Our Mini Schnauzer was a very sweet, lovable dog until her TYPE A personality and her sense of possesiveness took shape. She became very territorial about her property, her owners and more. She would bark uncontrollably at their approach. She often became aggressive when other dogs came near. Our dog was becoming an annoyance in the neighborhood. This tells how we were able to control her.
For the past 4 years, we have alternately enjoyed and suffered through our life as owners of a beautiful 18 lb. female schnauzer. Her name is Zosia. She has become a focal point of our lives. Zosia is the sweetest, most intelligent, loving creature on earth, 70% of the time. The other 30%, hmmm, well, let's just say, not so good.
We should have picked up a few clues about what we might expect; we obviously missed or disregarded them. Often when out on a walk, people would stop us and fawn over our little darling. Some said that they had once owned a Schnauzer. The operative word was always (had owned). They told us how much they had loved their Schnauzers and how talented their dogs were. When we asked if they would own another, the response, 90% of the time was, no. It took some time for us to realize why.
Zosia was sweet, until something changed her disposition. That something usually was the presence of another dog in her territory. She had developed this sense of possession and territorial rights which we understood was not so abnormal in Schnauzers. The degree of her possessiveness was off the charts.. The problem was that her territory kept expanding. Her territory was once the front yard. She gradually developed this sense of imperialism that extended her perceived territory to the lots on either side of our house, to the houses across the street. It spread to a half block, a full block and soon everything with her keen field of vision, and then within her hearing range, which was quite extensive. She drove us crazy. Neighbors, who walked their dogs, gave our home a wide berth.
When we would come upon dogs on the path during walks, she would growl viciously and try to lunge out of her collar. She never bit a soul but did her best to intimidate every dog in her path. She had real issues with Dobermans, Pit Bulls, and German Shepherds. Zosia would not back down from any living thing. She would take off after storks, herons and any other bird who grazed alongside our (her) backyard pond. She actually rushed at an eight foot alligator and tangled with a skunk and a raccoon. You would never believe that this sweet little spoiled dog of ours was capable of such behavior.
Anyone who passed by our house or came to our door was subject to a bark attack. Interestingly, the moment they extended a hand to pet her, she calmed right down and became best friends … until next time. We searched for ways to control her. We considered a shock collar, but backed off on that though because it seemed inhumane. The same for a muzzle or a choke collar. One of our neighbors actually suggested that we remove her vocal cords. We spoke with her vet on a number of occasions about her issues.
He recommended a dog trainer who had a solid reputation for working with dogs like ours. He had a few interesting observations and suggestions. We were surprised to learn that female Schnauzers were often the dominant type A personality in a litter, and were more prone to aggressiveness than their male litter mates. We thought the opposite was true, which is why we settled on a female.
The females were also more territorial and often more independent, as well. This we also found to be true: Our little sweetheart was remarkably intelligent and manipulative. She looked for ways to beat the system or disregard orders. Finally, or doggie dearest was just plain spoiled. We were told and shown how to be strict and swift in our dealings with her and not let her continue thinking of herself as an alpha, type A dog.
We began our rehab immediately. We bought a spray bottle with adjustable settings that allowed us to direct a spray at her when she became boisterous and out of control. A tug on her leash, followed by a gentle spray to her face became the cue for her to stop barking and settle down. It must have been holy water in the bottle, because it brought on a miraculous change in her disposition. After only one week of 3-4 walks a day, in conjunction with a stop barking command, a tug at the leash and a burst of water, the agony ended. Her barking stopped as did her snarling. She was a new dog.
In the succeeding days, if Zosia showed signs of acting up, all we had to do was say the words, “water bottle,” and the bark would stop before it even started. It certainly was a miracle. Our dual personality, Jeckyll-Hyde dog had been banished. In return, we got our good dog back. We did add an occasional treat to reinforce her new quieter demeanor, but for all we can tell, the devil had been exorcised. We are now all in heaven once again. Oh, the power of water.