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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our girl, for the most part, is an excellent dobie pup. She is still a puppy (she'll be a year on the 1st of July) but overall she is behaved very well. If she displayed any unwanted behaviors we have been able to correct them. One thing she does that bothers me and that we can't seem to break her of is snapping at the air to us. She has never done it in anger or to back us up but seems to do this when she wants to play and we don't or when she wants our attention. I have been told this is showing aggression though so something is up I think. If we tell her "no", she'll just do it again, sometimes letting out a slight bark. Well, not a bark but kind of like she is saying,. "Hey, I am talking to you.", like she is talking to us. If we go to get up to correct her, she'll hop around, dropping her front legs and pushing her butt in the air, like she is ready to play. If the no is stern enough and I guess my getting up is rushed, she'll pop down like she wans to play but then go into the other room. When she returns, she'll do it again. We keep her leash on in the house so if I am able to grab the leash, give it a light correction and put her in a sit, she will stop. This will happen once a week, maybe. It is less than it was but it still happens and that is what bothers me. I just don't want it turning into anything else.

Any ideas or advice?
 

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Hi Stella, I am sure others with more experience can give you better ways but I will tell you how we broke Da'kari from the same exact behaviour.

Telling her no didn't do any good by itself. We turned from her. Anytime there is behaviour that is not wanted then turn your back to her and ignore her every single time and she will catch on that it is not tolerated. And when she comes to you and doesn't do it make sure you give her attention.

They catch on fast. Anytime they do something and get any attention from it that only validates their behaviour so they will continue to do it.

But I am curious what others have to say about it also.
 

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I can't be sure without acutally seeing the behavior, but it sounds like what is called "clacking". It appears to be a genetic thing and not all Dobermans do it. Only one of mine has. They do it when they're excited. The fact that your girl is doing it in conjunction with a play bow indicates that she is excited and wanting to play. With my dog who was a clacker I never did anything to try to stop him. I thought it was very interesting that he did that because he was my first one to do it and he didn't start until he was 8 years old. Shortly after that he started "smiling" also, which I thought was great, he was my first smiler.

So if you are correcting her for this behavior you and she are definitely speaking different languages and you are confusing her. What I would do is ignore it.
 

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I agree with micdobe. Without being able to see it, we can't know for sure but it does just sound like one of those quirky Doberman traits. Deacon, a puppy I produced, is a snapper / clacker like that. It's just a habit he got into. I don't think it means anything, and we could all care less that he does it.
 

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I also agree with micdobe. GKar does not do this but the female that is living with us does. With her I think it is just an escalation of the various signs she gives to go out or to play after her more subtle(sp?) ones have been ignored. As long as that invitation to play is there it is very seldom aggression.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"Clacking" sounds like it. I was thinking about it on the drive back to work after our daily walk and realized she does it at one other time... when we are playing fetch! She drop her toy in my lap. Whether she sits on her own or I tell her too, she does the clack as she is sitting. She usually only does it when she is really excited and it is followed by a smile. I think you are right. Me and her ARE on the wrong page.

My first vet told me it was an aggressive behavior and that especially with a dobie (should have been my first clue to run) I should be careful. needless to say, we don't go to him anymore for other reasons but it is just one more thing to be weary of if I stayed with him. I didn't know any better back then and between living with Stella, taking her to obedience and agility classes, reading this board and the Yahoo list, I have learned so much more than I could have hoped for. Thanks for all the responses guys. I really appreciate it.
 

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This was an excellent topic. Our new dobe Panzer just started doing this yesterday with our son, he will also let out a little tiny soft squeaky type bark sometimes. He did this to me this AM (w/out the soft bark). Mako has never done this. Mako does smile often though. She does this when we return home or when we get up. She will also do it on command. However when she does something naughty she will do it as well, but she will also slunch down to the ground. I think she looks cute when she smiles.
 

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The smiling is an appeasement gesture, a wolf would "smile" to the pack leader to show he wasn't challenging him and so be safe from him.

Dogs who smile usually do it when they think they might be in trouble for something. My GSD smiled but only when she thought she was going to be tin trouble. The funny thing about it was she was never in trouble, it was my Doberman who always did whatever "bad" thing had been done. He could have cared less if I was mad about it or not. But she always gave it away that he had done something he shouldn't because she would meet me at the front door with a "smile".
 

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The first time I saw Mako smile was when she was under the bed. It took me back a moment because she looked scary, but now she just looks so cute. When I give her the command to smile she gives only small ones. She is alo learning to stick out her tongue on command.I spend a lot of time with my babies, esp when it is school time.
 

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Harmony only smiles when she does something wrong also. She will meet me at the door or run up to me smiling. First clue to go searching.
 

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Molari said:
With her I think it is just an escalation of the various signs she gives to go out or to play after her more subtle(sp?) ones have been ignored. As long as that invitation to play is there it is very seldom aggression.
I agree with this 100% Rommel will come up to me and stick his nose in my armpit if he wants something while I am sitting here at the computer, and if I ignore him, he starts the clacking, then if I ignore the clacking, its a squeaky bark...he just gets louder and louder.

He also does it when we are playing, if he wants me to throw something he will "clack" then bark. I think he learned that at Schutzhund though, in order to get what you want, you have to bark. He does the same clack, squeak, bark thing there too. Funny. I guess I had never really thought much about it before.
 

