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Old 02-08-2012, 02:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Dominance Problem, or Just Overly Playful?

Hi all,
I'm new to the world of Dobermans but have had dogs all my life.
Straight out of the gate I'm going to say this is the CRAZIEST DOG that I've EVER owned!
I've mainly owned Belgians and Shepherds, all full of energy, but this one is truly high strung.

The issue I'm having the most problem with right now is the biting.
He's not doing it much with me anymore at all, but my wife is his FAVORITE CHEW TOY!
Of course, this is causing a big situation between myself and the Mrs.
What I can't figure out is if this is a dominance and pecking order issue,
or if he's just trying to play.
IMHO, he is dominating her because he's even tried testing me some of which included
baring teeth and barking.
The difference is, I won't have it.
I think he might have a screw loose too though......
When I correct him from trying to do it with me,
he gets frustrated and starts biting the hell out of himself!
Never seen a dog do that one.

I think alot of the problem with my wife,may have been created by her though.
Right from the start, she wanted to be his savior more than making him mind.
She thought it was cute when he would bite a her hands, pant legs,ect.
Never correcting the behavior, and just like I told her, it's now a problem!
She can't even come into the room without him jumping all over her,
literaly being on top of her when she's trying to sit, and just tearing her up.
I really don't know what to do about it.
He's generally reasonably well behaved when it's just him and I,
but when she's around he doesn't really listen to me that well either.
Not sure how to fix the problem before it gets dangerous.
Any help would be great!

(I'm sure that getting him clipped could calm him down a bit, but I've also heard he may not get as big as a result. He was the runt of his brothers, so I'd like for him to have every fighting chance he can for size.)

A little info on him:
We've had him since he was 10 weeks old,
and he will be 4 moths next week.
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I am going through the exact same thing. I have an 11 week old puppy and he doesn't bite my boyfriend anymore but I am his favorite thing to chew on. I actually just posted a thread about it and got lots of great suggestions.

Try to redirect his attention and give him something he is allowed to chew on. A lot of people also said to make sure he's getting plenty of excersise and mental stimulation. They can get bored easily if their not properly excersised. Have you done any training with him? You're wife and you need to use the same techniques or else he's going to realize he can get away with anything with her and trust me I learned that the hard way with my husky I had so I'm trying to make the same mistakes. My pup also gets really mouthy when he's tired. I'm sure this isn't the best advice but have patience I heard it gets better good luck!
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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He's not a demon or the spawn of satan LOL He's a dober-shark.

Redirect, redirect, redirect. Make sure he gets daily mental and physical exercise. A tired puppy is a good puppy
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sounds like Whiskey the first few months I had him but I was expecting the behavior. I think it's now crucial for you to get that pup into a training class for your wife's sanity Other then that all I can do is agree with sam&macksmom... redirect redirect redirect. I always shoved a toy into those wicked doberjaws!
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My father let my dog get away with a lot because he "didn't want to break his spirit." I told him he needed to start correcting him. Needless to say my father didn't and now my older and bigger pup, according to him, needs serious training.
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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At 4 months of age, you should be in a training class with your puppy every week and should spend at least 30 min/day on focused training. If you don't get this boy into a good training program for basic obedience you will have a monster on your hands when he is an adult. It sounds like he has never been asked to learn basic manners. Google "Nothing in Life is Free" (NILIF) and start on that program immediately. Dobermans are extremely intelligent and strong-willed. You can't live with this breed if you don't train him! The good news is that he will respond immediately to training and a new regimen (NILIF).

Does he stay crated up all day? If so, he needs a good amount of vigorous exercise as soon as he is released from the crate. It is really unfair to ask a 4 month old to be calm and mannerly if he is not allowed to blow off all the tremendous puppy energy in a healthy way (playing fetch, free play off leash, etc.).
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Forgot to add, now is the perfect time to enroll him in puppy kindergarten. Not sure where you live, but check out the training clubs by state here: Training Resources
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Sounds pretty normal to me lol. Are you familiar with any training methods?
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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What everyone said, training, training, training. Once he get a few months on him he will be huge and it's no fun trying to control a 75 lbs puppy. They don't grow out of this puppy thing for a while, not like a lab. They will test you and you must be in control.
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Two words. Bitter Apple....

