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Old 12-15-2012, 08:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Prey Aggression

Hi, I am new and looking for help with my 2 year old Doberman. Up until the past 6 months he has been obedient, passive and well-behaved. He made it through a group training session and is happy to follow me around the house.
However, he went from being intimidated by a chihuahua to killing numerous outdoor cats, attacking any size dog, horse, alpaca etc. He has developed a one track mind and when he gets set on something you absolutely cannot break his concentration. He has grown up with my other small dog and he has begun attacking her too --to the point where they can't be out together. I have an electric fence and has also gotten to the poor where when he gets let out to do his business he won't and will literally circle the property at a dead run in a trance looking for stray cats. He has also grown up with a house cat and he can no longer be out with her either.

I understand it is natural for some dogs to be aggressive towards prey, but he is on a whole other extreme and did a complete 180. My concern is that he knows I want him to stop and is very smart and knows his commands, but when he is in the zone he loses everything.

I am at a loss as of what to do since no amount of keeping his focus matters when he's on a hunt. Family is now afraid of him and I'm looking for suggestion on how to handle this behavior
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Is he neutered? What have you tried as far as controlling him and redirecting his aggressive behavior? Was he trained to a solid "leave it" as a puppy and is now ignoring it, or was he just basic obedience trained with no further reinforcing as he grew up?

The thing with Dobes (and other breeds like them) is that training is NEVER over- as they mature you must continue to work on maintaining their training. Your dog is now an adult, so it is not surprising for him to have had some shifts in behavior as he reached maturity- particularly where animal aggression is concerned...

If here were my dog- I would immediately seek the assistance of a professional trainer/behaviorist to evaluate his issues. The next thing I would do is RESTRICT his access to other animals completely! NO outside loose time that wasn't controlled by ME- on a long line or leash until he can again be controlled off leash. Lots of exercise, also directed by me- to work off his excess energy in a non-destructive manner.

I strongly suspect there were some warning signs that you missed as he was maturing, but it certainly would also be useful to get a full veterinary evaluation to make certain there aren't any medical issues (like thyroid) behind the aggression also.
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:01 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobermama View Post
Is he neutered? What have you tried as far as controlling him and redirecting his aggressive behavior? Was he trained to a solid "leave it" as a puppy and is now ignoring it, or was he just basic obedience trained with no further reinforcing as he grew up?

The thing with Dobes (and other breeds like them) is that training is NEVER over- as they mature you must continue to work on maintaining their training. Your dog is now an adult, so it is not surprising for him to have had some shifts in behavior as he reached maturity- particularly where animal aggression is concerned...

If here were my dog- I would immediately seek the assistance of a professional trainer/behaviorist to evaluate his issues. The next thing I would do is RESTRICT his access to other animals completely! NO outside loose time that wasn't controlled by ME- on a long line or leash until he can again be controlled off leash. Lots of exercise, also directed by me- to work off his excess energy in a non-destructive manner.

I strongly suspect there were some warning signs that you missed as he was maturing, but it certainly would also be useful to get a full veterinary evaluation to make certain there aren't any medical issues (like thyroid) behind the aggression also.
Yes he is.He knows leave it and "aah aah" -I learned that from Victoria Stillwell. I've always used that as a distraction to get him to stop doing something like counter surfing or taking an article of clothing and then I praise him. Firstly, I can't even get his attention--secondly I think he's figured out that there is no benefit/reward worthwhile to stopping when he's having that much fun- and nothing I can physically do to him to pry him off of another animal. The neighbors lab, who he had previously been afraid of, wandered onto the property and he had he by the throat on the ground just tearing into her. I tried getting his attention like usual, food, loud noise distractions etc...but none of those things were worth it to him to stop.

Unfortunately I just don't have the cash after being laid off to get professional help. I called around and the person who seemed confident they could help charged 600/wk of training. I just cannot do that at this time. But I am willing to learn or read or take suggestions.

