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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi DT,

Thank you for reading this, and thank you for the wealth of wisdom you share with me.

A few weeks back I posted about my recently 2 year old male barking at people who approached him. I thought it was in play, but today, it went to the next level.

A younger athletic gentleman, built like a boxer(athlete not dog) with a somewhat aggressive look asked to approach my dog. I invited him to, just asking that he let Armani sniff him first.

Well, about 3 seconds after sniffing Armani launched and was barking, this could not be mistaken for friendly. The kid walked back a few steps I apologized. I asked if he wanted to try again with a treat which he declined.

I was furious. Armani has never been hit, never even been corrected with a prong. I used purely positive reinforcement. My wife and I are guilty of yelling very very rarely out of pure frustration. But that is the extent of discipline. He went to puppy school and was regularly socialized, even went dog parks and doggy play care (until I stopped because they put a bad taste in my mouth). So basically, he is familiar with people and has no reason to fear them.

The icing on the cake, as the kids was walking away and I apologized Armani lunges/barks and growls again. I pull him and in a stern voice say bad dog and force sit him.

I was so frustrated, mad and disappointed that my well behaved pup was becoming not people friendly.

I am still very upset about that and am looking for feedback, but here is where I had a small victory.

I have been struggling with leash training since day one. And fueled by my frustration/anger I told Armani he was not the boss in a serious voice and every time he tried to walk past me I pushed him back and said "behind me" Not a hard throw, or anything painful, but just to put him behind me. I also walked with the leash choked up behind me so he could not pass. When he walked at my side I let him know he was a good boy with praise and treats. When he started to speed up in a serious tone "behind me" and he slowed down.

As we neared our house he was walking so well, I felt a little guilty for talking sternly to him and pushing him. But promised him cheese when we got home for being such a good boy.

Thoughts? Thanks for reading DT, you guys rock!
 

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I don't have any advise on the lunging and barking, other than if you believe there is even a slight risk of a bad bite, muzzling him is probably a good idea. I'm interested in seeing what advise DT may provide you.

As far as walking on leash, don't feel bad about getting firm with him. I've helped a couple folks with soft dogs and they would shut down with rough handling. All it took for them was treats and coaxing. My GSD and Dobemann, plus every Police Service Dog I've personally seen needed a LOT of physical corrections under certain circumstances. Loose leash walking is one of those. If all it took for your dog was a few jerks of the leash and a stern voice, well that doesn't sound like it was much at all and I bet you dog is not one bit 'hurt' from it.
 

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sometimes you have to be stern with them!

Your tone of voice makes a big impact on how your dog will react. When I have to raise my voice, Lexi knows that I've had enough...although still being a puppy she will test her boundaries.
 

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I wonder if the dog had a better read on this person than you? I have a sensitive female who can read a persons body language from a mile off. Any one who approaches her in a ''confrontational'' body stance and she will not allow them to approach. People that approach by not looking at her/talking to her or reaching for her, allowing her to become comfortable with them first are not an issue and are accepted. I have socialized and OB trained her. She is just a very sensitive dog and I make sure I am proactive about all stranger meeting situations. If her body langauge tells me its not a good situation I don't force it. Has this been getting steadily worse for you? or a one time incident?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for the feedback.

It has gotten steadily worse. Before, anyone could meet him so long as they reached out their hand and let him get a sniff first. I don't want people just shooting hands out on top of his head.

We did puppy classes etc, the first time I noticed it, he snapped at a person who was creeping me out, so I chocked it up to not getting a good vibe from the person and my uncomfort. It happened a second time and the guy was good enough to give him a treat, and they were fine. But this was the most vicious I have ever seen him.
 

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I do think that it kind of sounds like he thought this guy was sketchy, especially if you've never seen him react quite like that before.

However, as you say, you don't want your dog thinking that he gets rewarded for going off on anybody and everybody.

I would consult with a trainer, and maybe do some private sessions with an eye towards how to deal with meet 'n' greets, and passersby. You want your dog to be calm and look to you, not just bark and be a nutjob to keep people away.
 

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I think you can't ignore it now. There is an issue, be it big or small and it's growing. The key for me also is how he went after the person as they retreated. That is a response fear aggressive dogs tned to do (it's a safer bet)

I would not train when you are that angry. And I don't believe forcing him to walk behind you by choking up on his collar really did anything but make you feel better.

2 is an age where we often see temperament changes and also up to 3. It's not uncommon. I'd find a GOOD trainer/behaviorist to work with and for now do NOT let him say hi to strangers period. what IF he does bite? What then?
 

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Short on time, but one quick thing- if you are "choking up" on him, you may as well be cocking a gun. You are essentially telling him there is something to be wary of, there is a problem, you are nervous/unsure/discontent about that person/object, and you are ensuring he WILL react.

I used to do that if I wanted my dog to flip out on someone that I didn't feel like stopping and chatting with in the neighborhood. :D:D

EVERYTHING travels down leash. If YOU are nervous about his reaction, you will project that and he will react accordingly-if you're worried about his actions, he's going to prove your worry right. Instead, focus on communicating with him in a way that tells him YOU are in charge of making the decision of when and who he should or should not bite. Once you have that relationship, you aren't going to worry about he will react, and it won't happen so much.

