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I've got an ~8 month old dobe who I adopted at about 6 weeks old. She's been to a puppy training course, and responds really well to all the basic obedience commands (sit, down, stay, come, etc...). She and I go on 2-4 mile runs every day, and have several refresher training times lasting about 15 minutes each day. When she and I aren't working together, she is either in her crate (when I'm gone) or out in the house with toys under my supervision.

My problem is this: she snaps! When we go outside for some old-fashioned run and tug toy playing, she immediately begins to get aggressive. Her hair stands up, she starts to run circles around me, and she snaps and growls at me. This behavior just started about a week ago, and I'm at a loss. I've tried being firm and saying "no," which just irritates her more. When I turn to walk away/ignore her, she just waits for me to come back and begins the behavior again, no matter how much time I give her to "cool off" (anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes). I'm not sure what I need to do to stop this behavior. She's never been aggressive like this before, and we didn't tolerate her biting us while she was teething. Any suggestions?
 

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Mo's Mom
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I have zero advice or knowledge to give you... but I know what I'd do if I were in this situation. I would call a trainer and my breeder, and learn what the reason behind it is, and how to handle it.

But ththat's just me...
 

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First, she's much too young to be a running partner. It's best not to run distances until a pup is at least sixteen months or more when the growth plates close. You don't want to out excess strain on growing joints and she could do damage to her joints by trying to keep up with you when she shouldn't.

Exactly what do you mean by old fashikned run and tug toy playing? Is it possible you're being too rough and hurting her, so she is now taking a defensive posture to prevent this rough play? Try just playing fetch with her some or more mind games like teaching her to find a toy you've hidden in the house or yard. Start out letting her see where you've put it and then progressively put the toy in harder places to find. I crate Parker and cover the crate with a bedsheet and make fake noises around the house so he doesn't know what area I was in last cause he listens, let me tell you! :)

You must remember she is only a baby and will not be grown and mature till two years of age.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just the basic multi-colored rope tug toy. It's her favorite toy to play with. She'll bring it to me, we'll tug (more like I stand still with it while she tugs on it), and I'll throw it for her to fetch. The running I referred to with play time was her running to fetch it. I wouldn't think she'd be trying to avoid this, she is constantly bringing me her tug toy to play with her, and gets obviously excited (wiggly, panting, tail wagging) while we wait at the door to go outside to play.

I was encouraged to run with her by both our vet and trainer, since we live in an apartment and it's the only exercise she can get outside. She doesn't have any problems keeping up with me, and usually is still tugging wanting to run long after I've tired out. What would be your suggestion for distance if I wanted to continue to run with her? Or should I not be running at all?
 

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It's okay to play fetch and run and play with her like that. I thought you were running for two to four miles with her like on a road or trail. A doberman will hurt themselves trying to stay with their owner.

If you have a trainer, have him or her observe the play that is causing her to act like she does. That would be much, much better than someone trying to figure what's going on from a description over the internet.

Good luck!
 

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Hairy Dog, RIP Caesar, Katana, Kip, Capri
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Any chance she is getting ready to go into heat? Sometimes the girls get extra touchy when the hormones start to kick in.

The problem with running with a young dog (under 18 months) is not exactly the distance--it is more that repetitive exercise like running, or biking or jumping high in the air after frisbees put a lot of stress on the immature joints and ligaments. You may not see signs of injury now, but it could set her up for some in the future.

And because dobes will make a huge effort to stay with you at speed, they can't or won't stop or slow down to take things at their own pace. They can easily overdo it.

If you are concerned with your dog's behavior, you would probably do best to seek out a trainer or behaviorist and see what their suggestions are. Be aware that there are good suggestions and bad ones, especially when possibly aggressive behavior is being discussed. Feel free to come back here and run the opinions you get by folks here who are experienced--hopefully you will find a consensus of workable solutions.
 
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