I spoke with a bahavioralist via phone and they wondered if training would transfer over when he's in such a trance. Sometimes I don't even think he realizes anyone else is there. Afterwards he calms down and is back to wagging his tail and playing with toys.
Thank you for your help!
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:13 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If nothing you do can break his "trance"- then you MUST NOT allow him to get into that "trance" in the first place. So, as I already mentioned- do NOT allow him outside without having physical control via a leash or long line. The very second he tries to focus on any other animal you issue the "leave it" command and use the leash to bring him to your side. If he refuses or fights the leash- you walk away from whatever he is focused on until you can gain his attention. NO EXCEPTIONS. He has lost the "right" to be on his own outside since you cannot control him or prevent him from harming others.

You otherwise run the very real risk of losing your dog AND getting sued should he attack & kill someone's pet or god forbid their child. So why on earth are you still allowing him the opportunity?
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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You need to talk to a trainer that has experience with working dogs IN DRIVE. I'd recommend finding a schutzhund trainer or someone of the sort who has experience with training dogs obedience while they Are in drive (ie prey)
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dobermama View Post
If nothing you do can break his "trance"- then you MUST NOT allow him to get into that "trance" in the first place. So, as I already mentioned- do NOT allow him outside without having physical control via a leash or long line. The very second he tries to focus on any other animal you issue the "leave it" command and use the leash to bring him to your side. If he refuses or fights the leash- you walk away from whatever he is focused on until you can gain his attention. NO EXCEPTIONS. He has lost the "right" to be on his own outside since you cannot control him or prevent him from harming others.

You otherwise run the very real risk of losing your dog AND getting sued should he attack & kill someone's pet or god forbid their child. So why on earth are you still allowing him the opportunity?

I am allowing him the opportunity to run on *my* fenced property for exercise...no where else. Since it is my property I wouldn't run the risk of being sued if someone's pet came over. As it is, I had obviously apologized to the neighbor and they said it was ultimately their fault for letting their animals out unattended to cross the road and come into the yard. Clearly I would NEVER take him to a public place to set him free on a pet or a person..
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You need to talk to a trainer that has experience with working dogs IN DRIVE. I'd recommend finding a schutzhund trainer or someone of the sort who has experience with training dogs obedience while they Are in drive (ie prey)
Thanks, that makes sense. Do you know any site that would have a list of these types of people to contact?
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If your yard is adequately fenced, then how are these other animals gaining access to it? Labs aren't exactly small enough to squeeze through a hole very easily. So if a lab can get in, what is to stop a small human? If it is an underground fence, then keep in mind that in many states they are not considered legal fences. Meaning, that you CAN be sued should your animal cause harm when confined with only that fence. Also, in most states should your dog cause harm to livestock (horses, alpaca, etc..) you are legally responsible for reimbursing the owner for the animal and they are allowed to shoot your pet if they are caught in the act. If his drive increases enough to leave your property- what then?

And further, how do you expect to regain control of him if you do not stop allowing him unrestricted access??
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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If the switch was all of the sudden in the past 6 months, I would get a vet check done to rule out something wonky there. Mind you, I'm not sure which tests to recommend, so maybe somebody else more experienced than I can chime in...thyroid maybe?


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I am allowing him the opportunity to run on *my* fenced property for exercise...no where else. Since it is my property I wouldn't run the risk of being sued if someone's pet came over. As it is, I had obviously apologized to the neighbor and they said it was ultimately their fault for letting their animals out unattended to cross the road and come into the yard. Clearly I would NEVER take him to a public place to set him free on a pet or a person..
How did somebody's horse or alpaca come into your yard?
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dobermama View Post
If your yard is adequately fenced, then how are these other animals gaining access to it? Labs aren't exactly small enough to squeeze through a hole very easily. So if a lab can get in, what is to stop a small human? If it is an underground fence, then keep in mind that in many states they are not considered legal fences. Meaning, that you CAN be sued should your animal cause harm when confined with only that fence. Also, in most states should your dog cause harm to livestock (horses, alpaca, etc..) you are legally responsible for reimbursing the owner for the animal and they are allowed to shoot your pet if they are caught in the act. If his drive increases enough to leave your property- what then?

