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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my doberpup is 5 months now -- she's been very well socialized with all sorts of people and all sorts of dogs. She has a couple behaviors that puzzle me though.

1) -- I take her to a local dog park about 4 times a week for about an hour. She has no interest in playing with other dogs -- puppies her own size, small dogs, big dogs, nada.

She wanders around until she finds her favorite dog park toy (a frisbee kinda thing), brings it to me, we play fetch for 20 minutes then she wants to lay down and chew on it or sit on my lap and chew on it.

She's got a moderate prey drive, if something small runs past her she chases it, if a ball or toy is thrown she runs it down and brings it back. She gets on nicely with other dogs (until something mounts her with the intention of 'dominating her' -- then she gets all sorts of mad and does a good job of warding off the offending dog. (speaking of that... when shes defending herself she still sounds like she's yelping; high pitched grownling, screaching, and barking... when will she get some bass?)

Is it normal for a 5 month old dobe to want to play with toys and not other dogs?



2) She does great on a lead -- I can take her anywhere without any issues but when we walk around our home she growls and barks at people and dogs. She doesn't do this anywhere else... just around our town house community. It's getting annoying. I'll give her a sit/stay (and she listens) but I can't get her attention directed to me, to a treat, or to a toy... her attention stays on the dog/person. If I put myself between them while she's in a sit/stay she breaks it so she can see and sits herself down again. No amount of correction via the lead does anything.

I don't have her in a chain yet -- she wears a 2" thick collar so there's not a whole lot of correction force being applied. I want to wait another month or two before putting a chain on her... any ideas?

Thanks all!
 

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Have you been to any formal classes? The growling would worry me, a lot. It's workable but something you want to address ASAP (and you are, don't mean to say you aren't:) )

I wouldn't use correction methods in this case myself. I'd make a positive association with strangers. I'd have a good trainer walk you through how to do this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
She goes to a a trainer 3 times a week and I go on Saturdays to train with her. She doesn't do this anywhere else -- only around our place.

Yesterday for example we went on a walk in a busy town center area. She was great -- hapy to meet new people and dogs, would listen to strangers, etc. We made our way to petsmart to pick up a new stuffy and she was an angel -- lots of new smells, lots of new dogs, people, toys, treats, and everything else. She'd never been there before and we had zero issues.

Like I said, only happens in our own neighborhood. :(
 

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It's difficult when they have a bad experience. Can your trainer walk you through how to handle the episodes at home?
 

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Maybe she is less confident in strange places so she is better behaved. And around her own residence, she is more comfortable and feels more territorial?

Please don't let other dogs try to mount her. Sounds like she doesn't like, might be a bit fearful and an incident could easily lead to some reactivity. You want to avoid that. Don't put her in a position where she is uncomfortable.You need to build up her confidence and her confidence in you. It is up to you to protect her and guide her so that she can mature into a confident adult.

What do you mean by using a chain?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I hope I didn't sound like I encouraged, let, stood by and watched, or tolerated her being mounted. I don't.

I've been there and prevented it more times than I can count but twice she was off leash at a park and too far away to get to her in time. She handled the situation by letting the offending dogs know that she doesn't like it. She didn't go crazy and over react but she got her point across. By that time I was there and she was sitting on my foot. She trusts me completely. Anytime she gets nervous she comes right to me and knows that I'll scoop her up and protect her at all times.

I meant a choke chain / prong collar, etc. She's too young for them IMO. I have her in a very wide collar.
 

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Wow. You've described my dog. :) However, my dog is now a litte over 2 years old so hopefully I can tell you a little bit about what I've done and how things have progressed with us.

That high-pitched noise happens because she's scared. That's her, "You're scaring me but I am NOT backing down!" noise. At least that's what it is with my dog. That's why it's so high-pitched. I prefer that to the bass that you're looking for...after all, people see a Doberman with a menacing defense and that doesn't always go over so well - even if it IS to put the other dog in line.

