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Old 05-25-2013, 11:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Sign of Aggression in Rescue Doberman

We recently rescued a two year old male Doberman from a very reputable rescue shelter. We have a 3 year old son and a baby due in September, and he was hand selected for us by the rescue owner because of his temperament. He had been crated for most of his life and showed amplified Doberman traits of willingness to please and excessive affection to all comers.

We have had him for a week now, and these traits have remained, for the most part, consistent. However, yesterday, I was mowing the grass in the backyard while my wife was inside with our son. She had him on a leash because he had become very excited by everything going on outside and was barking excessively. I opened the back door to come in, and he immediately showed signs of aggression, growling in a way that I had not heard from him and barking in a threatening way. I tried to calm him with several voice commands, but it had no effect. It was only when I stuck my hand close enough for him to smell me that he calmed and went into submissive mode.

We have owned a Doberman previously and are very familiar and comfortable with the breed. Our concern is whether this is an isolated incident brought on by him having to adjust to the increased stimuli of being in a home where he has more freedom or whether this may be a sign of an underlying aggression issue. My wife and I both lean toward the former interpretation, but we are naturally torn since such behavior is a concern with a young family.

I would appreciate any advice or suggestions that anyone here may have. We really love our new Dobe. He is really one of the sweetest dogs that I have ever met, and I have been around dogs all of my life. Additionally, he has been great with our son at all times. The only other bad habit that he has exhibited is an excessive mouthiness that most likely is a result of his not being allowed to be a true puppy due to his being crated excessively by his previous owners. He got a little mouthy with one of our neighbor's kids and gave him quite a tooth bruise on his arm, but his behavior in this instance clearly looked like playing. The kid ran up to him and then almost immediately ran away, which can certainly account for his increased excitement. The mouthiness has improved significantly in one week, but we are most concerned with the aggressive behavior described above.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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He is probably protecting the wife & baby. Didn't realize who you were till he smelled you. The light or something might have made you not look familiar.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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it does sound like he just did not recognize you.

it will take a few weeks or longer for him to really get to know all of you and bond with his new family.

have you talked to the rescue he came from yet?

bless you guys for taking him in, I hope as he settles in, you will be able to 'read' him better and he you.

Hugz to the Family.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for your quick response. We did talk with the rescue director this morning. She is wonderful and offered to take him back if we thought that we needed to give him up. We wrestled with the decision, but we are giving him a second chance since there have been no other signs of aggression in his personality (even when our son accidently fell on him earlier in the week!). True to his breed, he is very smart and a very quick learner. We are hoping that he just needs some time to adjust to his new home. Thanks again for your response!
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you for your rescue work.. Just please, give him time. From what I've learned it takes up to six months before a rescue really feels at home and that he's not going to be separated, yet again, from those he loves. It was almost that long before our Sofia became truly comfortable.
I think sometimes, younger kids take on the appearance of prey. The fact that the boy ran away after coming toward him ( in my mind aggressively) and your Doberman reacted like that, makes sense. (Kids need training too.)
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My moms dog is very aggressive toward strangers and has been known to go after my stepdad if he's out doing yard work or wearing coveralls. Until she realizes its him.

I wouldn't panic just yet I agree with what others have said regarding protecting your wife and son. I wish Hades was a little more protective. He assumes anyone that comes over is here to play :facepalm:

Do you have any pics of your boy?


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Old 05-25-2013, 11:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Wow what a gorgeous boy!

I gotta tell you I rescued Hades when he was about a year and a half, last September. In January is when I finally felt like things clicked. He understood what I expected from him and we had a mutual respect and comfort level with each other. We found our groove essentially.

Definitely give him time. The rescue will always take him back if it doesn't work out. I hope it does though!


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Old 05-25-2013, 12:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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We recently rescued a two year old male Doberman from a very reputable rescue shelter. We have a 3 year old son and a baby due in September, and he was hand selected for us by the rescue owner because of his temperament. He had been crated for most of his life and showed amplified Doberman traits of willingness to please and excessive affection to all comers.

We have had him for a week now, and these traits have remained, for the most part, consistent. However, yesterday, I was mowing the grass in the backyard while my wife was inside with our son. She had him on a leash because he had become very excited by everything going on outside and was barking excessively. I opened the back door to come in, and he immediately showed signs of aggression, growling in a way that I had not heard from him and barking in a threatening way. I tried to calm him with several voice commands, but it had no effect. It was only when I stuck my hand close enough for him to smell me that he calmed and went into submissive mode.

We have owned a Doberman previously and are very familiar and comfortable with the breed. Our concern is whether this is an isolated incident brought on by him having to adjust to the increased stimuli of being in a home where he has more freedom or whether this may be a sign of an underlying aggression issue. My wife and I both lean toward the former interpretation, but we are naturally torn since such behavior is a concern with a young family.

