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Old 11-13-2012, 03:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Sudden Agression?

Lily had a moment this weekend that was so beyond out of character for her I thought I'd run it past you guys and hopefully get some feedback. I apologize for the length of this post, I am just trying to explain what happened the best I can.

A little background on my princess:
Lily is about 18 months old and the sweetest most loving dog I have ever met. She has never once shown any aggression and is also a very quiet dog, almost weirdly quiet. There are only two instances she will bark, if you get her super wound up running around the house playing she will sometimes let out a single excited bark and if the squirrel in the backyard is teasing her (yes the squirrel literally teases her, but that’s another story) she will have “real” barks that are more aggressive. But to be honest I would say she barks maybe once or twice a week. We have friends and family coming in and out of the house constantly and I bring her to public places quite often, she has never had a problem with anyone. She is also very obedient and sensitive to correction. She learns fast and a simple “NO” is enough to put her ears back and beg me to forgive her lol

That being said, this weekend we had a decent sized party (not the biggest she has been at by any means) and she was her normal “I love everyone” self most of the night, but for some reason she had a problem with two random guys who came. By random I do not mean that we did not know them or she had never met them, they are close friends she has met on multiple occasions, I mean random in the sense that they don’t have anything in common or anything in particular that makes them stand out from everyone else and they showed up separately.

The first “incident” happened when Guy1 walked in the door, Lily charged the door and let out these insane low aggressive almost howling woowoowoowoof barks like I have never heard her make in her life. She gave him his space about 4 feet, but her back legs were bent like she was ready to pounce if she had too! Almost the same stance as when the squirrel is up the tree, but much more aggressive. Now, I know I should have reacted differently but in the moment I just jumped up and grabbed her into a hug to comfort her “it’s ok girl” soothing stuff like that. I reached out towards him to show her he was ok and she instantly calmed and went over to him for kisses. I hate to admit even though I know it’s so completely wrong of me, I was so bewildered by it I was almost proud in a weird way that she had that in her if that makes sense.

That little twinge of pride disappeared about a half hour later however when it happened again. This time Guy2 walked in and the scenario repeated itself. Charging the door and intimidating barks. He was not the next person to walk in the house, I would say maybe 5 other people had come in between them. This time I had my wits about me a little more and didn’t comfort her, I pulled her back/down by the collar with a loud firm “NO” and had her lay down with a few more “NO”s and “BAD GIRL”s She was instantly submissive and again went over nub wagging for kisses.

For the rest of the night she was back to her normal “I love everyone” self walking around loving on everyone (Guy1&2 included) but a few hours later, out of nowhere she went into that state again barking at Guy1 for no apparent reason when he came out of the bathroom. She snapped right out of it again when my fiance grabbed her collar and he was much firmer with her this time and we ended up making her lay in her bed in the corner of the living room the rest of the night, where she looked on at everyone, sad as if to say why can’t I play?

I suppose my question to all of you is should I be worried about this behavior? I can’t stress enough that this was the first time she has ever displayed aggression like this or even barked at a person for that matter, if you had told me the story I would not have believed it was my dog. Has anyone experienced this before? Is she possibly just developing more of a protective side as she gets older? Any helpful tips on how to manage this and make sure it never happens? I am not looking for a guard dog by any means and plan on starting a family in the next few years, up until this weekend I wouldn’t have even thought twice to have Lily around my future children and looked forward to watching them frolic together in the backyard lol but now I have to admit I’m a little nervous. I’m sure it’s mostly just shock at such a wild deviation from my dogs normal personality, but I’d really appreciate some input from this forum, the more I read the more I really value what goes on here

And again I apologize for the novel…

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Old 11-13-2012, 03:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Was there something unusual about the person she didn't like?

I've recently realized that my dogs are uneasy around people wearing hats so we're working on it.
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Im questionning the time frame that people were coming over at? Do you usually have people over during the day and this time it was at night? It gets dark earlier now... Also, I'm wondering if you had any other men at the house? Also, did they appropriately knock at the door or just walk in whereas everyone else knocks at the door? All things to consider when looking at the situation as a whole. If you weren't there to greet them and show her they are ok, it's possible she was telling them to back off because her owner's weren't in sight to handle the situation..
It is also possible that she is becoming more protective as she matures.
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Perhaps a quick vet check up? I have heard that dogs that are low thyroid can have sudden changes in behavior. Or it could be that she was very uncomfortable with the situation. 18 months is still in that Doberteens where weird stuff can happen.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I second the suggestion for a vet check. I would want to make sure that a tick panel was run in addition to whatever else was felt to be needed. TBD can often initially present as inappropriate aggression or other inexplicable behaviors. If she's running even a slight fever or seems to have the least bit of joint pain anywhere, I would want her started on antibiotics immediately, even before the test comes back.
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Old 11-13-2012, 06:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would not have told her"it's OK" when Guy 1 walked in. She may confuse that with it was OK to behave like that. Just my 2 cents..........
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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"Was there something unusual about the person she didn't like?
I've recently realized that my dogs are uneasy around people wearing hats so we're working on it."


