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Old 11-04-2012, 05:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Dobe doesn't like to be petted

Hi everybody! I was hoping I can get some suggestions from other doberman folks.

I have a 1yr old male doberman (neutered) who doesn't like others to pet him, except immediate family members. I wouldn't say he's afraid of people because we can pretty much go anywhere (stores, big crowds, etc) and he's perfectly fine. We can sit around with a bunch of people and he'll be right there in the middle of it relaxing or he'll walk around and sniff at people and seems fine... but if someone wants to pet him, he starts to backoff and becomes timid. It's a timid response (he doesn't bark or nip or anything). He wasn't like this as a small puppy, I noticed this after he turned 6 months old.

Any suggestions on how to work on this? He's very handsome so he gets noticed a lot in public and people want to talk and pet him and I wish I can get to a point where I can easily do that without him acting strange once they try to pet him.

Thank you!
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Chase is the same way, although, he is a 'rescue' so his behaviour could be genetics or he was not treated properly.

I started out by telling people he cannot be petted, and every time chase showed interest or sniffed a hand I marked the behaviour, and rewarded it. Two years later he can be petted by pretty much any one (still timid with certain men) and actually seeks out the attention.
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Old 11-07-2012, 10:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Kyrah's the same way. She was fine with people until she was approx 15 weeks old. She would not show her teeth but definately back up and bark at people. The first thing I did was learn to stand up for my girl and step in front of anyone coming towards her obviously to pet or ewe and ahh over her. I told them she doesnt like to be petted, stared at or baby talked to. I then worked with her using a clicker. I kept a distance in the begining and when we would be out I would click for just a look at someone, then if she would sniff them, then she learned to nose touch them, I then started giving people treats, no petting or eye contact, just them giving her the treat and finally I withheld the treat until she let them touch her. It became a game to her and she would put her head under their hand and then demand her treat. I had her to the point that she was not reacting to people and I could take her anywhere without her reacting like she did before but still I would tell people she doesnt want to be petted and to ignore her. This was not a quick process for us. I would say probably a yr or so. Just lately within the last few months a few people at the club I train at have really noticed that Kyrah is allowing people to pet her and she is actually going up to them demanding a scratch behind the ear. She is 3 1/2 yrs old.

The best advice I would give is that if it is obvious it is making him uncomfortable dont let it happen. Build that trust between you two. Let him know you will protect him. Trying to rush him into allowing someone to touch him could backfire. Remember a dogs response is flight or fight.
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow, I'm really glad someone started this thread. The first thing I observed is that PEOPLE in general do NOT know how to approach dogs that do NOT know them. Kiss is much better now. She did great when we were going all the time to Petsmart for puppy classes. She wanted to be around everyone. Well, then when I didn't take her that often she became more reluctant. We just had a Halloween party at doggie day care and she was GREAT! Maybe the first thing is that people should not force themselves on to someone else's dog. I don't mean that in a mean way, either. It's better if the dog makes the first move.
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If a stranger moves into Riley's space and/or stares at him he gets upset, but if you let him move into your space first, he's an angel and loves to be pet and get to know you better. This became clear when we had a repair guy come over a few days ago.
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Dreizehn doesn't really enjoy being petted either. He seems to have his own personal bubble that he really only likes people being in for long enough to sniff them - then he's done. It doesn't bug me since I don't really care if mydog to be a social butterfly anyways. Just like as you said, I can still take him anywhere and he's fine. He likes being around people because he seems to enjoy watching them. He tolerates petting, he just doesn't seem to bask in the attention like other dogs do.
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Old 11-08-2012, 09:39 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Rowan doesn't really liked being pet by strangers but he'll go up to them and nose bump or a sniff them but if they reach out he backs up and will occasionally bark. When we're on walks and stuff he's so focused on everything around him and doesn't want to be touched even really by me :p too many things are happening... Usually squirrels haha


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Old 11-08-2012, 10:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Isn't part of the breed characteristics that they be alouf or skeptical of strangers? I think it's normal for a dog not to want to be petted by a stranger (except maybe goldens or labs lol). Think of it this way... if someone was walking down the street that you didn't know and approached you and gave you a hug or put their arm around you, how would you react?
I second what other's have said and in my experience, Spok doesn't mind a rub once he's thoroughly inspected the person. But still, he does not appreciate being pet on top of the head.
Encourage people to let your dog initiate the contact and to pet him under the chin as this will raise his head and raise his confidence level in the situation.
Also advise them to avoid direct eye contact as this can be percieved as a challenge and may solicit a negative response from your dog.
Good luck!
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm by no means any sort of trainer but I think your dog's confidence needs to be built up. I also agree with what others have said here.

If you are ok with the person who wants to pet your dog, I would ask them to allow your dog to approach them, not vice versa. If your dogs sniffs their hand and starts going back and forth to the person, then I think your dog is interested in being friendly but wants to take it slow. If you have a treat, give it to the person and when your dog approaches that person, ask them to give the dog a treat. I probably would not suggest the person start immediately petting the dog after the treat unless it seems right. If your dog keeps going back and nose poking the person, I believe your dog is asking to be petted. I would slowly build up your dog's self confidence and the trust of others this way.

