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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2018, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Spazzing!

Ok y'all, so you know Zeus. Well, as well as you can know a dog from an online forum. My boy is an excellent dog. He's been in obedience training since he was 2 months old (puppy class) and then began regular obedience when he turned 6 months. He's currently 11 months. He's come incredibly far in his obedience! He has his AKC STAR Puppy, his CGC, and is currently taking the Community Canine course with his test in November once the course is over. He's well behaved at home and in public, although he does have his moments where he doesn't listen the first (or second) time he's told something. But, he's 11 months... so still very much puppy minded. Overall though, his behavior is great.

BUT ... since he turned 11 months, he's started having what I call "spazz" moments in obedience class. It's only happened maybe 3 times since the month started, but pror to October, he's never done this. Here's what happens.

We're doing something in class. Some activity with place commands. And then, out of the blue, he'll start biting his leash and then when I'm getting it away from him, he'll jump on me and start biting at my arm! And when I say "biting", it's not hard enough to break the skin, but he's putting down a good amount of pressure. He'll jump up, bite at my sleeves or arm, and today (the second and third time he did it), he even growled a little! It's like, he goes into this random crazed zone. I used my knee to get him off me, but he'll jump back up and continue at it. Finally, after corrections with his e-collar and prong collar and kneeing to keep him down, he'll snap out of it and look up at me with lowered ears and head. Totally apologetic. He did it twice today after placing on top of a kennel (which is not anything new for him), but after snapping out of it, he was back to his normal, obedient self and did the rest of the course that was set up just fine with me.

So... is this "normal"? I know it sounds bad, but please don't think that Zeus is a bad dog. Y'all know I love him to death and 99.99% of the time, he does everything that he's supposed to do. But lately (and it only happens in class!) he's been doing that, and I'm not sure if it's something I should be overly concerned about, or if it's a hormonal/age thing. He's intact still. We're going to do neutering next month after he turns a year. Do y'all think that has something to do with it? My husband is more of the authoritarian in the house, but I've been trying to step up so that /if/ it's a hormone thing, Zeus doesn't start thinking he can push me around. Any and all advice is appreciated!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2018, 10:32 PM
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LOL... What does your class instructor say when he/she observes this behavior?

Our senior is a very well behaved dog, but every once in a while (great muzzle and all) he decides to go berserk when on leash. He grabs his leash in his mouth and jumps around like a crazy critter. I finally, years ago, figured out he was basically doing just trying to do his "Zoomies" thing even though he is on leash! He always gives it up in a very short time. And this dog is an old boy....

Your boy is still a baby. Sort of like the "terrible twos"

I'm not saying that you should have to put up with it... But in the greater scheme of things, it's probably no big deal.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-18-2018, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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@4x4bikeped, when the instructor saw spazzy Zeus the first time, I was struggling with him (because I'd never had him act like that before) so she came over to help. She told me not to bend down towards him, which I was doing a lot of. Stay standing tall. Use my knees instead of my hands to get him down. Use a deeper corrective tone when he does this. She wasn't super concerned, and I think I was more embarrassed than anything else because it was a group class and I could just feel all the eyes watching. Probably judging. Today when he did it again, she let me handle it on my own. She told me I had it under control. My husband (who was also there) wanted to take him when he started acting up, but I wanted to deal with it myself, which I did.

Thanks for the feedback, John!
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 06:34 AM
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LOL yeah, this is normal. Really normal. We used to drink our way through it.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 07:00 AM
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Dear Spaz

I think one of the things we forget with our young Dobermans - that they are still a puppy in side at 11 months - or like left coast John said the teen years - We expect to much of them sometimes at this age .

Mr. Business did great when he was young - then as we headed into the teens - he was thinking about other things - like play time - lol They just get bored - or there attention time is shorter at this time . I backed off on training with Mr.B and let him be a puppy - teen - after a few months - I tried it again and it went better and kept after it then .

We are all so proud of our dogs and when they goof up in public - we hit the ??? Spaz button - lol You have a good boy - I would not worry to much at this time .

Yes - as the others said - it's normal : )

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 08:28 AM
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Good words of advice and reassurance above.

Just thinking- "Spaz" sounds like a good name for a male Doberboy.....
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Poke Everything.
It's New? Bark At It.
Moves? Chase It.
Doesn't Move? Smell It.
Liquid? Spill and Dribble It.
Treat or Food? Wolf It Down.
Not Food? Chew It Slowly, Be Quiet & Hide From Human.
A Toy? Shred & Destroy It.
Stuffed? De-Stuff It.
Bites You Back? Wrestle It!
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 08:51 AM
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Oh Gamer, I so wish you could come watch an Obedience class with Ace and I. He does all the things you mentioned, and then some. Leash biting is his favorite though, sigh. But you would feel a thousand times better about you and your boy, and not feel as embarrassed.

Like you, we have achieved the AKC Puppy Star award, and are now in our second class for the CGC being tested in a few weeks. Ace is almost 10months old.

Don't EVER be embarrassed. We all come to class to learn, so its the best place for the dog to act a fool, so you can learn to control it.

Ace can be the most embarrassing, out of control dog in the building. The first night of class? He was practically screaming all night long. I had him in flat collar, and he was just dragging me all over the building. He couldn't settle down, he busted into someone elses class, and over all just made me want to cry. Actually, I think I did cry. However, I was in the perfect place for all of this to be going down. My trainer walked over, taught me what I needed to be doing differently, and introduced us to a prong collar. It worked so well with him, that she decided prong may be a little too much and backed us down to a martingale collar. Magically now, I can walk my dog on a semi-loose lead and control this beast. My trainer always comes to my side when Ace is throwing his fits, and teaches the BOTH of us what to do in these situations.

