go through this stage.  How you handle it now will be the deciding factor if you ever will be able to allow your dog off leash.

First put the leash on your puppy and stop allowing him to disobey you.  When training always set yourself up to win, not fail.   One item you should purchase at this stage is a 'Long Line'  a 20' nylon rope, purchased from your local hardware store.  This is your safety line to your dog.  For the next several weeks when not on his leash your dog will always be wearing this line.  Attach to pups collar and allow him to drag all 20' behind him, don't worry he will quickly get use to it.  Now when you are at the park and puppy is romping about you can call him and quickly gather up the line to reel him in.  When he decides there is an interesting smell, call his name and if he ignores you give a jerk on the rope and pull him into you, treat and release again.  This will continue with all 20' for the next couple of weeks.  Your pup has to learn that he must obey because you now have those 20' long arms that can correct him at any moment. 

**One word of caution here do not use a choke collar with the long line and never put the line on your puppy if you are not there to watch him, the line could become caught and strangle the pup.
After a couple of weeks of this you should be noticing that your pup is coming when called (remember to carry a bag of treats to reward) now we are going to get out the scissors and cut 5 foot off of the Lunge Line.  Go through the same process for the next 2 weeks, randomly rewarding your pup with treats when he returns.  'Jackpot' with extra treats & praise when he comes on his own and you do not have to reel him into you.
After 2 weeks of this we will cut another 5 foot off the Lunge Line.  This process is repeated until down to only 5 foot of line. 
The whole process should never be rushed and may be extended at any point if you are having problems.  It is better to take several months of slow training now then to live the next 15 years with a dog that runs away not returning when called.  Many people find that leaving only a few inches or feet of rope on the pups collar is all the reminder he needs that he must return when called.  If at any point he reverts to his old habits go back to the 20' Long Line to brush up for a couple of days.
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I have found this approach more effective with Standard Schnauzers then the traditional 'jerk & scream' methods, and safer then using the 'Alpha Wolf Rollover' on a dominant dog.  This program is designed to help owners clarify their position as the Alpha or pack leader to their dogs.

The following is reprinted from an article by Job Michael Evans(Monks of New Skete)

The RRRR Program ( Radical Regime for Recalcitrant Rovers )

Often a more holistic approach to bad behavior is called for--a literal "hit-list" of changes that are imposed on the dog in order to rattle its brains, disturb the status- quo and slot the owner in the starring role as Ms. or Mr. Alpha once and for all. Little things add up--and just as it was probably a plethora of little infractions, little slips, little forms of naughtiness that allowed the situation between dog and owner to deteriorate, it will be a series of little changes and renovations that will bring the relationship back into sync and stop the problem behaviour

No Quick Fixes

If you are the owner of a problem dog you probably would prefer a "quick-fix" solution in this article--just one or two techniques that will cancel whatever behaviour problem you are now putting up with from your dog. I must say to you: it's not that easy or that simple. Your problems with your dog, at root, are relational. The dog probably fancies himself the Alpha. Or he doesn't know who is. Or doesn't care. Or doesn't want to know. Whatever the case, you're not it. You might be regarded as a friend, as a companion, as a littermate, as a lover, or as all of the above, but you're not regarded, at least not fully, as the Alpha. To grab that role, you have to take a radical approach to your problem dog. I am going to suggest 20 different ruses you can pull to convince your pushy dog that you are the boss.

Some final tips before the hit-list: don't modify the program, and keep it up until the behaviour problem stops. Obviously, act on the behaviour problem itself using sensible and humane methods, but use this program if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • housetraining problems
  • destructive chewing
  • digging
  • chasing people
  • chasing cars
  • jumping up
  • over-barking
  • growling/biting
  • fighting with other dogs
  • not coming when called
  • predation


