Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
416 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband is an Alpha male with humans let alone animals, and stated that if we were to get a dog like a Doberman, it would need to learn who is in charge.

We've had Duke for a solid week now, and he's growled at my husband twice already. The first time was Duke's first night with us, getting ready for bed. I pointed out to my husband that Duke probably growled because he was in his bed in the corner, while my husband was towering over him to pet. Body language was all wrong.

This morning, Duke and I were laying on the couch when my husband came to pet him to say good morning, showering him with kisses. Duke started to growl at my husband again! This time my husband snapped, told him, "NO" and was so loud Duke got scared and pee-ed all over me. This only ensued with punishment of no couch, going outside, and into the crate. It broke my heart, but I did not intervene.

Duke is starting to show his personality, and we can see that he's very confident around us, easily ignores my constant corrections (like a nagging mom), but obeys my husband in a heart beat. But is he challenging my husband's authority by growling at him...or was he simply protecting his Mama because we were laying on the couch together? Is this a major concern, or does my husband need to pay more attention to his own body language so that Duke doesn't mis-read the intentions?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,009 Posts
Your husband needs to "litten-the-heck-up" with puppy Duke, and show much more tolerence and love...or you will be in for fostering a fearful dobe, that acts aggressive to him / to young to be showing all this.
- those signs coming from such a very young puppy, explains many thing in the house is going wrong
Your husband needs to do a 180 degree change, with Duke...who is quickly learning not to take his daily crap / starting with showing much canine affection instead.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
My husband is an Alpha male with humans let alone animals, and stated that if we were to get a dog like a Doberman, it would need to learn who is in charge.

We've had Duke for a solid week now, and he's growled at my husband twice already. The first time was Duke's first night with us, getting ready for bed. I pointed out to my husband that Duke probably growled because he was in his bed in the corner, while my husband was towering over him to pet. Body language was all wrong.

This morning, Duke and I were laying on the couch when my husband came to pet him to say good morning, showering him with kisses. Duke started to growl at my husband again! This time my husband snapped, told him, "NO" and was so loud Duke got scared and pee-ed all over me. This only ensued with punishment of no couch, going outside, and into the crate. It broke my heart, but I did not intervene.

Duke is starting to show his personality, and we can see that he's very confident around us, easily ignores my constant corrections (like a nagging mom), but obeys my husband in a heart beat. But is he challenging my husband's authority by growling at him...or was he simply protecting his Mama because we were laying on the couch together? Is this a major concern, or does my husband need to pay more attention to his own body language so that Duke doesn't mis-read the intentions?

I bolded the things that would be concerning to me. Where did you get Duke? Is he a rescue? A puppy at the age of 12 weeks really should not be displaying aggressive behavior whether it is stemming from insecurity or "guarding". The only time a PUPPY should be growling is if he is playing or in pain. If both of those are ruled out it is really pretty unacceptable.

I would however be hesitant with reprimanding him for growling, if you train that growl out of him by punishment you'll be left with a dog who will not give you warning before he bites.

I would be in contact with my breeder about this because a 12 week old has not been in the world long enough, unless he was a mill dog, to obtain enough negative associations with his environment to be behaving aggressively towards people. Usually a puppy displaying aggressive behaviors at this age is going to have a genetic predisposition to a faulty temperament such as weak nerves.

That being said I do not know the full story nor have I seen the dog display these behaviors myself so I can only give you advice off what you have said and the fact that he is so young. My advice would be to contact the breeder and talk to them about your concerns, or the rescue if that is where you got him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
416 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I bolded the things that would be concerning to me. Where did you get Duke? Is he a rescue? A puppy at the age of 12 weeks really should not be displaying aggressive behavior whether it is stemming from insecurity or "guarding". The only time a PUPPY should be growling is if he is playing or in pain. If both of those are ruled out it is really pretty unacceptable.

I would however be hesitant with reprimanding him for growling, if you train that growl out of him by punishment you'll be left with a dog who will not give you warning before he bites.

I would be in contact with my breeder about this because a 12 week old has not been in the world long enough, unless he was a mill dog, to obtain enough negative associations with his environment to be behaving aggressively towards people. Usually a puppy displaying aggressive behaviors at this age is going to have a genetic predisposition to a faulty temperament such as weak nerves.

That being said I do not know the full story nor have I seen the dog display these behaviors myself so I can only give you advice off what you have said and the fact that he is so young. My advice would be to contact the breeder and talk to them about your concerns, or the rescue if that is where you got him.
Duke came from a reputable breeder in our area. His temperment is very calm, and his growls are very subtle. So subtle that we normally have to stay quiet to double check if he is in fact growling. No sneering of the lips or anything of that sort.