Like I said, you've described my dog. She has very little interest in playing with other dogs, she likes her ball and she likes to play fetch. Here's the interesting thing with us, though...she'll play with other dogs in daycare when we're not there. She's never had an issue playing with other dogs in daycare, but when we're at the dog park, she has very little interest in other dogs. She might occasionally find one she'll play with for a few minutes but will inevitably find a ball and lose interest.

Don't let her just sit and chew on a ball. First, with tennis balls, they're NOT meant to be chewed and the glue that is on them will come off in your dog's mouth and that's not good for them or their teeth. Secondly, we've taken our dog to playgroups at our local training center since she was little. Over time she got less and less interested in dogs and more and more interested in her ball. It got to the point where she would just carry a ball around in her mouth, find a corner and chew on it if we didn't play fetch with her. The other dogs would play and she would be in her corner. One of the trainers there actually noticed and said that we shouldn't let her do that. It's like the kid who sits in the corner and plays by themselves while all the other kids play together. It's not good. It's not good for their self-esteem and the more we let her do it, the more obsessed with it she'll become. Also, it's her crutch for dealing with other dogs - it tells me that she's anxious around them. You might never have a dog that just jumps right into a group of dogs and start playing.

She carries a ball in her mouth for security. When she's unsure, she gets a ball. When we go on off-leash hikes with her, she'll have some interest in fetch, but she's usually more interested in running and exploring and sniffing. It's only in the dog parks that she gets CRAZY ball-obsessive...it's her security blanket.

Here's a problem we have now that you might want to watch for since our dogs seem so similar. At around 1 year or a little before that, she started guarding her toys with other dogs. She doesn't guard anything with people and she never guarded until she got about 1 year old. It happened with a puppy that she had played with just fine the week before. Even the week before, she had a rope toy in her mouth and the puppy had jumped at it and tried to grab it from her to play tug. She had played with the puppy and they were fine. The following week - same toy, same puppy...the second the puppy tried to grab the toy out of her mouth, my dog freaked out. It was that high-pitched frenzy of an attack. She wasn't out to harm...and she hasn't hurt any dog, but that's when it all started. Now, if she has a toy and a dog so much as SNIFFS her too much, she tells them off. That's another reason why I want to warn you from letting her get too attached to her toys. I don't have the answers as to how to prevent this but I imagine nipping that obsession in the bud might help. Unfortunately for us, we'd let it progress for far longer than you have before we learned that she was actually a little obsessed with her toys.

As far as growling and barking and fixating on people around the neighborhood. I had the EXACT same problem with my pup and I asked the same question here. People freaked me out because they said it was abnormal, they had horror stories of dogs that went on to bite and had to be put down. People told me I had to get a trainer ASAP...and I did. My trainer did a session with my dog and told me that it was fear-based. From your dogs other behaviors I have a feeling that it's the same for your dog. MY dog was a little older than yours when she started exhibiting similar behaviors but she wasn't older by much. I just have to say - don't panic!

Remember...Dobermans ARE guard dogs. They ARE protective of their home! They will always alert you to suspicious people and you don't want to completely discourage that. You WANT them to let you know when someone bad is in the area. You need to control it, though. That being said, it's important to socialize. We also learned that there's a difference between home socializing and outside socializing. Our dog is fine outside the house area. We take her on off-leash hikes with other dogs, she's fine in stores, she's fine anywhere else but she is territorial around the house. I would try to focus on socializing around your neighborhood. Always have treats on you and whenever you can, stop a neighbor and see if they will have your dog sit and throw a treat to your dog and then let your dog sniff them. Of course, if your dog has ever exhibited signs that indicate she might bite, I would maybe back off on the sniffing part. However, remember that the only way a dog truly knows someone is to smell them. For my dog, if I don't let her sniff another dog if we're on a walk around the neighborhood, that dog is an intruder and an enemy. If I'm lucky enough to be able to get them close, she will immediately stop barking, sniff, and maybe even play-bow. You're lucky that your dog is still small. Your dog is still cute. People won't be as scared of her. Take advantage of her size because you'll have far less people willing to approach a growling/barking full-grown doberman. Just explain that you're trying to teach her manners or something. Remember to have them make her sit or do some trick you've taught her before giving her a treat. Having your neighbors treat is more helpful than you treating however giving her treats when she sees a neighbor is better than nothing. If you even have a second where she's not barking, give her incredibly enthusiastic praise, treats and then take her and walk away. Try not to walk her away from a 'threat' when she's going crazy. If her 'aggression' is fear-based like my dog, she's barking to tell that person to go away and leave you guys alone. By taking your dog and leaving when she barks, you're encouraging that reaction.

