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Erinsmum's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-03

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Hi,

We have spoken with a professional Dog Trainer and he is of the opinion that the reason our ten month old Bitch is aggressive towards strange people and Dogs whilst on walks ansd lunges at them is because she is suffering from severe anxiety, stemming from the fact that she thinks she has to protect us at all times and this is making her anxious and basically she thinks its her full time job and therefore cant relax. Has anyone any tips on how we can put a stop to this? How can we make her more chilled out lol! Thanks

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

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Hi and welcome to the Forum.

the only experience I've had with aggression is when Sofia sees a bicycle.. I have found if I block her view and distract her with a treat, or even at " ssshhhhtttt!!" seems to divert and distract. The key is to watch her body language and know when she goes into "prey instinct" and try to divert it before it becomes an obsession.. Consistancy is the key.

P.S. a Darling pup you have.. Thanks for posting!!

Erinsmum's picture
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Aww thanks!

She is fantastic when she is at home, but a nightmare as soon as she leaves the house!

We are thinking of trying a DAP collar has anyone tried these? Do they work?

KevinK's picture
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Joined: 2010-07-15

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I wrote out a long, detailed list of what will help this situation...  the reason why she feels like she always needs to protect is simple, it's because she thinks she is the leader, and it's the leaders job to protect the rest.  Other people offered good advice as well, and I believe posted a link with more info about what will help.  Have you done what was on the list consistently?

There will of course be anxiety, most dogs are not cut out for the leader position, so when a dog assumes that position, many times it's very stressful for the dog.  She will be much happier understanding her place in the "pack", which is at the bottom. 

Erinsmum's picture
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Kevin,

As I said to you previously I appreciated your comments and advice, and that of others who have been kind enough to comment and we are working on her aggression problems and the pulling on the lead, but it will be a long process and she will not change overnight. The reason I put up this post is that we spoke with a Dog Trainer last night and because of that we wre looking at things that we can do in the interim to help her feel less anxious.

I feel a little aggrieved by the tone of your post!

jeshykai's picture
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Erinsmum, don't worry about the tone of posts - sometimes things in text don't come off as well as they should.  I do think KevinK has a point, I think your lady has the idea in her head that she's lead dog.  I worked all summer with my boyfriend's parents dog on this issue.  He would "guard" their dad in the living room if he was eating or sleeping (he had actually bit a family member over this behavior) and he was a nightmare to walk because he would lunge at anything near him to protect whomever was on a walk.

One thing I found very helpful with him was redirecting him in ways that asserted I was in control.  Simple things like making him lay down while we were eating, and be quiet, asserted we were dominate.  When I took him on walks, I'd pull way off to the side when people were going to pass us on the trails.  (If we were in the street we'd cross and sit on the other side).  I'd make him sit and then I'd relax my mind and focus on staying calm while the people passed us.  Sometimes we signal to them our own anxiety as we're preparing for them to explode like they have before.  I just had my hand tight on the lead and was ready to whip him back into a seated position.

You're right, it doesn't change overnight.  I'd say doing this changed him within a month.  Near the end of summer, we had people crossing very close to us and he'd remain seated and watch them go.  I helped him learn that when people walk by, what /I/ wanted was a calm sit from him.  In his aggression he was only ever trying to please, so it helped.

So I guess my suggestion is similiar to Sofia's moms.. try and find a means in which to redirect her and give her positive rewards.  For Watson (the family dog), his reward was returning to the walk when he behaved.  If he didn't (and he sometimes didn't in the early stages of training) I'd stand there with him sitting until the people were out of sight and then we'd continue.

Hope some of these pointers helped you.  My main suggestion is don't get frustrated with yourself or with her.  Just keep trying new things until you find what works for her.  Even a professional dog trainer doesn't always get it right for your dog.  Especially if it was only one visit and depending on how long they stayed - they might not have got it 100% right.  So keep asking questions, reading, and working on it til you find your solution.

Best of luck!

KevinK's picture
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I'm sorry if you took it the wrong way, I was not trying to be mean, condescending, or anything like that at all, so I apologize if it sounded that way.

  Her anxiousness will lead back to the other post, they're all inter-twined and being caused by the same issues.  You are right, it will take some time, but by following the suggestions there it will help immensely.

Think of it this way... because dogs have a very strong pack mentality, which goes along with a pecking order, if you don't assume the lead position, your dog will.  Majority of dogs are not cut out for this.  It's like if someone worked at a company, and then they just became the boss.  Most people would crumble under the stress, and start acting differently, and generally not be as happy.  Same thing with dogs.  It's a constant stress for your dog to be on the lookout, make sure things are ok, and everything else it's doing.  Once she gets more used to not having to worry about those things, the anxiety will subside.

Again, I was just trying to point out that these issues relate very strongly to your other post, I meant nothing else by it, and i'm sorry if it seemed like it did.  Much of the "communication" is lost posting online, but I was absolutely not trying to be negative or mean.  I have a feeling if you showed your other post to the trainer, he/she would be saying the same things that are in that post.

Erinsmum's picture
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Thanks so much for your comments jeshykai, that sounds so much like Erin is! We so much want to the best for her and we just want the outside world to see her as she is in our home lol! We are considering DAP collar and sprays but am intrested in everyones opinion on that!

Also thanks for your last comment Kevin, I appreciate it! I admit I was slightly worried that I was being reprimanded but I now realise that was not your intention!

I am new to the forum but look forward to having many on line conversations with you and lots of other Dobie owners and receiving advice as the best advice comes from fellow Dobie Mums and Dads who have experienced similar problems!

