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So today didn't go so well on our walk... I am taking into consideration that we haven't been out as much as usual because of the rain. But, the walk started and ended just badly. Chihiro is a demon puppy! Maybe that's harsh ;)
Knowing that she's got tons of pent up energy I decided that we could jog a bit. We didn't make it half a block before I slowed down because she was getting too excited by the faster pace and was bouncing and just being crazy. (No more laps with daddy, I'm afraid, probably shouldn't have encouraged it to begin with)
Then about 1/2 through the walk a lady in her van stopped to compliment how pretty Chi was :) As it turned out, we kind of knew each other, we sat by each other on the plane ride over. Chi was pretty well behaved as I chatted but then a jogger ran by on the other side of the street. She barked and carried on but I don't think it was really aggressive so much as she wanted to play chase (did I mention no more running laps with daddy?)
She refused to stop pulling once we started walking again, I swear it took us 30 minutes to make it 1 block. I do like the tree/anchor method but it can be awful time consuming on days like this LOL.
We stopped by a field right by our house and I threw a stick for her for a few minutes to run off her angst. All went well there, got some AWESOME recalls from her. But then as we were leaving the field and approaching our house, my neighbors 4yr old daughter rushed up to us. How many times have I asked her not to do this? How many times have I asked her parents to talk to her about this? God only knows but it's been many! She growled and barked and tried to lunge but I had her on a pretty short leash. I made her sit and calmed her. Told the little girl, yet another time, to please not run up to Chi. I don't want you to get hurt and blah blah blah... The entire time I'm trying to tell her this she's trying to approach Chi. GRRRRRRRRRRR! You know when Jordan was 4, she wasn't out of the house without me. I was pretty stern and think I scared the kid when I finally just said "Syd, STOP, Go home, so I can take Chi in." I didn't want to walk past her; although Chi was calm to pass the kid we would have had to walk relatively close by and I didn't want to risk it. But she just stood there. So I had Chi by the collar, I'm not sure if her front feet were completely touching the ground when we passed the kid. Of course as we pass, she reaches out and Chi growls and barks...
I am so frustrated right now... Everything was going so well and now all of a sudden it's like we're back at square one.
I contemplated going out and buying a pinch collar and an e-collar and using them both at the same time but doubt that would work too well :)
I am going to stop the rough play with daddy, which stinks because it is so much fun for them both. I am going to go back a few steps in the training and seriously consider purchasing a muzzle. I hate to do it but I just can't imagine the guilt I would feel if she bit someone. It's not the kids fault that her parents haven't taught her anything...
Funny thing is, if we are in the back yard and Chi is on her tie-out (she's only on it when I'm with her) and Syd comes out their backdoor. Chi will run to their fence and be so happy to see her. Will kiss her and do everything she can to get petted by this kid. Put her in the front yard though and Chi wants to eat her...
Any suggestions on what my next step should be are greatly appreciated...
 

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Tracy,

I think that Chi's reaction is justified. The way the girl approached you, Chi is correct to assume that it was a threat, in fact, I believe in Schutzund, the helper is supposed to suddenly attack the handler from behind and the dog is supposed to react asap, your problem is you have a very good working dog, if that is a problem.

When Chi is in the backyard, she probably feels she is in neutral territory and does not feel threatened. Is your front yard fenced? I know of dogs that pace the front yard waiting for a chance to get aggressive but they're all right when in the house. Something to do with confrontation and being territorial I suppose.

When Chi runs laps with your husband, is she on a leash or is she just chasing him around? What I do is always ensure that my dog knows when play stops, and it is on my term, not his. During playtime, anything goes, I let him gnaw me and bang me around. When I want to stop playing, I tell him "Enough" and just stop giving him attention. If he continues playing I give a sterner warning of "Enough", failing that, I will correct him and give him the "Go Away" command and he will be expected to disappear from my sight.