I honestly believe it's my husband's body language. He's a big guy, and both growling incidents occured when my husband was towering over Duke to pet and show affection. Instead of squatting down like I always do, my husband just bends at the waist over him. Even if it is a body language thing, is it still a concern if Duke is growling?

I'll take up on your advise today and call the breeder to see what she has to say. I have a feeling that she doesn't have men around her house because Duke is especially timid around men, but fast to come around when it's a woman.
 

·
joie de vivre
Joined
·
11,276 Posts
I don't think the pup is being aggressive - at all. My perspective on the situation is that the pup is just making it known that he's uncomfortable. Your husband reinforced Duke feeling insecure by shouting at him, which is why he peed. Your husband scared the pee out of him. Literally.

I would read Duke's behavior as this being a perfect opportunity for lots of confidence building and positive training/reinforcement - especially from your husband.

And, IMO, your husband needs to lay off the "being the Alpha" BS. Uh, he's already the alpha. That little puppy doesn't control a damn thing about his life - does he feed himself? Does he walk himself? Does he take himself to the vet? Is he training himself? A resounding 'no' to all of that. I find often times when people spout crap about "being the Alpha" it amounts to nothing more than bullying the pup or dog. Your pup is a baby and needs to be made to feel secure and loved so he can grow up into a stable dog. Not pushed around by someone who he already depends on for everything in life.

The best way to raise a Doberman pup to be a respectful and responsive dog is to gain their trust and build a loving bond. That's not done by shouting at them and bullying them.

Also, call your breeder. Please. This is part of why good breeders are so fantastic; you can call them for real, helpful answers.

ETA...I also disagree with this idea that any well bred, stable pup would never growl at someone. Growling is a form of communication. Nothing more, nothing less, IMO. The belief that any puppy that growls might be aggressive is preposterous. Yes, there are some puppies that are unstable and will growl but there are PLENTY that are perfectly good little puppies who will growl and they just need a different kind of approach to be understood. It does not mean they're broken.

Although, judging by how many people jump to this conclusion that a puppy that growls is broken I do firmly believe the number of dog savvy homes with reason/understanding enough to properly raise these more sensitive puppies are few and far between.
 

·
Broadway Dobermans
Joined
·
846 Posts
My husband is an Alpha male with humans let alone animals,

This time my husband snapped, told him, "NO" and was so loud Duke got scared and pee-ed all over me. This only ensued with punishment of no couch, going outside, and into the crate. It broke my heart, but I did not intervene.

Duke is starting to show his personality, and we can see that he's very confident around us, easily ignores my constant corrections (like a nagging mom), but obeys my husband in a heart beat.
Has your husband ever raised a dog or a child? Yelling at and then scaring a child or puppy is always the wrong approach. If you yell at a baby because it's crying, what good is that? You have to TEACH a child or puppy EVERYHING. That is part of raising anything. You pup might obey your husband right now....out of FEAR. But that will only last so long because it will never trust your husband, and you are likely to have major issues down the road. Or have a broken spirited dog that will have been forced into all his behaviors. Or worse a fearful dog, they can bite, pee, ....well they just wish they didn't have to live with whoever is making their lives crap.

Also. You should never use your crate as punishment. This should be a safe place for your pup to do. A positive area of his own. There is a link on this site to positive dog crate games. Don't put him in there when you are mad at him.

When you say "It broke my heart, but I did not intervene." I have a bit of a problem with this. YOU are responsible for this puppy's well being too.
If you always bend to your husband's ALPHA domineering ways, you may be many situations that will make you unhappy. And the puppy unhappy. Follow your gut, if something isn't right, and then find your guts and stand up for your own thoughts. I would NEVER let anyone, boyfriend, family, friends, scare my pup so bad be had to pee. And if they did.....they wouldn't want to hear what I had to say about it.

Being an Alpha is all about fairness and respect. Being a good leader is about considering the strengths and weaknesses of those you are leading. If you just steamroll everyone You are not a leader but a dictator. Loving and teaching and respecting do not make your husband less of a man, but more. No one wants to listen to or follow one who leads with their boot heel.

Your pup is young, and you have the opportunity to create a safe, fun, positive environment. There are many ways to go about anything. Why take the negative forceful route, when you can have positive and loving.