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When I got Da'Kari she was my first Dobe, so when I heard the clacking I also thought it was agressive behaviour so I broke her from it by turning from her. She will do it occasionally now but it is very rare and not more than a clack, never over and over, but I didn't associate it with play back then. My bad!

I learn new things everyday, that is why forums help!
 

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Java started to do it out of impatience when sitting on the kitchen floor, waiting for me to hurry up and get that food into her bowl, already! I corrected it by stopping what I'm doing, staring her down and giving her a firm 'No'. I've never seen this a sign of aggression - she just doesn't have that 'look' in her eye when she does it, nor does she do anything else that could be interpreted as aggressive behavior.
 

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BackInBlack said:
I agree with this 100% Rommel will come up to me and stick his nose in my armpit if he wants something while I am sitting here at the computer, and if I ignore him, he starts the clacking, then if I ignore the clacking, its a squeaky bark...he just gets louder and louder.

He also does it when we are playing, if he wants me to throw something he will "clack" then bark. I think he learned that at Schutzhund though, in order to get what you want, you have to bark. He does the same clack, squeak, bark thing there too. Funny. I guess I had never really thought much about it before.
I have read this entire thread and really cannot agree with the interpretations of innocent "clacking". BackInBlack, your dog is bossing you around, this is not clacking at all. He nudges you, correctly you ignore his demand for attention so he brings it up a notch until I am sure he gets some sort of reaction from you.

If a Dobe "clacks" because he/she is a talker, or smiler, and is doing this at odd times of submissive activities, then you can be more safe in the assumption that it is nothing more then an innocent communication. This is something that would have to be seen in order for me to rule it as such.

However, in some of the cases mentioned here the dogs are actually snapping when their drives are up, which is a sign of sharpness. Others have listed behaviour that is associated with "play aggression". This is behaviour commonly starts at 4 1/2 months of age, left unchecked it becomes increasingly noticeable until older age fades the behaviour. The pup tries to entice you into play by either (or all) barking/clacking/bowing. This behaviour of course needs to be corrected when dealing with people, especially children. The pup must learn that this sort of edging is only tolerated by other dogs and not humans.

In the event of play aggression it is important to know that this behaviour starts at the precise time as when the pup's own drives are increasing. Therefore, realizing your pup's new energy needs you should increase daily exercise, preferably through retrieving since this makes the pup work for you.

Posture is the only way to know 100% what a bark or snap really means. But in the processes of aggression, snapping at the air is the step before actual contact. Perhaps some dogs will never have the nerve to actually deliver the bite. But for dogs that do, it will not be long before they grab clothing, then skin...... if left unchecked that is.

Unless it is clear that your dog is clacking his/her teeth out of submissive posture, it should be corrected.
 

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Dobereich said:
I have read this entire thread and really cannot agree with the interpretations of innocent "clacking". BackInBlack, your dog is bossing you around, this is not clacking at all. He nudges you, correctly you ignore his demand for attention so he brings it up a notch until I am sure he gets some sort of reaction from you.

If a Dobe "clacks" because he/she is a talker, or smiler, and is doing this at odd times of submissive activities, then you can be more safe in the assumption that it is nothing more then an innocent communication. This is something that would have to be seen in order for me to rule it as such.

However, in some of the cases mentioned here the dogs are actually snapping when their drives are up, which is a sign of sharpness. Others have listed behaviour that is associated with "play aggression". This is behaviour commonly starts at 4 1/2 months of age, left unchecked it becomes increasingly noticeable until older age fades the behaviour. The pup tries to entice you into play by either (or all) barking/clacking/bowing. This behaviour of course needs to be corrected when dealing with people, especially children. The pup must learn that this sort of edging is only tolerated by other dogs and not humans.

In the event of play aggression it is important to know that this behaviour starts at the precise time as when the pup's own drives are increasing. Therefore, realizing your pup's new energy needs you should increase daily exercise, preferably through retrieving since this makes the pup work for you.

Posture is the only way to know 100% what a bark or snap really means. But in the processes of aggression, snapping at the air is the step before actual contact. Perhaps some dogs will never have the nerve to actually deliver the bite. But for dogs that do, it will not be long before they grab clothing, then skin...... if left unchecked that is.

Unless it is clear that your dog is clacking his/her teeth out of submissive posture, it should be corrected.
the part in bold describes what Duchess did when she was younger...If we were playing around and she rolled over on her back and I was close to being right above her she would (never make contact with me) but she would snap at my face while or right before trying to get up...she has NO problems with being mouthy at all now NOR does biting seem to be an option in situations.
lol the only time she sometimes gets me harder than desired in the face is when I give her the "KISS" command...and she is too excited about it usually she is fine though lol...she is a smilier too.
 

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No. Unless it is clear that the dog is being aggressive it does not need to be corrected.

The clackers I have known, including my own, did not clack out of submissive posture, as they did with smiling, they clacked when excited.
 

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The pup tries to entice you into play by either (or all) barking/clacking/bowing. This behaviour of course needs to be corrected when dealing with people, especially children. The pup must learn that this sort of edging is only tolerated by other dogs and not humans.

So you are seriously suggesting when my dobe play bows at me, I am to correct him?
 

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clacking/snapping

I'm currently working with a bitch that snaps and clacks when she's excited and working.

It's in no way aggressive behavior; she's happy to be working and letting me know.
 
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