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ascott8190's picture
Joined: 2010-11-25


so my boy rosco (8 weeks old now) is just acting up lately.  there are times when he is a sweetie and obeys when i say no.  then there are these fits he gets into, like he is testing the waters to see just how far he can go.  i try to be loving towards him, but stern so he will realize i am the alpha dog.


feeding- i make him sit before putting the bowl down and then play with his face and the food while he is eating.  sometimes i will take away the food multiple times and make him sit throughout his eating, so he definitely knows the command sit.


outside- after we go potty and when we are going back inside, i make him sit before i open the door and then i walk through before he does.  (i try to at least, he doesn't know the command stay yet, i just make sure i am in front)


sleep- here is the kicker.  he has his crate now, he will sleep there during the day, he really likes it.  but at night, he wants to be close to me.  he has spent one nap session (3 hours) alone in there while i sleep elsewhere and i just ignored the whimper/whine/bark which only lasted like 10 minutes.  times when i let him sleep with me in the bed he will ALWAYS crawl on top of me and work his way until he is on the pillow, or at least his little nose is above my head.  he will walk all over my face if i let him.  to me, this is definitely him trying to assert his alpha dogness, not just about comfort.  i move him down and he keeps going back up there.  it is frustrating. but i would like him to be able to sleep in my bed as i enjoy his company.  when we are sitting on the couch and he is sleeping and i rub his belly or head he will get up and move away from me, which from what i read is also an alpha dog thing?


biting- OMG.  this is horrible.  my hands and arms are like tore up.  i originally did the whole "NO" and hand him an appropriate toy (HE HAS LIKE 30 different toys already) then he didn't seem to listen so it got to be where i will gently but firmly grasp his mouth in my hand and hold his chompers shut while saying no bite over and over. i wait until he stops struggling and relaxes to release his jaws, and then he normally licks me.  and behaves for like 3 minutes.  sometimes, more lately than ever, he will get this thing where he lifts his lefts up and his snout gets all wrinkly and he will lunge at my face or my hands and snap his jaws.  it is almost as if play is out the window and he really wants to just grasp me.  THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE as I can't have him behaving like this when he is bigger.  How can I fix it?  i have tried the bitter apple stuff, and he actually likes the computer cables more!  


he will also put his paws on me and just look at me, which i used to think was a cute thing.  but now i wonder?  how do i fix this behavior without being rough with him?  i don't want him to fear me or punishment, but i just want him to learn to love and respect me.  i know.  8 weeks.  it may just be too much, but i have had him since he was 6 weeks!  he is also well socialized, at least with humans.  i am waiting to have him actually play with dogs until he finishes his shots.

KevinK's picture
Joined: 2010-07-15

Pet Profiles

First off, you're expecting a ton of an 8 week old pup.  All of this stuff is normal, dont' take this personally, but sounds like it's your first dobe?  And don't call it acting up, because it's not acting up if you haven't taught him right from wrong... and at 8 weeks this is asking alot.  You're doing many things wrong, I would suggest enrolling in some puppy classes, or maybe look into a local instructor who can help out, and show you what to do.  Your puppy will never be quiet in his crate if you let him in the bed... If you let him in the bed at such a young age, you're giving him top pack member priveledges.  At 8 weeks there's not an aggressive bone in his body... My guess is he views you as a litter mate, not as alpha.  You said it's cute when he jumps up, which means you probably rewarded the behavior... so why wouldn't he keep doing it?  I'm curious as to why you would take his food away multiple times while he's eating?  With him moving up in the bed, you move him down... he moves up.. you move him down.  You are seeing this as a correction, the dog is seeing this as a game, and eventually, he probably just gets to lay where he wants, which is the ultimate reward.  It's also teaching a very, very bad habit, what you're telling him is if he is persistent enough, he will get what he wants.  This needs to be changed immediately before it causes serious problems.

Like I said, I would definitely suggest getting someone there to show you what to do, especially if this is the first dog you have trained.


One other thing I wanted to bring up, is you said you got him at 6 weeks... was it from a breeder?  Or a shelter?  