Distract her. Once she's distracted for a second (focused on you), praise, treat, guide her away. You might even walk back and repeat. The more practice the better. Like I said, take advantage of her cuteness and small size now. You can control her better, you can guide her better, you're not as threatening to neighbors either.

I can't speak for your dog, but my dog doesn't bite. I know no one can say that for sure but I can say my dog doesn't bite like I can say I won't stab someone. Can I say I'll never stab someone? No...but I'm pretty positive I won't. I know this because her leash wasn't on right one time and she got off while barking/lunging at someone walking down the street. She ran up to them, sniffed, and then trotted back and didn't bark again. I can't say your dog will do the same but don't assume that just because your dog is barking and growling it means she will bite. However, don't assume she won't either...at 5 months I'd say there's still some time to get to know your dog. Also, if you can have some parties or have people over that's all good for socializing in your house and in your neighborhood. A well-behaved dog in public is different from a well-behaved dog at the house.

Also, does she have a favorite toy? That might be a great distraction for her with people. It's just about breaking that focus. Higher levels of training will also be incredibly helpful as well.

Oh...and regarding the ball/dog issue and in general...if nothing else...have a good heel, a good leave-it and a good drop-it. IMO, the most useful commands for my dog. My dog's leave-it is incredibly useful for when she sees a neighbor and her hackles start going up. Also, I'm working on a better look-at-me to help her refocus. Oh, and I've found that saying 'It's ok' to my dog when she's worked up is not as effective as giving her an enthusiastic 'good girl!' when I can catch a break between her barking.

Sorry this is so long but hopefully it wasn't horribly confusing. We seem to have very similar dogs.

Another thing I have to add. Training, training, training! The more training you do, the more confidence you build in her, the closer your bond is, the more secure and clear her world is. She's too young now but I would even do some just-for-fun classes after she has a decent level of obedience. By just-for-fun I mean rally or agility or scenting...group classes that lets her work her mind, build her confidence (especially something like agility where she's literally overcoming obstacles) and builds your bond with your dog. That's when she's a little older...for now, it's all about obedience!
 

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My 10 month old dober-girl is very similar to what you are describing. Like others have commented, I am going to bet she makes that high pitched sound because she is afraid of the other dogs, which is also probably why she doesnt interact. It would be a good idea to find a smaller group of dogs for her to work with, or a good day care, or maybe play dates, one on one with friends dogs. If I go to the park with my girl, alone, she will only interact with me. If I take my more social, male, with us, then she comes out of her shell more and will chase with him and not do the high pitched yelping. Some dogs just arent as out going and sure of things, as others.

I also have the same issue on walks, with my kiddo. I never knew this was an issue because she has been in training to be a service dog, so when we went out to work and walk it was always busy areas, shops, etc. about 6 weeks ago I took her out for a walk around our new neighborhood and she went insane! Barking and fixating at anything that moves, but if she is downtown, she is perfect.

I will tell you what we have been working on over the past 6 weeks. At this point she is totally cool with people, strollers, bikes, cars, motorcycles, etc. Pretty much everything is OK, except dogs and people who are right in front of our house.