I don't know how many times I apologize to everyone in my class. I've got the largest dog in the whole building, and its obvious some people roll their eyes about my "aggressive breed" doing "What they do". Its not the case though, and I feel like i've proven that to everyone in the building the last few months. We went from out of control dog, to mostly controlled, well behaved guy.

But as my trainer reminds me every day HE'S JUST A PUPPY! These temper tantrums and him dramatically throwing his whole body on the floor while wailing isn't his training failing. It's my boy being a pain in the butt toddler. I know he's not going to be this way forever, but we have good days and we have not so good days. Each of those days however are learning days.

We get so frustrated because we watch them behave like a saint, achieve obedience steps, and see how far they can go at such a young age, that I think we forget just how young they are. When my boy is behaving, he's the best obedience dog in the class. When he's throwing his temper tantrum, he's the worst dog in the whole building. He's a LOT of dog. He's super smart, and I think that brings the dramatic temper tantrums to a new level too. He's young, so he has no patience for standing around and listening. It may not seem like it, but working through these temper tantrums is just as good of training for the both of us as doing the obedience work.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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This is why I absolutely love this forum! Being a good dog parent can be so difficult at times, and it's reassuring to know that the things that I fear are abnormal or concerning end up being normal part of a dog's development that are not unique to just my pup. @Chesa , Ace and Zeus must be long lost brothers. Zeus hates waiting. He whines, sighs, moans, groans, huffs, whines, grunts, and did I mention whines? at the beginning of class when we're waiting for things to get going, and if there's any down time it's the same, lol.

Thank you all. You've no idea his much better I feel.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 12:11 PM
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Only does this in class.......hmmm....sounds like he is getting anxious in class.......wondering if he is associating class with e-collar....what setting Are you on when using the e collar in class.......

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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@LadyDi We use his ecollar every day at home as well during training sessions. He works on a 1 or 2 at home, but in class he's usually a 3 or 4. The trainers say this is normal in general because of the added distractions in a group setting. We sometimes have to bump him up to a 3 or 4 at home too. The max on the collar is a 7.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-19-2018, 02:52 PM
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Yes, Ace absolutely whines and whimpers and paces and jumps and pulls and does whatever he can if we are waiting.

To combat this, we play games in place while "waiting". We play Touch (touch my hand to get a treat). We play Leave It (leave a treat on the floor and make him wait a few seconds to grab it). We play Look (holding a treat away from my body, saying look and withholding the treat until he makes eye contact. We are working on the duration of that now.). If he's really bad, we practice heeling off to the side of the class. At this point, the class knows I have to keep this dog moving, so it doesn't seem to interrupt anything.

I'm a first time dobie owner, and haven't had a puppy in over ten years. This dog is a LOT of dog to handle. I probably wouldn't consider him a "beginner" dog, and I think the fact I did so much training with other people's dog way back when is why I haven't totally been overwhelmed. I knew the basics of dog training, just not the fine tuning, which is what these classes help me with.

Keep Zeus moving. If you have to be waiting, play fun games to keep him engaged. Keep his focus and keep him working. It has helped us immensely with our training.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 07:31 AM
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Oh Puppies! Everyone is like aww puppies are the best, nope nope nope....puppies suck! It's funny how easy it is to forget how much work they really are when you are cohabitating with well behaved adult dogs and then just when you think you have it under control, BOOM adolescence!

As for Zues, Like others have said I wouldn't get too worried about his behavior, sounds like he is bored or throwing a little temper tantrum to see what he can get away with. Stay calm, and handle it. Your did the right thing by not allowing your husband to step in, Zues needs to learn to respect and listen to you. I take a chew bone with me for down times to help prevent that boredom, my pup is 8 months old and class is and hour fifteen so it's a long time to ask her to stay focused. He also, might have pent up energy, try a walk before hand.

Just for your piece of mind....My first doberman was a wholy terror until she was about 2 years old and then she was still spunky but at least listened. She stole and destroyed everything she could get her mouth on, counter surfed and she did exactly what Zues does, except it wasn't play. She would jump up on me, bite my arm and growl (only to me not to my husband) and she usually only did this when I would correct her for being bad My trainer said she was being a spoiled brat, trying to get her way by asserting dominance. We worked through this with a professional, and she grew up to be amazing! She was a total goofball but serious when needed, loving but protective in the correct situations, she listened very well in the home and in public, we took her everywhere without even hesitating to think how she'd handle it. You'll get there, it just takes time and patience!

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 09:22 AM
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Well, I'm going to say...while a bit of craziness like leash biting can be normal adolescent behavior, the fact that he's grabbing you...I don't know. He might be stressed or anxious. What is happening before he does this? Is it the same thing(s)? I'd try to identify the cause of the behavior, if I were in your shoes.

Also, if you have to keep "correcting", he isn't actually learning that it's not okay. For punishment to work, it really has to be enough of a correction for the dog to learn that it's not okay, and they don't repeat the behavior. That's the tricky danger of punishing - it has to be "big" enough that you're actually suppressing the behavior, rather than just "nagging" at them not to do it again...if you have to correct every time, they haven't actually learned not to do it, right? If you're going to use punishment, it really should be enough that you don't have to do it again. If you're punishing the same behavior over and over and over....the dog hasn't actually learned. Sometimes punishment might be appropriate, but if you haven't actually taught the dog, it may be better to teach them an alternate behavior that is correct and able to be rewarded, so they can learn what you DO want.

I'm not against e-collars or prong collars, but with young dogs I think it works better to first teach them what you DO want, so they have a very solid foundation of "yes" rather than "no."

Without being there in person it's hard to say if he's acting out like a normal teenager, or getting stressed about something. My two have never grabbed at me or been crazy at ME....if they have acted out in class it's more "running around with the zoomies" or, "I can't pay attention right now."

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