I would appreciate any advice or suggestions that anyone here may have. We really love our new Dobe. He is really one of the sweetest dogs that I have ever met, and I have been around dogs all of my life. Additionally, he has been great with our son at all times. The only other bad habit that he has exhibited is an excessive mouthiness that most likely is a result of his not being allowed to be a true puppy due to his being crated excessively by his previous owners. He got a little mouthy with one of our neighbor's kids and gave him quite a tooth bruise on his arm, but his behavior in this instance clearly looked like playing. The kid ran up to him and then almost immediately ran away, which can certainly account for his increased excitement. The mouthiness has improved significantly in one week, but we are most concerned with the aggressive behavior described above.

The first Rescue I adopted a Male mouthed all the time which was driving me up a wall.

He had a split canine tooth and after consulting Vets & a Dental Specialist I decided to have a root canal done. His mouth had been checked by Vets and the Dental Specialist as well as XRays.

The day of the surgery I brought him to the Specialty Clinic I dropped him off in the AM and went back home. Later that afternoon I got a call from the Specialist she found a severely abcessed tooth and wanted to know if I wanted it taken out I told her yes. When picking him up she told me she had to cut it out of his jaw and if left alone much longer it would have killed him. He was on antibiotics for 3 weeks and every time he opened his mouth the first week it smelled like rotten eggs from the infection. Once the infection was cleared and his mouth had healed there was no more mouthing

Bear in mind he had been checked by Vets a Dental Surgeon and had XRays done. They did not find the abcessed tooth until he was put under to do the root canal.

He was trying to tell me he was in pain and I didn't know what he was trying to say very smart dogs Dobermans. He was the best Doberman I ever had and my Heart Dobe.
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I rescued Sasha and she was kept in a crate 24/7 until we had her. She's never been aggressive but it has been a bit of a struggle to desensitise her to outside. She's been with us for nearly 4 months now and she's got SO much better.

Give it a little more time. You're doing great! And he is beautiful.
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Old 05-25-2013, 01:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Like others said, I'd give it time. It sounds like he just didn't recognize you. However; I also wouldn't downplay it either. I would continue to supervise him around any interactions with children right now.

He is STUNNING! We only get to see one picture? MEAN!

My rescue dog growing up was very protective. I have been a blonde all my life, but I went through a weird phase where I dyed my hair brown for a month or so. The first time I went into my room after dying it, he started growling, showing teeth. He didn't recognize me. My brother came in and held him while I talked to him. He started to calm down. Once he smelled me he was fine. He was really confused though lol.
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Old 05-25-2013, 02:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
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First, thank you for rescuing the dog!
Second, as I know from other cases, sometimes a dog doesn't show the problems in the first days or weeks after arriving at your home. Only after it settles down you get to see his behavior. As others said, it takes time and commitment. You still didn't work enough with him. He needs personal training with you, which means time and energy. Work with it intensively for a few months and you will see the results. Apparently S. was nervous about the mayhem in the yard. Maybe he isn't familiar with the lawn mower noise. Why not slowly introduce him to this activity until he becomes relaxed about it? Regardless of the breed, each dog is an individual. BTW, do you know his origin (breeder)?
Good luck to you and S.

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Old 05-25-2013, 03:17 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Thank you all for the responses. It is very reassuring to hear that what we experienced yesterday was probably just a result of the transitional process and not a result of underlying aggression issues. We are taking steps today to keep his environment more controlled and limit his stimuli by keeping him leashed and with us at all times. We think he probably is just (not) coping with his new-found freedom of life outside the crate. Here are a couple more pictures....
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Old 05-25-2013, 05:55 PM   #14 (permalink)
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How long was he with a foster? Did he have free reign in their home? Although it may seem mean, it might be best to crating him most of the time and slowly increasing the time out of the crate to help him adjust slowly.

I know he was crated a lot previously but crating a few more weeks to ease his transition vs being rushed, overwhelmed and returned to rescue, crating and slow intros to the new home is the better choice.
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Old 05-25-2013, 06:28 PM   #15 (permalink)
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He wasn't with a foster. He went straight from his original home to the rescue shelter. We have decided to keep him on the leash the majority of the time that he is indoors to help him with the transition. We have done this all day, and he seems to be more at ease with everything going on outside. Thanks for the suggestion!
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Old 05-25-2013, 06:30 PM   #16 (permalink)
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First things first - thank you for rescuing and for posting pictures for us to see!

I had a foster doberman a few years ago who was terrified, and I mean TERRIFIED of lawn mowers. He had been with us for about a week before we found this out. This guy was as sweet as they come, so for a week, he was nothing but a big smily goof. My husband went out to mow the lawn, I stayed inside with the dogs. He lost it; he completely lost it. It scared the heck out of me because I just wasn't expecting it.

For the duration of the time we fostered, we worked on positive reinforcement anytime we were going to do yard work. We worked on basic obedience tasks with high reward treats. We worked inside until that was solid, then we moved outside, but no where near the mower. Any sign of him being uncomfortable, and we went back indoors. After a lot of practice, he could eventually be walked down the street with people mowing, and he'd look to me for treats to reward him for being so well behaved. I'm not saying this is the same for your guy, but thought I'd throw it out there as a possibility.

I do agree with other posters that he could have been protecting his new family. I also agree that scaling back on full privileges in the house could be a good idea. We have so many baby gates in our house that you'd think we run a daycare. They originally went up when we added our second dog, for slow introductions to the existing dog. We found they were extremely useful in helping to train and set expectations.

