Know Your Breed!

The Miniature Schnauzer is part of the terrier group of dogs.  It was developed from crosses between the Standard Schnauzer, the Poodle and the Affenpinscher.  This particular breed is high energy, fun-loving and very intelligent.

Oh, and they can be quite vocal.  Surprisingly, before we got Caesar, I thought I had read through all of the possible details about his breed.  When we were working with his first training course, however, I was quite surprised to see how talkative (others would call this “barky”) he was.  The chattiest in his class.  Okay, even a bit disruptive.  And he got a lot of time-outs for this behaviour.  When we asked his trainer why this was the case, he replied (amused), “he’s a schnauzer“!!  Then he proceeded to let us know that everyone in the store knew when a schnauzer was visiting because of their characteristic barking style.

And so I started reading more about miniature schnauzers and discovered to my surprise that this is no real secret.  I had just blissfully ignored the warnings of “excellent watch dog” since I probably wanted to believe that our miniature schnauzer would just come over and nudge/lick us if he wanted us to be aware of some new detail.  Did I mention that Caesar is my first dog?  Yes, this was pretty naive thinking.  Clearly, a dog’s natural instinct to alert us humans about something is to bark.  And so Caesar does.  Especially if someone “new” (even family that we see fairly regularly) comes into what is “our” space (“ours” being mine, my husband’s, and of course, Caesar’s).  Even hugs and smiles with our family or friends doesn’t convince Caesar that they’re safe until he gets to sniff them out.  And then he’s good. And we’re still working on this.

I’ve learned (and witnessed) that this breed craves human attention and affection.  He is more than willing to lie independently or work on some food-related task/puzzle that I leave him for the day to keep himself occupied but what he really wants is to play with people (and other dogs if possible).  So he can wait patiently for long periods of time at our side with no interaction except the occasional scratch behind the ear as long as he knows there will be some play or cuddle-time when we’re done our work.  His disappointment with limited interaction is quite evident (to me) and either he’s got me very well trained, or I have learned to read his subtle facial expressions very well — but I know that when I am able to spend even 5 minutes of purely fun time with him after a long day at the computer, he is satisfied and content.  And at the end of the day, that’s what makes both of us most happy.

Now if I had understood the dog-related terminology earlier, I may not have chosen such a vocal dog.  But then I would never have known how incredibly intelligent, playful and wonderfully mischievous this breed really is.  And that more than makes up for his instinctive bark in my opinion.

If you are certain that you cannot handle barking, however, do think carefully before choosing this breed for your companion.  If you are looking at another breed or even have another breed, learn what is known about your dog’s breed.  There’s a lot of information to learn from this.  I like to think of it as similar to Astrology for dogs.  There’s a lot of details that will fit/match about your dog when you read more about their breed.  But some things are just unique to your own dog, the environment you are raising him/her in, and your own mood and personality.

More to come soon.

Remember:‘Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.’ -Roger Caras

Dr. Menen

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