Freyja's Dad's picture
Joined: 2009-09-03

Pet Profiles

I have to agree with KevinK.  First he's much too young to be in the bed.  I had Freyja's crate set up in my radio room and this was to be her place, but after 5 weeks of trying it became clear she was not going to stay there.  So we moved her into our room where I put a pillow on the floor by the head of the bed.  She was fine there, just wanted to be near us.  Now that she's older (2 years) she'll sleep in the bed, but knows her place is at the foot, Karen and I get the two prime spots, actually Karen gets the prime spot and I get the 2nd best spot :).

I also wondered why you'd take his food from him.  In my thinking he sat for it so he earned it.  Let him eat.  There's plenty of time to train, but in the middle of his meal isn't one of those times.

As for computer wires simly train him not to go where they are.  In my radio room I have my computer, 10 pieces of coax, 5 wires connecting my computer and radio, and multiple other cables, wires, and connectors.  There's more wire in here than at Ma Bell.  From the day I brought her home I trained her where she could and couldn't go in my radio room.  She knew early on that under my computer desk and behind my radio desk were no-nos.  Sometimes it was a pain in the rear to stop what I was doing and sternly remove her from a spot she wasn't allowed, but it had to be done for her safety and the protection of my equipment.  All I definately didn't need her biting into a piece of coax with 1500 watts going through it, ouch.  She quickly got the idea.

As he gets older he'll be harder to catch to tell "no".  In fact, you trying to catch him will become a game to him.  One thing we used to stop unwanted behavior was a flywat, one with the longer handle.  A quick pop with the "no" wouldn't hurt her, but would provide a quick correction without it being perceived as play.  She quickly realized that us getting the flyswat meant she'd best stop what she was doing.  I don't think we had to get the flyswat after she was 6 or 7 months old. 

ascott8190's picture
Joined: 2010-11-25

hmmm- well thank you for the insight.  yes, rosco is for sure my first dog, (aside from the ones i have had growing up) and so i have been taking many pointers from previous dobie owners such as yourselves.

-i can't get him into classes yet because he hasn't been through all his shots, he has only had his second series, so it will be another 3 weeks but i already have the schedule

-i did get him from a breeder, just not a very good one.  trust me, that point has been beaten to death..haha

-i read online that one of the best ways to get him to understand i am the alpha dog is to show him that i am the one that feeds him.  so by making him sit, and then showing him that i also can take the food away teaches him that i am the one to obey sort of thing.  i also read that it helps with his temperament so that he doesn't get in a food zombie mode and not let anyone take his food or toys or bones.  it made sense to me...not sure if i am the only one to do that sort of thing?  he is pretty accepting of it, just quickly sits and he gets it back.  i don't know...

-and not that he jumps up, that he will crawl over to me and put his paws on my lap while he lays down on me.  i know not to allow him to jump on me.  i just have been reading that having him put his paws on me is a sign of dominance.  

-i will try to start putting him in the kennel at night i guess, i don't have a whole lot of room in my bedroom for that giant kennel.  so it is in the living room, which he probably won't like, but i guess he will get used to it.  and i can totally see how he thinks of it as a game, and you know, you are right.  in the end i get so tired i just say oh well and let him be where he wants to be.  

-right now he is sleeping by my feet, looking like an angel.  just a little bit ago he was going crazy.

-a flyswatter...  that is kind of an interesting idea.  i can imagine him running from me tail tucked.  ha.  okay- and i don't chase him around the house to discipline him.  ugh.  ha.  that would be a show.  normally i just grasp his snout firmly, he doesn't really run.  


i will see what kinds of new behaviors occur.  i know he is only 8 weeks, but at 6 he was sitting quickly and listening.  now he is not...i have to say sit multiple times.  and i understand that it is never too early to start training the pups.  guess it is just a slow process and sometimes backwards....

DJ's Dad's picture
Joined: 2010-10-04

Pet Profiles

Well, welcome to this great forum, and I'm happy to read that you are willing to work through the small problems before they become big ones.  That's where so many dog owners fail---they want the perfect pup, and when it turns out to not be so perfect, they are willing to chuck it all.  I am SO against people giving up their dogs to shelters before trying to solve those small problems, and I'm glad that you are doing good by your puppy. 