And further, how do you expect to regain control of him if you do not stop allowing him unrestricted access??
They are MY horses and alpaca, which he grew up with. I do know the laws in my state Also, if someone's horse or alpaca were on MY property they'd not be allowed to shoot--unless he came onto someone else's property- which he does not

I'm not sure how not letting him around his triggers would help either of us? That's to say I can't ever take him on a public walk through the park because,god forbid, a cat would run by. I can't simply avoid these things and I was looking for sound advice on training tactics. I did not come here to be questioned and probed ---that he *must* have gotten out of my fence or attacked someone else's property...
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Try the workingdogforum some schutzhund/ring people on there.
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:19 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I am allowing him the opportunity to run on *my* fenced property for exercise...no where else.
I'm wondering if you might try a couple of weeks of not letting him run loose. It would be extra work - but if you are out with him, working on reinforcement & training - you may be able to identify his cues & triggers, and also do immediate redirection when he starts to go. Break the pattern of disobedience. Whatever worked for you in training (food / clicker / toy) - take that with you & get his mind working rather than his instinct.

Chanel had never chased cars on the road - but immediately after she chased a fox & a coyote on our property, she headed after a car that went by a gap in the field fence. She chased it & one other (along the fence line), then I put her on leash & she didn't run free for the next few days until she 'remembered' that cars were off limit.

I don't think that an electric collar (even if you could get the timing right - and that's difficult) would work on a dog so focussed on prey. It really does sound to me that having him on-leash is your best choice for now.
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quite simply you have reached the end of what looks like purely positive training will take you. You need corrections which are beyond the dogs correction threshold (anything less is just stimulation and likely to increase the problem behavior). You need help from someone that is willing to go there with you. The alternative is probably euthanasia. That is why methods like Victoria Stillwell employs irritate the crap out of me. It might work for a Golden Retriever, unlikely to become secure/proofed with a decent working breed.

And no of course you can't take him to a public park without a leash and ability to control your dog. I personally sure as hell would not do it with my own dogs.

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Old 12-15-2012, 12:56 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
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They are MY horses and alpaca, which he grew up with. I do know the laws in my state Also, if someone's horse or alpaca were on MY property they'd not be allowed to shoot--unless he came onto someone else's property- which he does not

I'm not sure how not letting him around his triggers would help either of us? That's to say I can't ever take him on a public walk through the park because,god forbid, a cat would run by. I can't simply avoid these things and I was looking for sound advice on training tactics. I did not come here to be questioned and probed ---that he *must* have gotten out of my fence or attacked someone else's property...
I think the clarification was a bit necessary....most people's "yard" doesn't have horses and alpacas in it. Pasures or whatever, yeah, but most of us city/suburban folks are thinking of a postage stamp with a (hopefully) physical fence around it.

Keeping him far enough from his triggers to see, though not "trance out on", is what's known as "under threshold." If you can work with him just across that line (where he can see, but where he isn't totally locked on yet), you can gradually move him closer. The notion is to work with him when he's still calm, to desensitize him to the triggers and get him used to looking to you for what to do, not to just dive off in willy nilly bloodlust.
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:22 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm wondering if you might try a couple of weeks of not letting him run loose.

I don't think that an electric collar (even if you could get the timing right - and that's difficult) would work on a dog so focussed on prey.

Kate
Yes. The mindless dead-run-lookin'-for-victims needs to stop, probably for longer than just a couple of weeks. Stick him on a treadmill inside to let him de-energize. He's just winding himself up outside...

An e-collar would work. It just needs to be tapped the instant the dog has a "dirty thought" (eyes lock, ears prick, intake of breath, whatever) and well before he has gone to the crazy place. An e-collar will allow the subject to be changed while it still can be changed, if the timing is right.
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:32 PM   #16 (permalink)
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An e-collar would work. It just needs to be tapped the instant the dog has a "dirty thought" (eyes lock, ears prick, intake of breath, whatever) and well before he has gone to the crazy place. An e-collar will allow the subject to be changed while it still can be changed, if the timing is right.
Is this the sort of thing that can be done on one's own? Would you recommend an e-collar before or instead of on-leash work & re-inforcement? (I'm asking seriously - I don't have any e-collar experience myself, and it sounds as if the OP doesn't have extra cash for outside help right now.)
Kate
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:45 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Yes. The mindless dead-run-lookin'-for-victims needs to stop, probably for longer than just a couple of weeks. Stick him on a treadmill inside to let him de-energize. He's just winding himself up outside...