A good spray in the mouth whenever his mouth touches something it is not supposed to, will help cure that fast!
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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He gets plenty of exercise each day.
Normally 30 HARD minutes morning AND night,
plus I'll play with him here and there throughout the day as my work is 80% home based.
I redirect constantly, and thats probably why he's done as well for me as he has.
As for my wife, she tries to use the same methods that I do (well...NOW anyways)
but they are just not working for her AT ALL!
I don't really have any inclination to be involved in a group puppy program just because
I've always done very well training any dog I've had on my own.
This one on the other hand seems to need some special guidance of some sort though.

I talked with a private trainer today who "seems" to know his stuff,
and he's willing to come to my home and work with us for $75 per hour.
I don't really want to have to do that, but he is confident that the biting issue
can be solved within 25min and completely resolved.
Not sure if I should do it or not.
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Two words. Bitter Apple....

A good spray in the mouth whenever his mouth touches something it is not supposed to, will help cure that fast!
I actually have some of that.
Never thought of using it as a biting repelant though. lol!
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:08 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:38 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.
From what I can see, I've been doing all of them, minus the group training and Bitter Apple.
I checked into that NILIF as well.
Haha, that one kinda made me laugh because I just thought that was a basic
approach that most people have always used on dogs.
That being said, I'm not too sure what to do.
Having that dog trainer come into my home for $75
an hour and tell me the same thing would really irritate me.
I'm now starting to think that she just needs to spend more time with him and work with him.
Even the dog trainers methods won't work unless she implements them consistently, right?
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Old 02-08-2012, 06:52 PM   #15 (permalink)
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First off OP.
My general rule of thumb, do not allow behaviors that will not be accepted when he is over 80 lbs. Ie: what your wife allowed when younger.
Does he know Stay? Do you own a crate? Does he have a favorite toy or game.
You've allowed the biting, now if you want it corrected, you have to be constant in corrections and reprimands to send the message, that the honeymoon is over.
When all other methods have failed, time outs (short), will often work, but back to the favorite activity again, and an infraction is served with an time out again.
Your letting them know, you really want to play but by your rules.
He doesn't have anything loose, he is frustrated and confused bcuz it was allowed before.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I would not use bitter apple on myself in an attempt to curb biting. It gets in the air & then in your mouth and if used too much on too many things they can become desensitized to it IMO.

If you've a petco or petsmart around they have puppy basics classes where the pups play w/each other and instructor gives tips on how to deal w/some of these behaviors.

Hard to mess them up w/a class like that in the early stages & in our case it wears the boy out nicely w/puppies the same age.

We've been using "YES!" then a treat w/desired behaviors for the time being, that works well once they figure out they want to be doing things that get a Yes! and a treat jackpot. Also timing is everything.

If you use the treat/yes approach be sure to measure out daily rations ahead so not to overfeed & cause other problems.

Hope that helps.
I would not use a 75$ per hour trainer especially at this age until I exhausted all other possibilities getting hooked up in decent classes. Save the $75 per for bigger probs.

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Old 02-08-2012, 07:13 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Personally, I really, really like group classes. It allows for socialization and for your dog to work under distraction. To each their own. You have to find what works for your situation
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Old 02-09-2012, 01:52 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nubis'sDad View Post
First off OP.
My general rule of thumb, do not allow behaviors that will not be accepted when he is over 80 lbs. Ie: what your wife allowed when younger.
Does he know Stay? Do you own a crate? Does he have a favorite toy or game.
You've allowed the biting, now if you want it corrected, you have to be constant in corrections and reprimands to send the message, that the honeymoon is over.
When all other methods have failed, time outs (short), will often work, but back to the favorite activity again, and an infraction is served with an time out again.
Your letting them know, you really want to play but by your rules.
He doesn't have anything loose, he is frustrated and confused bcuz it was allowed before.
Yes, I have a crate,
and he knows stay, sit, and to lay down.
He does all of this very well in a variety of environments as long as you have treats for him.
If you don't, he will only do them for a short period, but once he realizes that he'sot getting a treat, he basically tells you to piss off.
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:09 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Q734 View Post
I would not use bitter apple on myself in an attempt to curb biting. It gets in the air & then in your mouth and if used too much on too many things they can become desensitized to it IMO.

If you've a petco or petsmart around they have puppy basics classes where the pups play w/each other and instructor gives tips on how to deal w/some of these behaviors.

Hard to mess them up w/a class like that in the early stages & in our case it wears the boy out nicely w/puppies the same age.

