Re: Attempting to bite

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xsmith95's picture
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Joined: 2009-03-30

We just adopted our Dobe a little over 2 weeks ago. He is approx. 2 years old.  He has been the sweetest thing ever until this weekend.  On Saturday night he kept going downstairs and barking at my 10 yr old son for no reason.  Then on Sunday afternoon, my husband was looking at his foot (which we cannot figure if his nails were cut too short or a problem with his foot) and he tried biting him.  Later in the evening he was laying at my feet while we were eating dinner.  We finished dinner and I leaned down to pet him and pick up some stuffing from one of his toys and he tried to bite me.  These are not just little nips as to leave him alone, he was growling and showed teeth and tried biting.  This morning he was laying on my bed and my son was petting him and he tried biting him too.  Please help me.  Is this just behavior or are we doing something wrong?  I don't want to give up on him already but also can't take a chance of him biting one of my kids.  Please all suggestions are welcome. 

rgreen4's picture
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If this is a sudden and new action, I would say that something is bothering him physically. While it is normal for a dog to not want their paws messed with, normally this is manifested by pulling the foot away. You made the comment about a discussion about whether the claws were trimmed too short or not.

If the claws were recently "cut", who ever cut them may have in fact cut one or more too short and it is bothering him. With all the technology today a lot of people are going to the use of a Dremel or similar motorized tool with a small course sanding cylinder to "file" the nails down with a light touch. There are battery operated devices advertised on TV that will work with puppies and small dogs, but generally don't have the power for a large adult dog.

If the claws have not been recently cut, there may be a behavior situation you will have to work through. Since the dog is two years old, I would want to ask where you got him and what was the home situation with him.

Have you spoken with the people that you adopted him from. It would be nice to know some background. Youv'e made mention of clipping his toenails. Although you have only had him 2 weeks have you seen any behavior like this before? You need to make sure everything is okay health wise. You also mentioned that he was on your bed and your son went to pet him and had a problem. After making sure he is physically okay you to need to read the article that I gave earlier to someone else. Here is the link for it. http://www.dpca.org/BreedEd/article_menu.htm it is at the top of the list and the title is  A Social Faux Pas: Kids, puppies and Dominance. You could have several issues going on here and one of them may be dominance. First make sure again that the dog is  not in any discomfort or pain or any other thing physically wrong with it. If not then you need to narrow this down. Read the article that I posted above, if the dog sleeps in your room get him out. He could be very well trying to set up his dominance. Make sure you contact the rescue group you got him from or previous owners to get more information on him. keep us updated. There are many things that you mentioned in your post that are raising red flags with me, and dominance is the biggest one. Be sure to start right away with what the above article suggests. YOu need to find a local trainer that can help you recognize different signals that your dog is sending.

xsmith95's picture
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i did just recently have him groomed and his nails were done with a dremel.  I think that might be the problem with that.  I also think there is some dominace going on also.  Sometimes for no reason he barks at the kids.  I was worried I might be doing too much too soon to get him some training and obedience classes.  I have talked with the adoption people and they say this is out of the ordinary for him and that he has always gotten along with kids.  Today after work, he seems to be back to his normal self.  I am wondering if there was just too much stimulation for him over the weekend.  From what I understand, he had very very little human contact for the last 2 years in his foster home.  The only command he knows is sit and he doesn't listen to that very well either.  I was told he was a stray that was at a humane society and rescued by an adoption group.  I called the vets office today and she is out till Friday.  I will keep a close eye on him and hopefully this was just a case of dominance that we can break.  Thanks for the replies. 

If it is a case of dominance then it needs to be done properly. People have the wrong ideas how to correct it that can actually make it worse. Please read the article I referred you to. YOu said that the only thing he knows is sit and that is half heartily. In this article they start with that very basic command and give you ideas to use, especially with your kids and the dog. IF you start this right now you are going to see a small improvement almost immediately.

rgreen4's picture
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You might want to see how sensitive he is about his paws. If he is back to normal with them, then I would not worry about taking him to the vet. The lack of socialization is what is coming out. If you took him in to be groomed (bathed more likely), then he may have been in sensory overload. Not only were there a lot of people, you weren't there, and he could have felt he was being dumped. Then if they used the dremel, they may run it too fast. Run it too fast and it will heat up and they may have hurt his paws.

I personally use a nail file made for dog toe nails (larger and courser than ours) and use it several times a week on their paws. They are not fond of me doing it, but it's easier on them, but not me. When my adult male decides he has had enough, it's over for the evening. Not that he threatens, he just has the strength to pull his paws back and tuck them under.

But you do have work to do. The recommended article has some very good points. While it may seem very unusual to be concerned about the feelings of the dog, but, the Doberman is very intelligent, perceptive and sensitive. These qualities are what make them so unique and they do become part of the family. But the adjustments must be worked on, especially on a dog that has not had a lot of socialization for almost his entire life. But, the reward will make it worthwhile.

xsmith95's picture
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Thank you so much for your replies.  I did read the article and started working with him last night.  I found a few other articles yesterday as well and implimented some of those things too.  We took him out to a lake last night (not thinking) and he chased some ducks and geese while on his lead.  Then we took him behind a school near our home and let him run with out the lead.  I was a little worried he would run off but it was a chance we took.  It was a great chance.  He stayed around ran a lot and played ball with us too.  He was so much fun.  We found that he really does need a lot of socialization.  He has no focus when other things are around.  We had the field to ourselves and he did great.  When we got home we ate dinner and then he ate and relaxed the rest of the evening and was super happy.  No barking or snapping at any of us.  I think he might have been on overload.  I will continue to work with him and get him some obedience training in a couple weeks.  I still want him to get a little more familiar with our routine before introducing him to anything new.

It sounds as if he had a fantastic Doberman day. I'm looking forward to hearing of his progress throughout the weeks.  :D

rgreen4's picture
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Ah, the joys of watching a Dobe at gallop. You may not know that they are called "square backed gallopers". They are called square backed, because their legs and spine are about the same length. And they are called gallopers because they go from a walk to a trot and then to a gallop. Rnddobermans has not mentioned this but his logo shows the Dobies at trot. They move like a horse rather than other dogs. Sounds like Nigel was not the only one that had a good evening.

rgreen it is interesting that you took note and noticed my logo. For those that would like to see what rgreen is talking about you can go to my homepage http://www.rnddobermans.net it is in the top left hand corner. 

If you take a close look at the Dobermans on the logo and picture a triangle, the top point would be in the middle of the back with the base being one front foot and the rear leg. When a properly built Doberman is gaiting this is how they should appear with good reach and drive. There front feet should extend almost directly down from their nose, while rear legs are fully extended. This is the gate that we use when showing our dogs in conformation, it is a beautiful site. Their gate as described in our standard says Free, balanced, and vigorous, with good reach in the forequarters and good driving power in the hindquarters. When trotting, there is strong rear action drive. Each rear leg moves in line with the foreleg on the same side. Rear and front legs are thrown neither in nor out. Back remains strong and firm. When moving at a fast trot, a properly built dog will single-track.

There is nothing more graceful and magnificent then watching a Doberman move!

rgreen4's picture
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Amen. Every year when I watch the Westminster, I always think the best dog overall is a Doberman, and for the life of me I don't know how all those Judges can be so wrong.

xsmith95's picture
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Joined: 2009-03-30

Just wanted to follow up on this post... Nigel is doing much better now.  We are learning to understand him a little better too.  I think the article you gave me helped a ton.  Thanks a lot everyone.