What I do to correct pulling is not exactly anchoring myself. During training, I intentionally allow, or rather, create opportunities for the dog to pull. When he wanders off from my left thigh region, I turn 180 degrees and begin walking the other way and the dog gets a nice surprise when the leash tightens. The handler dictates the direction and speed, not the dog. Perhaps the pinch collar might be a good idea. I find this method of training to heel keeps the dog's attention on you all the time. When I encountered situations like yours, I would take up the slack in the leash while walking my Rottie past people who might aggravate my dog, but after I pass them, I would find it unnecessary as the dog's attention would be on me all the time and the people where I come from only make loud screams of fear at most and no one has ever attempted to touch my dog.

In your case, when someone tries reaching out could be interpreted as an attack by Chi and as such, perhaps a cloth muzzle would be good for you. I found that the cloth ones allows the dogs to pant and drink water still instead of restricting the entire mouth region. What I would do, in your case, after talking to both parents to restrain their kid and telling the kid to back off without effect, I would put a muzzle on the dog and make sure I have a tight hold on the leash. I would let the kid shock the dog and let the dog lunge at the kid without making contact, make sure the dog does make eye contact with the kid then pull back the dog and stop the aggressive behaviour immediately. You will be nicely surprised how a snarling dog lunging can affect behavioural change. Make sure no contact has been made at all costs to avoid legal ramifications. If the parents come up to you, say she came from behind, was too fast to stop, and you stopped the dog from getting overly aggressive immediately. That should stop the kid from doing that annoying thing in a hurry.

Try adding some verbal commands of "Enough" or something to that effect to let the dog know when it should stop being in that "playful mode". Don't mean to be rude here, and I know you're a huge fan of the clicker training, but an article I read says that while it is positive reinforcement, nothing is done to address negative corrections and it is hard and time consuming trying to work in distractions into their training.

Not criticising the method, but I think a healthy mix of both positive reinforcements and proper correction methods are good for the dog, after all, I was taught that a dog must know what is wrong and what is expected of it to be fair to the dog.

Regards,
TH
 

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Wow Tracy, Gracie really did pass Chi all her bad things. It sounds like Chi is very protective over you when you are out of your "cage" (that is what I call it, they are use to seeing you at a certain place all the time, so now they must protect you when you leave that area.) I would say work with her in the front yard more. Take your clicker out there with you and work on things. Once you get her great at the front yard move to the street. Or in front of the neighbors house. I know you will be taking a step back doing all of this, but it will be worth it.

You have very smart girl, sometimes maybe even to smart for her own good. Good luck and please keep us up to date on how things are going.
 

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Here's a couple more ideas to think about. I have found that an energized dog is harder to walk than a de-energized one. My girl had issues like that around 6 to 8 months old. We had to vent that energy before we went for a walk. A tired dog walks alot better. Maybe some heavy duty playing before a walk might help. Once they are tired or semi-tired, they will walk better because there is no need to try to vent ebergy on the walk.

We also played the Name Game on our walks. This re-enforces them to constantly or being aware of you and pay attention to you on the walks. The Name Game is just, when I call your name, you look at me and get a treat. If they are paying attention to you, they really do not notices other things around you, because you are more important. While we walked, I would call her name and once she looked at me, I popped a treat in her mouth. After a few times, they get the idea. After a while, they start to look at you automatically, reward this behavior constantly at first. Then stagger the rewards. They will keep looking at you, thinking maybe this time I will get a treat. They will also slow down their pace and start walking closer to you to make it easier to get a treat. The goal of this is for them to start paying attention to you than other items that may be more interesting.

The hardest part I have is once they see something and the little booger is focusing on that, its very difficult to get their attention back. It takes persistence to break their focus. I started to make her sit and then go to a down position. The first 20 or so times is hard, but eventually they give in and their focus changes over to you. I may be embarrassing at first, especially when some one is walking by and is the focus of their attention,but it gets better. Most of my neighbors finally realized that I used them as test subjects and if my girl is not sitting pretty as they walk by, they just keep going. If she sits pretty for them, then they stop and pay her attention.

