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axl1911's picture
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hey again guys..I know I've touched on this before in a previous thread but I've just had an incident which concerns me..so here goes..me and wife went outside with axl after he ate and he wanted to run around an play, however after a loooong day my wife and I just wanted to chill and pet him and love him..but he wanted to play and that was that..he dropped down with his bum in the air, tail wagging and started barking, but with his teeth showing and in an aggressive way..so I'm a bit confused with the body language there?? then he started to nip at my wife then bit her! I grabbed him by the neck an gave him a stern NO to try am correct his behavior..he persisted again, this time even more excitedly but again with the teeth showing and barking and growling - but still in the play position with the tail wagging..so confusing..I tried to correct him again with a squirt bottle, to no result..he just seemed to get more riled up..I know he's going thru his teens and I can persist with the ignorance and doing what he wants thing..but we are expecting a child and my wife is really upset saying how she's almost scared to hang out with him - and she's grown up with dobes! he's not this bad with me generally but I will not stand for any type of aggression toward anyone!

help? thanks everyone

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Without seeing first-hand, it's of course hard to say for sure. But what you're describing sounds familiar, and it is likely dominant behavior. It's not the teeth and growling that's dominant though, that's just play. It's the demand for play itself that's the dominant behavior. Only dominant dogs initiate play.

You're doing the proper thing in correcting him, but he seems to think these corrections are play. You might try a time-out in the kennel. It's also important to make sure you're not accidentally communicating submission to your dog accidental, by walking around him, giving him the highest seat, letting him walk you, and all that stuff.

scotty's picture
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Hi - he does sound like a handful but about right for his age.   He is pushing you to see how far he can go.   From how you describe his body language he just wants to play, but he is playing too rough.  I would say if he goes beyond what you consider appropriate, tell him NO and turn away, all fun stops.  He will soon learn not to be so rough.   Remember to a puppy any attention is good so just walk away and ignore him until he calms down.    If you are consistent with this he will get the message.   Cleo tends to follow me when I do this and tries to lick my hands but I just fold my arms and turn away from her and she will go and sit down and give me that soulful look - just ignore it (easier said than done).  

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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One thing that came to my mind, that the other great comments didn't touch on, is what are you doing physically for Axl?  I understand you want to come home and relax, but these are not dogs you get to come home and unwind with right away.  I can't remember - but is he 16 weeks yet?  Has he had all of his shots?  He probably needs to go for a walk and in the walking you can work on being in charge... actually, since he targets your wife, she should walk him.  He should heel nicely and sit at corners.  I usually go further and put Steve into a down position for extra work on training.  I then make him "wait" until I say "okay" to cross a street. This way he is focused on me.

At a young age, really all they need is a 20-30 minute walk to get them to unwind a little bit.  These aren't dogs that can go days and days without exercise, unfortunately.

If he's too young to walk just yet, maybe instead of going right to affection (sounding like Cesar Milan, I know!) you try and work in some obedience training first.  In the yard you and your wife can easily practice, sit, lay down, stay, and come.  It's usually a two person effort when they're younger for the stay and come as you can each be across the yard and call, "Come" then praise, praise, praise... then the other person can say "Come"... and it quickly becomes a game.

If you don't like how he presents to play, I agree ignore it.  But maybe find a game that your wife wants to play with him instead.  Fetch?  Tug?  She can instigate it, knowing that he has energy to burn.

I wouldn't worry overly much about it, but you need to find ways to curb it now before he grows older and gets more out of hand.  They all test us.  Steve never really tested me, but from day one I worked really hard on doing everything to let him know I was in charge.  That meant no couch, no bed, I'd walk through him (as Gunny always suggests), I'd make him sit and wait for his food, I'd take bones away just because I could and then give them back, etc.

