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Old 01-16-2013, 03:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Fear aggression

Hi everyone-

I'm new to the forum and very excited to be able to post and respond to questions.

I have a red dobie who is almost 4. I rescued him from a Doberman rescue when he was 6 months. He has always been very skiddish. I used a positive reinforcement trainer and that was helpful but I am constantly trying to find ways to help him. He pulls me all over the place on walks. The gently leader wasn't a good option for us. I am currently using a halter on him that is supposed to make him turn if he pulls but he has proven to be too powerful for it to continue working. He also is not confidant. He barks and lunges at people as they walk by. I have worked with him on this and will give him treats and he will then focus on me and not bark at oncoming people and dogs. I live in an apt so this makes it difficult at times getting him in and out if there are other people around. Once he is comfortable with someone he's fine but its a constant challenge dealing with people and dogs he doesn't know. He is also on edge in the car.

One of the hardest situations is when people come over. He is immediately on edge and will non stop bark. Like I said, he is fine though with my family and people that he is used to.

I was wondering any suggestions that any of you have to help my Finley. He is such a sweet boy but I have tried trainers and books to build his confidence and to help him not be so out of control with strangers. He has been through a lot. We believe his previous owner abused him and so did some of the other dogs that lived there. There have also been a few instances where he got attacked by dogs, nothing serious, but enough to make his confidence lower. He has also adjusted to living a few different places. I just want to do everything I can to help him and to boost his confidence and mine in these situations. Any help or suggestions and book suggestions would be very helpful.
Thank you
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi! Welcome to DT.
If you would like to share what area you live in there may be someone here who could recommend a good local trainer or other resources to help you work with your fellow. There are DT'ers all over the place. But it's difficult to give much good advice over the internet without actually having seen your boy and the way he interacts with you and his environment.
You sound like a caring owner who is willing to put a lot of effort into providing the best place for your dog--good luck!
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome my friend, from Canada...glad you joined the DT forum.

Re..."He barks and lunges at people" / so practice calming, in the house when visitors come in...not in open spaces / outside (and loose control)

Both of you, sit on the couch together (great exercise) and place your fingers in dobes collar (hang on)...to re-educate home expectations
- up to you, keep dog in its place and stop the bad vocal, restrist movement and talk in a loving voice, like its all OK, no harm will happen
(comfort and reassure, through your actions...they learn very quickly, when good is good & bad is bad behavior...just LEAD by confident example)
You can't do it (solve the real problem) several feet away, but its MUCH EASIER inches away...use the dogs collar & semi-confined space, as a true shaping advantage...in owners control finally.
^^^^ ALL in a calm or relaxed state of mind / if your dober scared, failure is a very real possibily...and increased aggression could result >>.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you both for the advice. I am in the Buffalo, NY area.


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Old 01-16-2013, 05:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've heard good things about Dr. Karen L. Overall's Relaxation Protocol

Control Unleashed, by Leslie McDevitt, is also a great book (and I've heard that Control Unleashed Puppy is a lot better organized), and you might also find Control Unleashed style classes in your area.

There's also the Cornell Animal Behavioral Clinic, though that's a bit of a drive for you, and they charge 50 cents a mile for house calls, looks like.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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More than boost his confidence seems you need to make sure he feels safe. When Kyrah was younger and went balistic when someone knocked on the door and entered. We started a basic training camp for all 3 dogs. Kyrah was put in her kennel before someone entered. The other dogs were put up b/c they do bark even tho its once or twice I felt it stimulate Kyrah. They were let out one by one after they were calm. My most friendly first...Tippy my people lover. Then Cujo who is ok with people. Kyrah was NEVER let out of her kennel unless she was calm. The she was brought out, put on leash if you must, she was not allowed to rush anyone. She stayed by my side and was told to sit. In the begining I played the look at that game from "control unleashed." Then I let her sniff the person and they were told to ignore her...no eye contact, talk or touch. During this time I was also doing long down stays with all 3 dogs. They were taught spot each independently. (to lay on their dog bed in the living room) Then I did it with all three on their spots. Then we up'd to me knocking on the door myself. It was a long road but finally I was able to get them to hold their spots when someone they didnt know came to the door!! I of course was still working with Kyrah with people always stepping in front of her if someone was coming towards her. I never let anyone else reach for her, talk to her or stare at her. It took a long time approx a yr and half. She is not people crazy but she doesnt react like she used to. I know there is more but I have to run. Work with him carefully, consistently and patiently. I cannot even begin to tell how much patients I have learned from my girl.
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This thread has a lot of resources: RDOA - Reactive Dog Owners Anonymous

