two male dobermans fighting

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kdevou's picture
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How do I discourage fighting between my two doberman puppies? They are 12-13 weeks old and are brothers.  Could these fights get dangerous?  I love both of them and am determined to make them the most well behaved and loved animals.

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Some males CAN have problems fighting around this age - during puberty. Once they're older they shouldn't have problems as long as they are trained, socialized, etc.

First, when someone mentions fighting Dobermans I always ask what is meant by 'fighting'. Dobermans play fight really rough. When they're playing one or the other is usually getting chased or cornered, they should be making lots of short medium pitch growls and high pitch barks.

Males at this age can have the tendency for this play to escalate. The difference between to dogs play fighting and actually fighting is profound. The growls change to constant, louder, and desperate growls. At this point they will be to focused on fighting and likely won't hear you command them and this is when they can start hurting each other.

How to prevent this:

The primary way to prevent males fighting is to first, as with many problems, make sure you are established firmly in their minds as the alpha. You can look around the forum for more information on taking the alpha role. It simply means you are confident, CONSISTENT, and smart enough to lead the puppies. The alpha role is established in many subtle ways, but one of the best ways is through training. If you have these tow fellows walking on lead and obeying commands, your doing good.

In the wild the alpha keeps the young men from fighting. It's an expensive activity that can leave a good hunter injured which corresponds directly to the health and safety of the pack. As the alpha, you too must prevent actual fighting. Play fighting is good and healthy, but if they start to escalate at all - get after them. If they don't respond instantly, they need to get in trouble and sent to their pens.

Also, it's a very bad idea leaving males this age on their own together. If you have them out together, you need to be supervising. This won't last forever, just until they mature and / or get snip-snip. (by the way, altering does not salve behavioral problems, it does tone down the male temperament but it also stops male development). If you're not able to supervise, let them out separate. Keep them in their own kennels.

A good exercise is feeding them together while you watch. They should stick to their own bowls and not bother the other one. You can also teach them not to each until you command them. I like to keep this command on my three Dobermans just to prevent getting the food nosed out of my hands.

At 1-1/2 years the male Doberman usually makes a big change in maturity. Again at age 2 they make another big change. After these changes, even if you keep them whole, they should have a hierarchy solidly in place and this play-fight-escalating problem should be gone.

It's good that you're determined to make these Doberman boys into good dogs! It helps to train with them individually and together. Often two dog like this, once they pass the big training hump (learning they need to figure out what you're trying to ask them, do it, then get rewarded), will compete with each other for who can be the best dog.

Let us know how it goes and feel free to post more questions or give any more specific information.

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I'm new to this website and came across this post after reading many many web articles that say having 2 puppies together is a mistake, and raising 2 MALE puppies (especially Dobes) is the absolute worst thing you can ever do.  :(  After reading this, I now have some hope that it can work out ok!

But I would still really appreciate some advice!!  My puppies are 8 weeks old and I want to get them started off right.  My husband and I will definitely go through obedience training (we did this when we raised 2 Rottweilers with a dash of Doberman in their background).  Even now we are conscious of the lessons we are teaching, such as "puppies who jump up do not get petted, puppies who sit get petted."  Should we also be watching for which puppy is dominant at this point?  Are they too young to be establishing that?  Is there anything else we should be doing now??

Any help is appreciated!  I was so discouraged after reading other websites last night that I had a hard time sleeping.

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If someone doesn't know how to care for a Doberman they certainly shouldn't have two male Dobermans, not even one Doberman. But if you're doing obedience and teaching the good stuff like not jumping-up, I think you'll be fine.

Possible problems will depend on the dog's personalities. One thing for sure is you'll be seeing some rough play. As I said above, you need to watch their play for escalation and maintain a strong alpha status role.

You won't really see real dominance until after 8-years of age. But you will probably be seeing one beating up the other a bit more. It doesn't mean that one will be dominate. Actually, if you let the bigger/more playful Doberman beat up on the other, it might make the smaller one become more dominate and nasty to compensate. Don't let that happen. Redirect their mean play to toys - but remember they are Dobermans so they will play rough. The bad thing is when one is holding the other down and making him scream.

Any real problems you'll have would be around one year of age, but this doesn't mean you will have problems. If they were properly bred with strong temperaments, you might not have any trouble at all.

Just to make you feel better, I've raised numerous Doberman puppies together. The only trouble I've had with two males was with two rescue Dobermans. The trouble one the one though, his temperament was bad. He was a sweet dog, but he couldn't control himself well, froze up or lashed out. He was abused though.

The other problems I've had have actually been with two female, but it's never been anything bad - just bitchyness  ;) and silly Jewel always thinking everyone is looking at her bone. More goofyness than anything. But they snap out of it if I just look at them - start licking each other.

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Thanks for the advice!  This site is a great resource!