My four-year-old Giant Schnauzer is very well behaved at home. My husband is gone a lot for his job, and it's just Bo and me at home most of the time. Bo spends his days alone in a large pen adjacent to the house. When I get home, he's in the house with me and follows me everywhere. The problem is I can't take him out in public. He becomes a different dog! He'll lunge at skateboarders and dogs, he becomes totally inattentive to me, and he's borderline unmanageable because of his size and strength. I recently took him to Portland thinking how fun it would be to walk through the parks there with him, but it was a nightmare. I ended up spending most of my time dog-sitting him in the hotel room! Why is he like this? Can it be fixed?
Here's what Bo needs to become better away from home:
- Socialization with dogs
- Socialization with the world
- . More exercise
Socialization with the world: It's easier to leave a dog at home when he's difficult to take out in public. But to help him, you must push beyond your (and his) comfort level. Get a Gentle Leader head halter (for control) and a short leash, and start going for short walks in town. Five minutes in the grocery store parking lot. Five minutes around the block by the library. Five minutes around the high school track. Gradually you'll be introducing him to more and more distractions and teaching him that he can handle them--that he MUST handle them--because you require it.
More exercise: Yes, it's hard to exercise them when they're difficult to walk on a leash. Do it anyway. With the right tools (Gentle Leader, short leash) and the right mindset ("We're going to FIX this thing!!"), your frequent short walks will become easier, more gratifying, and longer. No dog can be well balanced without proper exercise. The more the better.
Leadership: Work on your leadership skills. Be FIRM and resolute with your boundaries, rules and limitations. No fudging! Let your dog know you are a person with strong convictions. He wants that in you. Be clear and concise with commands. Follow through. Demand the same type of respect from him that you would from fellow workers or subordinates.