Some people think that everything that a puppy does is a dominance thing, but I tend to believe that sometimes, well, a puppy is just being a puppy.  Their attention span is remarkably short, and even though your dobie learned to sit on command right away, since he is still so young, he's apt to forget a lot of things that you might think he should remember.  That's just part of being an 8 week old puppy.  You said you now have to repeat the 'sit' command multiple times.  You might want to stop doing that before he thinks that he doesnt have to sit until after you've told him to sit 6 or 8 times, or howerver many times you say it.  Once is all you should say a command.  If he doesnt obey, wait a few seconds, start all over again with ONE time, and make sure he does it as soon as you say it, even if you have to take your hand and push his little wiggle butt down to get him in a sit position.  Treats work wonders with training 'sit', too.

My dobie sleeps in our bed---next to my feet---and has since she came home with us at 8 weeks old. My wife and I both love having her there....she's pretty darn warm on my cold feet this time of year, besides.

Not going to say much about the breeder issue----you've probably heard plenty already, and the old addage "live and learn" applies.

The way you are handling his feeding has some definite positive aspects---letting him know that the food comes from you and can be taken away by you is good for him to know, but I'd think that repeating that while he eats is not necessary---could even lead to him being quite frustrated by it.  I agree with handling his food and putting your hands in his food dish a time or two while he eats...I always do that to my dogs just to make sure they dont get "food aggressive" because I have 5 inside dogs (1 doberman and 4 small dogs) that all eat at the same time and I do not want ANY food aggression in this bunch.  My brother in law has a German Shepard that they used to tease when she was a puppy and act like they were going to take her food bowl away just to watch her growl about it and they thought that was "so cute"----and now, they are regretting it.  She would take their arm off if they tried to remove her food dish, and there is no way in hell that their dog would allow another dog to be within view while she eats.  Not a good thing at all.

Please keep posting about Roscoe and his progress, his funny stories, and any or all questions that you might have.  There is a wealth of information on this board from many many dobie owners that have already been through any thing you might be faced with.

KevinK's picture
Joined: 2010-07-15

Pet Profiles

Here's another tip...  You said he used to sit but now doesn't (seems odd in a 2 weeks span how htings change, doesn't it?) and you have to say it multiple times... He's training you to be patient!  lol.  I'm not sure that your pup fully understands sit at 8 weeks, he very well may.  If he does understand, and simply chooses not to do it, you have to back up your command.  You only want to say a command once, if you say it more than once, or what's worse is keep repeating it, you're telling your pup there's no consequences for his actions.  So, as long as he sits eventually, it's ok and not a problem.  The only time I will ever repeat commands is if i'm pretty sure my girl didn't hear what I said.  

Do what Ziva's dad said, once your pup sits, he has earned his food, let him eat.  You should be petting him up and down the wall if he truly will sit and wait at that age, it's quite the feat.

Being a good alpha is about everything you do, not just a few things.  I wouldn't do things just for the sake of doing them to show your pup who's boss.  A good alpha is very fair, calm, tolerant, patient, and is a good teacher and role model.  Alpha is confident, knows how to handle situations, and reacts accordingly.  You don't have to ever take things away from him just to prove a point.  But, you SHOULD be able to with no fuss.  You should be able to take anything away from your pup without him getting mad, or trying to bite you.  But, going back to being fair, it's just not cool to throw your dog his favorite treat, and go and try to take it away just to see what he'll do.

I have a few more things to add in, but have to leave for work, so I'll respond again later.  Let us know if you have any other questions to help out with!

glengate's picture
Joined: 2009-07-22

Kevin makes some good points about being alpha.  If you're really the alpha you don't have to show the puppy this 90 times a day - you just are.  You seem to be extraordinarily preoccupied with your puppy being "dominant" when all it is is a little puppy.  There are very few dogs who are truly "dominant" dogs.  They may appear to be dominant in certain situations where there is no leadership but once a leader is present, they aren't at all. 

I have never played games at mealtime, I could care less whether I go through a door first or any of the other games humans like to play to convince themselves they're in charge.  I am in charge, period.  When I was a manager in the workplace, I didn't go around constantly informing my staff that I was the manager.  It's overkill.  Either you're a leader or you're not. 

Puppies explore their world with their mouths, similar to babies who pick up everything and put it in their mouths.  In fact, my sister-in-law got a teething bite from my nephew on the weekend!  This situation with the puppy is not going to alleviate soon - don't think that a mere 2 weeks is an adequate time for this to stop.   Grabbing/holding onto his muzzle is rewarding the puppy, IMO.  Human touch is a reward and that's what you're doing.  Have you tried yelping like his littermates would and avoiding him?  You know you're going to have problems with bite inhibition because he missed learning any of this with his littermates and mom because he left them way too soon, so it really shouldn't come as any surprise that this is going to be a problem area.  Obviously, he thinks it's a game when you grab his muzzle and then he tries to grab back. 