  1. Give your dog two obedience sessions a day practicing whatever exercises the dog knows. These sessions should be 10-20 minutes long. Do not praise physically during this session. Use only verbal praise and keep the session moving. Give the commands quickly--dazzle the dog.
  2. Have two formal eye contact sessions with your dogs each day. Problem dogs look at their owners only when they feel like it. Up the eye contact. Practice formally. Put a leash on. Sit the dog. Step around in front and animate the dog saying, "Watch me--I want your attention right now," in a low, growling tone of voice. Do not yell. You want three to five seconds, (not minutes) of locked, sealed eye contact. Once you get this moment, end with light verbal praise.
  3. Have your dog hold one 30-minute down each day. This is very important. These downs can be done during TV shows, dinner, reading, etc. Enforce it! If your dog doesn't know the down, teach it immediately, as well as the stay command. For now, sit on the leash and measure out only as much as the dog needs to hit the dust. If the dog jumps up on you, whip the leash down hard with a "No !" If the dog stress-whines, give the dog a slap under the chin and say "No !" If the dog bites on the leash, whip it diagonally out of its mouth. During this time no petting, no toys, no soothing, no nothing. Long downs make you look Alpha.
  4. Move your dog into the bedroom for overnight sleeping. Read the chapter "Where is Your Dog This Evening?" in How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete (Little, Brown and Co.). This simple exercise has tremendous bonding effects. Remember--in the bedroom, problem dogs do not belong on beds. You'll look like littermates--you want to be Alpha, remember? If the dog jumps up on the bed, tie the dog to the foot of the bed.
  5. Exercise is very important. Problem dogs usually don't get enough aerobic, sustained exercise, which is what they need to calm them down. Putting the dog out in the backyard for three hours is no solution--he isn't exercising, he's exercising and resting, or just resting--period. Use a leash and jog or run with your dog. Sometimes a bike can be used. Keep moving. A good guide: for a little dog 1/4 mile with no stopping, four times a week; for a medium-size dog 1/2 mile with no stopping, four times a week; and for a large dog 1 mile with no stopping, four times a week. I'm not even asking you to run with your dog every day. And a mile can go by quite quickly. Obviously, if your veterinarian advises against exercise for your particular dog, you'll have to skip this step.
  6. Whenever you leave home, leave the radio on--easy listening music, not rock or talk shows. Stressed tones of voice usually keep dogs on edge--and talk shows feature people who call in with problems and stresses.
  7. Feed two times a day, if possible in the early morning and the early afternoon. Place the food down and leave it 10-15 minutes. Leave the dog and the food alone in a quiet room. Then, return and pick up the food even if the dog hasn't finished. Do not make a "thing" out of the dog's not eating--you may be engaging in faulty paralanguage and encouraging the dog not to eat even as you try to get it to eat. This method of feeding keeps food in the dog's stomach during its waking hours, eliminating hunger tension and giving you more of a chance for a calmer dog.
  8. Re-evaluate the diet--in my opinion high-quality meat meal-based rations surpass soy-based rations. Drop all "people" food from the dog's diet. The dogs know and it doesn't make you look Alpha. When your dog doesn't have problems, you can slip in some people food but not now. Remember, little things add up -- usually to big problems. And never, ever add anything to the food after you've placed it down--not because you forgot an ingredient, not because you want to encourage the dog to eat. The dog will simply learn to wait until something yummy is added, and again, you won't look Alpha.
  9. Give absolutely no food treats for one month. Yes, that's right, zero treats. Zilch. None. Cold turkey. Owners often place themselves in a subordinate position vis- a-vis the dog by giving too many treats or by giving them in the wrong way. Stop for one month. If your dog's problems clear up and the month has passed, give one treat a day only if the dog sits. Never give a free treat carte blanche--make the dog do something for the treat. But nothing for one month.
  10. Stop petting, stroking or fondling your problem dog for minutes, not to mention hours, at a time. Get your hands off the dog and pet for only seven to ten seconds and only if you've told the dog to "sit" or "down." I know you love your dog, but love isn't enough. If it were, you wouldn't be having the behaviour problem you're having. What your dog needs from you now to help him out of his behavioural jam is scratch-type petting, quick and light, not seductive stroking. It would shock most owners, but problem dogs are often pooped from petting--yet they oblige and stay for it because they're addicted to it.
