New Dog /Old Owner


New Member
I have recently acquired a 21 pound, 3 y/o miniature schnauzer. He belonged to a 96 y/o woman who went into a nursing home. She trained him well and he is an incredibly good little dog, but has a mind of his own. He knows the basic commands but responds only if there is something in it for him - a treat, walk etc. I am really concerned that he 'come' when he is called regardless of any enticing smells. (His sister was killed by a car when they got out of his previous owner's yard.)

I also do not know what, when and how much to feed him. At first he would not eat any commercial dog food. (His owner cooked roasts for him and he came to my house with a huge basket of every 'treat' on the market.) He will now eat anything I feed him and loves vegetables and fruit. At first I fed him a breakfast of Iams kibbles and at dinner, Mighty Dog varieties. He looked like he was getting heavy so he now only gets one meal in the evening.

We would both appreciate advice from experienced dog owners.



Experienced Member
Congrats on your new dog!!! It makes your job a ton easier that he already knows the basic commands, even if it is only when he knows a reward is coming. With my dogs, I never completely get rid of the rewards since I always want that glimmer of hope to be there. I end up with a dog who has very high drive and willing to do almost anything for the slightest chance a reward is coming.

With your pup, if your dog is listening when you have treats on you, I would start to go to a random reinforcement schedule. So mix it up when your dog gets a treat and when it does not. The key is to only make rewards random when your dog really knows the command, if you switch to early your dog might get confused on what you want and stop responding. But also be careful to gradually raise the amount of tricks before a reward. So you might start out with on average rewarding every 2-3 behaviors, but mix it up and surprise him- it might go 1 (Behavior before needing a treat), 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1,2,1... That way he gets a treat more often than not.

Another idea to try is starting to have the treats away from you. Show your dog some treats, set them on the table, ask for a behavior and then go bring one treat to him. Gradually move further away until you can be in a completely different room and your dog still knows that a reward can happen. This would prevent your dog from becoming "treat wise" since a reward can happen whether he smells food or not.

As for food, there has been a ton of discussion on this if you do a search in the forum. I would just read the bag of the kibble you decided on so you know what is in it and how much meat is actually in it versus fillers.
This is Iams, and you can see that even though chicken is first it's not a meal source so there is actually more corn than chicken. This food also contains byproducts:
Chicken, corn meal, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain barley, chicken fat.

This is Canidae:
Chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal, brown rice, white rice, rice bran, peas, potatoes, oatmeal, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat

There are a ton of great foods out there to choose from, but even more crappy ones.

I also recommend feeding twice a day. If he's gaining weight, cut down how much food you're feeding, but most dogs do better if fed x2 daily. As for how much every dog has different metabolism levels. It's best to just go by how they look and feel. You want to be able to feel the ribs easily, just not have them jutting out. My adult corgi weighs 25lbs, is fairly active, and only eats 2/3cup daily. My growing toller puppy is 25lbs and eats 2.75cups daily.


New Member
Lots of good advice fickla! Putting the treats on the table and lengthening the distance after a command sounds especially promising. Thanks!