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Old 04-01-2008, 07:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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HELP My 5yr old Female Dobe attacked the neighbors Lab

We are the proud parents of 2 dobermans, and 2 children, (well 3 children, but one's an adult now) My dobes are a 2yr old male (Mason) and a 5yr old female (Petra). Our son is 8(Jake) and our daughter is 6(Taylor).

Our neighbor also has 2 children aged 10(boy) and 7(girl) and one labrador/golden mix female age 3(Maddie). The 3 dogs have always been great friends, so much so that they try to pull each other over, around, or under our fence so they can play together.

Today, my son decided to take our female, Petra, for a walk, which he has done many times before. The neighbor boy decided he would get his dog, Maddie (also female) and walk with them. (they have never walked together before) My son was sitting on a boulder in our front yard with Petra on her leash waiting for the neighbor boy and his dog. Maddie came running into our yard on a leash, with the 10yr old boy chasing behind her. Our dog FREAKED OUT and attacked Maddie....and I mean ATTACKED. She jerked so hard that my son was thrown on his stomach and dragged before he could let go of the leash. Maddie broker free and tried to run and get into her back yard and Petra jumped her from behind and pinned her to the ground and continued biting and growling and would NOT let go of the front of her neck. My husband ran and separated the dogs. Maddie ended up needing stitches in the back of her neck. Petra had a puncture wound on the top of her head, but didn't require stitching.

This has NEVER happened. Our dogs are known in the neighborhood for being cats trapped in dogs bodies. They are extremely docile, and we've often wondered if they would even be able to protect us if we needed it. They'll bark at squirels but then run away if one moves toward them.

SIDE NOTE: Our male dog was in the house and had JUST gotten neutered the day before! Petra MAY be about to come into heat again in the next month or so. I don't know if any of that has to do with anything.

ALSO...When our dogs and the neighbor's dog play, it has always been in the back yard without the kids, and without leashes. Today the 2 females were in the front yard, on leashes and ONLY with the kids. The adults were in the house.

I don't know if any of these details have anything to do with anything, I just want you "DOBE PROFESSIONALS" to have all the facts so you can hopefully offer me some advise, input, perspective, etc.

I am scared to death now because I don't know if I should be concerned to let my kids be alone with my dogs. They have always been such a huge part of each other's lives, but I dont' want to be naive and assume nothing could ever happen my kids, but I don't want to over re-act if it's nothing to be concerned about. Should I worry that my female is now "unstable" after 5 years of being nothing but a loving wonderful dog. I don't want to live in fear of something happening to the kids. I feel that now that I know Petra has the ability to attack, I wonder if it's a good thing or a bad thing. My heart tells me she thought she was protecting my son....am I being naive here???

PLEASE HELP US!!!

Vicki
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by vacrabtree View Post

I am scared to death now because I don't know if I should be concerned to let my kids be alone with my dogs.
Vicki
Well I think thats your first problem. Kids and dogs should never be left alone together without supervision!!! Not to mention in the front yard where your dog could easily chase after anything, pull the kid behind on the sidewalk, get hit by a car, etc. I'll let others give their advice as it they may see more but it seems to me, in your situation it sounds like she probably saw a threat headed full speed off leash into her territory, by her family and she felt the need to defend.
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You let an 8 year old walk a dog as powerful as a doberman? Ok, first rule of thumb.. never ever leave dogs and small children alone... ever. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. You are lucky your son didn't get in the middle of the dog fight by accident and get torn up. Dogs are animals, not furkids. They have teeth and ANY dog can bite or fight given the right circumstances. This does not mean your doberman is unstable. She was probably put in a position where she perceived a threat. Not necessarily protecting your son either, it may have been territorial, it may have been because she was restrained and the other dog was loose, who knows? I can not say because I didn't see the incident. If she is about to come in to season she might be even more inclined to be territorial and fight.
Please supervise your dog's and children's interactions at all times. No matter how "safe" you think they are, the reality is they are not. Dogs communicate with their mouths, they do not have hands. If a dog gives a "correction" to a child for say, taking a toy away, the child is going to lose. I am sorry to sound harsh but this is just the way it is.
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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My take, Dobermans are extremely intelligent. She felt that her packmember was about to be attacked and was aware that a child was not in control of the intruder, as innocent as the scenario seems to us, she was doing her job. She would have fought to the death to protect your son. Now to scold you. An 8 year old with an adult Doberman on a walk? No way! You described perfectly how he didn't have control of the dog, way too much to ask of an 8 year old. Dobies are powerful dogs, I'm 6' 2" and 200+ and my 67 lb Dobie was a handful if she wanted to pull.
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Because she attacked a dog that was running directly at her and moreover at your son, I would be inclined to think she was doing what dobermans were bred to do and that is protect. Unless your dog had walked with this dog before or has been properly socialized time and again, I wouldn't let a youth walk her unsupervised. I wouldn't worry about the safety of your family or children as I think in this case you were a victim of circumstance and bad judgement. She did what she thought she had to to.
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:35 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am just going to chime in and agree with everyone else. A common mistake that a LOT of people make is that they try to humanize their pets too much and trust them in any situation if they have never exhibited a problem. Never forget, they are dogs, and in the event of certain circumstances they will indeed act like one. An 8 year old boy should *never* be allowed to walk a doberman by himself. Also, I agree with the others that the dogs and young children shouldn't be left alone together unsupervised. It only takes one time with the right set of circumstances, as you just found out first hand. You are very lucky that your son didn't get caught in the middle of that attack.
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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THANK YOU FOR YOUR QUICK REPLIES!! Just so you know, I didn't LET my son take our dog for a walk. That issue has been addressed with my son. He has always participated in training our dogs, but always in the back yard with us. We walk the dogs together, off property, but he never leaves the fenced area alone with the dogs. ALSO, as I said in my post, our dog AND the neighbor's dog were both ON LEASH...however our Doberman is leash trained and the Lab is not...she just charges ahead of her handler, while our dogs walk to the side as trained.

