Help! I can't leave my female Doberman alone in the house!

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MissesFawn's picture
Joined: 2008-05-01

I purchased my fawn female doberman from a breeder when she was 6 months old.
They told me that the lady they first sold her to abused her and tried to dock her tail herself at home and splintered the bone. Animal control was called on her and the nice couple I purchased her from picked her back up from the kennel and had her injuries fixed.
At least that's the story I got. They had both of her parents still and she played well with them and slept in a huge kennel with them at night. When I took her home she was very scared and not potty trained and ran in circles and hid in the corner. She got steadily better until now shes affectionate and loves to cuddle and is very protective, checking people at the door with a low growl before she deemed them okay and allows them to enter and she is great with my kitten. She's 10 months old now.

Now to my problem. I work full days and I tried leaving her in the house with a radio on, TV on etc.
That doesn't work because she chews on everything in site. The carpet on the stairs, the side of my coffee table, remotes, shoes...anything she can reach.
She has plenty of toys/bones to chew.
I tried kenneling her during the day time. She howls, shakes the cage, and rubs her nose and paw raw against the bars. and rips anything within the cage to tiny shreds. She has also gotten her paw stuck and I had to take her to the vet for stitches. So now I leave her in the house uncaged and pick up everything in sight and so she wont chew it and close all the doors but my blinds still get chewed and the door frame. She's such a sweet heart and a great protector. I finally sleep without a night light ;)
How do I get her to be more manageable?!! Please Help!


AlphaAdmin's picture
Joined: 2010-01-18

Pet Profiles

The tail doc is to be done at day 1 - 3. Why kind of deranged fool docs their own dogs tail and especially at such a late age.

Regardless of what actually happened, and it is hard to say with certainty, your little girl has taken some damage to her sweet little mind. I've been thinking this over. She really needs to learn to be in a kennel. It's important for all dog to be ok in a kennel and she is still at an age where it's dangerous (not only to your poor belongings).

You may want to invest in a better kennel - one with tight spaces between the bars. You can start slow, just putting a bed in there, some food and treat, and leave the door open for her to come and go. The ones I like have a top that opens too. I made some pens for our dogs to sleep and dry off in, so I don't use them much any more, but it was nice to have the top that opens. Our dogs are trained well enough not to escape so I would just leave the top open so they could sit up straight.

Once she gets to know the new kennel and associate it with treats and warm beds, you can start putting her in there for short periods of time, increasing incrementally. At this point you can stay in the room to correct her if she starts trouble - just don't be tricked into letting her out. you need to train her to stay in the kennel, not let her train you to get her out.

Once she can manage herself in the kennel, you can start leaving her alone for incrementally longer periods of time. I've found this is the harder part. Kennels for a dog are usually an instinctively calm place - like a den.

If she still likes to hide, you might consider hiding the crate in one of her favorite spots, like next to the sofa, maybe place cardboard around it. The idea is to reintroduce her to the kennel in happy fun increments.

It's obvious my she chews. She is experiencing separation anxiety. She was abused. Now she has a loving family. She's scared of loosing it so when you leave her anxiety manifests in her chewing. There are ways to redirect her chewing. You have to keep and eye on her and correcter for chewing on your stuff - give her something of her then praise her for chewing that. However - I doubt redirection will help with her separation anxiety chewing. Separation anxiety is one of the really tough dog problems.

The two main things you can do to help her recover from this is to not baby her when she displays signs of anxiety and to establish yourself as a strong alpha.

When she gets upset, being babied or seeing you upset will make her more upset.

The more she recognizes you as the alpha, the less she will feel she needs to take on the alpha role. This role is stressful for a dog so if you remove it - this will give her a good deal of relief.

What kind of training are you doing with her?

Training, along with socialization, are the best ways to build confidence in a dog. Socialization is simply introducing a dog to new things in a way that it will be a pleasant experience. Training is teaching a dog how to get what they need and want in an acceptable way.