We've been using "YES!" then a treat w/desired behaviors for the time being, that works well once they figure out they want to be doing things that get a Yes! and a treat jackpot. Also timing is everything.

If you use the treat/yes approach be sure to measure out daily rations ahead so not to overfeed & cause other problems.

Hope that helps.
I would not use a 75$ per hour trainer especially at this age until I exhausted all other possibilities getting hooked up in decent classes. Save the $75 per for bigger probs.
I haven't tried the Bitter Apple in that manner yet,
but I know it has helped keep him from completely trashing my patio furniture.
I'm curious to how he would react to it.
He HATES getting squirted with even water, that's how I'm currently keeping him out of my kitchen.
Don't know what it is about that, because he does fine in the bath tub.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sam&macksmom View Post
Personally, I really, really like group classes. It allows for socialization and for your dog to work under distraction. To each their own. You have to find what works for your situation
If his behavior doesn't improve soon toward her, I might have to give in.
Or better yet, maybe SHE should be the one taking him to the classes
being that SHE allowed the bad behavior in the beginning, and SHE is having the problem!!
Somehow I don't think she'll see it that way though.

I'm taking him to get his last booster shot and rabies shot tomorrow,
so after that he will be all ready to socialize finally.
I do think that just that alone will make an impact on him, especially if she comes with me when I'm taking him places. We'll see.

My vet told me not to worry about much and that he should out grow
it in a couple months or so.
Not sure if I agree with that one though.
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:29 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Find a good obedience puppy class and have your wife train him threre should only be one trainer but you should be there also to see the training. The classes by me are 8 weeks long and consist of one hour a week. You then work with the puppy daily generally twice a day minutes would be what the trainer suggests once again you wife should do this. Obedience is an ongoing daily issue down, sit, stay. I've found out saying the word enough is as low a tone as your wife can will help. Something about the difference between a Man and Womans voice

Your puppy needs to learn to respect and listen to your wife and an obedience class is a wonderful way to accomplish this your wife may even like it so much she'll want to go to the next level up. A lot of my friends started this way an wound up competing in AKC sanctioned events for obedience.
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Old 02-09-2012, 05:50 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I have Leerburgs puppy dvd and obediance training dvd, my pup will be 4 months on saturday. i do not have this problem. Sounds like you guys need more structure, and your wife needs to step up and get control of this dog. I agree with the other posts, i was always reminding my wife if any behavior would be cute when she is 70 lbs. Structured walks, feeding time, play time, command training like sit, stay, bed, crate, no, yes, bite, etc. all add up to a dog that looks to you for direction. You have a happy well mannered dog by the end, I hope. id get some good dvds online if you dont have a good trainer around like me. I dont trust the petsmart trainers... Leerburg has raised over 350 GSD and trained up to the k9 level. there are other great trainers out there and prob better ones, do some research and go with it. Best way to ruin a great dog is $hitty training. for 75 bucks you could get 2 or 3 dvds that cover way more than biting. I doubt in 25 mins the issue will be solved, unless hard correctoins are in order, and that will test the bond with the dog.

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Old 02-09-2012, 08:37 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Hi there, if you don't mind I would like to add my 2 cents worth and hopefully you will find something of value in the package.

You say you give him 30 minutes of exercise twice a day, just how do you exercise him?
You then go on to say you then play with him during the day, what does your wife do with him?
One of the biggest problems to come between Dobe and his humans is, one person does the work whilst the other takes a back seat. Don't get me wrong, Dobes will and do tend to latch onto one person more than others, but in my opinion this can be a problem. I know because my boy is my dog, not my husbands, not my sons. Yes they are his humans, but to a lesser degree and this isn't in my opinion a good thing. No I don't want just anyone to be able to give him commands, but close family should be able to get a positive response to basic commands no matter who they are. Does your boy listen to your wife? It sounds as if he doesnt. With this in mind I would suggest she take over some of the training. Now I know you say you are not keen on group training, that you have done pretty good on your own. So have I, my dog will sit, down, come, heel, walk slow, walk fast, retrieve, go through hoops and much more for me on his own. But put another dog or human into the frame and bham, every single bit of training went out of the window because he was scared poopless because there was someone else closeby. So I had to swallow my pride, (and lets face it, it is pride) and ask a trainer friend (who is 13 years my junior so it was one hell of a swallow considering she is practically the same age as my eldest son) to help me overcome his fears. My boy is now 15 months old and we have now started group training classes, (I live in a remote area of Spain so I do not have the facilities you have in the states and have to drive an hour and a half to stand about in the freezing cold [at the moment] so my dog can socialise and train with other dogs).
Now you can spray stuff in your boys mouth to stop him biting, in my opinion you are asking to get bitten if you do this, but that is just the way I see it, or you and your wife can redirect him, consistently, without shouting, without kicking up a fuss.
Your wife can also train with him, by doing this he learns to respect her as he does you. At the moment she doesnt count for much within the hierachy so help her achieve a better standing.