Thank you. I do feel that she was doing what she thought she should do. I guess I just was surprised that she would perceive a dog that she plays with almost daily as a threat to my son. But I guess since it was in the front yard, and not in the back where they play, that made it different territory. Something I did not think of. I actually would never have thought she would attack that particular dog anywhere since they do play daily.

I guess I made the mistake of thinking human logic applies to dogs.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I would also mirror what everyone else has all ready stated. However, I would add that it appears the right set of dynamics were present to cause the chain of events you experienced today. It might never happen again, but I would never risk it.

Several "Key Learning" were achieved today:

1) Never change the dynamics of a "canine" relationship with only "children" in attendance.
2) An 8 year old is never left to walk a Doberman alone.
3) Your Doberman can (and will) protect those they love if they feel they are threatened.

I wouldn't freak out and think you have an unstable dog on your hands, but I would be extremely alert going forward with Petra.

One thing you didn't share is your dog's training history -- and that of your family's involvement in that training. Sharing your lives with a Doberman involves training and commitment from EVERY family member and that commitment is one that must be leveraged every day. Even when my 14 year old gal was nearing the end of her life, we continued to have small training sessions.
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I don't really know what to say that already hasn't been said, but thank God your son and the neighbor's boy are OK!
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I also raise children with my dobermans and it is a constant training progress. Towards the end of my girls life, the last 2 years, I would let the kids hold the leash while we walked together. With the puppy, they do leash training in the house and in the backyard. Continue to do this with them.

I also think Petra was doing her job but there with him working with her she will learn to trust him and know that he has control over a situation.

We've had Jordan for a year and we are still working very hard at the kids being able to answer the door. They still need my backup. I know it is because Jordan feels like he has to do his job and doesn't feel confident when they answer the door by themselves.

Practice NILIF and have your children practice it with the dogs. Have them do the feeding and control the feeding (assuming your dogs do not have any kind of food aggression, in which case there needs to be a lot more work done). My kids bring the food bowl in. tell Jordan leave it (not necessary anymore) and then release him with an "Okay". They also do this at the doorways when they are both coming in or going out. The children always lead the way and put him in a sit/stay while they walk through and then release him. These are all things that can be be practiced every day along with very basic commands that will become very routine for you and your family.

Another similar situation is my 14 year old female mongrel dog. She occasionally gets leash aggressive and I will not let the kids walk her at all without me and at the first sign of another dog, I take the leash. She feels out of her comfort zone on a leash and somehow feels constrained with it on and approaching another dog. She can play and get along with the same exact dog off leash anywhere, but not on leash. I have even succesfully suggested to other neighborhood dog owners who wish to conversate that we release the dogs. She immediately calms and is able to play. Otherwise, she will spend the whole time tense and It is all I can do to keep her eye contact from the other dog and vice versa.

Unfortunately, but fortunately she is the reason that I insist on training all my dogs since her. She was my very first dog and I spoiled her crazy and now pay the consequence. I've learned from that mistake.
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I am sorry for the incident. I really am.

However, I have a different outlook on this. I don’t feel the dog was protecting your son and you should think the behavior was acceptable since she was only protecting your son.

What did your son need that much “protection” from? A dog that she personally knows on leash being walked by a child that she also knows? Unless that dog was growling and aggressive and going to attack your son then your dog was not so much protecting, but maybe she was being territorial.