I am not going to comment on his nerves; I wasn't there, have no idea what went on, and the internet is no place to try and assess a dog's inherent temperament. What I do know is that you will greatly improve your entire relationship, not just this issue, if you can communicate effectively and project an air of confidence. Protection or weak nerves, either way, he will be less likely to act out if you are more even- keeled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you again for your feedback. I have contacted a trainer who I believe has had experience working with Doberman.

I think my years of playing baseball have effected the message I was trying to send. When you choke up on a bat, you hold the bat higher. This gives you more control but less power. You will often time see players doing this after the second strike. As I said in my original post he has never been hit or even corrected with a prong. He wears an easy walker, so there is nothing to choke. When I stated "choke up" I meant I grabbed the leash in such a manner where there was no tension so that he could not physically walk by me. Physically choking my dog would not make me feel better about anything.

This is very troubling to me as I socialized him, introduced him to people and even made him familiar with children. Which will stop untill the dog trainer helps me come up with a solution. Your comments are comforting that it may just be the end of his doberteens, but I agree better safe than sorry and some extra training never hurt anyone. In fact I want to talk to her about getting Armani involed in some sort of sport. He has unbelieveable drive that I am not doing justice by walking and playing laser buggy and tug of war in the back yard.

Again you all rock and thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sorry I should have said this in my previous posts.

Adara - thank you, you make a great point about barking as they make an exit, and it makes alot of sense.

Why would my pup do this? He has never been hit and has nothing to fear?

Eisenherz - Another awesome point about everything traveling down leash. I do get a little stressed when people come up as of late, and I really dont want to be interrupted by some people when I am walking.

Thanks much!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Armani is a laser addict, and he does look for it for a few seconds after i turn it off.

Playing laser buggy with him is strange in that, he does'nt necessarily follow exactly where I point the laser, but tries to predict which way it will go, so I end up having to keep the laser in front of him.

He will stare at the laser and wait for the right time to make a move sometimes.

He is an addict in that when it get's dark he demands Laser buggy, whining barking etc. Which I am trying to curb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
I am not really to concerned with him becoming ocd with the laser. He is triggered by the word "buggy" and the click of the laser switch. He is not interested in flashlights, reflections etc. After the laser is off it is just a few seconds he looks, maybe 3.

Could his mean streak be a lack of trusting me? So he call's the shots and tries to protect us?

One other thing I find odd is how everyone is so smitten by him. For instance, he allows the lady's at petco to trim his nails no problem and they always are so impressed with him. He was even quicked once and no problem.
 

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I wouldn't use a laser at all personally. I don't see any benefit from it other than the fact I can sit on my butt and point it around. If my dog needs an outlet, and as much as it sucks sometimes, I need to get up and give her the relief she needs. Flirt pole or some good old fetch. Tie a tug toy on the end of a long line and drag it around the yard. If your stuck indoors play some tug. Throw in some non-structured obedience and you can take that edge off in 20 minutes.

Until you get it figured out, no one should be allowed to approach your dog. Its your job to make sure of it. The park I walk frequently has many joggers. Many times these fools see Haley prancing along and stick their hand out to her as the blaze on by. If she had any of the issues that you describe, she would not be at this park. It would be irresponsible of me to put her in that position.

If your dog is two years old and still has leash issues, something needs to be done. All "positive" training works for some, but not all. Prongs and corrections down cause dogs to be aggressive. You say your dog has never been corrected and I find that hard to believe. If you use the word "no", that is negative reinforcement. Some dogs will cower to a strong "no". Some dogs need the hardest of leash corrections. If your dog has leash issues, he's not comfortable on lead. If he's not comfortable on the lead he's going to be anxious around strange things. I would start there and get that down first. Keep him a safe distance from others and introduce things slowly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Eattheleash -

My error may have been stating I use only positive reinforcement. When I caught him peeing on my carpet as a puppy heck yea I said "No" as I scurried him outside, or as he chewed on a brand new piece of furniture. The message I was trying to send is that I never used used anything to cause him discomfort, like spraying him water, or hitting, nothing that would make him fear people.

The laser pointer? Well, my neighbor has a boxer and they were playing with a laser pointer outside. Armani was sooo excited, that I asked if he could join. Seconds later, this boxer and doberman were flying around the yard chasing the laser pointer.

So while some may say it is lazy, the reason I do it is because my dog LOVES it. I am going to speak with the behaviorist and get their take on it.

I made a flirt pole out of electrical conduit and rope from Home Depot. I also walk my pup regularly. His great in home manner reflects the ample amount of excercise.
:thanx:
 

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Sorry I should have said this in my previous posts.

Adara - thank you, you make a great point about barking as they make an exit, and it makes alot of sense.

Why would my pup do this? He has never been hit and has nothing to fear?

Eisenherz - Another awesome point about everything traveling down leash. I do get a little stressed when people come up as of late, and I really dont want to be interrupted by some people when I am walking.

Thanks much!
Could be genetics also? You could have done everything in the world right but sometimes genetics only goes so far. Don't be so quick to blame yourself. Try to focus on a solution now and move forward. What does you breeder say if he came from one? How well do you know the lines?