If she knows some commands it will be easier to kennel train her. The tough part in the beginning. You don't want her first few increments to be stressful - that spoils the point. The trouble is, if you put her in there and she starts up again, rubbing her nose raw, you have to stop her without letting her out and effectively training her to rub her nose on the kennel when she wants out - and so on. If you do find yourself in a situation where she is going nuts in the kennel, you need to have her do something, anything, that is acceptable before you let her out to ovoid accidental backward training. Having her sit for example.

Let us know how things go and any further information or questions. Taking a rescue can be really tough - but it is also very rewarding and can give you a really wonderful and grateful little friend. The protection aspect is also nice. There's no force on earth that dog won't at least try with every last breath to protect you from. She's been to the dark side.

Soleil's picture
Joined: 2008-04-04

I agree with horse... crate training could give her a place to feel safe and secure while you are gone.  My dobie  girl was a nightmare for several months during the work day.  She would whine in her crate all day.. chew things.. destroy anything in reach.. although she loves sleeping in it at night and to go away for short periods she can't deal with being in there for to long.  Is there a small room in your house you can use instead or a crate.  This could reduce the problem of her hurting herself on the crate  but only if you have a room you can puppy proof for her.  I baby gate my girl in the kitchen.  She much prefers a little controlled freedom when I am gone.  Although she could easily jump the gate while i am gone she knows she is not allowed past it.  Even the few times i have come home to the gate down she still is always in the kitchen.  The key with crate training is to start small... i mean really short periods of time then increase.  Good Luck!!

MissesFawn's picture
Joined: 2008-05-01

Thank you both for your time and advice.
I am already looking into a kennel with bars much closer together,
and I've also started taking her to an area where she can be off the leash and run amok safely and it's really helped that she can get all of her energy out.

Also I was reading more on being the "Alpha" in this situation and I've noticed in more ways than one she's been running the household insted of me.
Ive been compensating for the abuse she went through and her skiddishness by letting her sleep with me and she gets to lay out on the couch and stay out of the kennel that she hates. Basically whatever she wants goes.  And after your advice and some of the other postings, I think yes spending time with her and showing her plenty of love and attention is great, but I think most she needs a routine and structure at home. I have to remind myself she is a "todler" persay.
But once again thank you so much guys!

AlphaAdmin's picture
Joined: 2010-01-18

Pet Profiles

Two things i should mention here and probably should have brought up to begin with. First, exercise is very important, especially for the Doberman. She needs to be able to run off leash every day. Walks or weekly trips to the dog park wont due. She's a high performance machine - if she can't perform she'll get anxious.

And you are correct, spoiling her to compensate for past abuse won't help her and will certainly increase the problems. This is probably the most common mistake with dog owners. It seems natural to people. A dog is scared to you try to comfort it. The problem is, that's not what dogs need. If a dog is upset, and you start comforting her (for example say she nudges a pan off the counter and scares herself half to death) by running over and telling her it's OK, petting her and so one, what you are essentially doing is telling the dog she just nearly died, is injured, and needs the pack to gather and clean her wounds. Likewise, allowing her to run the house is not relieving her of any stress by avoiding discipline - it's effectively forcing her to take on the alpha role. In her mind, she thinks it's up to her to provide food for the pack, make decisions, decide how to deal with threats, like the mail man assaulting the mail box.

So, the best thing to do when she's acting upset, like in our example, is to treat her with a semi-curious attitude. If she's cowering in the corner after knocking down a pan, don't do much of anything. You can look at her curiously, maybe ask her in a confident voice what she's doing, but continue with whatever you were doing. She'll see there is no real threat and should forget about the whole thing.

By taking the alpha role, you're taking a huge burden off her. Discipline and keeping a good routine, paying attention to the subtle dominate behaviors, and just treating her with a confident attitude - like she's a perfectly healthy dog - will go much further in getting her happy and comfortable.

FIFISMOM's picture
Joined: 2008-05-14

This may be an unusual suggestion - but have you thought of a 2nd dog???  Dobie rescue might be a good source here.  These dogs are very intelligent - probably smarter than you and I put together.  Give them a companion to keep them company - they will be fine.  Leave them alone andthey will be trouble.  Not mean - just too darn smart for their - and our - own good.