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OmegaWolf's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-11

Yesterday was Ike's first day, and I made the mistake of taking him for a walk up our road and back - about 100 feet each way.

Out of nowhere, a Beagle came out and started baying at him.  Ike was so terrified he ran off the other direction, leash and all.

Long and short of it, is now he is afraid to move onto grass, whereas earlier in the day he had no problem.  This is no doubt because the incident happened in a grassy area, and where Ike was whelped he was mostly indoors, or out with straw and woodchips.  IOW grass is new to him, and he was "beagled" in a grassy area, hence the association.  The dog did not attack Ike; he's merely a loudmouthed car chaser.

This means that, whereas earlier he was very good about pottying in his designated spot on the back lawn, now we've had a few regressions on the carpet.

I read elsewhere about fear imprints.  Someone, rnddobermans I believe, gave some excellent advice on this.  We need to get him over this new phobia ASAP.

What I tried this morning is a food motivation, coaxing him onto the lawn with some of his kibble.  It worked, but he was shaking.  Now, the shaking may be a result of the cold.

I will be more careful about exposing him to new experiences for the next couple of weeks until he is 12 weeks, and do everything I can to undo any potential lifelong scarring from this (to us) rather silly incident.  Live and learn.

Advice appreciated.

I would go back to that article if you need the link let me know, study the different fear periods and things they say to do with them week by week. Your going to have to backtrack now and make a positive association with this. Do not go back to the area with the Beagle. For a dog that hasn't been socialized and put onto different turfs and things you need to do this in your own yard right  now where YOU control the situation.

Whatever you do DO NOT baby the dog. Do not say OHHH it's okay and pet him. This will only make the matter worse.

I was thinking about this today and I like the idea of food motivation, I'm big on that and toys as rewards. I would do as you are doing and maybe leave a little trail of kibble about 6 to12in apart let him sniff and find them. They use the word Suk in shutzhund not sure of the spelling but this would also help him associate the word with finding, since you are going on to do this kind of work. I would also play with him out there with his favorite toy. A little bit of tug with him being the winner of course this will build his confidence in an area that he needs it. Always end on a good note but do not encourage him by saying in a sweet voice It's okayyyy. When my dogs are afraid of something no matter what it is we have done this since puppyhood, I take them to it and say in a matter of fact silly way "lets go see, you are so silly" My dogs are all very brave since using this, they know that there is nothing to be afraid of. They respect me as the leader and know that I will not get them into anything that will harm them.

OmegaWolf's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-11

Right, this is exactly what I remember you had stated earlier, that was so spot-on: don't encourage cowardly behavior by babying the scared puppy.  Elsewhere on this site I had read about the cookie pan dropping on the floor situation.

Thanks for advice, and I esp. like the trail-of-kibble suggestion! 

OmegaWolf's picture
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Well, several months have passed since this early incident back in April.

Ike is still skittish of other dogs, but the more he interacts, the more at ease he is.

I thought a few stories about how Ike and his owned have coped since then might help by way of chronicling the outworking of an actual "fear imprint" incident:

Shortly after this incident, Ike was scared of the real Beagle next door (a different dog from the one that "Beagled" him - which is actually a Beagle-Jack Russell mix.)  Now, when she breaks free and comes into our yard, his prey instinct kicks in and he goes right after her to play.  Her baying does not phase him.  His idea of "play", BTW, makes her cower and put her tail between her legs.

A couple weeks ago, Mr. Loud Mouth Beagle/Jack Russell and his big black Lab companion came up the road barking, right in front of our property.  Ike's initial response was to retreat.  I was out there with him, and the thought of a Doberman retreating is, as Dobe owners know, unpalatable.  I wanted him to stand his ground: neither chase, nor retreat.  I called him:  "Here!"  He came, the noise notwithstanding.  He began growling at the other dogs and barking.  I praised him for this - my goal is a bold dog who is unafraid of others.

The puppy class has proven invaluable as a socialization opportunity.  There are big dogs and little dogs there.  The best companion for Ike is a German Shepherd of the same size.  The other puppies chase Ike, but he takes it in stride and plays with them showing less and less fear.