Are you still willing to work with a trainer?
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Old 01-16-2013, 07:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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These are all great tips. I am definitely going to check out those links and books. I also think it will be very helpful to crate him and not bring him down until he is calm. Previous trainers had him there when we worked on people coming over but I think it is too much for him. I am not currently working with a trainer. I have worked with a couple in the past but as of now I want to get into synch with him and work with him myself.


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Old 01-17-2013, 04:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I recommend a consult with a board certified veterinary behaviorist: Find a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist ACVB They usually have recommendations for trainers that are qualified to work with anxious dogs, too.
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Fear aggression

Thanks for all of the advice. Does anyone have any opinions about dogs in this situation and allowing them on the furniture etc.? I've heard that to make them feel you're in control and they're safe it helps to keep them off re furniture and walk out of doors after you etc. so they know you're the alpha. Thoughts?


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Old 01-19-2013, 08:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Our dobe usually goes outside through the side door, because the front door also has a second storm door, to open & close....from day1 home:
- when I open the house door, I stand on the landing (and block the basement steps, so pup doesn't have an accidental tumble)...and dobe exits first
- after a few weeks, I don't have to block off the stair well with my body, and dobe also allowed to enter the house first
- pup is hoisted up onto the bed, before mom or dad crawls in
- dobe gets up on furniture, always without permission needed from us

We have had dobes from 35 years ago, and all our girls still knew mom & dad "fully calls the shots & are the ones, in control".
^^^^ I want my dogs to figure this logic out, for themselves & quick enough, and I avoid those common listed alpha practices - never saw the need.
(but not had a rescue dog either)
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Fear aggression

Good to know. He has no aggression about getting off of furniture when asked and I really didn't want to give up my snuggles with him on the furniture. I've just heard different views on this. Thanks for your input.


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Old 01-19-2013, 09:06 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Dobiemom33 thats great news.
- no aggression about getting off of furniture
Now if he did, your behavorial picture is totally changed, and he would need to stay on the floor, for the next month.

Part of the reason I suggested earlier - he sits with you on the couch (and calm him, from barking) when someone visits:
- is because the cuddle time on the couch with you, is a most safe/loving place, in dobes mind
- should be #1 place to learn to relax more, under distraction / why couch (your advantage) is not off limits, as long as house manners are pressent
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:10 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Fear aggression

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Dobiemom33 thats great news.
- no aggression about getting off of furniture
Now if he did, your behavorial picture is totally changed, and he would need to stay on the floor, for the next month.

Part of the reason I suggested earlier - he sits with you on the couch (and calm him, from barking) when someone visits:
- is because the cuddle time on the couch with you, is a most safe/loving place, in dobes mind
That's a good point. However, he becomes uncontrollable when people come over so I'm not sure that's the best option right now. I would like to get him to the point where he would be calm enough to try that.


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Old 01-20-2013, 10:47 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I let my dogs have free reign on the furniture as long as the cover is on the sofa. Although yes, if anyone had an issue or challenged me when told to get off the couch, their privileges would be revoked. My dogs don't get to challenge me if I need them to move. If I need a dog to move, go somewhere, or allow me to take something out of his mouth, I have to be able to do that without being growled at or bitten. As for the whole alpha bit- you control the food, access to outdoors, playtime, and a host of other things. Your dog knows who's the boss, and you don't need to ban him from furniture to prove it- unless he's challenging you when told to move.