Now, on the other hand, the behavior Axl is pulling - my sister in law had issues with her doberman Maynard similarly.  He didn't think she was in charge, but his "dad" was.  "Dad" was the only one who trained Maynard and so Maynard learned to respect him but since "Mom" never did the training at first he'd challenge her a lot.

axl1911's picture
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great feedback..thanks everyone I really appreciate it..
jeshykai we walk him once a day for about 45 minutes and usually have a full session of playtime for about 30mins - this includes fetch, a bit of wrestling, tug etc and most days I try a 15minute reward based obedience training..it gets frustrating because being the first dog I've had I don't know whether I'm doing is right or wrong and struggle to interpret his body language..but I'm determined to stick it out and I will! thanks a million for the feedback guys youve all been very very very helpful!

blue4's picture
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We had and still have issues with Reesie concerning this.  With a dominant dog, as we very much have, it is stay on top of it, everyday all day.  I get tired of it sometimes, but I get glimpses of the dog he can be and it is well worth it.  We now go for days, even weeks at a time without a real test.  Reesie has gone back into nipping mode this week, demanding a response. Especially tonight.  This after a day of exercise.  45 minutes this morning (with obedience training mixed in) two play sessions in the day and an hour outside tonight.  Sigh.  Why am I gaining weight? 

Hope this helps - don't give up!!  They really are wonderful dogs.  The folks here have helped us through so much.  You know, I just thought of something.  We have been very strict with the areas Reesie is allowed in - including no getting the furniture.  We just last week started letting him put front paws on our laps while we are on the couch to get love and scratches.  It may be no coincidence that it is dripping over into other areas that he now feels freedom to test again.  Hmmm.   Don't know what rules you have, but maybe this is something to think about for you too.

scotty's picture
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Do you go to any obedience training classes, if not I would high recommend it, we went to  1-2-1 sessions with a trainer for 6 weeks then she graduated to a class of about 12 dogs, all breeds, ages and sizes.  Cleo really enjoys these classes and it seems to tire her out more than physical exercise.   It has been great for her soicalisation too.  

axl1911's picture
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Scotty - no he hasn't done any obedience other than what I have taught him. I have looked into it numerous times however there's always an issue of time and finding a good reputable trainer. however I'm glad to report that axl has had a bit of a turnaround since the other night. I've done my part in reasserting my dominance and my leadership and upped his training (obedience) to twice a day and fine tuned some of the techniques I was using and he seems to be reacting really good to it. I'll be a responsible dog owner and say that I believe it was me and not him. by changing the way that I do things I've definitely got a good response and he's also learning ALOT quicker. example: for "fun" I thought I'd teach him how to shake with both paws (he already has "shake hands" down pat). after 2 attempts of "shake hands" - "good boy" - "other hand" he had it down like he's been doin it forever. proud moment for me. thanks a million for all the advice guys!!

blue4's picture
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Glad it's going better!

scotty's picture
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Glad to hear things are getting better, they just need to be reminded now and then that they are not the boss.  

Cleo's 10 months now and pushes it every now and then but a good obedience session seems to pull her back into line.  We go to a really good class, it is run by an ex police dog handler and I must admit I was a bit worried it would be harsh training but it is anything but, the training is all reward based and it is amazing to see all the dogs working together, both Cleo and I really enjoy our time there.  

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You just have to be consistent.  Kaiser is a pushy pup! but he is only six months.  I find if I walk with him for 20 minutes when I get home then play a bit, he is much calmer.  When I try to just get a couple things done and he has been home alone for a time forget it.  He was horrible nipper.  That is just about over.  He still does nip when playing once in a while but will respond to no bite and then start licking.  He was truly exhausting about it.  His problem is like you said me.  I have a lot of energy, and engage him so he follows suit.  I have to remember to give him clear boundaries.  He is so smart.  I have to admit obedience school all the way.  Going to third session.  Not to compete just to have a good dog and it is working.  btw he's is my first dog, so I have a lot to learn.  Good luck Axl so cute and this forum is great for advice.

Kaisesr's picture
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Also, wanted to mention Axl that Kaiser was definitely more nippy when he was tired.  He will stop it just takes a while they are so mouthy when they are little.