1st what I have been doing is working her below threshold (if she is barking or lunging, or fixating, we are too close, so I move back). and do a click for look exercise. Essentially, everytime she looks at a potential trigger I click and give her a treat. This helps in two way. 1) it gives her a positive association with the scary person (oh I get cookies when strangers are around) and 2) the click causes her to turn to me for the treat, thus redirecting her energy back to me. this prevents her from fixating. We are to the point, now, where she will see a potential trigger (like a bicycle-she hates them) look at it then quickly look back to me for a treat.

The second thing I do, is if she does get upset we turn around and walk away and I praise any calm behavior or eye contact with me. For my dog, at least, I think a lot of her reactivity in the proximity of our home stems from a feeling like she must protect it yet she is frightened. I want her to know its OK to run away from things that scare her and she doesnt always have to confront them. In addition to this, You can encourage any sort of calming signals your dog displays as you approach a potential trigger. For example, if your dog starts to sniff the ground that is generally a signal that she feels uneasy about who you are approaching. Just praise her, turn around and walk away quickly and happily. This way you dont force her to have a bad experience.

this sort of training takes a lot of effort. I go out for about 2 hours a day, every day to work with my dog and we are into week 7 now and still have lots of room to progress, but she has gotten better, slowly but surely.

My advice would be to start now while she is still small and young. Also, I would be weary about putting a chain on a doberman. If she is pulling a lot, the no-pull harnesses are pretty nice and wont put pressure on her neck. Also if you meant a pinch collar, that is something that may exacerbate the problems you are describing. If she is nervous about a situation, the last thing you want to do is give her a correction as that just tends to prove that she has reason to be afraid.

Good luck!
 

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I'll agree with the last two posts the high pitch is fear based. My girl Kyrah when she was young played with other dogs but as she got older she played less and less. I walked around when I went to the park so she still greeted and walked past other dogs. But she had no interest in them. She is not reactive to dogs and finally to people. She behaves differently at home than when out. When out she is fine and when walking in our neighborhood she is even overall good for someone in my yard if I am in charge from the start. But someone entering my house is a whole new ballgame. No one can just walk in my house unless they have been there many times and are entering again with a household member. Otherwise they are barked at in a very loud, deep and repititious manner with her standing within feet of them which most dont appreciate. I have a routine of what is suppose to happen when someone is coming over so this does not occur which works very well. Tho some family members irratate me when they are not as consistent as me about the routine and/or they think she did so well last time so think they can just leave her be or she can stay there laying on the couch. Which then they set her up for failure. :( Be consistent in what you choose and is working. Moving too soon forward is taking several feet backwards.

The sniffing of people as posted earlier is a great thing if you can keep the people from staring, talking or reaching for your dog. The book control unleashed has a great exercise called "look at that" which is great for the reactivity you are explaing of walking around your complex. You will need to try to keep her under her threashold b/c once she is reacting at a high level she cant hear anything you are saying.

It can be done and your girl is still young. The more she reacts that way the more it becomes a behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you DagniTheDobe & Maschka1

:)

Both dogs sound so similar to mine!

My dog acts the same way Dagni does at the park... if it's a busy enough park and she can't see me she'll play for 5-10 minutes and then start looking for me. If she's with her trainer and the trainer's pack she'll play and interact with them. If I'm around... not so much!

I'll keep all these great pieces of advice on my mind as we go about life. -- Thank you!

Yesterday was a great day, she was at her trainer's place for 4 hours. She got home, I let her sleep for an hour and then we went out for an hour long walk.

She's never behaved better. Loose leash, I could walk and swing my arms freely nearly the whole hour, her focus was more on me than it had ever been, she didn't react poorly to other neighborhood dogs, and she was nailing her commands. I was having a great time (as was she).

We ran across another dog/guy from our complex who has a 10 month old golden, she's about 70 pounds now. We let them play off leash for about 15 minutes, they actually... played. I could also see Desma's confidence growing as she played with this other dog, she kept 'winning' the wrestling matches and had more and more fun.

Days like that make me want more!
 
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