As for neutering and it making him small, less developed etc, I personally do not believe it stunts growth or anything for that matter save sexual drive which cannot be a bad thing in such a circumstance, today biting, tomorrow humping.

Last but not least, the trainer who says he can cure your dogs biting in 25 minutes is talking out of his arse, no one is that good, there are no quick fixes to any problem with a dog, it will take time and patience so please do not go for such a trainer.

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Old 02-09-2012, 08:45 AM   #23 (permalink)
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The key is consistancy between family members. one person teaches new commands, once that person is 100% confident the dog understands the commands... the entire family can enforce/use them. Does the dog pull on the leash? walk through doors first? lay in bed with you? lay on couch? There are many signs where the dog thinks he is in the pack structure, sounds like he is ahead of your wife in the pecking order and maybe even you.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:40 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRAZY-DOBIE View Post
Yes, I have a crate,
and he knows stay, sit, and to lay down.
He does all of this very well in a variety of environments as long as you have treats for him.
If you don't, he will only do them for a short period, but once he realizes that he'sot getting a treat, he basically tells you to piss off.
Ok, he has a crate, have you ever given him Time Outs, and if so, how?

Treats are a great training aid and eventually, you wean them off them, or you get attitude, like you are getting. Initially, yes, he will only work for the treats, but the goal is working for other rewards, besides treats, ie: Vocal PRAISE, favorite toy, favorite game, etc. AS someone else said NILF. Some Dobes, have naturally tendacies to be working dogs, protective, Companion, Show etc.
I give you an example, Nubis imho is a good working dog, NILF works great on him and he loves his rewards because he has learned, if he works for them, he gets rewarded quite nicely, but it is a combination of rewards, not strictly treats.
NOW, you ask, how do you do this, RANDOM. He never knows when a tastey treat is coming. What I would suggest, is mini training sessions before meals and cut back on the kibble to compensate. Start off with boring kibble, once he is getting impatient, switch to tastey treats, but reward randomly with vocal praise, physical pats on the side/head, etc, and tastey treats. Then at other times, randomly give tastey treats for good behaviours and commands. Eventually, if done right, he reallly doesnt know when they are coming, so he is more attentive. You can easily wean off tastey treats, once you start getting positive results.
Last Saturday, I thought Nubis two commands, Wave and Hike (my version, hehaha). It was easy, I had his attention big time, because Nubis'sMom baked him some dog bisquits and for some reason (i think its the bacon grease, cuz Dad likes bacon), he will do somersaults for these, if he knew how. I read, that I had Nubis undivided attention and banked on it and showed him, wave. It actually blew me away, because within minutes he had it down, but he hears it, in my voice when i say sincerely say, Xcellent.....
WIth your training sessions, once you see his disinterest, then it is the time to end the session on a positivie note because if he gets uninterested and you are getting aggravated, he is simply ending it, not you. This way, your tone is still good and you are ending it positively.
Extend your time limits, on stay, while feeding and placing the bowl right in front of him. Figure out, his time limit and slowly start extendingit. YOU are showing here, you are the boss and you are feeding him and he is too wait for the okay.
I have 3 cats, so the Stay command is used alot, but it is a great re-enforcment of who actually is the boss.
Distractions are great for Focus training and bonding, because a dog is in a foreign place, he should stick with you and look up to you for guidance..
Walking is great, because you both experience things together and during tense/scary moments for the pup, you are there for him and reassurance.
WHen I first started taking Nubis, into high vehicle traffic areas, he was scared, but when hearing loud noises, I gave him the, its okay. He has learned when I say , something is okay, he is safe. I also introduced him to stuff like that gradually, so it is not overwhelming at first.

When you say, if you correct him, he will often bites himself, you are correct in saying he is frustrated. So redirect him away from biting himself.

