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Old 01-07-2013, 08:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm Cara, first-time Dobie caretaker and first-time two-dog caretaker.

We adopted Bennie, a now-3.5 year old male Border Collie mix in October of 2012.

In December (the 27th), we found Fidget (she earned that name), a 9 month old female Doberman at the same shelter, and brought her home.

Here's Fidget:


Here's Bennie and Fidget playing tug-of-war:


I'm here because I suspect we will need help with behavioral issues with Fidget -- hopefully NOT any health issues!

Right now, I came because I'm a little concerned about their interactions. At first, Bennie wanted nothing to do with her. He's the "baby" of the house - gets his way, but he's very well-behaved. We added a second dog because we wanted him to have a pal -- and we got a Dobie because my husband's fallen in love with two (other people's) Dobies, in his life.

They are interacting a little more, now, but their play is almost all "play-fighting." Fidget is 9 months, and 45 pounds. Bennie is 3.5 years old and about 60 pounds. Their play fighting is already quite seemingly vicious, but it appears that this is "normal" for Dobies (?). I worry a little that she will be able to hurt him, if she gets much bigger. Right now, he seems the more dominant one, but she doesn't really back away from him when they're playing/fighting. If anything, he seems reluctant (at times) to play -- like he's not really sure he wants to deal with her, but then he gets pulled in to it.

Am I inviting trouble by letting them play rough when she's this young?

Thanks for being here!
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Howdy and welcome to DT! Thank you for rescuing your two cutie pies!!!

I can say, as a first-time dobe owner myself, that I was a little alarmed at what a doberman considers "play". It is rough. But it is play. If it wasn't there would be blood!

Are there any other behavioral issues you are seeing with her, or is it mostly concern over play style? Do you have her in formal obedience training yet?
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilary View Post
Are there any other behavioral issues you are seeing with her, or is it mostly concern over play style? Do you have her in formal obedience training yet?
Oh, yes: counter-surfing, jumping, mouth-grabbiness, housetraining, leash-pulling -- but these are all things we will work on. My first priority is making sure that I'm not putting Bennie at any risk by allowing/encouraging them to 'wrestle-with-teeth!'

I plan on formal training, but am waiting for my HUSBAND to pursue it, as this dog was his choice and I want him to take primary responsibility. If he doesn't, I will take her or self-train using the handouts from Bennie's class!



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Old 01-07-2013, 09:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum! Most Dobermans play pretty rough. They are noisy and they wrestle and play bite. If you haven't seen that style of play it can seem like it's dangerous, but you'd never mistake it for a fight if you've seen a real fight.

Adolescents, in particular, can be over-the-top in their play. Stuff they got away with as a young puppy might be off-putting to other dogs now. As long as both dogs are having fun, I would not be worried. I would, however, teach them "take it easy" and to take breaks during play, to prevent them from becoming over aroused. Sometimes that means interrupting play and holding onto them separately until they relax a little, then letting them go back to it.

Below is a video of my Shanoa and Simon (who passed in November). This is actually pretty low-key play for the two of them. It's kind of dark, but you can see the biting and hear the vocalizations. This is normal play. There is one split second in the video where it almost turns into a real fight - see if you can spot it. Simon had bone cancer, and I think Shanoa hit him a little too hard at one point and it hurt, so he told her to back off.

Here's the video:
video


If you aren't super familiar with reading dog body language, it would be really helpful for you to pick up a copy of Turid Rugaas's book, "Calming Signals: On Talking Terms with Dogs." It's cheap, about $10 on Amazon.com, and really should be required reading for all dog owners - it's that good.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just to add to the others' suggestions, I'd look for the following in well-behaved play:

-alternating positions between the two dogs (one on the ground on his/her back, the other on top and then switching that position throughout the game)
-brief pauses during play
-loose, relaxed bodies
-play bows and other inviting behaviors
-backing off if the other dog yelps, or shows any other sign that the play was too rough

Last edited by RottenVonSpotten; 01-08-2013 at 01:43 PM..
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Neither dog is a Dobe, but here's another example of rough play (please excuse the messy yard). Ilka and Leo playing 12-17-12 - YouTube These two can, and sometimes do, escalate into something more serious. When that happens, I will step in and seperate them.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeadowCat View Post
Welcome to the forum! Most Dobermans play pretty rough. They are noisy and they wrestle and play bite. If you haven't seen that style of play it can seem like it's dangerous, but you'd never mistake it for a fight if you've seen a real fight.

Adolescents, in particular, can be over-the-top in their play. Stuff they got away with as a young puppy might be off-putting to other dogs now. As long as both dogs are having fun, I would not be worried. I would, however, teach them "take it easy" and to take breaks during play, to prevent them from becoming over aroused. Sometimes that means interrupting play and holding onto them separately until they relax a little, then letting them go back to it.

Below is a video of my Shanoa and Simon (who passed in November). This is actually pretty low-key play for the two of them. It's kind of dark, but you can see the biting and hear the vocalizations. This is normal play. There is one split second in the video where it almost turns into a real fight - see if you can spot it. Simon had bone cancer, and I think Shanoa hit him a little too hard at one point and it hurt, so he told her to back off.

Here's the video:
video


If you aren't super familiar with reading dog body language, it would be really helpful for you to pick up a copy of Turid Rugaas's book, "Calming Signals: On Talking Terms with Dogs." It's cheap, about $10 on Amazon.com, and really should be required reading for all dog owners - it's that good.
As an owner of both Bella (female Doberman, 6 months old, 52 lbs) and Sparky (male Bichon Frise, 21 lbs) I have to TOTALLY AGREE with you!! They fight HARD, but if I watch Bella really intently, I can see its just play! Even with all of the vocalization, growling, snarling and teeth showing and biting, it's just play - HOWEVER, again Meadowcat is right - it CAN turn ugly, especially when the Bichon gets a little too "over the top"! Then i have to separate them or surprise them into changing their mind set (a spray of the water bottle brings Sparky right back to reality and out of the red zone).

One night a few months ago, they were playing very, very rough, and Bella was rolling him in the mud, snarling, grabbing the skin on his back and shaking him with her jaws -- then I saw blood all over Sparky! I sprang over to him in a panic, to check the "wounds"... Strange, the blood was on the tips of the hair, and NOT by the skin... Dear God! After nearly having a heart attack, I realized that Bella had a loose tooth and left Sparky full of HER blood, lol! There was NOTHING wrong with Sparky at all, and minutes later, they were laying under the kitchen table and Sparky was licking her ears, LOL!!

Being able to distinguish play and aggression is definitely a MUST. Getting more familiar with body language is probably the first thing you can do, though, so you can gain more trust in her. I have worked with dogs my entire life, and i have to admit i was a little worried in the beginning too, especially because of their size difference. However, over time I've learned not to worry, that they ARE playing and I also know that if I get anxious, what starts as play can turn for the bad... Your anxiety can change the whole dynamic! So stay calm! You'll KNOW when its a fight - Only the Dobie would be walking away...

I just bought the book "On Talking Terms..." Meadowcat mentioned, by the way. Not because of their play, but because unlocking the mysteries of their subtle body gestures is so utterly fascinating! I was watching them yawn last night when i got home from work and was wondering if they were trying to calm me down, or if they both had just woken up when I got home, lol! Can't wait to read it!!

I'm sure everything will be fine. Relax, educate yourself and enjoy that Dobie-girl!! Stop thinking of her as your husbands choice and truly bond with her, and you'll see an amazing world of difference in her behavior. Good luck!!

And now... More pictures please!!


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