New member Mavis the mini from Hampshire

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Triciah
Posts: 1
Joined: 11 Mar 2019, 19:48
First Name: Tricia
Dog #1: Mavis
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Born: 07 Oct 2018

New member Mavis the mini from Hampshire

Post by Triciah » 11 Mar 2019, 20:00

Hi all - I’m Tricia and I acquired my mini schnauzer Mavis just before Christmas. I’m a lifelong dog owner (jack Russell’s and Cairns), but decided to try a new breed to live with me and my three year old cockapoo Milo.

Mavis is now five months old, has been perfect until now as I fear we are in the teenage zone (not listening and bolder than brass!).

She’s definitely testing me with her chase mentality and prey drive, not even my terriers seemed so oblivious to potentially danger as she is!

Any advice on controlling the chase issues gratefully received!

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zeta1454
Moderator
Posts: 3766
Joined: 19 May 2011, 16:58
First Name: Leigh
Dog #1: Magic
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Born: 20 Apr 2010
Dog #2: Trilby
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Born: 15 Mar 2012
Dog #3: Pip
Born: 21 Feb 2014
is a: P/S Mini Bitch
Location: North Yorkshire

Re: New member Mavis the mini from Hampshire

Post by zeta1454 » 12 Mar 2019, 11:12

Welcome to the Forum :-)

Some mini schnauzers do have a strong chase instinct and, if this is "hard wired" in them and/ or becomes an enjoyable habit, it can be very difficult to overcome...and, for the present, if Mavis is starting on her teenage stage, you do have an additional hurdle to overcome! If you have done training with her previously you will need to revisit this or continue it but much more often.

Some pointers to things that may help:

You need to be managing the environment whenever you can, as in, if you know you are going somewhere that has many opportunities for Mavis to chase / ignore you, keep her on a lead or a long line so she can be stopped physically from reinforcing her love of chasing. Use the long line too whenever she is off lead while still training as you have to break the habit before it becomes really ingrained in her.

However, as you don't want her to be permanently restrained from free running, at the same time you must be training her recall and training her focus on you in the face of exciting chase opportunities. This will have to be started in a safe environment and gradually built up to the general outside world and will take time and patience but is the most effective and valuable training you (or actually any dog owner) can do with their dog.

Spend some time every day practising letting Mavis get into chase mode or even just on a scent trail or play, and call her to you. You need to reach the point where Mavis will immediately come when you call her whatever else she was doing...it should be done randomly and regularly in as many different safe places as possible until you feel confident that when you call, Mavis will come. As with all (new) training, you must reward her for the behaviour you want and, in the beginning, that means mega-rewards - not just a titbit but something super tasty to Mavis (or, if she is not food orientated) a super exciting toy to play with you. Food rewards must be really generous in the early days and never reduced until you are feeling that Mavis is spot on with coming back and you can slowly limit the treats to smaller, less exciting ones. Better that she always gets a good reward for the behaviour you want than she thinks it not worth her while bothering when something like chase / no recall is concerned. With our dogs we have played recall games getting them to run between us - one standing some distance away from the other and calling the dog to come for treats. Although this is a simple first stage training game, dogs often love playing this even when older and, by doing it with a puppy, you are setting up in their minds an association between running towards you when called and getting rewarded for it!

Behaviour can be changed with rewards and repetition but both must be very regular if you want to set up a different association between a trigger (something to chase) and the action that follows. What you are aiming for is both that Mavis will respond to your call immediately (solid recall) but also that she begins to learn that seeing something exciting to chase is actually a trigger to looking to you, rather than running after it.

So, as well as practising recalls which are key when Mavis is already at a distance from you, you need to be working on getting Mavis to change her response to seeing the "chase trigger" when she is near you / on lead. It doesn't matter that Mavis (when on lead) cannot actually run after whatever has excited her, you just want to encourage her into responding differently when she sees, smells or hears that trigger. Similarly with a dog that reacts by barking at other dogs in the street when on a walk, you need her to be aware of whatever causes the reaction (chasing in Mavis' s case) and then call her attention to you either with super tasty treats to reward her focus (even just a glance at you initially...building up to full attention). Depending where you are and what is safe and possible in that environment, you can work up to not just feeding as a reward but scattering food for her to forage, hiding the food for her to seek out, or playing a fun game with her favourite toy. Whatever is a really enjoyable activity for Mavis should become her reward for not chasing but staying / playing with you. Do make sure you offer food after she is aware of the trigger and not before as this is a reward for the behaviour you want and not a distraction or lure.

It may seem initially that nothing is going to be as exciting as disregarding you and chasing whatever she wants, but with patience and constant repetition of recall, reward for focus etc. it really is possible, especially with a relatively young puppy, to modify behaviour and keep them safe. As an emergency measure you can use food (or toys) to distract Mavis if you see a likely trigger before she does, but this is not going to change her behaviour long term. Mavis needs to be making a different choice when she sees the trigger and feeling she has made a good one which you will reward with praise, fun and food :-)
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. ~Roger Caras

Magic - Silversocks Sharade at Darksprite
Trilby - Darksprite Rosa Bud

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