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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all!
I noticed that when my 4 month old puppy plays with other dogs, she always comes back to me to sit on my lap while continuing to play with the other dog. Is this a sign of nervousness/lack of confidence? Or is she just looking for comfort and support as she plays with a new friend? She is quite clingy and very true to the Doberman “Velcro dog” reputation. We once invited a friend and their dog over for play time and he got out of our fenced area and ran upstairs. As soon as my pup followed and saw him try to go to my room (where she sleeps) she immediately jumped on my bed and peed. She’s never done this before so I was also wondering if this was a territorial move?
 

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That describes a fearful dog.
Run upstairs..jump in bed, and pee.
Just like us humans as we age we become more confident.
Meanwhile you need to make sure all experiences are positive as your pup explores.
Sometimes negative experiences can stick with dogs for life.
With my boy Hoss at your pups age we spent time around other dogs but no direct contact, yet.
Everything happened in a controlled atmosphere.
Later at 8-9 months we had some playdates with our neighbors dogs.
With Hoss during play dates it was 1 visiting dog.
Never more than my dog and 1 other dog.
No groups of dogs.
Also I made sure the visiting dogs were roughly the same size as Hoss.
 

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I suggest you learn about fear phases in puppies. It is fascinating and will help you set up your pup for success.

@LadyDi is correct and I would add two things.
1. Are these your other dogs? If not, I do NOT recommend puppy socialization outside the home pack or with more than one other dog/puppy whose owner I knew very well.
2. If these dog part of the home pack, when she comes back to you, give her gentle words of encouragement but do not coddle her. Don’t fuss over her, just give her gentle pats and make sure she has an area where she can get away to self-soothe. Don’t push her into play. At this age she should just be watching and sniffing the air from a distance that is comfortable to her.

Here is a great write-up. I’ve had this in my notes for a few years and cannot recall the source, but it is very illuminating.
  1. Neonatal period, 0 to 2 weeks: From the age of 0 to 2 weeks, they can’t move much anyways. They can’t see and they can barely wriggle. Absolute zero sense of danger. Tip for predators: if you want yourself an easy meal, now’s the time.
  2. Transitional period, 2 to 3-4 weeks: Their eyes open and they take their first steps. It’s the start of that oh-so-cute clumsy puppy walk. Still not much of a fear response. Top tip for predators: still an easy lunch, and a little bit fatter than last week.
  3. Socialisation period, 3-4 to 12-15 weeks
    1. Primary socialisation period: 3-4 to 5-7 weeks
      1. Awareness begins, 21-22 days: They become aware of their non-social environment. They take in the sights, feels, scents and sounds around them: the surfaces they walk on, and the household sounds they hear. Still no fear. Whatever you expose them to now will start to be classified as normal and safe stuff. Now’s the time to slowly introduce new textures and sounds into their environment. Beware though: no sudden change of environment right now. This could be hugely detrimental.
      2. Socialisation to other dogs, 3-5 weeks: They start interacting more consciously with their litter mates and mother, and imprint dogs as co-specifics: they learn that dogs are social companions, neither predator nor prey.
        1. They learn impulse and bite control from their mom who has started to chastise them if they hurt her with their needle-sharp teeth.
        2. They practice the whole shebang of canine social interactions through play with their litter mates.
        3. They (start to) learn to eliminate far from sleeping quarters
      3. 5-7 weeks = curiosity period. Pups are extremely curious and appear scared of nothing. “Hello, lion! Can I play with your mane?”
        1. Around 4-8 weeks, the mother weans the puppies. This is instrumental in teaching puppies to cope with frustration.
      4. Secondary socialisation period: 7-8 to 12-15 weeks
        1. This is the period where they learn that humans are also social partners.
          1. This period is considered the golden period of socialisation. This is the period that we want to cash in on to expose the dog to as many situations as possible, so he becomes bombproof later in life. Beware, though: do not overwhelm the pup in the name of socialisation: this achieves the exact opposite effect. Why is it a golden period? Because it corresponds with a peak in learning abilities. Learning = associating situations, people and objects with an appropriate emotional response. In other words, the pup is a sponge at this age and whatever he repeatedly encounters that is not scary or painful is getting stored as a safe situation in his long-term circuitry. Want him to trust the vet’s? Strangers? Kids? Wheelchairs? People with hats? Loud passing trams? Public transport? Car travel? Get on the road already!
          2. Socialisation-wise, 8-10 weeks is a good age to rehome the puppies to their permanent home. If you have a choice, privilege leaving the pup until 10-11 weeks with his mother and littermates, though. This is to do with the fear imprint period (see below) and teaching him impulse control. If you choose for this option, be sure that the breeder is serious in his or her socialisation efforts.
        2. The fear imprint period, 8 to 11 weeks:Because they are learning so fast and so profoundly, a traumatic encounter at this stage can have life-long repercussions. So do not push them in at the deep end, or you’ll be paying for it the rest of the dog’s life. This means:
          1. Avoid long and potentially traumatic trips – so much for the truckloads of Romanian puppies.
          2. Postpone any non urgent surgery or medical procedure.
        3. The ranking period, From about 10 weeks to 4 months: This is where they learn to stand up for themselves and try their paws at conflict resolution. They are no longer the pliable, happy-go-lucky puppy towards their littermates as they learn to become more willful. The puppy is trying to carve a spot for himself in the world.
  4. Juvenile and adolescent period, 4 to 13-18 months: This is when your pup is starting to become a grown up (socially speaking. For some breeds, there’s still plenty of physical growing to be done).
    1. The ranking period continues (during his 4th month): This time, his pig-headedness is towards you. At that stage, it can feel like they have carrots in their ears as your previously compliant puppy suddenly seems deaf to your requests. The best you can do is keep your cool and stay consistent. “Sure, puppy, you can whinge and whine, but I am NOT opening that door until you sit quietly. I have all day.”
    2. The flight instinct period (4 to 8 months): This is when a pup becomes drunk on freedom. A pup with a previously perfect recall suddenly takes off to explore the world and comes back when he damned well pleases. This is when, for some dogs, it is advised to re-start working on the recall, but with a long leash this time. He might also start chewing a lot more so give him plenty of legitimate outlets or your furniture might take a beating.
    3. The second fear period (6 to 14-18 months): This is not so much one continuous period as a series of short periods popping up once in a while. This is when you might start seeing territoriality rear its ugly head (stranger = very much danger in the dog’s mind, particularly on his home turf).
It can get really confusing as some of these are milestones and others are periods, and there are sub-phases that span over two periods. To make things worse, the start and end of these periods are approximations, particularly at the later end of the spectrum (with, in general, larger breeds being later bloomers). Here is my attempt at simplifying it by presenting it visually:



Good luck and keep us posted.
Also, how about some photos of your girl?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That describes a fearful dog.
Run upstairs..jump in bed, and pee.
Just like us humans as we age we become more confident.
Meanwhile you need to make sure all experiences are positive as your pup explores.
Sometimes negative experiences can stick with dogs for life.
With my boy Hoss at your pups age we spent time around other dogs but no direct contact, yet.
Everything happened in a controlled atmosphere.
Later at 8-9 months we had some playdates with our neighbors dogs.
With Hoss during play dates it was 1 visiting dog.
Never more than my dog and 1 other dog.
No groups of dogs.
Also I made sure the visiting dogs were roughly the same size as Hoss.
Thanks for your response! She has met a few of our people friends (only) and is already going on short daily walks filled with training, positive reinforcement, and general exposure. We do most of the training (like sit, stay, etc) at home in the backyard and we take her on walks to gradually expose her to the neighborhood. When she gets overwhelmed I redirect her with a treat or command and give her lots of praise and just take things slow.
The dog I mentioned earlier is actually another Doberman puppy a little younger than her. He belongs to a close friend of ours and they get along quite well — he is more independent and she is more clingy to people. She ran upstairs because she saw him going upstairs and wanted to chase him. Right after she peed on my bed, we separated the two and they parted ways. Before they got to play together, they met from a distance for a few times between a fence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I suggest you learn about fear phases in puppies. It is fascinating and will help you set up your pup for success.

@LadyDi is correct and I would add two things.
1. Are these your other dogs? If not, I do NOT recommend puppy socialization outside the home pack or with more than one other dog/puppy whose owner I knew very well.
2. If these dog part of the home pack, when she comes back to you, give her gentle words of encouragement but do not coddle her. Don’t fuss over her, just give her gentle pats and make sure she has an area where she can get away to self-soothe. Don’t push her into play. At this age she should just be watching and sniffing the air from a distance that is comfortable to her.

