Off leash potential?

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bell's picture
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Hi all,

It's been a long time since I posted here, I was a regular lurker and occasional participant 8 years or so ago when Alysia was younger :=) All of you helped so much at the time with your generosity, advice and experiences. I am eternally grateful as without this forum I wouldn't have the beautiful, sensitive, incredible, smart, funny dog that I have today.

 

She has just had her 10th birthday and is in great shape, I've been so lucky to have my gorgeous girl for so long. But I am already thinking ahead to the day that I will have to say goodbye ... and then think about maybe getting another dog.

 

I love Alysia with all my heart, she is just the most amazing dog (maybe i said that already :=))). But I won't pretend it has been an easy ride. I got her from a first-time breeder - huge mistake, I know now, and I would never do this again. I am now only looking into the absolute best kennels in Denmark, where I live, for my next dog. I would also never, with hindsight, have gotten a Doberman as a first-time dog owner. Enough said about massive beginner mess-ups. Had I discovered this forum before I got her, I would have avoided a lot of this stuff, I am sure.

Anyway, there were 13 pups in Alysia's litter, and the breeder kept all of them. The mother couldn't manage so many pups and abandoned the litter at 5 weeks. The breeder kept them in a garage and couldn't cope herself either (obviously). Not surprisingly, when I got Alysia, she was terrified of EVERYTHING, extremely insecure. So it was very difficult to socialize her properly. She couldn't even cross from one type of flooring to another without going into total panic. We worked with her endlessly, and fortunately found a great training forum in the Danish Police Dog Association. Which focuses on training working dogs, but above all owners like us, who really had no clue what we were doing at the start. To cut a long story short, this helped a lot, but we have never been able to train her basic insecurity and nervousness fully out of her. This has meant that we have had ongoing issues with fear-based lunging (at oncoming passers-by, running children, bicycles, people coming from behind etc etc), and as a result I have not been able to let her off the lead except when in a fully enclosed area. There have been a few close calls even so.

Because of all this, walking her has always been really stressful. I have to watch what is coming from behind, in front, round corners etc, and I don't ever feel she has really been able to enjoy herself as she is on leash the whole time. I walk her for around 2 hours per day in two separate walks (and if I'm working at home we also have a play session around midday with some training). So that's a lot of stress. Probably for both of us.

 

Even so, I simply cannot imagine getting another breed than a Doberman. But I don't think I can manage another 10-12 years with the same degree of stress (I am also in my early 50s now, and have a stressful job, and I feel it more). I should mention that in the meanwhile I got divorced and would be bringing up my new dog alone. I work from home a couple of days a week and have saved up so that I can take at least half a year off work should I get a new puppy at some point, and probably taking another half year part time, to ensure proper socialization and training.

 

So my question is the following: is it possible to train most properly bred Dobermans to walk off leash? I live 2 mins from beach and forest and would love to be able to let my new dog off leash (given proper training of course). I was quite sure this was possible with a properly bred and trained Doberman. The breed is even recommended as one of the top 10 dogs for off-leash hiking, on several websites. But the reason I asked is that I talked to a local (reputable) Doberman breeder recently, who claimed that it was NEVER safe to let a Dobe off leash. I was really surprised by this. I would really appreciate your input. It's quite a big factor in any decision about what dog to get next, for me. Also, am I deranged for thinking I can do this on my own? Alysia was a major handful as a youngster even when we were two on the job ...

 

Sorry for the loooong ramble. I'd be so grateful for any input.

Thanks :) warm greetings from Denmark

Bel & Alysia

 

bell's picture
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ps I have a small army of dog minders who live in the countryside, love dobermans, and could help mind my new dog in private day care when I am at work.

DobermanGuy's picture
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So my question is the following: is it possible to train most properly bred Dobermans to walk off leash? I live 2 mins from beach and forest and would love to be able to let my new dog off leash (given proper training of course). I was quite sure this was possible with a properly bred and trained Doberman. The breed is even recommended as one of the top 10 dogs for off-leash hiking, on several websites. But the reason I asked is that I talked to a local (reputable) Doberman breeder recently, who claimed that it was NEVER safe to let a Dobe off leash. I was really surprised by this. I would really appreciate your input. It's quite a big factor in any decision about what dog to get next, for me. Also, am I deranged for thinking I can do this on my own? Alysia was a major handful as a youngster even when we were two on the job ...

Yes, If you work at it hard enough the dog will learn to stay by your side.

The smaller part of this is the dog - The bigger part is YOU and if you are willing to help the dog learn (the training) and devote the time.

This guy has gives a good example in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs46gJhICbY

Joey Ferris on youtube has a ton of great off-leash doberman videos. Well worth checking out a few if you have time. This guy rarely ever uses a leash as he does not 'need' to...

:)

 

About the breeder that said to never do it...

Yeah, you are taking a risk. A potentially BIG risk.