FyrWmn77's picture
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Joined: 2011-08-19

Great posts glad to hear that I am not alone! I am the Mommy and home all day with Zeke. When he has a to of energy we go for a 45 minute walk in the morning and have about 30 minutes of fetch after. Zeke just turned 16 weeks last week and got fixed due to some mature behaviors he is developing that are not the best, I will get to those in a minute. Recently he has gotten pretty bad about behaving with his leash (pulling, attacking it, pulling while walking backwards, etc.) He is in the heat of teething so I attribute this behavior to his need to ease this urge but he is developing other behaviors with me only too. Today makes the third time he has urinated on me as a sign of dominance. He was fixed last week due to the first two times he did this and he had me in tears last week because he would not stop lunging and barking at me. This is not his personality but with his hormone levels and teething I think he is temporarily out of his mind. He will start up training again (Basic Manners) on the 29th that are suppose to lead to his Canine Citizenship for Therapy Work but I am beginning to worry hopefully prematurely

Happydance's picture
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IMO you're not prematurely worrying, it sounds like there are issues there between you and him.  He is pushing his limits, but it seems that he doesn't respect you.  You have to be in charge of him, and the manners class will certainly help. If you are married, how does your husband interact with him.  Does he (the husband) do things differently than you do?  The reason I ask is, if I tell my dog to do something and she chooses to have a deaf moment, my husband or my 13 year old grandson (who's voice just dropped) will step in and re-command her, which of course weakens me in her eyes.  It's only happened a few times and I threw a fit about it because I, like you, am home with her all day.  She needs to have ME in charge. 

What kind of collar are you using on him for your walks?  What do you do when he doesn't behave? Are you rewarding him with a high value reward when he does something right?  Do you praise the good things enough?  Is he mentally stimulated enough?

FyrWmn77's picture
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Surprisingly he tends to listen to me on first command and get mouthy with my husband. He also plays much rougher with hubby than me but I do not doubt he is testing me. I started using he halter again due to a set back in heeling (my fault started going on trail walks andletting him explore). When he behaves I make sure to let him know with a "Good Boy" or "Yes". When he goes through his training he gets treats and he really doesn't have a favorite as he only gets them when training and seems to love them all. The mental stimulation I don't know right now. I can't get anything done cause he wants every minute. I try to let him out for a bit and he barks to let me know when he has had enough alone time after about 30-45 minutes and he has a toy box full of toys that he pulls out but doesn't play well or too long alone

Joined: 2011-07-20

This only touches on one small part of your issue, but when I want Boomer to leave me alone long enough to get things done around the house I give him a toy with food inside that he has to figure out how to get.  A lot of times I give him his meals in his tug-a-jug.  He has to work to get the kibble out, and it takes him awhile.  And since it's mealtime, he's hungry and motivated to keep working at it until he finishes.

FyrWmn77's picture
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I've tried that too both in crate and out just not his entire meal. He just went through 3 Kongs in less than half an hour but I need to get bigger ones as these were for him when he was much smaller. He has a tug a jug but looses interest after about 10 minutes (attribute to puppy ADD):-)

Also experiencing digestive issues and trying to not give him too many different food choices right now so been limiting treats until we get the issue cleared up.

FyrWmn77's picture
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What is everyone feeding their Dobies? Just curious?

Joined: 2011-07-20

I feed Natural Balance Limited Ingrediant Diet at the suggestion of our vet.  I don't know if I'm super thrilled with it, but the vet recommended it b/c Boomer was having soft poops and the vet thought it might be b/c he couldn't tolerate grain and/or something else that was in the food we were feeding.  The reason I'm "eh" on the NB is b/c I've always heard that if you get the expensive better food, you feed less of it, but with this food, we have to feed more.  And it's expensive.  I also think his coat looked better before.  But the poops have firmed, so I guess that's good.  He still gets a soft one now and then though. 

The food debate makes me crazy.  It's so hard to know what's best.

FyrWmn77's picture
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My vet recommended Science Diet, Royal Canine, or Purina because they have nutritionists on staff to formulate the food but I do not feel comfortable switching Zeke over to any of these brands due to the contents. I bought Blue Buffalo Large Breed Puppy formula today to start mixing in so we'll see what happens. He's up to about 3-4 cups per day of dry and still 1/2 a can of wet only in the morning. He has dramatically reduces his intake in the afternoon and evening so I leave his bowl out for grazing right now to make sure he gets enough. I also just started giving him pet formulated acidophilus today to help, as well