It's up to you to choose what you allow in your house. For you and your pup.
 

·
Paralibrarian
Joined
·
6,168 Posts
To echo others, it sounds like Duke is growling out of fear, not protection or aggression. Your husband is bigger than Duke, and loud, and will do whatever he wants. That's pretty scary for the little dude.

A much better relationship is one in which your husband learns something about dog body language, and learns how to teach Duke things. Bring a Doberman, there will come a time where he doesn't care for yelling any more than he does nagging, and then he won't listen to anybody, which means more yelling, etc. and then if your husband ever hits him, that just proves Duke's suspicions right.

Advocate for your puppy. Tell your husband to crouch down next to him to pet him. This makes him no less "Alpha" :)rolleyesww:), it's taking into consideration strengths and weaknesses. If he wants to do it how the wolf pack does it, he needs to know that they act as a family. Not "I"m the boss and you're the sauce."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
416 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've probably made my husband sound like an abusive villian, but he's not. He cares a lot for Duke, always playing with him, showing him affection, spends a lot of time on training. But he does act on instinct when it comes to danger towards any of his loved ones.

I'll share everyone's opinions on this thread with him tonight, and explain that we'll have to take a different approach with Duke. On our body language towards him, and ways to encourage/correct without scaring him.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Keep the positive ones coming.
 

·
of Ferret Rock
Joined
·
1,674 Posts
But is he challenging my husband's authority by growling at him...or was he simply protecting his Mama because we were laying on the couch together
As others have already said, it's really neither. He's letting your husband know he's uncomfortable. This is GOOD in that it is communication. You don't want to correct a pup for growling, as you could end up with a dog that bites without warning.

You need to not be nagging your pup. All he's learning is to ignore you there. If you're giving the same command over and over and he's not doing it, first you may want to think about how you're teaching him what that cue means. It may be he doesn't recognize it. (dogs don't generalize well. "Sit" in the kitchen while you're standing up is the same thing as "sit" in the living room while you're in a chair? Really? But all the smells are different, everything looks different, your body language is different, there's my toy right over there...;p )

If you can find a good local trainer that understands dog body language well, I think that would be a great bonding and learning experience for all 3 of you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
ETA...I also disagree with this idea that any well bred, stable pup would never growl at someone. Growling is a form of communication. Nothing more, nothing less, IMO. The belief that any puppy that growls might be aggressive is preposterous. Yes, there are some puppies that are unstable and will growl but there are PLENTY that are perfectly good little puppies who will growl and they just need a different kind of approach to be understood. It does not mean they're broken.

Although, judging by how many people jump to this conclusion that a puppy that growls is broken I do firmly believe the number of dog savvy homes with reason/understanding enough to properly raise these more sensitive puppies are few and far between.


I did not mean to imply to InstantNoodle that her puppy was broken, if I came across that way I apologize. My fiancee and I just recently had to put our dog down after over a year of behaviorists, a neurologist, and a menagerie of positive reinforcement trainers and the behavioral problems began for us in a very similar way, but our puppy was GSD who came from a breeder we had perceived to be a reputable breeder but ended up being pretty far from it. We did our best and worked very hard to make her life as stable as possible but sometimes puppies aren't wired right, again NOT saying this is the case with your puppy.

Maybe my draw is too fast and my RAS is out for zebras but rereading the post I agree with the other posters, alpha training generally involves a lot of positive punishment techniques and you really should be using all positive reinforcement, negative punishment with a puppy aversive techniques should really be avoided.

I also agree with the poster who said you should NEVER be yelling so loudly you could make a puppy pee. That is ridiculous. I'm a former MP in the US ARMY and I guarantee you I could get loud enough to scare my puppy but that's absolutely unacceptable.

Definitely seek out a training class, who uses positive methods, have your husband go with you. So that both of you can be on the same page. Also be an advocate for your puppy you're the only voice he has if you feel something is wrong say something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,449 Posts
I honestly believe it's my husband's body language. He's a big guy, and both growling incidents occured when my husband was towering over Duke to pet and show affection. Instead of squatting down like I always do, my husband just bends at the waist over him. Even if it is a body language thing, is it still a concern if Duke is growling?

I'll take up on your advise today and call the breeder to see what she has to say. I have a feeling that she doesn't have men around her house because Duke is especially timid around men, but fast to come around when it's a woman.
I wouldn't make any excuses for growling period myself. At 12 weeks, I would be HIGHLY concerned and on the phone to my breeder.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
22,000 Posts
I wouldn't make any excuses for growling period myself. At 12 weeks, I would be HIGHLY concerned and on the phone to my breeder.
My girl came from a less-than-ethical breeder. It was pretty apparent early on that we were in for some issues with her. It's very possible this pup doesn't have an ethical breeder behind him. I know when I called my "breeder" with my concerns, she was not helpful at all.