Alot of good info in the above threads ands its good to have multiple tools in your bad to deal with this. Sometimes one thing works one day and the next day it doesn't. Just keep on trying.....I hope this helps.
 

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Tracy, I'll throw my two cents in too... first, I don't think there is anything wrong with hubby playing chase with Chi. As long as HE initiates it and ends it. It is a great energy release for her, especially on yukky days. Maybe not an everyday thing, but periodically so she doesn't get hyper waiting for wild playtime everyday.

After all, our dogs need to learn to deal with distractions. That includes joggers, kids, bikes, etc.... Not to make excuses (I don't mean that like it sounds), you know what I mean, Chi wants to chase joggers- so no more chasing play at home? Chi needs to learn the difference, and you are doing a great job of teaching her that. It will take time, she's only what, 6 months old? Just my opinion though, from showing horses it was the same thing, you need to desensitize them to as much as possible if you want them to have a flexible stable character. There are many times that I just want the neighbors to GO INSIDE, the neighbors dog to just DISAPPEAR, or the kids to TAKE A HIKE! When all I want to do is just work my dog with some peace! But Lexy has learned the difference between wanting to play with other dogs when I ALLOW it and knowing the difference when we are working. I don't just not allow her to play with the other dogs b/c she gets distracted when I want to work then, it was just something we had to work through.

As for the kid, man oh man, those parents should be strung up. What aggrevation. BUt you did the right thing in telling the kid to get lost in a stern "I MEAN IT" voice, and I think you are going to have to reiterate to the parents that their kid is cruising for a bite. Maybe not from Chi, but it's gonna happen. And tell them that their kid was close to receiving a bite from Chi, in that the kid persisted AFTER you said NO. You gonna have to be the tough guy, b/c it's Chi that will suffer from anything that could happen.

I really like the clicker training, but I still like my pinch, and that's what I use when going into any public situations. Pet store, walking in town, fairs, etc. Otherwise, it's just my harness. I still use the pinch, even though my dog is plenty friendly, has never in her life jumped on anyone, or attempted to bite or get aggresive out in public. But I feel that measure of control that I may never need to even impliment is there IF I need it. It did a great job of taking away that last little bit of pulling that Lex did a while back, and sometimes, I throw it back on for a refresher course. I don't yank on her ever, but when she gets a little ahead of herself, she gets reminded on her own to get back in place by the pressure that gets exerted by HER OWN force.

LIke I said, I'm really liking the clicker, but at the same time, we do positive reinforcement for our kids too! We try to really reward and compliment what they do good, but sometimes they do stuff wrong (especially when they hit the teens!!EEK!!!) and it isn't a matter of us not setting them up to succeed, they just sometimes chose the wrong road. And they need negative reinforcement to let them know that was wrong. I don't mean a beating! But, for example, Chris went to a friends house two weeks ago. He was supposed to call me in the morning before they went to the skate park and then to another friends house. I recieved a call at 7 pm. Needless to say his butt was in a sling by then! He was reprimanded and he isn't going to a concert that he wanted to attend, because he didn't make it a priority to call. Okay I realize that this has nothing at all to do with dogs, but the point is, we DO reprimand our kids. We DO speak sternly to them and make punishments. I wouldn't do anything to a dog that I wouldn't do to a kid. (now for you people that love to be LITERAL! I'm not saying I'd put a prong collar on a kid. You get my meaning)

So when Chi is pulling, I agree with th.ng, change change change direction. Her mind is elsewhere at the time, and you'll spend a week outside waiting for her to decide to pay attention, no matter how much reinforcement you give her! Hey she IS being rewarded by disobeying you, you stop and it gives her more time to look around and be interested in what's going on everywhere else.

Take it or leave it, just my two cents on it.....
 

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You've already gotten such good advice but I'll toss in a couple of ideas too.