There wasn’t anything special about either one. Neither had a hat on or a big coat or smelt funny to me. She has met both of these guys before and never had a problem with them.

“Im questionning the time frame that people were coming over at? Do you usually have people over during the day and this time it was at night? It gets dark earlier now... Also, I'm wondering if you had any other men at the house? Also, did they appropriately knock at the door or just walk in whereas everyone else knocks at the door? All things to consider when looking at the situation as a whole. If you weren't there to greet them and show her they are ok, it's possible she was telling them to back off because her owner's weren't in sight to handle the situation..
It is also possible that she is becoming more protective as she matures.”


We are a pretty active household, it isn’t unusual for people to come over after dark especially now that it’s getting dark earlier. Some people knock and some just walk in, that’s just how our family and friends are. I don’t believe either of them knocked, but I would say only about half the people who came did. And both times I just happened to be in the front room so I was in sight of them walking in. Is there an average age that a “protective switch” flips on in females? I had kind of figured she was past a point where I would see a major difference.

“Perhaps a quick vet check up? I have heard that dogs that are low thyroid can have sudden changes in behavior. Or it could be that she was very uncomfortable with the situation. 18 months is still in that Doberteens where weird stuff can happen.”

“I second the suggestion for a vet check. I would want to make sure that a tick panel was run in addition to whatever else was felt to be needed. TBD can often initially present as inappropriate aggression or other inexplicable behaviors. If she's running even a slight fever or seems to have the least bit of joint pain anywhere, I would want her started on antibiotics immediately, even before the test comes back.”

I don’t believe she was uncomfortable with the situation, she is very used to being around large crowds of people. She seemed perfectly normal except in the very moment that she reacted, I could be wrong but I didn’t see any signs of her being stressed or upset. I called my vet this morning after reading these suggestions, we’re bringing her in tomorrow and he said he would decide the appropriate tests when we got there. Are there any specific tests besides a tick panel and thyroid that I should ask to be done?

“I would not have told her"it's OK" when Guy 1 walked in. She may confuse that with it was OK to behave like that. Just my 2 cents..........”

Yea I thought of that as soon as I did it, I knew I reacted poorly, I just couldn’t help my initial reaction. The second and third time we were very firm and made sure she knew it was unacceptable behavior.

Thank you everyone for your responses!
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:50 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TigerLily View Post

That little twinge of pride disappeared about a half hour later however when it happened again. This time Guy2 walked in and the scenario repeated itself. Charging the door and intimidating barks. He was not the next person to walk in the house, I would say maybe 5 other people had come in between them. This time I had my wits about me a little more and didn’t comfort her, I pulled her back/down by the collar with a loud firm “NO” and had her lay down with a few more “NO”s and “BAD GIRL”s She was instantly submissive and again went over nub wagging for kisses.



The bolded needs addressing, when you have her in the down position showing no more aggression, it needs to be:
"Yes, good girl"

Seemingly mad question but is there any chance these two dudes were stoned?
I have had dogs that don't take well to stoned people.

I wouldn't be panicking myself and I certainly wouldn't be worrying about my future kids.
By all means do the tests suggested but I would not be surprised if they come back negative.
Statistically speaking from the OP it would suggest there were specific triggers involving these specific persons. I would suggest that if the tests come back negative you focus very carefully in detail the actual events and look for the potential triggers.

Have these two fellas come back to your house since and if so was there a similar reaction?

18 months is a very common age for 'funny stuff' to occur with dogs and for once I will say dobermans in particular. This funny stuff often involves territorial behaviours, where I would place this event (rather than protective behaviours).

You say they didn't smell funny or look in anyway abnormal but remember a dog is thousands more sensitive to smell and much better at body language than you are.
It is also my belief that dogs have a very good sense of 'intentions' which we don't pick up on, again particularly dobermans (wow that's twice in one post).
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:20 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Body / facial language is everything to a dog, perhaps she picked up on something you couldnt see, your guests may not have realised it but they may have been giving off negative cues. Or maybe this is a case of she has decided she doesnt like these 2 guys now she is getting older. I know Toby doesn't like one of my sons friends nowadays whereas before he didnt mind him. (he hasn't done anything that we are aware of to him).
And whilst you say you are used to a full house, maybe these 2 guys have never been there when so many other people have been. Who really knows. No-one save Lilly perhaps.