OP, I would personally be seeking out a board certified veterinary behaviorist, in addition to the suggested changes in how you think about and train your puppy. Growling from a young puppy is very odd. Whether it's a response to your husband's behavior (in which case you probably need the help of a great, positive trainer who can teach him how to interact with a pup), or it's an issue with genetic temperament, a board certified veterinary behaviorist is your best bet to identify what is actually going on and if this is a cause for concern. You can find the list of all of them here: Find a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist ACVB

All I can say is that I wish I had gone to the behaviorist earlier. We have great trainers and they've really helped, but I think early intervention with a true expert would have made a significant difference.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rosemary and Adara

·
joie de vivre
Joined
·
11,276 Posts
My girl came from a less-than-ethical breeder. It was pretty apparent early on that we were in for some issues with her. It's very possible this pup doesn't have an ethical breeder behind him. I know when I called my "breeder" with my concerns, she was not helpful at all.
This pup is from Pamelot - the OP should also be talking to their breeder.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
22,000 Posts
This pup is from Pamelot - the OP should also be talking to their breeder.
Then yes, by all means - call your breeder as the first step!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
416 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just to give everyone an update, I spoke to the breeder yesterday. Her methods are old school, and believes that Duke was testing my husband's authority (I honestly believe he was just uncomfortable). But whatever the case, growling is unacceptable and told me how to deal with it should it come up again.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and input!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,714 Posts
Our 2 Dobermans NEVER liked anyone towering over them. From day one. They growled to say we are uncomfortable, you are frightning us, so we simply don't do it.

An Alpha in any pack is the leader. The rest of the pack follows the leader out of trust & respect. My 1300lb horses walk softly in my hand because I have spent years earning their trust. I don't raise my voice.

My husband is a big man - 6ft 3, built line a linebacker, but everyone of our dogs melt in his lap. He doesn't raise his voice with them. We teach them. We have also raised an unneutered GSD and an unneutered Doberman together without one problem - ever. They understood through trust and love that my husband was the pack leader, ie, Alpha.

I'm sure the OP husband loves their new pup. I'm a little worried about "old school" theories, but non the less, be patient. Listen to your BABY communicating with you. True, Dobies can require a firm hand but that goes along with much love and infinate amounts of patience. Take you time. Ask for help if you need it. Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,449 Posts
Just to give everyone an update, I spoke to the breeder yesterday. Her methods are old school, and believes that Duke was testing my husband's authority (I honestly believe he was just uncomfortable). But whatever the case, growling is unacceptable and told me how to deal with it should it come up again.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions and input!
Do you mind sharing how she suggested you deal with it? I'd be really concerned with using old school methods in a situation like this myself. I've seen it backfire so many times.

That being said, it's nice to see breeders step up to the plate and be mentors for the puppy owners!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
553 Posts
I'd be hesitant with certain old-school methods too.

I'd also be very hesitant to enforce an environment where growling was unacceptable... Teaching a dog not to growl is a liability... A growl is communication and with most breeds its a key vocalization warning that a bite may follow if the situation or stressor is not addressed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
416 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Do you mind sharing how she suggested you deal with it? I'd be really concerned with using old school methods in a situation like this myself. I've seen it backfire so many times.
I'd be hesitant with certain old-school methods too.

I'd also be very hesitant to enforce an environment where growling was unacceptable... Teaching a dog not to growl is a liability... A growl is communication and with most breeds its a key vocalization warning that a bite may follow if the situation or stressor is not addressed.
I'd prefer not to go into detail on what the breeder had suggested that I do. Like parenting children, some believe in spanking whereas others believe in time outs. Both children still grow up loving their parents and assimilate into society just fine. I don't want this thread to become this huge controversial debate.

Now I know I used the word "spanking" just now, but don't worry, no hitting or shouting is involved. The method she suggested is a method that would be used by an alpha dog within a dog pack for the younger ones to know their place. This doesn't teach our puppy not to growl, only allowing him to know that when it comes to his parents, he is the submissive one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,449 Posts
I'd prefer not to go into detail on what the breeder had suggested that I do.
Totally understandable :) I hope that came across as I respect that decision and understand. :p
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top