This can be a patience trying situation but I have seen it work with my own dogs.

I also think it can be threatening to a dog for a person to walk up to a dog, towering over that dog and trying to pet or hug a dog. On the other hand I think it takes a fairly confident person to squat down eye to eye to an unknown Doberman.
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Old 11-08-2012, 03:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I learned in my animal behaviour class that the best way to approach is to appear as non threatening as possible which does mean not standing over them but also not have direct eye contact, so you crouch facing forward but kind of off to the side and keep your eyes on their cheekish area so that you can see anything they might do. Hold your hand out but don't try to touch them and wait for them to nose you.


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Old 11-08-2012, 04:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Some Dobermans are more reserved around strangers than other ones. It can be a breed trait, these guys can be suspicious and reserved around people they don't know. KC's suggestions are great, especially working with food, because you want your dog to be comfortable around strangers without being timid. However, he could just be a reserved kind of guy, which a lot of Dobermans are.

Once he gets a little older, he might settle down and enjoy attention more, but Griffin's almost 8 and he's still picky about who gets to pet him. If he pulls away or isn't interested, I'll tell that person he doesn't want to be touched, and that's the end of it. I won't force him to be petted by someone he doesn't want touching him. I do expect him to sit quietly by my side while I chat, because we need good ambassadors for this breed and I like talking about dogs. He has no problem doing that, I think he actually likes people admiring him and telling him he's a good dog. The petting though, isn't always his deal.
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The vast majority of people who don't own dogs don't know diddly about approaching them.

Most dogs and most puppies over 10 or 12 weeks are immediately suspicious about people to stare at them--call them repeatedly and my dogs all think something is really wrong with people who squat down in front of them and try to get them to come forward.

I usually take puppies to dog shows, obedience, rally and agility trials where I can count on the people to let the puppies approach them instead of making all of these overtures that my dogs up to and including the afghan hound and the australian shepherd found very suspicious.

All my dogs start out as conformation show dogs and will stand like rocks in the ring--but very few seasoned judges stare at dogs or do the many things that dogs see as either threatening or aggressive. If someone comes up to any of my dogs at any age and doesn't take my direction ("Let the dog approach you...") and keeps trying to get the dog to come to them or to walk up to them, staring at them with their hands out I tell them the dog is NOT friendly and they may not pet and walk away.

People often think I'm rude but my dogs have good judgement and if they don't want someone to pet them because of the way they are being approached I don't want that person to pet them.

By the same token I don't approach other peoples dogs--if the dog wants to come and see me that's fine and often if the owner is OK with it there's a treat for them but I don't chase them down repeating the mantra "All dogs love me--he's fine..." As the dog is trying to escape my attentions.

My Afghan Hound used snap at women (for some reason women were always determined to get their hands into that show coat) who tried to reach for him and try to pet him. It inevitable irked the women when the dog voluntarily walked up to their husband who didn't care one way or another.

Your puppy is at about the age where a lot of puppies develope some fearfulness--let them make their own decisions and tell people that the puppy is in training and is not to be petted or something like that. Take them places where they can inspect people at their own pace--it works a lot better that way.
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Old 11-09-2012, 02:30 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Once he gets a little older, he might settle down and enjoy attention more, but Griffin's almost 8 and he's still picky about who gets to pet him. If he pulls away or isn't interested, I'll tell that person he doesn't want to be touched, and that's the end of it. I won't force him to be petted by someone he doesn't want touching him. I do expect him to sit quietly by my side while I chat, because we need good ambassadors for this breed and I like talking about dogs. He has no problem doing that, I think he actually likes people admiring him and telling him he's a good dog. The petting though, isn't always his deal.
It's amazing how many people just don't get this.

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All my dogs start out as conformation show dogs and will stand like rocks in the ring--but very few seasoned judges stare at dogs or do the many things that dogs see as either threatening or aggressive. If someone comes up to any of my dogs at any age and doesn't take my direction ("Let the dog approach you...") and keeps trying to get the dog to come to them or to walk up to them, staring at them with their hands out I tell them the dog is NOT friendly and they may not pet and walk away.

People often think I'm rude but my dogs have good judgement and if they don't want someone to pet them because of the way they are being approached I don't want that person to pet them.
This is the bane of my life, everyone is some kind of hard case that wants to show they are not scared of dobermans round here.

It's a very tricky situation for me round here, because I don't want people thinking my dogs are bad or dangerous. It's a small place and word gets around quickly, all I need is one gossip to say not to go near my dobermans cos they are dangerous and my life will be a headache.
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Old 11-10-2012, 10:20 AM   #14 (permalink)
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This is the bane of my life, everyone is some kind of hard case that wants to show they are not scared of dobermans round here.
This. So much this. On one hand, I don't want to feed the stereotype by possibly showing my dog to be dangerous, on the other, I don't think it's fair for my dog to just have to take attention when he doesn't want it.