Something I wish I had done more with Lyric when he was younger (trying to make up for it now) is to teach him to default his attention on me. Practice at other times like at home. Practice it so much that it becomes 2nd nature to "watch me." And like it was said, lots of turns on the walks as soon as the dog comes close to the end of the leash and I do lots of stops with automatic sits. I use extra yummy treats and reward very frequently when he's walking very nicely. And nothing when he's not. It is not easy with these dogs. They think they're sled dogs. I never had so much trouble teaching a dog to walk nicely as I do with Lyric. He needs about 15 minutes each walk to be reminded. And then finally......

That kid's parents are awful not to be teaching their child how to be around dogs. Yup....Chi is on the line here if that kid doesn't shape up. What a pain!

Do you have a fenced place where she can get the zoomies out before the walk? That usually helps Lyric to settle down if he gets some big time romping out of the way first.

And if I go for a walk when Lyric is a little hungry, he appreciates the treats more and will try harder to get one.

With that lunging, growling and barking at the child, I would be careful not to try and calm her down with a soothing voice because she may think that you're rewarding her behavior. Has she been around a lot of kids? It sounds like some more socialization would be a good thing but from a little distance....like take her past a park or somewhere where there are kids playing but she's not right up close. Then if she shows interest but isn't acting up, give her some treats and praise...then over a period of time, gradually decrease the distance from the kids. Do you have any friends with kids that could come over or you go to their house with Chi? She could start out in her crate until your friend and child have been in your house for a while so she gets OK with it and then go from there. Then the child (preferable a little older one) could ask her to sit or some other obedience skill and give her a treat. That way she'll get the idea that kids are not prey but to be respected too. LOL.

Just some ideas. There are not very many kids around where I live and although I socialized the livin daylights out of Lyric, he didn't have enough exposure to kids. He had some and he's OK, but he's a little wary. He will go out with the neighbor kids when they sled on my driveway and after I hold him on his leash for about 10 minutes while he gets aquainted, he's fine and even gives kisses. But at first, he looks quite suspicious. But he's gotten a lot better over the past year... a lot better.

Sorry for this long winded post. I have a problem with rambling. I wish you the best. It takes so much practice with these dogs and finally, it starts to pay off when they get a little older.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you all for such informative and considerate advice...

We've been working on much of what has been suggested for several weeks now. And even though yesterday was a "bad day", she has made huge improvement. Generally while walking I keep her attention on me when we see someone approaching. I'm trying to desensitize her to approaching strangers. We see someone coming and start playing the "name game" and wow it has worked wonderfully. In fact I told Lexus just the other day that I didn't notice a jogger approaching but Chi did. She fell back into a perfect heel and started poking my left thigh with her nose. I swear she was saying "I know I can't bark or growl but you never said anything about poking, now give me my C/T!" Both times yesterday I was not proactive in having her attention on me before the person or child came into her comfort zone. I think that since she has been doing so well, I may have become a little lax and yesterday just sent me the message to step up the game. She's not ready to move to the next level and we need to hang out where we are a bit longer.
Unfortunately to get to our safe fenced in area to run out the zoomies, we need to walk about 1/2 mile :-( BUT we have the huge field right next to our house, the one we were in yesterday. I bought the makings for a 100 ft long line yesterday and will make it and use it before we walk today.
I am not completely opposed to using aversives in training. I do however strongly believe that we should use the least evasive training methods first and then if/when that doesn't work, add the aversions such as corrections and training collars. I'm going to give it another good ol' college try throughout this week and weekend and if we have any more setbacks, I will reconsider a pinch collar. Of course yesterday I wanted a pinch collar that choked and shocked! :)
Chi is funny about people and more and more I'm learning that it's not just Chi, it's the fact that she's <gasp> a protection dog! Of course she will be cautious when people approach. We have never, ever had a problem when we approach people, she is reserved but pleasant when we approach. When people that she is used to seeing and knows approach us, she's fine. It's when someone is somewhere that she doesn't expect that she gets anxious or aggressive. If Syd hadn't surprised us by rushing to us while we were rounding a corner of a house, I honestly don't think she would have reacted as she did.
A few weeks back the weather started cooling off and I started leaving the front door open with just the screen door shut. At first Chi was nutty seeing the kids (my daughter being one of them) running around out front. After much PR, she will now sit and watch the kids but does not bark or act out in any way. Unless of course Jordan comes running to the house crying for any number of reasons and then she gets anxious and runs between me and the door until I get to Jordan and calm her down. She's such a momma when it comes to her girl.
As far as socialization, she's had it and continues to get it in spades! We walk daily, I take her to very public locations to walk several times a week. Another oddity, she's fine in very public locations with approaching people. I have neglected her dog socialization though and other than the occasional romps with her Rhodesian Ridgeback buddy (and he is so much like her) and playing with Petri, she really doesn't get much dog time. I have to find some more dog people to work with.
I'll let you know how it goes today... Cross your fingers for us :)
 

