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If you have an aggressive schnauzer on your hands you’ve come to the right place. There are many reasons for their aggressive behavior and understanding what’s causing it is the first step to stopping it.
Why Are Schnauzers Aggressive:
Schnauzers were bred to be guard dogs as well as hunters. Though they weren’t bred to be overly aggressive, they have strong instincts toward protecting their territory and loved ones. Other reasons why schnauzers are aggressive are they were abused, isolated or have an underlying health issue.
In this post you’ll discover the 8 most common reasons for a schnauzer to be aggressive, how their past is strongly linked to aggressive behavior as well as 11 helpful tips to stop their aggression.
Tip #2 is hands down the most important!
Let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
Top 8 Reasons Why Schnauzers Are Aggressive
1) History Of Abuse
If you adopted your schnauzer at a later point in their life, they might be aggressive because of a painful past.
If your pup was abused by their previous owner, their guard will go up much quicker.
This means if you playfully approach them, or another dog or person does, they might mistakenly feel threatened.
They’re being aggressive because they feel they need to protect themselves based on their past.
Unfortunately, this is one of the more difficult aggression reasons to train out of your pup.
Mostly because they have such a strong, negative emotional association with anyone new they interact with.
It can definitely be done, but understand your schnauzer is dealing with deeply rooted emotional traumas. And deep roots take time to remove.
Wikihow suggests avoiding these common triggers in abused dogs:
- Threatening body language/gestures
- Touching sensitive areas where they’ve been hurt before
- Using a deep or loud voice
- Loud noises in general
- Sudden, unpredictable movements
Related Reading: 7 Simple Strategies To Help Quickly Calm A Reactive Dog
2) Isolated As a Puppy
If your schnauzer wasn’t properly socialized as a young pup, they may behave aggressively toward new people or dogs.
This is because each new person or dog is a potential threat in their mind.
They’re unsure how to behave around these new people or dogs so they’re on edge.
And when they’re on edge they can either feel scared and hide in between your legs, or act aggressively to scare the others off.
Ideally you’d want to have your schnauzer interact with as many new dogs, people and places before they turn 1.
This will help ensure they know how to behave around new faces and places.
They won’t see them as threats because they have many memories of meeting new people and dogs and becoming friends.
If you adopted your schnauzer later in life, it’s out of your control how much they socialized as a pup.
And in this case it’s going to take some time and patience for you to help them understand that strangers can be friends.
Related Reading: Can Schnauzers Be Left Alone (At Home)? 8 Facts + Tips
3) Health Issues
If there’s something health related bothering your schnauzer, they may act out aggressively in an attempt to warn you to leave them alone.
Since they aren’t able to tell you exactly what’s bothering them, you might accidentally move or touch somewhere on them that’s in pain.
Possible health related issues that could cause your pup to be aggressive are:
- hip/elbow dysplasia
- General presence of pain
- Intervertebral disk disease
- Metabolism issues
If their aggressive behavior isn’t normal, there might be something causing them pain and it’s nothing against you or another dog.
Do your best to calmly, carefully inspect them to see if there’s anything you can notice that’s wrong.
Regardless of if you find something, you should take them to see the vet if their aggressive behavior is new for them.
If your schnauzer feels threatened or that they’re backed into a corner without being able to escape, they’ll react aggressively.
Sometimes a dog acts aggressively when fearful because they’ve learned it gets the person or dog to back off.
They may have started with submitting when feeling afraid, but found it didn’t work.
So they then tried aggression and that seemed to work in getting the person or dog threatening them to back away.
This becomes an issue when there’s nothing for your pup to be afraid of, but still reacts as though they’re being threatened.
Related Reading: 7 Ways To Eliminate Your Dogs Anxiety, Shyness Or Fear
5) Displaying Dominance
Sometimes a schnauzer will behave aggressively in an attempt to increase their social status.
And this doesn’t always mean aggression towards just dogs, it can be toward people as well.
If your pup hasn’t had constant, kind human leadership they’ll feel they can only rely on themselves.
That means acting aggressive to showcase their dominance and lack of fear.
Not because they want to be aggressive, but out of necessity for survival (in their mind).
6) Misplaced Energy
Misplaced energy aggression can also be known as redirected aggression.
It happens when a dog reacts to a certain stimulus that they can’t physically interact with.
For example, if your schnauzer saw another dog outside or a squirrel/rabbit/chipmunk and wasn’t able to interact with it.
Since they have pent up energy about the animal outside, they may react aggressively to a person or another pet inside your home.
They’re misplacing their energy toward something they can actually interact with.
This can also happen with becoming overstimulated when playing.
A term many people are familiar with is the ‘zoomies’.
This happens when your schnauzer gets overly excited when playing with you or another dog then all of a sudden flips aggressive.
It’s simply misplaced energy that they aren’t sure how to express.
Your schnauzer has certain instincts that are hard-wired into their brain.
Things like being territorial, resource guarding, and being protective.
When your dog loves something to almost an obsessive extent, they’ll react aggressively toward anyone who tries to touch/harm/take what they feel is theirs.
Whether it’s taking one of their favorite toys, touching their food, being in an area that they feel is their domain, or harming a loved one.
It’s important for you as their owner to make it clear to your pup that you’re in charge of the territory. This way your schnauzer won’t feel it’s necessary to take matters into their own hands.
You’ll protect the valuable resources and ensure everyone is safe.
Hormonal aggression can happen with both males and females.