Eileen B's picture
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Joined: 2010-07-22

Hi Can anyone help or advise, please.  We have a wonderful 9 week old puppy who we love very much, BUT:

He bites, feet, jeans, hands, arms!

We have tried all we can think of so any help would be appreciated.

Other than this he is great, learns well, plays, and is wonderful when asleep!

jeshykai's picture
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I worked as a veterinary technician for 8 years and we tried DAP sprays, plug-ins, etc for dogs and cats that were anxious in hospital.  It didn't work.  When I worked for a summer at a boarding place again these methods were tried and it did not calm the anxious dogs down.

I know that you might want to go towards medication of some sort with these things and they are very well marketed to make you think they will fix your problems.. but it most likely won't.  I wouldn't waste your money on it.

Honestly, there is no quick fix for anxiety/aggression issues.  The only real way to fix these things is to sit down, write out a training plan, and have the whole family follow it.  These dogs are smart and thats what makes them hard to handle sometimes but it is that intelligence that will pay off in the end because you will be amazed at how quickly small changes can change her whole attitude. If I can get a sporting dog who wasn't that bright to do it.. I'm sure you will too.

Try thinking of ways you can show her you are in charge and practice them consistently.  Don't ever let up for a moment.  I can tell you that Watson has gone back to some issues since I no longer work with him every day because the family doesn't keep up on it.  It will be the same with your doberman so just be ready for the commitment of working with her on these things.  Soon it will just be second nature and you won't even realize you are asserting yourself and giving her direction.

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Actually, Erinsmum, there's no reason a change shouldn't occur overnight. When she acts aggressing or anxious, what do you do?

The last thing you want to do is reward anxiety. And I've found that this is about the most difficult thing in the world for humans to do. Usually, when people are told that their dog is experiencing anxiety as the cause of aggression - they try 'calming' the dog when it acts vicious by soothing it. This is horribly wrong though!

Likewise, if you're using treat for anything, or trying to distract Erin from anything, you have to be careful not to inadvertently reward aggression.

I wouldn't waste money on any of that stuff that's supposed to sooth dogs either. She just needs to be demoted.

The best way to calm a dog is to tell it to be calm. If Erin gets upset, correct her. It's that simple. Don't allow her to display aggression or anxiety.
When she starts acting like a mean girls, give a verbal correction ('no,' 'leave-it,' 'tssst') along with a touch of some kind (snap of the lead, sharp tap with your fingers). The touch is important to break into her mind when she's in that heightened state. 

There's plenty of guidance in your other thread: over protective You just need to implement it - and of course avoid the common problem of rewarding anxiety. And again, it should happen over night. There's no reason to chip away at the problem. She's anxious because she's under qualified for her current position. Give her a redundancy notice. lol 

rgreen4's picture
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Erinsmum - I would venture a guess that when you walk her she pulls as well. That is another sign of a dominant dog. When she pulls that stunt, simply turn around or stop. If you stop and she comes back, tell her to sit. When she has been sitting nicely for a short while, continue your walk.

If you turn around to go the other way, the first time will seem counter productive to you, for you won't be going anywhere. You will take a few steps and she will take the lead, so you turn around and take a few steps and she will again go out in front. It won't take long for her to figure out you are in charge and you don't want her to lead. It will also help at this point to choke up on the lead, just because it is 6' long doesn't mean you have to allow her the full six feet.

When you get her walking beside you, praise her, constantly at first telling her what a good girl she is. The pokes and nudges Alpha mentioned along with the two finger nose pop (you cannot hurt the dog using just two fingers) replicate the methods that mama used to discipline the little darlings in the first weeks of their life. If you have ever had a litter you will see mama pop one on the head and nose with her paw when it gets unruly, as well as punching it in the side with her nose. Actually if you have ever been nose bumped by a grown Doberman, it actually gets your attention.

I wish the Dog Town show was still on TV. It is the dog area of Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. They take the throw aways, the ones that other shelters cannot work with because they are either too aggressive or need special attention. Many of their sessions worked with animals that had dog aggression. Some of the episodes can be watched on the computer.

Lady Kate's picture
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"If you turn around to go the other way, the first time will seem counter productive to you, for you won't be going anywhere. You will take a few steps and she will take the lead, so you turn around and take a few steps and she will again go out in front. It won't take long for her to figure out you are in charge and you don't want her to lead"

I tried this a couple of times and although the first day we walked almost an entire half mile in one continuous CIRCLE.. Sofia eventually 'got it'. They can really be stubborn!!

rgreen4's picture
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When I was young my later mother would call me "a hard headed German". She was half German so she should know. We were both hard headed and when I was in my teens really butted heads. It's the old control thing. BTW - for those that are interested, she usually won, she was harder headed than I was, after all she had twice as much German in her.

I guess that gives me an understands of these wonderful intelligent, hard headed German dogs. Just as mom ruled the roost when I was growing up, I do now. Course it's just me and the four leggeds. It's amazing what a stare down and a slow finger touch to the nose will do. Shortly after that they will come to me begging forgiveness for their sin. Last night it was a chewed up mechanical pencil. The culprit was HRH, and she tried the innocent look at me but the stare down got her. She knew I knew, and she went in her crate. A little later she came out and she put her head on my knee and looked up at me. She knows when she does that she can usually be forgiven.

Of course in the mean time, Red got an Oinkee and she did not. Only good girls get Oinkees. It's amazing I am in the kitchen, they come in, I reach for the bag and two rumps hit the floor. They know if they are not sitting, they don't get one.

Of course the worst thing anyone can do is to underestimate the intelligence of these animals. They are definitely smarter than a 5th grader. Maybe even smarter than a College Graduate.