The smallest of the three Schnauzers, the Miniature Schnauzer, turns heads wherever it goes. The breed’s bushy eyebrows and thick-fringed beard give the Mini the look of a distinguished gentleman that’s hard to miss.
Highly intelligent, muscular, and outgoing, this sturdy terrier-type dog is a fast learner. With a bit of planning, patience, and persistence on your part, your pup’s first year with you will proceed without too many mishaps. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a few training bumps along the way, but at least you’ll know what works.
For some key training milestones to aim for when your Mini Schnauzer pup comes home, we talked to John Constantine-Amodei. This longtime Miniature Schnauzer breeder is the judges’ education chair for the American Miniature Schnauzer Club.
Key Milestones: 8-16 Weeks
Your pup leaves its mother and littermates and joins your household. The transition from the breeder to your home will no doubt seem overwhelming to your Mini Schnauzer.
Follow these good behavior guidelines to boost your pup’s new start.
Training Goal #1: Establish Expectations and Set a Routine
To help your pup figure out your likes and dislikes, decide what goals you want it to meet. Your next task is communicating them to your little terrier-type. Knowing your expectations will help your dog feel secure. Schnauzers are willing workers who aim to please you.
Set a schedule for waking up, feeding meals, and daytime naps. Incorporate basic training, bathroom breaks, and bedtime for the night. Don’t forget to add in plenty of cuddle sessions and playtime. You’ll also want to include designated times for meeting people and going to new places. Ensure you have all the proper supplies for a Miniature Schnauzer puppy.
Training Goal #2: Use Your Mini Schnauzer’s Name
Once you choose your pup’s name, begin using it whenever you want your little terrier’s attention. Your upbeat voice signals good things happen when the dog hears its name and responds by looking at you.
Reward the response with praise, a small food treat, or petting.
This eye contact preps your pup to come to you when you call.
Training Goal #3: Crate Train and Potty Train Your Mini Schnauzer
Chances are the breeder introduced the Schnauzers to settling into the crate for naps and bedtime and going outdoors to potty. Continue reinforcing these lessons the day you bring your dog home.
“Feeling comfortable inside the crate and housetraining go hand in hand,” says Constantine-Amodei.
Training Goal #4: Teach Grooming Acceptance
Although this breed doesn’t shed much, your pup’s double coat consists of a wiry topcoat and a soft undercoat. Because of this, you’ll need to provide regular care and body upkeep.
“It’s important to get your dog to become accustomed to standing on a grooming table,” says Constantine-Amodei. “Begin the process a day or two after your dog comes home.”
Build a positive association with regular bathing, brushing, and clippering. Once your pup realizes that nail trimming, dental care, and beard cleaning isn’t painful, the grooming routine goes smoothly. To sweeten the practice, offer treats, praise, and petting.
“Clip the coat first, then bathe,” says Constantine-Amodei. “Ask your breeder to demonstrate shaping the dog’s coat.”
Brush your dog daily, Constantine-Amodei adds. “Otherwise, the coat will mat.”
Add daily beard care. Every time your Mini Schnauzer drinks water, expect dribbling onto his beard. To prevent the hair on his beard from matting, wipe it down and dry it.
Training Goal #5: Introduce Your Pup to People and New Places
No doubt your breeder exposed the litter to unique sounds, a few children with their parents, and small physical challenges, but you’ll need to continue the meet and greet sessions.
After your Mini Schnauzer receives its first round of puppy vaccines, socialize your pup. Take your pup to visit friends and family. Add outings to public places that allow dogs, however, dog parks aren’t recommended until adulthood. Your puppy can still observe dogs without greeting them. Experiencing new people, sights, and sounds helps bolster your dog’s confidence in the world around it.
“Miniature Schnauzers can become too protective if they’re not around other dogs and surroundings,” Constantine-Amodei explains.
Training Goal #6: Teach Your Mini Schnauzer Basic Cues:
Your pup is ready to learn good manners and respond to basic skills.
Constantine-Amodei recommends signing your Schnauzer up for the 6-week A.K.C. S.T.A.R. Puppy Program.
The interaction with other puppies and early training leads to teaching your Schnauzer these behaviors:
- Come When Called
- Leave It
Mini Schnauzers are capable of learning whatever you want to teach them.
“This breed figures things out quickly, but they don’t like to repeat what they already know,” says Constantine-Amodei. “That’s why it’s best to train in short, five to ten-minute sessions.”
Key Milestones: By 6 Months
At this age, your pup is eager to take on new challenges.
Training Goal #7: Go to Place
If you prefer greeting visitors at your home without your pup leaping at them and don’t want your dog begging from your dinner table, teach Go To Your Place.
To train your dog to lie on a mat, use a portable bed or mat. It helps if your pup knows how to lie down on cue. You can move the mat from room to room, but it is best of your dog is in the same room as you so you can supervise.
Reward your pup with treats or a special toy when it sniffs or stands on the mat and use a clicker. These rewards encourage your Mini Schnauzer to return to this spot when it hears the click.
Training Goal #8: Teach Loose-Leash Walking
Once your pup feels comfortable wearing a collar, clip on a leash. A Mini Schnauzer can start learning to walk on a leash without pulling you as early as eight weeks.
Applying only light pressure on the leash, encourage your Schnauzer to follow you. Walk only a few steps and stop. Reward your pup with a treat and add praise.
For your pup’s first six months, limit walks to short distances. Save running with your dog on a leash until after 18 months old. At that time, your Schnauzer has reached his total growth and development.
Key Milestones: By One Year and Beyond
The puppy’s first birthday signals adulthood.
Training Goal #9: Get Involved in A.K.C. Performance Activities
No longer a puppy, your Miniature Schnauzer is ready to participate in organized canine sports and games.