If you have a female schnauzer and she’s in heat, she may act out aggressively toward males.
If you have a male schnauzer, he might be acting aggressive toward other males in an attempt to ‘win’ the female.
It’s quite common for animals to behave aggressively when it comes to reproduction.
The best way to completely avoid this type of aggression all together is to have them either spayed or neutered.
If you don’t feel that’s an option, all you can do is keep your girl dog away from males while they’re in heat.
Or keep your male dog away from other dogs in general until they’re old enough to get past this hormonal phase.
11 Tips To Reduce/Stop Aggressive Behavior In Schnauzers
1) Take Time To Train Them
An untrained schnauzer is one that’s likely to cause trouble.
And what’s interesting is most people don’t really train their dog.
Outside of teaching them that going to the bathroom inside is bad and to sit and shake a paw, their dog pretty well behaves however they please.
It’s understandable though. Training is time consuming and takes a lot of patience in order to cement certain behaviors.
But if your schnauzer is acting aggressively, it’s in both your best interests to take some additional time to train the aggression out of them.
Here’s a great video that can help start you on your training journey:
2) Find Their Trigger
This can be easier said than done, but finding the trigger behind what’s causing your schnauzers aggression is very valuable.
Once you figure out their trigger, you can work on removing situations where their trigger presents itself, or help them overcome their trigger.
But if you aren’t sure what’s causing them to act out aggressively, attempting to stop them from being aggressive is way more difficult.
Finding their trigger is one of the best things you can do to reduce or completely eliminate their aggressive behavior.
3) Regular Vet Check-Ins
Taking your schnauzer to the vet at least twice a year can help make sure there’s nothing health related causing them to act out.
If your pup is in a great deal of discomfort due to something going on internally, it’s no wonder they’re acting aggressive.
If they’re in pain and someone or another dog accidentally makes their pain worse, it’s no surprise they’re going to nip/growl/bark at them.
By taking your schnauzer to the vet regularly you can make sure they’re healthy.
Once you know there’s nothing going on internally causing them to be aggressive you can cross off health issues as one of the reasons for their aggression.
4) Consider Neutering/Spaying Them
If your schnauzer hasn’t been spayed or neutered yet, this might be worth considering.
Often when a dog hasn’t been spayed or neutered they have more hormones running through their body causing them to act out.
Typically after a dog has been neutered or spayed they calm down.
With less hormones running through their body they’ll be less likely to have mood swings.
And less mood swings means less bouts of aggression.
5) Socialize Them Early & Often
Socializing your schnauzer at an early age is super important to keep them from being aggressive.
If they were isolated as a pup, meaning the only interactions they had as a puppy was with you, they won’t know how to behave around other people or dogs.
This often leads to them acting out aggressively because they aren’t sure if strangers are threats.
When you socialize your schnauzer as a pup (especially between 2-12 months) they learn that other dogs and people are friends.
Not things they need to feel intimidated by or feel the need to protect themselves from.
6) Remain Calm
Dog’s are very good at reading energy. And your schnauzer is no exception.
If you’re feeling anxious, scared or frustrated, your pup will be able to pick up on your energy and the vibe of the situation.
This means they’ll start to share how you’re feeling and that makes them act out aggressively.
If you’re able to maintain a calm demeanour, your schnauzer won’t feel like anything is wrong.
Which should result in them remaining calm as well instead of acting out aggressively.
7) Tire Them Out
Sometimes your schnauzer might be acting aggressive simply because they have too much pent up energy.
If they have too much energy they may misinterpret a situation and behave aggressively as a result.
If your pup is pooped, they’re less likely to act aggressively.
For example, if you just got back from a fun hike or a longer than usual walk, your pup will be more concerned about resting.
They won’t look for ways to misbehave because they’re more interested in resting.
They’ll also not want to cause any trouble because they simply don’t have the energy to do so.
8) Crate Train
Crate training can be extremely valuable for your schnauzer.
As long as crate training is done humanely, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with crating your pup.
Many dog’s love their crate because it feels familiar to dens that their ancestors lived in for hundreds of years.
A crate can make your doggo feel safe, comfortable and at home.
If you feel your schnauzer might be acting aggressive because of anxiety, a crate can become their safe haven.
If you notice they’re starting to act up or their trigger presents itself, simply put them in their crate to calm down.
Related Reading: What’s the Purpose of Crate Training Your Dog?
9) Be The Alpha
Oftentimes, a dog will act out aggressively because they feel it’s their duty.
They see themselves as the alpha in your pack and it’s their job to protect you.
If you set the tone that you’re the alpha in the pack, they won’t feel the need to behave aggressively.
They’ll understand that you’re in charge and if you don’t see something as a threat, neither will they.
They will trust your judgement.
But if it’s unclear in your pack who the alpha is, they may act aggressive because their role is unclear.
10) Consult With a Professional
It can sometimes be difficult to train aggression out of a schnauzer on your own.
And if this is the case for you, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional.
They’ve likely seen dozens or even hundreds of troubled dogs and will likely know the best solution for your specific pup.
Going through trial and error on your own can definitely work, it just might take a little longer.
11) Try a Muzzle
Muzzles can have a negative stigma, but they’re a practical solution if your schnauzer isn’t becoming less aggressive.
It’s also not a permanent solution. But a muzzle can help keep the people you interact with safe until you get to the bottom of their aggression.
Whether that’s through your own training or from hiring a behaviorist to come help you and your pup out.
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