I don't know what to tell you about the bed thing.  Mine don't share my bed until later.  I just never do it with little puppies.  But he's a puppy and he doesn't know your face is any different from any other part of your body.  It's all just you to him.  Why he likes to sleep there, I don't know, but I sure don't read anything into it beyond the pillow area is simply the softest area.

Dobermans are a very physical breed - they want to be touching you somewhere.  They don't much care where.  I don't know why you seem so worried about him putting his paws on you.  I'd be worried about one that didn't!

At 6 weeks when he came home, he was completely lost and you were his whole world.  Now he's realizing there is a little more to the world.  When I'm raising a litter, those little puppies will follow me to the ends of the earth ... for a while.  And then they start to get a little more independent.  At 6 weeks, I can take the whole litter for a little tour around the property and they follow me like ducklings.  When I call puppy, puppy, puppy for them to come in to the house, they beeline for me.  At 8 weeks, they've seen the property and they want to see/do MORE.  So, they become more apt to take off, and I can't take them on our little nature walks anymore.  At 8 weeks, when I call puppy, puppy, puppy some come and some are clearly now in the stage that I call the "screw you, lady" stage.  They want to continue to play and explore and are more apt to blow me off so I have to go get those ones.  I think I've said before that I don't really like to compare babies and puppies, but this is an area with similarities.  As they get older, they want to be a little more independent. 

Lady Kate's picture
Joined: 2009-10-28

Pet Profiles

Glengate, I think this is a wonderful insight to the puppy mentality and should help so many of our new puppy owners with questions and concerns.

Bless their hearts and I for one am so happy to see so many questions here on the forum and in turn so proud to be part of a forum with solid answers and sound advice from such passionate advocates of the Doberman breed.

It's got to be daunting to some, who have nothing but the best in mind for their baby to run up against fears, concerns and whys upon whys... and how nice to have a place like Gentle Doberman Forum to turn to.

To all the guys and gals out there who have had litters of these awesome animals and have raised them without losing life or limb or sanity, thank you so much


Lori's picture
Joined: 2010-04-03

Pet Profiles

I agree,  great answers!  very helpful and without making people feel like they are idiots as many other forums do.....


At about 15 weeks old we figured out that yelping and holding his mouth didn't work for Rocky but a squirt bottle of water did. Personally I wouldn't do that to an 8 week old puppy though.  I'd wait until that 12-14 week mark if not later.   If he's not within reach a sharp NO, and if ignored a squirt in the butt/hindquarters will do wonders...and trust me you have not even begun to see the teething and chewing phase yet.  In another month what he does now will be a cute puppy thing compared to the constant mouthing that will be your next 2-3 months....

No bite was Rocky's name for a while....haha


Quit worrying so much about the dominance thing and enjoy your puppy,  I would avoid the bed for a bit but that's just me.  Rocky just finally earned chair privilage in the living room now at just short of 11 months old.


ascott8190's picture
Joined: 2010-11-25

Wow, 8 years later...I randomly came back across this forum! I am COMPLETELY embarrassed by my previous posts, I most definitely was a Helicopter Mom! I actually apologized to Rosco just now..hahaha.

Mr Man is doing well, he is absolutely my best friend and just a GOOD dog. I can’t explain the meaning of good here. He is amazingly smart, attentive, well behaved, docile, and just truly has a good gentle nature. No dog fights, no aggression, VERY tolerant and not easily spooked or startled. He lets me (or the vet or kids) pick at him, move him around, love on him, just is everything I could ever want in a battle buddy. He went with me when I was based in Germany and traveled Europe (I have a photo of him under the Eiffel Tower) and really has just been with me every step of life.

I want to say thank you again to all the people above who helped me in the first few months of panic. I can honestly say that I am NEVER getting another breed, I fell in love with the Doberman nature immediately.

Rosco has Addison’s disease, so that has been a roller coaster to get figured out, but we are just now getting the medication dialed in, so he is showing signs of improvement. Just wanted to update - in case anyone is still active on this thread. Thank you again!!!