Maybe the Lab dog was being rude, for instance, pulling on leash and acting unruly and your Dobe wanted to correct the dog; I encounter this all the time with my leashed Dobermans on walks and act events, as not all dogs are as well behaved on leash as my Dobes have been trained to be but that does not mean my dogs struggle and zone in on the other dog to put the dog in their place and actually jump them and bite them until forcefully separated. That is a bit more than “correction” for a rude behavior by another dog and is over the top. What would have happened had they not been seperated?

I wasn’t there to see exactly what happened at every step. And neither were you. But I did want to offer my opinion for whatever it is worth. Also, dog aggression and people aggression can be very different.

I would also not leave the dogs unsupervised with your children. You are very lucky no children were hurt.
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Originally Posted by vacrabtree View Post
I feel that now that I know Petra has the ability to attack, I wonder if it's a good thing or a bad thing.
All dogs have the ability to attack. All dogs have the ability to be aggressive. All dogs can be territorial. I don't think I would think it was a good thing that your dog attacked the Lab with the information that I have.
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:52 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I don't know if I would think it was a good thing that your dog attacked the Lab.
I also definitely agree with this. I think it is also in an attempt to "humanize" their actions in saying that she was protecting one of her family. I don't agree with this. It is simply a dog's nature to be more aggressive when on leash when other dogs are off lead. They are able to interact more naturally when they are off lead, and when they are on lead they expect the human to control the situation for them and be there to correct any unwanted behavior. An 8 year old doesn't have that capability. An adult paying attention would have stepped in and disarmed the situation by distracting their dog and getting their attention re-directed on them, while at the same time warding off the oncoming dog. I do this with Cher almost daily on our bike rides and walks when strange dogs rush us. Cher has confidence in me as the alpha and knows I will step in and take care of the situation so she doesn't have to.
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Old 04-01-2008, 11:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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You said she was going for the front of the neck, but she went to the vet and got stitches on the back of her neck. This leads me to believe that she was concentrating on the back of the neck, which is assertive behavior, not aggressive behavior.
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I'm not so sure my dobe would act any differently if some idiot's dog came charging into my yard with idiot in tow. But you can bet I'd be there to choose my dobes reaction. The neighbor boy needs to be taught how to handle his dog. What would have happened if he let it run up on a police officer like that? It sounds like your dobe acted pretty much textbook given the circumstances.

1) Your dobe is automatically going to be more protective of your children in most cases, EVEN more so if they are alone with your child.

2) As you stated, this was probably one of your girls first times venturing outside the house, alone with your son. That is going to kick up her protection and edginess a few more notches.

3) Sitting in the front yard, by the entrance of your home. This area is probably the highest priority on your dobes "places to guard" list lol.

4) Dog who has never been formally introduced charges toward your son.

Honestly, your dobe acted pretty much spot on. She needed your son to convey to her friend or foe right when she first spotted the dog running up. Since she probably didn't get any leadership from him in this aspect, she defaulted to protect. You might try taking your son and dobe to the dog park. Then while keeping her on the leash, walk around with your son in control of her until she is used to the idea of strange dogs running up. She needs to know that its ok to protect you, but ONLY if there is ACTUAL danger, not an overzealous lab.

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Old 04-02-2008, 12:47 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Sounds like Petra was just responding to what she felt was a threat toward your son. Dobies see puppies as higly valuable. Children become puppies in the Dobie's mind. Having an unsocialized dog dragging a child and charge into your yard qualifies as a threat. The good thing is that both children are ok and you've got the opportunity to further training.
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Old 04-02-2008, 01:31 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dobesanddragons View Post
I am sorry for the incident. I really am.

However, I have a different outlook on this. I don’t feel the dog was protecting your son and you should think the behavior was acceptable since she was only protecting your son.

What did your son need that much “protection” from? A dog that she personally knows on leash being walked by a child that she also knows? Unless that dog was growling and aggressive and going to attack your son then your dog was not so much protecting, but maybe she was being territorial.

Maybe the Lab dog was being rude, for instance, pulling on leash and acting unruly and your Dobe wanted to correct the dog; I encounter this all the time with my leashed Dobermans on walks and act events, as not all dogs are as well behaved on leash as my Dobes have been trained to be but that does not mean my dogs struggle and zone in on the other dog to put the dog in their place and actually jump them and bite them until forcefully separated. That is a bit more than “correction” for a rude behavior by another dog and is over the top. What would have happened had they not been seperated?
I am going to agree with this. I don't think it was "protection" of your son. I think the dog herself somehow felt threatened.. either physically by the other dog charging at her, or it was territorial. We would all like to think our dogs would save us like Lassie saved Timmy, but in a situation like this, the dog was probably defending herself.
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Old 04-02-2008, 03:08 AM   #17 (permalink)
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My puppy is just under 6 months now but he's the 4th Dobe I've had and I've seen behavior like you just experienced in 2 of my previous dogs. But sudden scary reactions to a situation can happen with any breed. As many posts have said, you were lucky your son wasn't bitten by either dog but don't feel neglectful. It was an accident and accidents are called accidents for a reason. Learn from it, do some extra training with the dog reaffirming you're the boss and be mindful in the future. Take this as a warning with dogs and kids needing an adult around but don't become afraid that your dog has become aggressive; she was probably confused by a new situation. If it makes you feel better, talk this over with your vet.
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:48 AM   #18 (permalink)
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QUOTE> Maddie came running into our yard on a leash, with the 10yr old boy chasing behind her. Our dog FREAKED OUT and attacked Maddie....and I mean ATTACKED.<QUOTE>