  11. Don't allow the dog to go before you in or out of a door. Make the dog wait by giving the "stay" command, or at least go together. If you allow the dog to barge in or out of the door before you, you're telling him something pretty powerful about who controls the territory. The dog will say, "I do--after all, I always go first and that wimp goes second." If this happens three or four times a day, the dog really gets to stake a claim to the territory he enters first, with ensuing problems. Quick examples: dog is allowed to barge out onto the street and has a problem fighting other dogs. Aren't you setting the stage for the fighting by allowing the barge? Another: dog chews destructively when owner is not home. If you routinely let the dog crash into the house before you, aren't you telegraphing to him that the home is his territory--to chew up, to trash, to "rearrange" at whim? Don't allow the dog to go before you in or out of territory! Again--little things add up, usually to big problems. If that phrase is beginning to sound like a mantra in this article, I'm getting through.
  12. Pick up all the dog's toys and leave one, perhaps his favorite, down. That's all he gets for one month. When a month passes and the problems clear up, add one toy a week.
  13. Stop playing any and all tug-o-war games. When you let go you look subordinate, and you're teaching the dog to bite down hard while in your presence. You're okaying serious mouth play. A no-no for a problem dog. Play only fetch and if the dog doesn't bring the object back to you and release it, get up and walk away.
  14. If you have to have the dog get up and move because he is in the way, make the dog move. Don't refrain from doing something or stepping over the dog because you don't want to bother him. If you're Alpha, you can go where you want when you want. Even if you have to change the channel and your dog is in front of the TV--make him move. Believe me, if you don't, dogs notice. Little things add up.
  15. Resolve to stop yelling at your dog and instead speak in a low tone of voice. If you yell, the dog will learn to wait for you to yell. Change your tonality, not your volume. Most problem dogs are yelled and screamed at. Most have tuned their owners out and learn to wait for louder and louder yelling until they finally don't hear their owners at all. You'll probably find you have to couple a physical correction with your lowered tone of voice to get the dog to tune back to your station on the dial -- Radio Station Alpha. So don't hesitate to use a shake, a swat under the chin or a leash correction if necessary. But stop yelling.
  16. If your dog knows the "down" command--really knows it--pull a "surprise down" on this problem dog once a week. For instance, you're in the kitchen doing dishes and you hear Rover waltz in. Wheel on him, give both the hand and vocal signal and command for "Down!" Recalcitrant Rover will probably look shocked, and then do it. If not, you'll have to enforce it. The surprise element is the key. Remember, just once a week. Each down is a notch on your Alpha-belt, and combined with your daily long downs you'll look like Eva Peron--which is how your dog needs to see you right now.
  17. If your dog is aggressive, immediately employ a qualified private trainer to work with you in your home. Please don't wait. One session can work wonders. The situation could get out of control. It certainly won't get better without training. Your dog is just growling, you say? You're in trouble--big trouble. A growl is a bite that just hasn't connected yet. Don't delude yourself. Call a trainer -- yesterday! Institute the RRRR immediately, even before the trainer gets there to tell you what to do specifically for the aggression. You'll make his task easier if the RRRR is on a roll.
  18. If you have a shy or aggressive dog, neuter the dog right away. Male or female. Right away. Don't breed the dog. The problem could be partially genetic. The spay or neuter operation could help calm the dog and is a card you should play, in my experience, regardless of the age of the dog. The only exception is a very old dog which cannot risk the surgery. Otherwise, in my opinion, this step is merited and could be of great help.
  19. Whatever the problem is, be sure you understand the corrections that are outlined for you by your trainer or in the books you read. Apply those techniques as well as the RRRR. You'll find that instituting the RRRR rarely interferes with specific corrective techniques and almost always aids them in effect. I've had many clients who did nothing about specific problems such as chewing or aggression (usually because they were too busy, too tired, or too scared to act on the problem itself) but did begin the RRRR program--and the problem lessened and in some cases disappeared. I won't promise you that, but you will find the RRRR will greatly aid your specific corrections for whatever problem plagues your dog.
  20. Finally, to balance the harshness of the RRRR program, create a little jingle for your dog. The jingle can be based on a popular television ad, and should be light, lilting and friendly -- sometimes just substituting your dog's name where the product name was in the jingle will achieve the desired effect. Sing the jingle to your dog once a day--even from afar. I've used jingles from McDonald's ads and toothpaste ads. Just sing it out to your dog once a day--and make eye contact--and don't go over 10 seconds.

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