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Tracy i totally can relate to you. I had a similar experience about a week and a half ago. I contantly tell people not to approach king with the intent of petting him. I tell them to just ignore him, talk to me and let him go to them. Do people listen? NO!! So, the other day, the kids are hiding around the corner as me and king are walking by. i didnt see them, king didnt know they were therre, but when he did notice them, he got scared. He lunged at them and barked. I quickly pulled back on the leash and continued walking. Then the mother and the kids came in the elevator with us, i had king in the sit position and he was fine. no problems at all. So i had been thinking about what had happened and it just bothered me. i didnt want king to bite anyone so i purchased a muzzle. He doesnt seem to mind it too much. I only use it while walking in the hall since king doesnt really react to people unless they approach him trying to pet him. My mom thinks a muzzle is mean and that people will think he is mean, but i dont care. IMO, King has to wear a muzzle because people just dont know how to act around dogs, not the other way around. not every dog is comfortable around strangers for whatever reason. People need to learn that you cant just go up to a dog and expect it to be nice. They especially need to teach that to their children. im willing to bet that 90% of these so called attacks happen because these children are approaching the dog in a way that the dog takes as a threat.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I applaud your efforts Tom. I think that Chi and King might be long lost cousins :) Our problems and stories are so very similar.
I just got back from our morning walk and am happy to announce that it was completely and totally uneventful. Chi was a pleasure and an absolute joy to walk, very attentive and did not react to anyone or anything other than me.
I let her chase sticks for a bit in the field before we started walking and I think that made a HUGE difference.
In fact, I got my longest and fastest (we were 1/2 a step away from jogging ) perfect "heel" out of her today, we made it 2 solid blocks before I released her into "loose lead walking". WooHoo.
I did put her choke collar on her today, didn't have to use it or correct her once but just the fact that it was on made a really big difference. Probably kind of like when Lexus breaks out the pinch collar for a refresher course.
I meant to say in my earlier post that y'all are right about the chase game with Mark. He initiates it, he stops it (him stopping it is pretty evident in the video clip, I think) and they both LOVE it. It broke his little heart last night when I told him he couldn't do it. Gosh he loves this dog LOL.
I have to remind myself that she is yet only 6 months old. She just so darned smart, I think at times I expect too much from her.
We live in a multi-plex. There are four apartments side by side. We live on the end, Syd lives next to us and the field is on the opposite end. To get to the field, we walk in front of Syd's house. Today, right as we passed her door, she came running out, behind us, she didn't approach but wanted to make sure she got her morning "Hi, Miss Tracy and ChiChi!" in :) Chi was fine. No bark, no growl, no lunge a brief pause and nub wag and as I said "Hi, Syd, don't come any closer, I'm teaching Chi this morning" and we were on our way. I know these problems that we have are not beyond help and that with time, consistency and lots and lots of practice she'll be a model citizen. I just got really frustrated yesterday....
 

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Tracy, sounds like you have made an impression on her already. Hope it goes well.

Anyway, I think what you are doing is correct. Anybody who wants to approach my dog does it on my terms and not theirs. They can pet the dog only when I say so. Socialisation is one thing, creating a dog that is not wary of strangers is another. Fortunately, I think Chi already has her protection senses in overdrive, which brings another aspect into approaching your dog on your term, i.e., ensuring they don't get bitten.