A lot of dogs have their own space recquirements--dobermans as a protective breed can be high on that list. Maddie came running toward your pack without doing it in correct doggie fashion on your dogs home turf.
I believe if you just stay watchful (more to prevent this situation than anything else, this should not become an issue). You will also have to be on guard with the lab and your dog , once an attack has happened I would not trust them alone togeather in the future.
Years ago with one of my dobermans, she knew all the kids in the neighborhood-grew up with my human babies. One afternoon I fell asleep on the sofa. One of the neighbor kids just walked in--no knock, ring the door bell or anything. I woke up to hear Duchess standing in front of me growling at the nieghbor boy. I would have never thought she would have ever done that in a million years. She never growled. Once I was awake and said the little boys name and I told her to stop, he got the royal greeting, like I`m so sorry.
After that I made sure I kept the doors locked if I thought I might take a snooze.
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Old 04-02-2008, 06:55 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I just want to add that I am really sorry, just an awful situation to be in. Good luck with it all.

Carol & Petey!
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:06 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I'm really glad that everyone is ok first off
second of all, I'm glad that the situation has been addressed with your son, he should not be walking such a powerful dog alone, ever, in any situation. I know that my 10 month old who is only 65 lbs can drag me, and I'm alot heavier than an 8 year old boy.

third, this hasn't been addressed, but you mentioned that your dogs were 2 and 5? WHY HAS THE MALE JUST BEEN NEUTERED? and why is the female still intact? There is NO reason to keep family pets intact unless they are breeding and if they arent showing or working, they shouldn't be breeding.

I know this isn't the topic here, but honestly, being intact/ coming in and out of heat, can do a lot with a dogs state of mind and I feel that especially with young children, having both dogs fixed is the most responsible action.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:17 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I'm betting the experience itself has taught you something.


I also believe it's moot to try and get in your dog's head to figure out why she did it.. you'll/we'll never really know because she can't talk. Unfortunately.


On a side note, I'm wondering how this has affected the relationship you have/had with your neighbor.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:20 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Sorry if this has already been addressed..... but you are very lucky none of the kids were hurt in the fight. Breaking up a full blown dog fight can get ugly. As an adult, with experience handling dogs; I managed to be bit multiple times when I had to break up a nasty bitch fight. I now have a wonderful impression of Baccara's teeth branded into my inner thigh for the rest of my life. I can only imagine what could have happened if a child would have attempted to break up the fight.

I am glad you don't normally let your son walk your dogs alone. It is a pet peeve of mine when I am out with my dogs and I see a child being dragged around by a dog they can't control. I feel it is very unsafe on many levels.

I do think when dogs are on leash it can stimulate them to become more aggressive towards other dogs for various reasons. A dog charging towards a leashed dog can be perceived as very threatening.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:30 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I do think when dogs are on leash it can stimulate them to become more aggressive towards other dogs for various reasons. A dog charging towards a leashed dog can be perceived as very threatening.


Agree completely.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:51 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Sounds like she was protecting your son which is good. But, he is too young to be in public alone walking the dog. We have a 15 year old that walks our Lab and he is a giant baby but still needs a prong collar on walks as he is so powerful and hyper. We will not let him walk Rusty when as due to the dominant breed he may not be able to deal with Rusty becoming aggressive with another dog, etc. How have your neighbours reacted to this? Is there going to be any trouble? I hope you can all work it out.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:54 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vacrabtree View Post
Today, my son decided to take our female, Petra, for a walk, which he has done many times before.
I thought you had stated that this never happened, that he never walked the dogs alone? hmmmm. You just learned a very inexpensive lesson - had this been a person or another dog that your Doberman attacked - you would be in for a lawsuit - big time or if the neighbors child had been hurt during this show of aggression... the child cannot control the dog - and should not be in control of your dog - ever.
If you were naive it was that he could take the dog for a walk. If it was two bitches - it was more than likely territorial - and I agree with everyone else - she needs to be spayed...
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