An e-collar would work. It just needs to be tapped the instant the dog has a "dirty thought" (eyes lock, ears prick, intake of breath, whatever) and well before he has gone to the crazy place. An e-collar will allow the subject to be changed while it still can be changed, if the timing is right.
Yes I can recommend an E-collar but please get advise on how to use one.

There are different ways to use them depending on your dogs personality and you can do more harm than good if used incorrectly, plus it can also be a very cruel tool in the inexperienced hands.

I've used them on two of my girls who are very head strong when it comes to chasing deer in the forest.
Both are excellent and as obedient as hell until a deer runs out in front.

I trained both with the ecollar but using different techniques for each.
Both are cured and we can now all walk in the forests, relaxed and happy even with deer running around.




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Old 12-15-2012, 02:48 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrozenTundra View Post

I'm not sure how not letting him around his triggers would help either of us? That's to say I can't ever take him on a public walk through the park because,god forbid, a cat would run by. I can't simply avoid these things and I was looking for sound advice on training tactics..
I never said the livestock wasn't yours- and I DID give you very sound training tactics. In order to deal with his drive, you absolutely NEED to be in control of him before he gets into his "trance"! The ONLY way to do that is to have physical control via a leash and/or an E-collar so that you can immediately redirect him a the first sign of trouble.

I am suggesting that you put in the work of controlling the issues now, by not allowing him free reign and the ability to continue his trance/attack behaviors. It will take a lot of work and dedication- but it can be done.

I was not attacking you- just your lack of using a very reasonable and sound training method to prevent him from attacking other animals. A leash.

I have worked with prey driven dogs, very successfully- I own a farm and have successfully raised many dogs, NONE of whom kill other non-target animals. Was it easy? Heck no- it took lots of work and time. Did some of them kill groundhogs & raccoons? If they got in the yard, of course. But never cats, other dogs or my livestock.
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by smudgeid View Post
Is this the sort of thing that can be done on one's own? Would you recommend an e-collar before or instead of on-leash work & re-inforcement? (I'm asking seriously - I don't have any e-collar experience myself, and it sounds as if the OP doesn't have extra cash for outside help right now.)
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I dunno. I don't know the OP and I don't know the OP's dog... all's I know is what's been written here. Yes, probably, with a certain investment of green cash money for equipment and some long-distance steerage. E-collar AND leash AND reinforcement... he needs to learn to attend to a human in the presence of diversions, initially. I would suggest contacting That's My Dog! -Dubuque, Iowa, SW Wisconsin dog & puppy training.. Robin sells equipment, has a DVD series and does phone consults... this could do it. Going out on a limb and extrapolating more than I should: this dog is going to be some work, now and probably always. I think he needs PURPOSE. If this one dealie (which he has chosen as his mission) is dealt with and no other mission is offered for him to undertake, either this dealie is going to re-surface or he is going to peel all of the siding off the house or he is going to begin beavering down trees or something. He needs structured exercise that is not mindless self-stimulation. He needs real, actual obedience training... worked a couple of times daily, probably forever. He could be a big lot of fun for someone who wants to put in the work and accomplish something with a dog. He simply sounds like a lot of dog who has been left to float without direction. This is not a dog who can be left to choose his own hobbies...
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:49 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I just re-read, re-thought and gots a couple of questions.

This dog is choosing to honor an electronic fence? Even if there is a potential victim beyond the fence? How high is the fence collar set? Has he been hammered by this thing?

Has he been out of his yard and in the presence of a potential target since he began exhibiting this behavior? Do you know with certainty that this behavior does exist outside of his yard? You said that you could no longer let your little dog outside with him... is he O.K. with her in the house?

This might be more of a re-hab issue...
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Old 12-17-2012, 01:59 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone!

I really appreciate everyone's thoughts. To the last poster- when I initially got the fence per his trainers advice, the fence company had its own trainer. We did the training over two weeks where id walk him to the fence line (marked with neon flags) say "BACK!" and walk him straight back. After that we turned it up to a buzz. Within the first day my guy caught on extremely fast and the company trainer couldn't believe how smart he was. He told me to continue training just in case. After only a week I'd walk him towards the fence and he laid down before coming within 10 feet of it.