In addition to working with the crate idea, I'd work with a trainer too. I'd be very hesitant to comfort or reassure a dog who's agitating when someone comes to the door. It's easy for a dog to interpret a comforting tone of voice and a pat as a reward. I had a collie who came to me with severe fear issues. Every time he showed fear or nervousness, his former handler would talk to him, comfort him, with a soft tone of voice. In other words, the gentle tone and pats reinforced the fearful behavior and actually made it worse. Touch and attention is a big reward for dogs. Mark the behavior you want with a calm word and a pat- in your case, when your Dobe is calm and under control, not while he's barking and agitated.

I handled door issues by teaching a marker for Griff. If someone knocks, he barks. I let him bark once or twice- I want the alarm when someone's at the door, because I don't always hear it if someone knocks. Then he gets an 'okay, quiet', and goes to his spot in a sit stay. He wanted to greet everyone who came in and would rush the door. The first few times, I had a friend help me by answering the door, while I worked with Griff on leash. Now I can control him by using voice, body language, and pointing to his spot. He no longer charges the door to body slam guests.

The hardest part is certain family members who show up with a "HI GRIFFIN HOW'S MY BABY" and wreck three months of training because they don't listen to my rule that he must be calm and sitting before attention is given. I swear, family can do more to undo your training progress than anything else, sometimes. And I know they won't think it's cute when my 80 pound Doberman headbutts them or slams them into a wall because he got too amped up.

Cuddle time on the couch is an amazing way to build trust though, like Beaumont said. When there's nobody at the door and the house is calm, get your Dobe up there for some cuddling. That will help you and your dog bond and reinforce trust. Dogs want to be a part of the family. I do that with Griffin. It helps both of us, especially after a rough day at work. It's real calm and relaxing for both of us, for sure.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:14 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
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In addition to working with the crate idea, I'd work with a trainer too. I'd be very hesitant to comfort or reassure a dog who's agitating when someone comes to the door. It's easy for a dog to interpret a comforting tone of voice and a pat as a reward.

I handled door issues by teaching a marker for Griff. If someone knocks, he barks. I let him bark once or twice- I want the alarm when someone's at the door, because I don't always hear it if someone knocks. Then he gets an 'okay, quiet', and goes to his spot in a sit stay. He wanted to greet everyone who came in and would rush the door. The first few times, I had a friend help me by answering the door, while I worked with Griff on leash. Now I can control him by using voice, body language, and pointing to his spot. He no longer charges the door to body slam guests.

The hardest part is certain family members who show up with a "HI GRIFFIN HOW'S MY BABY" and wreck three months of training because they don't listen to my rule that he must be calm and sitting before attention is given. I swear, family can do more to undo your training progress than anything else, sometimes. And I know they won't think it's cute when my 80 pound Doberman headbutts them or slams them into a wall because he got too amped up.

Cuddle time on the couch is an amazing way to build trust though, like Beaumont said. When there's nobody at the door and the house is calm, get your Dobe up there for some cuddling. That will help you and your dog bond and reinforce trust. Dogs want to be a part of the family. I do that with Griffin. It helps both of us, especially after a rough day at work. It's real calm and relaxing for both of us, for sure.
"Bold" very good advise!

I trained the same way about the door. Kyrah was a barking fool though not wanting to greet! AND YES, dont you HATE it when people cant listen to the RULES!!

Having 4 dogs its hard to get time with them all. But Kyrah does get special snuggle time on the couch before bed even if its only for 10 minutes.
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Old 01-22-2013, 11:21 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, some dogs have developed an unhealthy level of fear. The fear is so strong for them, that they may actually respond to their fear with aggressive behavior. The fear is usually due to something that happened to them in the past, such as severe neglect or some kind of abuse.
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