Thank you again for rescuing and please keep us updated!
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Old 05-25-2013, 07:56 PM   #17 (permalink)
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He wasn't with a foster. He went straight from his original home to the rescue shelter. We have decided to keep him on the leash the majority of the time that he is indoors to help him with the transition. We have done this all day, and he seems to be more at ease with everything going on outside. Thanks for the suggestion!
Do you have a crate for him? On leash is not the same as a crate he can retreat to if he starts to get overwhelmed.
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Old 05-25-2013, 09:48 PM   #18 (permalink)
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We do have a very large crate available, which we used for our previous Doberman when she was a puppy. We are monitoring him very closely to make sure that he is not showing signs of overstimulation. Other than the lawn mower incident, the only other signs that we have seen is periodic frantic barking at activity outside. We live on a cul de sac, so there is a lot of going and coming outside of our house. After posting this, I am going downstairs to set up the crate as another option for him in case he needs it. Thanks again for the advice!
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:02 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Your scenario with the lawn mower sounds a lot like what happened to us. Goofy and sweet, albeit a little hyper at times, and then getting really upset after the lawn mower was in his new back yard. We have walked by several lawnmowers in the neighborhood, and he hasn't had the same reaction. So, I think it was most likely a combination of factors including overstimulation, new activity close to home, and desure to protect his new family members inside. We know that it is not the sound since he cuddled up next to a running vacuum cleaner a couple of days ago.

He has a couple of triggers that make him get very anxious (although not aggressive) on walks such as anyone on wheels (bikes, scooters, etc.). Our previous Doberman had the same phobia. Yesterday marks a week since we got him, so we are still figuring out what sets him off and how to avoid those triggers. Fortunately, like most Dobermans, he is very smart, and has already made some very good progress. The lawn mower incident is the only sign that he has shown anything that looks like real aggression. We plan to begin soon working with him on making him more comfortable with the yard work.

Thanks for the comments...we really appreciate them!
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Another option to consider is having a few sessions with a good, positive reinforcement type trainer. If you're identifying some of his triggers, a good trainer could work with you on the methods to desensitize him to those things. That way, you'll eventually not have to avoid them, and they won't be as big of a deal to him anymore.

Good luck with Sampson, it sounds like he's landed in a great home. Please keep us posted on how things are going.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:24 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Thanks so much for working with him and taking it slow! Many adopters mean well but tend to rush and set the dogs up for failure.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:50 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I shouldn't have used "avoid" in my previous post. Where we live, there is no avoiding bicycles, scooters, etc. So, to state it better, we are working toward his triggers no longer being triggers. He has made some real progress in a short time, so we will continue working with him on our own for now. However, we already have an obedience training organization in mind that was recommended by our rescue shelter if we should need it.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:54 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SampsonNC View Post
I shouldn't have used "avoid" in my previous post. Where we live, there is no avoiding bicycles, scooters, etc. So, to state it better, we are working toward his triggers no longer being triggers. He has made some real progress in a short time, so we will continue working with him on our own for now. However, we already have an obedience training organization in mind that was recommended by our rescue shelter if we should need it.
If you google "look at that" training it'll give you some tips. I had to desensitize Hades to bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, strollers, and runners when I got him. Nothing like having an 80lb Doberman barking and lunging at a 4 year old child on a scooter :facepalm:

LAT really helped. Now when he sees a bicycle he immediately looks to me for praise or a treat.


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Old 05-26-2013, 12:04 AM   #24 (permalink)
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We set Sampson's crate up in the corner of our living room with a bed and the door open in case he felt he needed a more secure place. Late this evening just before bed, he chose to crate himself. Just imagine 75-80 lbs. of Doberman curled up as tightly as he could manage in the back corner of the crate. He didn't stay there long, but having the crate available was a very good suggestion. Thank you very much! He sleeps in our room wedged as closely to my side of the bed as he can get. You can tell that he is used to being in confined areas at night, so we'll help him come out of his shell little by little while making him as comfortable as possible while he adjusts. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before he begins requesting free reign on all of the furniture and wondering why his stupid humans are treating him like a dog! Dobermans are wonderful creatures!
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:39 AM   #25 (permalink)
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We got Toby when he was 6 weeks old, he is now 2 and a half.

On occasion when my son or grandson come in late after a night out Toby gives him/them a verbal telling off that would make even the hardest criminal stand to attention.
He will also tell them off if they simply come round the corner when Toby thinks they are elsewhere within our compound that surrounds our house.
No matter what they say or do Toby is not happy to accept their word that they are friend or foe, so often they have to let Toby sniff at them or I have to tell him it is okay.
Even though he has never bitten either of them and both my son and grandson trust Toby as my son has said, when Toby is being defensive it is quite a frightening prospect to let him come so close as to sniff at your hand or worse still your groin which is Tobys favourite party piece.

Personally I think what your boy did was due to him not recognising you during a heightened state. I also think it could have been a different story had he wanted to be aggressive which I am sure you know all too well.
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