If front of my current house is a 4 lane street. I love letting the girls run around 'loose' in the front yard but that street scares the hell out of me. If one of my girls decides there is something she wants really bad on the other side and runs out in front of a car it could end up being a very bad nightmare. 

I am a big fan of really long training leads and keep several on hand. Those things are useful when the circumstances require them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bell's picture
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Thanks so much Doberguy. Will check out the Ferris links.

Actually I worked (and do so still) exceptionally hard with Alysia but couldn't get the nervousness out of her for the reasons given in my OP. So I guess my question was really whether 'off leash as  inadvisable' is the norm, or specific to poorly bred/socialised dobermans. From your response, as an experienced owner, I guess the answer is that it's the norm.

I have the long training leashes and use them for recall training - super useful and her recall is good but not infallible. As you say, when they spot something they REALLY want then it's touch and go.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to respond, much appreciated!

Bell & Alysia

DobermanGuy's picture
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So I guess my question was really whether 'off leash as  inadvisable' is the norm, or specific to poorly bred/socialised dobermans. From your response, as an experienced owner, I guess the answer is that it's the norm.

 

Not really what I was trying to get across / convey there.

 

Was trying to say that 'it depends on the particular dog', 'it depends on the particular circumstances', and you should strive to make your dog better with off leash handling if at all possible.

You will never get where you want you and your dog to be if you do not try... :)

Here is the rest of the picture I shared above and how it matters here:

 

The squirrel crazy dog is technically 'on a leash' but not really. I am not holding anything there.

She is tethered to her sister that has MUCH better recall and is much less 'sensitive' to wanting to chase down any and every thing that comes near her or her yard. If Patience sees a stray dog across the street and 'thinks' she is going to go get her some of it (blowing off commands to STOP) she will have to drag a really big Doberman along behind her as she is trying. He sister WILL listen and dig in some heels trying to come when called no matter what is going on around her...

They are both getting 'almost' off-leash training but I am using the dog with better recall / less sensitivity to help me get the other to where she needs to be. Patience can't learn if I never give her any freedom at all - I just have to go a little slower / work a little harder with her and go in baby steps till we get where we want to be in her training.

 

She can do better if I do my part and help her learn. You can't train your dog to not run out into a busy street chasing whatever if you do not expose them to that sort of stuff and work with them / test them.

:)

 

bell's picture
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Thanks Dobermanguy :=) they are so beautiful. So interesting to hear about the difference even between sisters. Such a good idea to use their different strengths to help train each other.

 

Only problem is now I need two Dobermans! :DDD only kidding

 

Seriously, point taken. I am 200% committed to doing the work (have been there), but I would like the starting point to be at least slightly more stable than Alysia was due to her difficult start.

 

Can I ask you how old they are?

Greetings from Denmark, and thanks agian for sharing your experiences and pictures of your beautiful girls

Bell

DobermanGuy's picture
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I think you mentioned that the girl you have now is 10?

Yep, Now would be a good time to add a Doberpup to the family! Puppies can learn a lot faster with an adult doggie role model around for them to watch and interact with.

Brought my current girls (top picture of them in the yard) home when the previous pair was around 8 and honestly wish I had done so a few years sooner.

Current girls just recently turned 4 yrs old. Have already informed them that they are not allowed to grow any bigger. LOL!

In response to one of your questions from above - Yes you can do this on your own. Should be a little more easy for you next Doberman around as you have several years of experience under your belt.

Being about the same age as you I will say this though - Getting old sucks. It is one thing to be walking a Doberman at 30yrs old and have them see something and try to drag you like a rag doll as they attempt to go get it. Recover pretty fast from that arm getting tugged on like that. Not such a fast recovery as you get older! LOL! :)

Went to go oustside and do something with the girls a while back and had them connected in tandem as in picture above when at some point they got to running past and clotheslined me with their lead. (ran by one on either side of me and pulled my feet out from under me as they went past)

Was laying there stretched out on the ground looking up at the sky and had a few thoughts. First thought was 'I hope no neighbors just saw that and got it on video'. LOL! Second thought was 'I bet I am going to be sore in the morning'. :(

Girls saw me laying on the ground and came over to see what was going on. Looked down at me like 'Hey, Since when do you ever lay in the grass like that?' LOL!

Thank goodness they got me on grass instead of concrete!

 

 

bell's picture
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Ouch, I can relate to that grass scenario :D  Yes, doberbruises are much less forgiving now than 10 years ago, that's for sure.

I have also thought that second time around might be easier than first time around as I have quite a bit of experience already, plus my ex wasn't always particularly gentle with Alysia when she was little (alpha rolls and stuff like that) which didn't help at all. And now I have tonnes of dog minders and dog-loving (and literate) neighbours who would help out.

Have thought about getting a puppy while Alysia is still around, hmmm, good to hear you have good experiences with that. It's only the logistics stopping me (long commute, no back-up etc), but I think I can plan my way out of most of it.

 

Will keep you posted, and thanks again :=)

have a lovely evening with your gorgeous girls

bell