Here is a great write-up. I’ve had this in my notes for a few years and cannot recall the source, but it is very illuminating.
  1. Neonatal period, 0 to 2 weeks: From the age of 0 to 2 weeks, they can’t move much anyways. They can’t see and they can barely wriggle. Absolute zero sense of danger. Tip for predators: if you want yourself an easy meal, now’s the time.
  2. Transitional period, 2 to 3-4 weeks: Their eyes open and they take their first steps. It’s the start of that oh-so-cute clumsy puppy walk. Still not much of a fear response. Top tip for predators: still an easy lunch, and a little bit fatter than last week.
  3. Socialisation period, 3-4 to 12-15 weeks
    1. Primary socialisation period: 3-4 to 5-7 weeks
      1. Awareness begins, 21-22 days: They become aware of their non-social environment. They take in the sights, feels, scents and sounds around them: the surfaces they walk on, and the household sounds they hear. Still no fear. Whatever you expose them to now will start to be classified as normal and safe stuff. Now’s the time to slowly introduce new textures and sounds into their environment. Beware though: no sudden change of environment right now. This could be hugely detrimental.
      2. Socialisation to other dogs, 3-5 weeks: They start interacting more consciously with their litter mates and mother, and imprint dogs as co-specifics: they learn that dogs are social companions, neither predator nor prey.
        1. They learn impulse and bite control from their mom who has started to chastise them if they hurt her with their needle-sharp teeth.
        2. They practice the whole shebang of canine social interactions through play with their litter mates.
        3. They (start to) learn to eliminate far from sleeping quarters
      3. 5-7 weeks = curiosity period. Pups are extremely curious and appear scared of nothing. “Hello, lion! Can I play with your mane?”
        1. Around 4-8 weeks, the mother weans the puppies. This is instrumental in teaching puppies to cope with frustration.
      4. Secondary socialisation period: 7-8 to 12-15 weeks
        1. This is the period where they learn that humans are also social partners.
          1. This period is considered the golden period of socialisation. This is the period that we want to cash in on to expose the dog to as many situations as possible, so he becomes bombproof later in life. Beware, though: do not overwhelm the pup in the name of socialisation: this achieves the exact opposite effect. Why is it a golden period? Because it corresponds with a peak in learning abilities. Learning = associating situations, people and objects with an appropriate emotional response. In other words, the pup is a sponge at this age and whatever he repeatedly encounters that is not scary or painful is getting stored as a safe situation in his long-term circuitry. Want him to trust the vet’s? Strangers? Kids? Wheelchairs? People with hats? Loud passing trams? Public transport? Car travel? Get on the road already!
          2. Socialisation-wise, 8-10 weeks is a good age to rehome the puppies to their permanent home. If you have a choice, privilege leaving the pup until 10-11 weeks with his mother and littermates, though. This is to do with the fear imprint period (see below) and teaching him impulse control. If you choose for this option, be sure that the breeder is serious in his or her socialisation efforts.
        2. The fear imprint period, 8 to 11 weeks:Because they are learning so fast and so profoundly, a traumatic encounter at this stage can have life-long repercussions. So do not push them in at the deep end, or you’ll be paying for it the rest of the dog’s life. This means:
          1. Avoid long and potentially traumatic trips – so much for the truckloads of Romanian puppies.
          2. Postpone any non urgent surgery or medical procedure.
        3. The ranking period, From about 10 weeks to 4 months: This is where they learn to stand up for themselves and try their paws at conflict resolution. They are no longer the pliable, happy-go-lucky puppy towards their littermates as they learn to become more willful. The puppy is trying to carve a spot for himself in the world.
  4. Juvenile and adolescent period, 4 to 13-18 months: This is when your pup is starting to become a grown up (socially speaking. For some breeds, there’s still plenty of physical growing to be done).
    1. The ranking period continues (during his 4th month): This time, his pig-headedness is towards you. At that stage, it can feel like they have carrots in their ears as your previously compliant puppy suddenly seems deaf to your requests. The best you can do is keep your cool and stay consistent. “Sure, puppy, you can whinge and whine, but I am NOT opening that door until you sit quietly. I have all day.”
    2. The flight instinct period (4 to 8 months): This is when a pup becomes drunk on freedom. A pup with a previously perfect recall suddenly takes off to explore the world and comes back when he damned well pleases. This is when, for some dogs, it is advised to re-start working on the recall, but with a long leash this time. He might also start chewing a lot more so give him plenty of legitimate outlets or your furniture might take a beating.
    3. The second fear period (6 to 14-18 months): This is not so much one continuous period as a series of short periods popping up once in a while. This is when you might start seeing territoriality rear its ugly head (stranger = very much danger in the dog’s mind, particularly on his home turf).
It can get really confusing as some of these are milestones and others are periods, and there are sub-phases that span over two periods. To make things worse, the start and end of these periods are approximations, particularly at the later end of the spectrum (with, in general, larger breeds being later bloomers). Here is my attempt at simplifying it by presenting it visually:



Good luck and keep us posted.
Also, how about some photos of your girl?
Thank you for the notes! This is extremely helpful and very true to what she is going through right now. I’ve noticed that while she is very treat motivated and a general love bug, she is getting quite stubborn these days. However, she is also very sensitive (compared to the past boy Dobies we’ve had). I find that gentle scolding (no, off, stop) in a firm and low tone paired with my own stubbornness works the best. As long as I’m not caving into her behavior, she will learn and has learned eventually!
As for your other 2 questions, this is the boy Doberman of a close friend of ours. He is a bit younger and smaller than her and they finally got to meet after meeting through a fence for short durations at a time. The boy is very independent and strong-willed. I noticed during their play session that he would always steal her toys. She seems to be infatuated with him (much to his dismay) but she is learning how to stand up for herself. We also separated them during their play time to give them space and time to play with us. Also, whenever one looked less eager to play, we would separate them before the other pup got too annoyed. Our neighbors are begging for play sessions with their adult dogs but we’ve told them to give us more time to bond, train with her, and help her learn about what’s ok/not ok.
Here’s a pic of her from a few days ago :)
Dog Dog breed Carnivore Grass Working animal
 
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