Remember to try the command "Friend" like I do when I allow someone to approach my dog. I gradually increase this command to include people I let into the house. I try to minimise having my dog decide who is being aggressive in the inital stage, after all, a dog bite is painful for the bitten, the owner and the dog.

Regards,
TH
 

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Sounds great Tracy!! Hey things always seems better after we sleep on them too! Chi is a great dog, and you are doing a great job with her!!
 

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Great to hear the encouraging news.....I remember at 6 months, we had good days and we had bad days.....And when we had bad days, it seemed really bad. Just be consistent and some times you can not force the situations. Sometimes its better to just stop and try at another time. One thing I would like to add. This breed is really sensitive to your emotional state. If your pissed at something, they know your pissed too and they tend to think your mad at them. I saw it on our walks when I had a bad day, my girl was all out of whack and the walks were horrible. When you are nervous, they will pick up on that and sometimes their natural instinct will kick in and start to exhibit protective instincts. Just something to be aware of.
 

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Oh yes Kratty! I've never had a breed more sensative that way. And I've had lots of dogs of different breeds. It's uncanny how intuned they are to our moods.

It sounds like things are coming along. Lyric was more concerned with people when he was younger and as he grew and as I continued to socialize the livin' daylights out of him....getting him around new people every day, driving to the city, visiting my daughter in Seattle often, going to Pike Place Market, where there are wall to wall people, he became more and more used to people of all sorts. On our off leash hikes, he sees people very occasionally, because I live in a very sparsley populated place, but he knows that is normal. He is always completely comfortable, but watchful and never never one iota of aggression. He knows that is absolutely the norm...to come across people on a walk. Even if someone comes to the house, like a delivery person...he'll bark like crazy while inside, but if I go out on the porch to meet the person or if we're out in the yard, he just watches and sometimes a little wag. He sees that I'm friendly and so he's comfortable.

Strangers can approach him when he's with me on a leash and pat him. He's not super outgoing normally, but fine with it. Some people, he actually gives a wag and the "ears back, lovey look." LOL.

He just recently got his CGC.

So all I can say is you're doing great getting him out and working with him. Just keep on truckin' and as he gets more and more experience, a little older, he should get more at ease, more confident and more stable.
 

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th.ng said:
Tracy,

I think that Chi's reaction is justified. The way the girl approached you, Chi is correct to assume that it was a threat, in fact, I believe in Schutzund, the helper is supposed to suddenly attack the handler from behind and the dog is supposed to react asap, your problem is you have a very good working dog, if that is a problem.
i will have to respectfully disagree.
it is inappropriate for a puppy to react this way to a child. the proper working doberman temperament is one of discrimination and knowing when to react, how to react, and when to STOP. while the child ran up, the child clearly presented no threat - a proper working temperament would NOT blow up at a child. the child is NO WAY represents a helper on the field. a dog can be poorly socialized and that can play a big factor - but to say that poor socialization with children is equivalent to a proper working dog, is asking for danger.

i wont even go on with the putting a muzzle on the dog and letting it lunge at the kid to teach it to stay away...

i just disagree. i think as doberman owners, we need to strive for stable PROPER temperaments, and in putting the best foot forward. which is not muzzling the dog and allowing it to lunge at people to "teach them a lesson" of sorts.

i think tracy has done a lot of work with chi, and shes still young. i think the positives mentione later on are a good way to start - teaching a "watch me" command as a default (i know many pittie owners that use this as a default when other dogs that normally they would WANT to blow up at, walk by). you can do desensitization protocols with children SAFELY to introduce them.

and on an aside -t he safest muzzle to use, is a basket muzzle. dogs can and do bite through cloth, nylon and leather muzzles each and every day - basket muzzles mean NO CONTACT, and dogs can eat, drink, and fully pant in them. there is also no possible contact unless you put your finger, etc IN the muzzle, unlike nylon etc muzzles that a dog can get to you.

but i dont think chi needs a muzzle - she needs more work and more socialization.


and syd's parents need a REAL talking to.
 