When people start to approach, I would try crossing the street if possible in a happy mood in your head. I do something silly when I get nervous and don't want it to travel down the leas. I sing a kid's nursery rhyme in my head to myself. It's a dumb trick but still seems to work for me. I would get the dog's attention and quickly and confidently keep moving the other direction or across the street, etc. If the person keeps approaching it's ok to yell out, we're in training or STOP or we can't stop or whatever you feel comfortable saying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks that is reassuring.

I hope it is not genetics. I met Armani's mom and dad, and they were great, but that one time is all I can speak to. Not sure of their history.

This is the breeder.

About-Rich-Lie

I should reach out to them.

He is great when people come over, just the randoms while walking.

Moving forward untill the behaviorist works with me I will steer clear of people. Just strange as he used to warm up to people so easily and even spent time loving on first graders in their classrooms!
 

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Eattheleash -

My error may have been stating I use only positive reinforcement. When I caught him peeing on my carpet as a puppy heck yea I said "No" as I scurried him outside, or as he chewed on a brand new piece of furniture. The message I was trying to send is that I never used used anything to cause him discomfort, like spraying him water, or hitting, nothing that would make him fear people.

The laser pointer? Well, my neighbor has a boxer and they were playing with a laser pointer outside. Armani was sooo excited, that I asked if he could join. Seconds later, this boxer and doberman were flying around the yard chasing the laser pointer.

So while some may say it is lazy, the reason I do it is because my dog LOVES it. I am going to speak with the behaviorist and get their take on it.

I made a flirt pole out of electrical conduit and rope from Home Depot. I also walk my pup regularly. His great in home manner reflects the ample amount of excercise.
:thanx:
I'm not at all knocking you or your choice of play in any way, I just don't think its worth it. To exert all that energy and drive into chasing something without a tangible reward could be frustrating to the dog. Until I read about the potential issues with pointers I would have used them too without ever giving it a second thought. Going forward, just because your dog loves it, doesn't mean its right for them. My dog would probably love to eat an entire 10lb ham, but I won't let her because there would be some fallout. Is the pointer causing your aggression issues? Probably not. As stated you could have done everything right, and this issue could have just materialized on its own. It is now your responsibility to take on the burden and resolve the issue.

This issue hits close to home for me. I have some friends going through the same thing. I have watched it slowly materialize for a long time. Now the dog won't let strangers or other dogs walk behind him, and lunges at random strangers. He also has never had any leash corrections and walks poorly on lead. His actions are at random. He is well behaved at home, and with his owners, but anything out of routine is trouble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks Eattheleash.

Honestly, I had no idea it could have negative side effects untill today and I am thinking about changing our play routine. Armani would love a 10lb ham, and I would love to split it with him, but you are right there would be hell to pay lol...for us both.

Hopefully the behavorist nips this in the bud, but she hasnt called me back yet!
 

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We had similar issues with our first dobie, Ruby (RIP). It came on kind of gradually, like you describe, but was mostly when new people she hadn't met came over to our house. she never got to the point of snapping at them, just growling/barking. I contacted a trainer and was given a little trick to try that worked really well.

If and when people asked to pet her, I would ask them to turn their back to her and put their hands behind their back for her to sniff. (If they put their hands out in front of themselves, she would react similar to how your dog does (growling). It was like she was nervous and on-guard the whole time she was sniffing them.) However, when they turned around and put their hands behind their back, it seemed like she felt less threatened and could comfortably take her time sniffing them. After she had sniffed their hands for a minute or two, she would walk in front of them to smell the front of them. I told them to keep their hands behind their back till I said. Once I could see that Ruby was "okay" with the person and relaxed a little, I would have them put their hands in front of them. She would sniff some more. If she still seemed unsure of the person or aloof, I didn't let them pet her. However, MOST of the time, once she was done "inspecting" the person, she would start wagging her little nub and nudge their hands for them to pet her.

As she got older, about 4 years old, she would read my body language and once she knew that I was okay with a person, she was okay with them too. Without having to go through the whole back-turned-sniffing-ritual. It was as if she had learned that if mom trusts this person, than I should too.

All that being said, I would take the advice you've been given here and meet with a behaviorist. I never did and really wished I would have. What I mentioned above worked great in controlled settings, but I was always sooo nervous about what she would do if some idiot (or unknowing little kid) reached out to pet her without asking first.

With Ruby I really feel like it was an insecurity issue, which I know was partly my fault for not socializing her well enough as a pup. It sounds like you did everything right with socializing your boy, so I can imagine how frustating this is for you.

I will be keeping a close eye on this thread to pick up on any advice/pointers given for how to avoid this problem our new pup.

One of the reasons we are getting our new pups ears cropped is so that people will KNOW she is a doberman. We left Ruby natural. She was a red. We always had people asking what kind of dog she was. People tried to approach her all the time without asking. I would have to stop them and give them the sniffing routine instructions. I think if people would have known she was a dobie, they would have asked first the majority of the time. I always had to be on super high alert when out in public with her because of this.
 
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