As for the trainer, yes, he might be able to curb stuff in 25 mins, but it will most likely work for him, because he has clearly right from the start, showed that he will not accept it.

Ill give you an example, i have known this one couple for a year now, THeir chihuaha (sic) excessivedly barks, if you move, he barks, grab your coffee he barks. I started befriending the dog with treats and trying to become his buddy and he would listen at times, because I had treats. A month ago, my buddy had a headache and was telling him quiet, it really wasnt working. I was actually tired of his barking ,but its his dog I didnt want to impose. So I said, do you want him to stop the barking and he said, yes that would be good and he actually listens to you a little now too, since giving him treats. So I said good, wait for it. The next time he barked , I growled a loud "ENUF" . I had been using enuf, to quiet his barking and it was working a little but when I raised my voice, it shook him to quietness and 4 feet away. Now, when he has an attempted outburst, I say enuf and purse my lips with a finger and when he goes quiet, i say good boy and treat.
Now, when he tries interuppting our conversation, I will put my finger up and he will go quiet and sometimes walk away grumbling. When I viist at the door, he no longer barks at me, and when i say sit, he takes his treat and takes off. Sometimes, he needs a little enuf command or finger, but the dog has turned around 360 even for them, as they use the "enuf" command on him too and said, their actually amazed it works for them.
Part of his problem is insecurity, because they held him in their arms around other people because he they were afraid of him biting or barking. So i told them put him on the ground and fend for himself. so when i put my hand at him, id say go ahead bite it. he would get all snappy, so i put my hand right at him and hewasnt so tough and takeoff....WHY because everyone else would pull away. I simply showed in a non violent way i was afraid of him, Plus i told him, Nubis would have him for a snack LOL.
Then lesson here is, I layed the hammer down and let him know, it was no longer tolerated but he was rewarded for good behavior and being quiet.
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:06 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Wow, so many good responses, thank you everyone!
I'm going to try and respond to all at once, so please dont
get irritated if I leave a question unanswered, because all of that was alot to read.

As far as exercise:
I have him chase a ball or other toy inside for about 20 minutes at a time,
then I'll let him outside for about another 10-15 just to roam around freely,
or even play a bit more in the yard doing the same.
During the day, it's the same inside type of play, 10 minutes here or there.
I work on commands with him for 10-15 right before dinner along with another
20 or so after dinner.
He is not leash trained yet just because my vet told me to keep him in and away
from other animals until all the shots were done. (that will be today)
In a few days I should be able to start with him on that, and socializing him.
He will also finally be able to experience my huge backyard that I've been keeping him out of. I'm sure he'll enjoy that! Even though I have a 6' fence, rabbits and other critters seem to always find a way in, so until he has the rabies shots, I didn't even want to chance it.
As far as the leash goes....he hates it like non other the very few times I've had him on it,
more so than any other dog I've had. That will be a big challenge!
Hopefully he'll get over it soon, because I'd love to walk and hike with him.
As for my wife.....naw, she doesn't do any of the above with him.
She gets pissed off really easy because of the biting and leaves the room frequently.

No, I haven't tried time outs in the crate yet, but that sounds like a good way to go
when he starts acting up with her.
She really needs to get involved with him if she wants this issue to get resolved.
I KNOW she is lower in pecking order to him, but if she doesn't assert herself to
some degree, he's not going to get it. There's only so much I can do for her in that area. Any suggestions on how I can help that process for her ,or even myself, are welcome.
I think her biggest problem is that we used to have a wonderfully behaved Belgian Malinois that I raised alone before we were married.
So she's never really had to deal with it, and wants good behavior without putting in the work. I've tried to tell her that's not going to happen, but what do I know?

Good behavior takes time.....
and not all dogs are as easy to work with as others.
This one has been the most difficult for me by far!

Another thing that has been concerning me lately is masturbation, yes masturbation!
I'm dead serious about this though because there is just nothing else to call it.
Like I said before, when the dog gets aggrivated that he can't bite me, he starts biting himself. First arm and legs, then tail, now at his little dingaling!
But once he starts then he gets obsessed with it, and won't quit until it's out of the sheeth, then just goes to town licking himself! I've never seen anything like it, and can't figure out why a young puppy would be doing that.
Funny as hell yeah....but it's gotta stop.
Redirecting him from that one is NOT EASY!

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