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incidentally, in schutzhund and other bite sports, the dog is to IGNORE the helped that is behind the handler, UNTIL it makes a threatening move, and then engage. the dog is not supposed to blow up at the handler unless told to, or if the owner is threatened.

and a properly trained schutzhund dog then could care less once they are off the field - schutzhund is a sport, a game.
 

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doberkim,

I must admit that letting the dog lunge can be a little too much. But, and this is only me, I will tell people not to approach my dog if I have not said ok and if they insist, I find this a good deterrent, adult or child. I admit that it might not be the best way to teach, but it has been effective for me. And this was taught to me by my trainer, that people need to learn to respect your dog and you, and not assume every dog will just let you approach and pet.

My Schutzund example was just giving an indication of what happens in sport. In security work, in my experience, the dog does not condone anyone approaching from behind. Not talking about police or military K9 but actual property patrol units, and I know this because I have so very nearly been mauled for making that mistake. Working in this sense, I hold the view that Chi would make a good personal protection dog.

Anyway, I didn't mean to offend you so if I have, apologies.

Regards,
TH
 

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A dog should not be lunging at anyone. I don't think that a stranger walking toward the dog warrants a big reaction, whether a child or adult. A Doberman is well known for it's ability for discernment of what is a threat and what isn't. Our pet dogs need vast socialization in order to understand that difference. And ultimately, it is not they, who determine a threat, but we. They need to learn to take cues from us. As pet dogs, (which is mostly what we have here) these dogs need to be ambassadors to the breed. Friendly strangers should be able to approach without having to worry about our dogs flying off the handle. That is not correct Doberman temperament. Watchful, alert, aloof, a little suspicious of strangers, yes....aggressive, lunging, growling....no. And this is brought about by good breeding and good handling; vast amounts of effective socialization and training. A well bred, well socialized and obedience trained Doberman can be a adept protection dog. (some are, some aren't) He will know when something is a real threat if he has been shown what is normal and there's no mistaking what is normal.
 

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Carrie,

I understand where you are coming from. But I beg the question, how will your dog know when a threatening situation arises? After you have been knifed?

A dog that lunges and growls at everyone is unacceptable, I will not tolerate that in my dog. But, a dog that lunges at someone who approaches at high speed from the rear can be interpreted as a threat, no? As you have said, proper training is what will train the dog to interprete what a threatening approach will be like, such as the body language of the approach. This then brings us into the realm of protection training, as this cannot be achieved through obedience alone.

Perhaps we differ on the aspect of vast amounts of socialisation. I am all for socialisation, but never will I allow a person to pet my dog unless I am there and I have given the "Friend" command. My trainer and my girlfriend's dad, an Aussie Air Force handler and a Singapore police handler both refuse to let their dogs be approached unless it is on their terms. Their dogs are well behaved, but you wouldn't want to push yourself on them. I do not believe these dogs taught in this manner pose any harm to the public, on the contrary, due to their exceptional obedience, they accept strangers let into the house by their masters and will watch if the stranger poses a threat from a corner and if all is ok, they will remain where they are. They don't growl and lunge, but the dog will not allow the strangers to approach them unless given the command. This, I believe is their aloofness.

Regards,
TH
 

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But, a dog that lunges at someone who approaches at high speed from the rear can be interpreted as a threat, no?
Agreed. I was talking about "friendly strangers." Normal everyday encounters along a walk when you see someone coming along and you say, "hi" to them, "how are you?" Then the dog should understand that this is normal and he should behave gentlemanly. My dog, when sitting at my side is accepting of a friendly stranger whom I have accepted and determined is no threat and he'll allow a pat on the head. If I saw someone coming at high speed toward me and on into my "space" (too close) or if someone approached at high speed from behind, yes...my dog would interpret that as abnormal and as a threat. I don't know if he'd bite or lunge right off the bat until the person was at a certain close proximity, but he'd sure be ready. (at least I hope so.LOL) Maybe not.