Lastly, he come into contact with a very sweet and gentle female Staffie - the kind who gives pit bulls a GOOD name.  They played catch together and she taught him a bit about retrieving.

Overall, I would say the "Beagle" incident did have an impact, but is not an insurmountable or hopeless situation.

Hope someone else is able to benefit from this information.

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

Yes, you seem to have worked through the situation beautifully. Especially when the Beagle and Lab came up and you showed him there was nothing to fear. His coming back up to bark at them is excellent behavior.

Now a dog confronted with something new and very strange will usually hesitate and leave but return. This is why the training for Police dogs, guard dogs and such spend so much time in putting the dogs in repetitive and increasing difficult situations.

A story about Windy, my first Dobe. I work with Scouts, and this incindent occurred about August, 1984. I was the Adviser for a local group in Scouts called Order of the Arrow. This is an Honor Society of Scouts and had it's ceremonies and customs on an Indian theme.

We were up for a weekend event and the ceremonies team was getting ready to perform the ceremony to induct the new members. This was after supper and I had gone up and fed Windy (and Hans who was 4 mo. old at the time). She and Hans were with me down by the camp trading post and one of the ceremony team who was already dressed out in plains Indian attire complete with a imitation eagle feather warbonnet came up. He looked at Windy who had full ears up, and he suddenly jerked toward her and yelled "Boo!" at which point she bolted. He laughed and I then told him that he had made a mistake.

He asked why, and I said because a Doberman never attacks from the front. At that point she had made a circle around some trees and the parking lot, came up behind him and right before she hit him she turned sideways hitting him just at the knees. He almost went down and when he turned around she was smiling at him.

We played this way in the yard for hours at a time and when she realized he was not chasing her, she reverted back to game mode. Only difference was that half the time she would knock me down. She didn't hit him nearly as hard as she did me.

OmegaWolf's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-11

Interesting.  I did not know that about Dobermans, that they don't attack from the front.

Windy counted a coup that day!

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

Actually they will. It was a technique that Windy had developed to sneak up on me during play time. I don't know that they actually have a preference for direction. And of course she did not "attack" in the sense of intending harm, she was using her body to make a point. Of course having an 80 - 90 pound Doberman hit you while running is not pleasant.

When I was growing up in Houston, Tx, there was a Policeman who lived across the street who had been a K-9 handler in the Air Force and stationed in W. Germany for a while. When he was discharged, he was allowed to take his dog with him (otherwise the dogs at that time were put down). It was a gorgeous GSD, large and more black and silver than the tan seen a lot today. He was beautifully trained. the cop's first name was Bob and the dog's name was Fritz. When the gate to the back yard was left open and Bob was going back and forth, Fritz would come up the the gate (open) and sit, never, ever did I see him come out. It was only a 4' fence and I never saw him come out. It never occurred to me as a teenager that the fence was not a real restraint.

On weekends, my best friend who liven next door and across the street from me would go over and ask to play with Fritz. We were given permission (we never dreamed of going in that yard uninvited). Our favorite trick was to either be all the way in the back or the front next to the dog and run from the dog. Bob would give his command and Fritz would pursue, catching us within a few feet. He had this trick of reaching out with a front paw and tripping us as we put weight on the leg nearest him. We would tumble and he would just sit next to us waiting. It never, occurred to us that while we were having fun, we were also helping keep Fritz trained.

At the time I was still in the 9th grade and walking to a new school. My buddy, Jay, was one year older and rode the bus to HS. When I would walk past, Fritz would see me and give a yelping bark. He wanted me to come over. I would go over and started just talking to me, but later would scratch him between the ears. I did let Bob know, and he had no problem, but he did not want me to go into the yard, and I assured him I would not dream of it.

And of course a dog will only attack as a last resort, unless it has been abused by it's owner. They will always warn first, and that is usually enough. Some times it is bluff, but I for one would never challenge a dog that is warning me off to find out. It's always best to either negotiate with the dog or simply leave.