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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all!
I’m looking for some advice for me and my pup. Nash is a 7 month old male Doberman. He has a really great temperament- I get so many compliments on how calm and well behaved he is. Granted, he barks a lot sometimes (which I know is typical for the breed) but we are working on that and it’s slowly getting better. My only real concern has developed over the last two days.
Some background: we lived on our own for the first four months I had him but have moved in with my parents for the summer and will be back on our own come fall. They have a male Aussie who is just over a year and is just the happiest and friendliest dog. They two LOVE each other and are the best of friends. They share toys, the couch and even beds with no problem and never fight.
But yesterday morning mu dobe kind of snapped at the Aussie when he had a bone. The Aussie immediately backed off and nothing else came of it and they were fine for the rest of the day. Then my friend came over with her male lab and the three of them were playing well. Later on in the evening my Dobe snapped at the lab over a chewy and then again over a toy, but had no problem sharing with the Aussie. Today, on a walk, he also barked at two dogs walking on the other side of the street, which he has NEVER done before - and we go on trails walks every day and walk downtown a few times a week (so he walks by other dogs all the time with no problem). It is starting to really stress me out and I’m really upset and heartbroken at the thought of this becoming a major issue. I’m wondering if he’s possibly just having an off couple of days as I can’t think of anything that would have brought this on or if there’s most likely a bigger problem. He’s never showed signs of resource guarding or aggression before so I’m hoping it won’t become an issue but I really don’t know and I don’t know how to handle it in the meantime to ensure it doesn’t escalate. I should also note, he can be very timid so I’m wondering if it’s largely due to confidence. We do LOTS of training to try and boost his confidence. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I just want to give him the best life possible and want to be able to take him to tons of different places and not have to worry about him. Please help :(
 

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First off, know that resource guarding is a totally normal behavior in dogs! Controlling valued resources from other dogs is something that a normal dog does; as humans, it can bother us, and obviously we don't want our pet dogs to have fights, but it is very, very normal dog communication to say to another dog - hey! that's mine and I want to keep it! When you are really skilled in dog behavior you can generally identify when "guarding" behavior is normal communication and dogs are just communicating and nothing will come of it, but if you are newer it can be troubling and worrying and hard to tell. Your dog is still really a puppy and is not mature...he's going to start behaving differently around other dogs as he gets older. He'll probably be less likely to want to "share" with other dogs, especially dogs that he doesn't live with. I'd also caution you that male Dobermans can become much less tolerant of other male dogs - you should probably read up on "Same Sex Aggression (or SSA)" in our breed. As males mature they can become less able to live with or play with other males.

I'm going to recommend you pick up the book, "Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs," by Jean Donaldson. It's a very good book, and very easy to understand and follow.

If you haven't been to any training classes yet, I always recommend attending a good class. Your puppy is young, and in the most challenging age - adolescence! This is the best age to have a professional trainer in your life to help guide you, especially since you have a "Covid puppy" - they are even more challenging that most, since it was extra hard to get all the socialization and exposure for those puppies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! The first bit definitely gives me some relief - knowing that it is normal and may not become a larger issue.
I did read up on SSA when I first found out I’d have to move him and I in with my parents so I’m somewhat prepared in that respect - but still hopeful for the best outcome and relationship between the two.
I’ll definitely look into that book! Thank you so much for your help - I appreciate it greatly :)
 
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