New Member with some questions (long post) - Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-14-2017, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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New Member with some questions (long post)

I've been lurking around this site for quite some time now and finally decided to join and perhaps get some questions answered and any advice anyone cares to share. My wife and I are new to Dobermans but not to dogs.

Before settling on a Doberman we did a fair bit of research and thought we had a good idea of what we were getting ourselves into but our girl has been a real challenge. We aren't giving up by any means but we are trying to figure out if some of these behaviors are normal for the breed/age and what/when can we expect some maturity level changes if at all.

We have had our girl, Xena, since she was 8 weeks old. She is just now 7 months old. She is currently about 25" tall and right at about 60lbs. She's fast, agile, smart, sensitive, strong as an ox and gets a 5/9 from her vet on the BCS. I'm about 210lbs and have to be weary of my footing at all times or she'll pull me over. She has been relentless socialized with people and animals and loves everyone and everything.

What I'd like to do I guess is list some observations and behaviors and perhaps get feedback as to if this is normal for her age or if its something unusual that requires attention.

Some background on how we have been working with her, she has attended puppy kindergarten and went to a 2 week board and train using e-collar mini-educator. She knows the following:

Sit, down, heel, touch, dead dog, come, roll over, out, fetch, place and shake. But more on this to follow.

Again, we are new to the breed and she is just a different dog than what we are accustom to. Any feedback you are willing to provide would be greatly appreciated.


1- When on leash she pulls relentlessly. Using a regular collar you are in for a wrestling match. We have tried martingale harnesses that compress the chest and you are still in for a wrestling match, Prong collars do work but I believe are causing her petechial hemorrhaging. We are now on a gentle leader which seems to work the best but she still wants to pull despite its anti-pulling nature. When she can't pull she become frustrated and will sometimes go after the leash.

2- She is STILL all mouth. Her tendency is to play with her mouth and while she understands ATTTTT (Correction word) she will stop but goes right back to it again in short order. Then eventually ignores the command and the only solution is to turn your back to her, give her the sit command and wait for her to lose interest.

3- She's a vacuum cleaner. Picks up EVERYTHING. Mulch and grass are her two favorite things. But sometimes she eats mud too.... I've read this is them longing for things missing in their diet. But not sure how much credence I put into that.

4- She is very submissive around other dogs. Not upon meeting them but when they show even the slightest aggression she'll yelp or roll on her back. I've never seen a dog get aggressive with her once on her back and I can't figure out if she is doing that to say I don't like to play this way or positioning herself to strike at their underbelly if they persist when she goes down. This has happened twice when I take her to the dog park. I am very vigilant and will intervene if things get out of hand but not too much of a helicopter parent. I realize she is probably a little too young for the dog park at this point and have pretty much decided she needs to mature some more before we go again. That being said she is the most cordial dog I have ever seen around other dogs. She plays very nice, shares her toys without fussing and yields to other dogs at water faucets in the dog park when they want water. She really is the perfect lady but her rolling over like that concerns me.

5- She loves people and wants to say hi to everyone. The problem is she is a jumper. Her go to move is to jump right up in peoples faces. I control her with the gentle leader and corrective commands but I'm curious if this will get better with maturity? But she is also very alert. When we walk in the park she tries to get in front of me and peeks around blind corners before I get there. That's actually adorable. And whenever she sees someone she gets between me and them and sits. Perfect behavior in my book but if the person wants to engage her then its a jumpfest. She's also quick to alert when anyone approaches and put herself between me and whatever/whomever it is at home. Her prey drive is non-existent when it comes to animals like cats, squirrels, rabbits and even the occasional ferret that gets loose in the neighborhood but she'll fetch like crazy and tug of war you until your arm falls of if you let her. She's a contradiction in a lot of ways to me and just trying to make sense of it.

Now I know, you would think a board and train would have corrected a lot of these issues, but no. That's something I need to address with the trainer. When we work in a low distraction environment she will obey like a good little soldier but add any distraction and its like she's deaf. Although I know she is just ignoring me.

Anyway, hello to everyone and any feedback you care to provide would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by Briany; 11-14-2017 at 08:59 PM.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-15-2017, 08:04 AM
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Hoss is approaching 2 years of age and began his training program at 6 months of age. Also a board and train program. After the board and train in follow up we still attend classes weekly.
What I have learned in almost 2 years is ...first we have to ask ourselves ....internally......are we (everyone that is in contact with the dog) compliant with what our trainers have taught us to do with our pups. Dobermans are so smart ....just like little toddlers they will take advantage us if we allow them to ....example.......when I was less educated about training....Hoss would walk by my side ...and then gradually pick up his pace to get ahead of me.....but yet as I would visit our training academy each weekend Hoss was a teacher suck up!!!! What ever they would have him do....it was perfect. This caused me to become really pissed off AT MYSELF to see such perfect manners when in the presence of his instructors in comparison to what he would do to me at home.....this realization connected to everything in the area of dog manners ...it was obvious to me Hoss knew what was expected of him at the academy ...I saw it with my own eyes...
and he LEARNED from ME what he could get away with at home....at this point I decided my non compliance was going to stop.....dis-continued my gym membership and focused all my work out time to Hoss. It can be quite aerobic at times!!! LOL
So like the instructors do ...I had to EXPECT good manners and DEAL with my dogs bad manners in the moment. For instance: If walking we start right in front of our house walking....and as he picks up his pace to get ahead of me .....I turn....he attempts to get ahead again... turn......he tries again to get ahead ...I turn......yep for some time our walk consisted of a square in front of the house......during this exercise once he finally realized who the line leader was ME......then I would allow him to head down the road a little.....if the same business started...turn.....turn....but mix it up....turn different directions....surprise your pup. Eventually he figured out if he was ever going to move forward down the road....walking next to me would get him there quicker.
Lots of pro's on this site so I am sure they will have many years of experience to share with you on your concerns.
Welcome from Florida!!!