I did have a couple of situations where he did show his protective nature. One time while staying at my son's apartment, Lyric and I were sleeping on the couch. It was about midnight and one of my son's friends just walked in the unlocked door. Lyric and I both leapt off the couch. I was quicker than Lyric even and when I stood up, Lyric leapt in front of me....half way between the guy and me, snarling, growling, all teeth and all muscled up but didn't lunge at him. This 20+ yr old guy hadn't gotten all the way through the door yet and backed out quickly, saying, "I wasn't expecting that." I said, "Neither were we." LOL. I was very nervous with someone coming in at that time of night, uninvited and so not only my tenseness, but the fact that this was unusual, put Lyric on full alert. He was a great deal younger than he is now even....not even a year old, as I recall.

Another time, my niece came to let Lyric out of his crate when he was still needing to be in it while I was gone for the day. Lyric knows and loves my niece, but she brought with her, a guy whom Lyric hadn't ever met. He didn't go for having a strange man in the house when I wasn't there. He ran from his crate, down the hall to go to the door to go pee pee and here was this big tall strange man in the kitchen. He stopped and growled very menacingly, my niece told me. She told the guy to go out and wait in the car....NOW. So, he was probably protecting my niece and didn't realize that it was OK for this guy to be in the house.

Now, if I let a strange man (a workman, a delivery man, whomever) into the house, Lyric is just fine....watches with some assessing going on and then after a minute or two of hearing friendly exchange, he's just fine.

So, it's all very interesting how they develop and also, what we, as individuals with different needs from our dogs..... want from our dogs. I live in a virtually crime free enviornment. I like the protection factor, but it is extremely unlikely that someone is going to knife me. I do visit my kids from time to time in Seattle (a pretty safe area of Seattle) and have to walk the dog at night a little bit. So, he does watch every move from people as we walk past them, but doesn't lunge or bite anyone. The only time he growled at someone was when some 20 yr olds were all grouped together, standing on the sidewalk and one of them teased Lyric with a growling sound and making gestures like a monster and made a jerking movement. Lyric then growled, showing his teeth and muscled up...didn't lunge though because this was at an ample distance away...I'd say about 20 ft.
 

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The problem with Chi, I pretty firmly believe, stems from poor breeding and being taken from her mother and litter mates too young. Her aggressive responses are most certainly fear based. How do I know this? She flipped out over an oddly shaped tree (I mean she was going to kill this tree) that posed no threat at all to anyone. On this occassion, we immediately retreated and then worked up to the tree, within minutes I had her eating treats off the bark and she has not aggressed toward said tree since :)
Last week at the tennis court, she about had a heart attack when she noticed a killer soccer ball lurking in the corner. It took me several minutes to convey to her that the soccer ball was not plotting an attack, but simply hanging out and waiting for someone to chase and kick it. Which she gladly did after several minutes of c/ts.
I have read that this is considered sudden environmental change aggression. For this reason, I personally think that she would not be a good candidate for schutzund or protection work, at this time she is somewhat of a loose cannon and is sadly lacking the confidence she needs. However, I can see how this sport training, if done properly, could increase her confidence.
Although I agree that she needs to know what is right and wrong, I truly do not think that heavy handed, correction training is the key. In fact, as some of you know, we tried that and it backfired miserably. I do honestly believe that with enough repetition on my part, positive experiences and of course maturity, she will gain the confidence she is now lacking and become more stable.
I agree with Kim about basket muzzles. When I worked as a groomer I was bit more than a couple times through the little mesh or nylon muzzles. When we were forced to muzzle Storm in Germany because of BSL we chose a basket muzzle because they offer the most freedom and comfort for the dog. I've not yet bought one and pray that I don't ever have to.
We are back to taking our daily walks with a flat collar and have had no more incidents. I honestly believe the problems we had the other day were because I was not "on the ball". We have made amazing progress and I let my guard down...
 
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