I then let him out and watched and he obeyed until my barn cat decided to strut past- off he shot through the fence like a bullet. So, immediately put him back on leash and he would stop 15 feet before fence. He got through the fence one more time to chase the horses and I called the trainer- we ultimately had to up his collar almost all the way and have it where it continues to zap 5 seconds. He went through it at that level, got put on his butt and hasn't tried since.

I have been walking him with a leash. First time out he was fine. Second he pulled back and wiggled out of collar. I put on the collar that has the extra material (greyhound collar?) and he was able to get out of that with me trying to hold him down. Put on a prong collar and he managed to snap it... Usually he is very obedient on a leash- he does not pull and usually stays at my side. I think he's figured out pretty quickly that he's stronger...


- honestly since he started this I've been too afraid to take him anywhere too public-- however you may be right, it may be more of a protective thing?

Also- I have never seen him act in any sort of aggression towards a human or child, but until I trust him I'm not going to let him anywhere.

Last edited by FrozenTundra; 12-17-2012 at 02:01 PM..
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:07 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmctaq View Post
I dunno. I don't know the OP and I don't know the OP's dog... all's I know is what's been written here. Yes, probably, with a certain investment of green cash money for equipment and some long-distance steerage. E-collar AND leash AND reinforcement... he needs to learn to attend to a human in the presence of diversions, initially. I would suggest contacting That's My Dog! -Dubuque, Iowa, SW Wisconsin dog & puppy training.. Robin sells equipment, has a DVD series and does phone consults... this could do it. Going out on a limb and extrapolating more than I should: this dog is going to be some work, now and probably always. I think he needs PURPOSE. If this one dealie (which he has chosen as his mission) is dealt with and no other mission is offered for him to undertake, either this dealie is going to re-surface or he is going to peel all of the siding off the house or he is going to begin beavering down trees or something. He needs structured exercise that is not mindless self-stimulation. He needs real, actual obedience training... worked a couple of times daily, probably forever. He could be a big lot of fun for someone who wants to put in the work and accomplish something with a dog. He simply sounds like a lot of dog who has been left to float without direction. This is not a dog who can be left to choose his own hobbies...
What kind of purpose are you talking about? He does not simply run willy nilly outside all day. He is inside except for potty breaks and he is very very lazy inside. Even outside he is not destructive towards property or objects-and has never acted "puppy-like."
I do take him on jogs a few times a week. I have trails on my property with lots of hills and trees. He is great for that but tires out very quickly. There aren't any other people or dogs that far back, but as stated I haven't taken him to the park too much after this started.

I'm not sure if this was meant to be offensive- but I don't think I've portrayed myself to be an owner unwilling to put in time or work? If that was the case I wouldn't have sought help for both myself and him.
I got the fence for my dogs solely for a more enjoyable purpose for them, and it was recommended to me.

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Old 12-17-2012, 02:24 PM   #23 (permalink)
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One last thing

If I were to use an e-collar, would I zap as he caught eye of his subject? I am afraid to let the small dog out for fear he'd really grab her and it didn't work.

He has killed 3 stray cats, attacked neighbors dog once and chased my farm animals. He can no longer get to farm animals due to fence- but I have 2 outdoor barn cats that I've adopted. For the past month or so those two cats have caught on and stayed in the barn, but I always check my front porch before letting the Dobe out to make sure a kitty isn't sleeping there.
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Old 12-17-2012, 02:34 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Just a couple of points I've picked up on.
His behaviour over the last 6 months has changed. Going from passive to aggressive.
You also have said he tires easily.

Sounds like he could have a possible thyroid issue which someone else on this thread has also mentioned

I think before you can proceed with training you need to rule this out first.


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Old 12-17-2012, 02:50 PM   #25 (permalink)
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This isn't something I'd try to fix myself. And personally I wouldn't use the trainer you are currently using if he/she just keeps saying increase the shock. I'd hire a GOOD trainer and also second the idea of a vet visit.
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