I would invite them around, individually and watch her reaction. If she does it again then you may have to crate her when they come again. Personally though, I would work on making sure if it does happen again you have the appropriate response ready in the wings. You never know when you might need her to react in this way and if you handle it incorrectly now, she might not step up to the plate when needed.
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I always wonder why people freak out when they're dobermans act either protective or suspicious of others...... Hmm a doberman was bred to greet everyone with a smile and kisses at their home's front door?

I would never expect my dog to simply let people in my house when I am not right there with him. If someone is at the door, I go with the dog and show him/her that "I got this" and they should read my behavior and act accordingly.

Why you comforted her idk and I also would not have said bad girl and punished her for barking and showing you that she's uncomfortable. you corrected her at a time that she was likely operating out of fear. Now why would being punished for acting fearful change anything?

If you think there may be something wrong with her temperament and health issues have been ruled out then consult a professional to have her evaluated. But this whole situation sounds like she was uncomfortable and nervous with the situation and did not have firm leadership telling her how she should act.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:20 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Tali still reacts to people who are nervous/uncomfortable, so maybe those 2 guests were a little anxious about her and she reacted to it.

I do what Asmit said - I make sure I go to the door and greet the person and if Tali reacts (she'll bark and try to hold them at the door) then I make her back up, down, and stay while the guest gets comfortable and then I do an introduction for Tali's benefit with instructions for the guest. She comes to sit at heel and then I release and let her sniff the person while they completely ignore her. Most of the time she's fine after that. She may not want to cuddle the guest but she's fine with their presence. Sometimes I give the guest a few treats to offer her - **people seem to like that. If she still barks and acts assertively, I just put her up. But I never correct her for it.

Tali used to be really nervous meeting anyone and everyone who came in the house. So I had to start working on it with Tali in her crate when guests would come over because she used to get so worked up. I'd crate both dogs, let the guest in, then bring out Tali to meet them without Fiona so Tali could meet them in peace. Once Tali was comfortable, then Fiona could come out. Fi is fine meeting people and always has been but she'll try to bully Tali if she senses she's anxious.

**There's something about an offering of food that makes the person feel more comfortable. If they give the dog food then they can see their own friendly actions and acceptance by the animal rather than just going off my word that she'll be fine after she sniffs and observes them. I'd rather they not feed her most of the time because she's such a food hound; she'll try her best to sit 3" from them and stare at them for 45 minutes after getting one tiny bit of hot dog because she's just certain there's more where that one came from. LOL But it does make some nervous guests feel good and like they've officially made friends via a hot dog peace offering though Tali's past the point of *needing* a reward to meet and accept people.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:26 AM   #12 (permalink)
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These two posts above are perfect IMO.
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:23 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asmit View Post
I always wonder why people freak out when they're dobermans act either protective or suspicious of others...... Hmm a doberman was bred to greet everyone with a smile and kisses at their home's front door?

I would never expect my dog to simply let people in my house when I am not right there with him. If someone is at the door, I go with the dog and show him/her that "I got this" and they should read my behavior and act accordingly.

Why you comforted her idk and I also would not have said bad girl and punished her for barking and showing you that she's uncomfortable. you corrected her at a time that she was likely operating out of fear. Now why would being punished for acting fearful change anything?

If you think there may be something wrong with her temperament and health issues have been ruled out then consult a professional to have her evaluated. But this whole situation sounds like she was uncomfortable and nervous with the situation and did not have firm leadership telling her how she should act.
Ashra growls and does not welcome visitors unless I open the door and ask them in (my flatmate's friends and our neighbours are not automatically welcome if I don't let them in personally). It's the same if I'm asleep - she is on guard and ready for action until I wake up and talk to whoever is nearby. Several people have asked me if she was nervous, because she didn't automatically go up to them for cuddles and I always have to explain that she's not a Labrador...

To my good friends she is always very friendly, playful and clownish, and if anyone brings their kids here she never growls or barks at them either - she's extremely tolerant and calm around them. If children are mean, she will just walk away and come back to me (without my needing to command her to).
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:39 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Party? Booze and Dobes aren't a good mix
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Old 11-14-2012, 12:00 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Party? Booze and Dobes aren't a good mix
What's your reasoning behind this? A well socialized dog should be able to handle a party, and have fun at the same time. I regularly have people over and it's no sweat for my dogs.

Now a skittish dog at a party, that's a whole different story.


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Old 11-14-2012, 12:29 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by RedMaro View Post
What's your reasoning behind this? A well socialized dog should be able to handle a party, and have fun at the same time. I regularly have people over and it's no sweat for my dogs.

