Why is the rum gone?
Join Date: May 2009
Dogs Name: Griffin and Viking (GSD)
Dogs Age: 11 and 1
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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.