It's hard on a lot of dogs because people don't get that you shouldn't force a dog to be petted if he/she doesn't want it. I'm pretty strict with who pets my dogs, and that goes back to my SD training days. People absolutely do not have the right to pet my dog. There could be many reasons for that, but what it all boils down to is he's my dog, and ultimately, he's my responsibility. If he's not feeling good that day, or in training, or just doesn't like this random person who's running towards him yelling "PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY", I got his back.

Everyone who's said that the majority of people don't know how to approach a dog to give them attention is 100% correct. And yet, it's somehow the dog's duty to not only tolerate this, but to welcome it with a wagging tail and open paws.

I think it's the owner's job to know how to read their dogs and to protect their dogs when they don't want to be bothered by strange people. Since the majority of the public thinks that all dogs need to be petted and must tolerate it, it helps if you have a response ready to go. I've met people who get offended when I tell them no, Griffin's not in the mood, as if it's a personal insult to them that I won't let them pat my dog. My stock answers are "he's in training" or, for the days when his neck is sore, "he's sick."

A better way to build your dog's confidence is by interceding for him with approaching people, and telling them the right way to approach him. Expect him to be polite and sit calmly next to you, but don't force him to interact with people. That will give him the space and freedom to approach strange people on his own terms.
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Old 11-10-2012, 08:22 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Some Dobermans are more reserved around strangers than other ones. It can be a breed trait, these guys can be suspicious and reserved around people they don't know. KC's suggestions are great, especially working with food, because you want your dog to be comfortable around strangers without being timid. However, he could just be a reserved kind of guy, which a lot of Dobermans are.

Once he gets a little older, he might settle down and enjoy attention more, but Griffin's almost 8 and he's still picky about who gets to pet him. If he pulls away or isn't interested, I'll tell that person he doesn't want to be touched, and that's the end of it. I won't force him to be petted by someone he doesn't want touching him. I do expect him to sit quietly by my side while I chat, because we need good ambassadors for this breed and I like talking about dogs. He has no problem doing that, I think he actually likes people admiring him and telling him he's a good dog. The petting though, isn't always his deal.
This is so Kyrah! LOL That is what we say about her. She enjoys being admired and told what an obedient girl she is as she sits by my side but has no desire to be touched or make new friends.
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River (11-12-2012)
Old 11-10-2012, 08:41 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Vandart View Post
It's amazing how many people just don't get this.

This is the bane of my life, everyone is some kind of hard case that wants to show they are not scared of dobermans round here.

It's a very tricky situation for me round here, because I don't want people thinking my dogs are bad or dangerous. It's a small place and word gets around quickly, all I need is one gossip to say not to go near my dobermans cos they are dangerous and my life will be a headache.
Yes, people are asses! I dont tell them she is mean or dangerous. I tell them she does not cared to be petted or touched by strange people. Then if I have to give them an example I would tell them. "Would you like for someone you dont know to come running into your face and trying to grab you? No you wouldnt neither does my dog. The one person who was drunk and was going to prove that nothing was going to happen if he pushed the issue with my dog as I stood in front of her, my oldest daughter took up a position on the side of me and he kept on and on was stopped in his tracks by my husband who entered the room and told him to back the f*** off. Yes it was an awkward moment. He has never been invited to my house again. If my brother ever makes it back to my house for a family event everyone will think that I got rid of Kyrah b/c she will not be seen. If that idiot of a brother stomps at my dog again we may have a family fued b/c I would loose it on him.

I could really careless what anyone thinks of me or my dogs. I can assure you all of my neighbors know who I and my dogs are. I am sure they all think I am crazy. My husbands favorite words to me when I go out with the dogs for a walk, run or bike ride is "please play nice with the neighbors." So IMO stop making up excuses and stand up for your dog. Let him know you are there to protect him and make sure he is comfortable. When you build that trusting bond with your dog there isnt anything like it.
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Old 11-11-2012, 04:37 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Oh Herb2Relax. I didn't know we had the same relatives! My brother-in-law is and idiot! What can I say? He is! You can say "NO, don't pet the dog; don't get in her face; leave the dog alone; DAMN IT I SAID LEAVE THE DOG ALONE" and STILL he says stupid crap like, "Oh, it's alright. I'm okay, she won't hurt me. BLAHBLAH". Dumb ass. The only thing I can count on is IF she did bite him he wouldn't sue my ass off!
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Herb2relax (11-11-2012)
Old 11-11-2012, 06:49 AM   #18 (permalink)
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My dogs say who pats them and who doesn't. Most of the time everyone can pat but once in a while there is a difference and that one person is not welcome. With my male when we approach someone he will most of the time go forward and present himself sideways across their legs. This is the go ahead and pat to your heart's content. If on the other hand he approaches head on I normally will step back and avoid the meeting. I control it and if I say I don't want them to pat him they will not be allowed to pat him.

With my females they are only not interested in people who make a big fuss of them. Then they pull out the aloof doberman card and withhold attention until the person steps back as if offended ..then they are friendlier. They are not aggressive or defensive just withhold soliciting attention.

My male is a bit stiffer and I would hesitate to see someone push themselves on him. His body language is very clear and it is my job to manage his interactions so I do and he knows I will so he is more comfortable now as an adult than as a "teenager".
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