Now a skittish dog at a party, that's a whole different story.


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Parties are fine, just don't let the Dobe drink.

Someone put their glass of rum & coke on the ground and Ashra got into it. I was wondering why she was acting strange - running up to people and then running back to me, in a nutty sort of fashion with glazed over eyes. I discovered a couple of minutes later, that someone's rum & coke glass got knocked over and put two and two together. It wasn't very much, thankfully... but still, not advised. Alcohol is not good for dogs.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:15 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Parties are fine, just don't let the Dobe drink.

Someone put their glass of rum & coke on the ground and Ashra got into it. I was wondering why she was acting strange - running up to people and then running back to me, in a nutty sort of fashion with glazed over eyes. I discovered a couple of minutes later, that someone's rum & coke glass got knocked over and put two and two together. It wasn't very much, thankfully... but still, not advised. Alcohol is not good for dogs.
Lol, I can see ashra bringing in a whole tree while she's drunk. As opposed to just the limbs.


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Old 11-15-2012, 03:04 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ataro View Post
Parties are fine, just don't let the Dobe drink.

Someone put their glass of rum & coke on the ground and Ashra got into it. I was wondering why she was acting strange - running up to people and then running back to me, in a nutty sort of fashion with glazed over eyes. I discovered a couple of minutes later, that someone's rum & coke glass got knocked over and put two and two together. It wasn't very much, thankfully... but still, not advised. Alcohol is not good for dogs.
Pickle licked up some red wine my OH spilt on the carpet, even with the small amount she gleaned from the carpet before it was cleaned up, she became a complete cuddle monster, it was rather funny.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:33 AM   #19 (permalink)
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TigerLily.. My first thought as I read your post, was exactly the same as Dobiwan's..
I would question Guy 1 and Guy 2 before I would worry about Lily. I have never EVER questioned Sofia's judgement... 100% of the time she's absolutley correct in her assesment.
Lily is still a baby, glad you're checking with your vet.... but I'll betcha there's more to this than just a nonchalant dropper inner.
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:48 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Party? Booze and Dobes aren't a good mix
I guess it depends on your definition of party. Parties that I've held, and that I've attended, have adults and all of the attendees were people I knew and thus Elka knew (for the most part). While alcohol is present, getting blitzed as fast as one can is not the aim of gatherings at my house, and while some people have gotten fairly inebriated, nobody has even been at a level that made me or the dog uncomfortable.

Now, some of the college parties that I see around town? Yeah, it would horrify me to know that there was a dog in that building. So drunk they can't walk, the party packed enough that people are spilling onto the lawn, music blasting, screaming, throwing glass bottles on pavement because apparently broken glass is funny when you're drunk, yeah, that's all a bad scene.

Also, Elka will try to mug you for your beer. But our friends and acquaintances know better, and even if they don't, they fear me.
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Old 11-15-2012, 09:58 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Info posted for you was all relevant and plenty to digest, but I also believe that your dog's senses are keen and you should at least respect that. Some people can 'smell' scared and dogs definitely take advantage of it. I've seen it happen, even as a kid. (The person most scared is usually the one the dog will approach.) On the occasion of your party, something obviously was askew to the dog- whatever it was you may never know for sure but assume your dog is 'reacting' to something, not nothing. Age can play a role, but she is not a puppy so she is also learning to trust her instincts more. Respect that. I understand your initial reaction, but it has been pointed out to you and now you will do the appropriate thing. She is trying to protect you and needs confidence, to let her know that you acknowledge it. Just need to control WHAT she DOES after her warning (because that's what she did, a warning) not a full on attack. Now that would be a problem. I see this as her own growth and confidence in herself. Just needs direction on how to handle this new feeling. Consider all the replies, lots of good info.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:14 PM   #22 (permalink)
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A little update:

All of Lily's tests came back fine, and we ran a LOT of tests! lol

She seems to just be coming into her own, barking at passersby’s in the front yard and people she sees as threatening. I was very “weirded out” at first because it came so out of nowhere that first night, but have gotten used to it.

Me and the other half sat down and had a talk about what exactly we wanted out of her behavior-wise and how we planned to handle it. We now let her have that initial “warning bark”, tell her enough and give her praise. If however it is too aggressive and she seems “red-zoned” we tell her NO with no praise and she is starting to understand the difference. I’m not worried about it now like I was at first because she snaps out of it instantly when we address her.

Again, I really appreciated all of your suggestions!

Oh and P.S. absolutely no chance that anyone was high or serving my dog alcohol – One party guest did jokingly suggest that maybe she was just drunk and my reply was, “If you found that bark frightening, you just wait and see what comes out of me if I catch someone giving my dog beer!” lol
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