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-15-2017, 03:37 PM
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So...you can take what you like or not from my post. I'm generally not a fan of board and train in general. With a young dog, and especially Dobermans, who are so in tune with their people and have such a combination of sensitivity, intelligence, and sometimes pushiness...I really am not a fan of a trainer training my dog using their own methods, and it sounds like an e-collar was used. While I'm certainly not opposed to the use of an e-collar, I don't prefer it for puppies nor for the first line of training. It can be hard to know what was done in a board and train situation and there are a lot of stories of things that are done behind the scenes that can cause a lot of difficulties for dogs later on...from mild to much more serious.

With that said...pulling. I honestly don't think a front harness or any "tool" is going to help you...you say she knows "heel" - what happens when you are on a walk and you ask her to heel? If she knows it, what is causing her not to do it? If she's pulling, she may not actually KNOW heel, as in, she knows it in a training facility, but she hasn't actually generalized it to the real world. That's really common. What rewards are you giving her for walking in the correct place? What is the foundation work that's been laid for walking where you want her to walk? Have YOU done any of the loose leash walking training, or was it only at the board and train? I would probably go back to step one - you have her on a martingale, so she can't slip the leash, if she walks one step with you she's getting awesome rewards - think something like stinky cheese, fish, something amazing she really wants. I'd probably be working with an in-person trainer to literally retrain this starting from scratch. Also, she's *absolutely* at the age where their brains and self control are kind of non-existent. My girl's amazing loose leash walking skills started going out the window at adolescence...we were working on it every.day. Very small sessions. Lots and lots of rewards for being in the right position.

Mouthiness - some of them are worse than others. It sounds like she has a lot of desire to bite - she's a Doberman! What appropriate things does she have to bite and chew? In my experience, correction words don't work. If they put their mouth on me, we simply get up and leave the room or escort the dog to the crate for a 2 minute time out. No words, no scolding. Just - sorry, your fun ends and you have to be away from me. Teeth on people = too bad for you you're away from all the best stuff for a few minutes. That usually does the trick because Dobermans want nothing more than to be with you. PLUS! Give her an outlet for the desire to bite! Teach her to tug with a good solid tug toy, but make sure the rules are clear - start tugging on cue, make sure you teach an "out" or "release".

Similarly, with picking up and chewing stuff - again, it's normal, but - make sure she has plenty of appropriate chews (my dogs like benebones, they get a RAW beef knuckle bone about once a week, etc.). Start teaching a good "drop it" and "leave it" that ends with you trading her for something awesome, so she knows that those commands are awesome things to do. Some "lines" of Dobermans are definitely worse than others with this, but time will tell. Her age is definitely a factor.

"Submission" - I'm not sure you can really judge based on the dog park - a lot of dog parks are totally overwhelming, and ESPECIALLY for a puppy. Tons of rude, overbearing dogs. It sounds like she had a pretty bad experience, and I certainly wouldn't take her back. Playdates with trusted dogs is a much better idea. I would not recommend taking her back, especially with the experience you had. You're much better off letting her develop appropriate dog skills with dogs that will interact with her in ways that will make her feel secure and confident.

Jumping is also VERY normal for all dogs, especially puppies. Some of them are worse than others - my girl is a jumper and it's just something we continually work on. It's a way of greeting, but obviously as people with large dogs it's not something we really want to have them do with people because it's intimidating. The best way to work on that is to teach her a really solid behavior that she is rock solid on that is incompatible with jumping. Get her "Sit" behavior SOOOOO solid that she can hold that sit even when her desire is to jump. Or teach a "hand target/hand touch" so she can touch her nose to a person's hand in greeting. Basically any behavior that she can do that she can't ALSO be jumping at the same time is the best way to break that habit. And it's pretty normal for a 7 month old to want to jump. Just keep working on it and keep practicing. If we approach someone and my dog jumps we turn and walk away - "too bad, you lost your opportunity to meet them!" But if she can keep her sit, then hooray! She gets to get pets and say hello! Because that's what she really wants.

Just keep reminding yourself she's a BABY. You need a LOT of repetitions of these behaviors before they are really solid, and each dog is different!


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