Dobie attacks owner badly! :(

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doberman777's picture
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Hello, I'm new to the forum. Was going to sign up soon but this recent event has caused me to sign up now.

We own a 6 year old spayed female dobie. We have had her since she was 8weeks old.   She is a great dog, sweet, alert, very good watch dog likes people etc...

She has a great life on a huge acreage and lives in the house when ever she wants, she sleeps on her "own" couch or beside our bed whatever she feels that nite. I also work at a vet clinic so she comes to work with me sometimes and has the most up to vet care.

 We also have cats and other dogs.  She has a life dogs wish they could have :) I also do shelter work for years and help with behavior and home placement. So were not clueless dog people.  Guess I'm making this thread because we are really sad or mainly my fiancé is sad and upset. Shes more his dog she listens to him and he spoils her. He hugs her all the time kisses her forehead and always a hug and kiss on her couch before bed. Friday nite, she was in a good mood laying on her couch alert just hanging like she always does. &

nbsp;My fiancé goes to hug her and before he gets close to hug her his face is near her face like always, and she literally snapped, it was so scary like something her brain just went off.  She totally lost it and attacked my fiancé on his face, eye, forehead and nose bitten and bloody. SHOCKING ATTACK!  No warning look, or growl or body movement. We are taught to know the signs for work. She also had no food, toys or anything that would make her lash out. But she's not food or toy agressive at all.  It was so scary and bad and shocking.  We've had this dog since an 8week old pup and we have done the training, socializing, vet work, behavior evaluatation etc..... My vets and trainers love her and are just as shocked. I brought her to work the next day with me so she could get a full check up see if anything is sore or going on we also did bloodwork. Nothing wrong with her.    My fiancé is heartbroken his beloved dog could  do this to him.....  Has anyone had this happen??????   I'm not asking for advice just wanna vent cuz were sad and mad. :( :( Funny thing when we were looking to get a dobie pup 6 years ago a friend said don't get that breed one day they will snap and turn on there owner.... Ummm we thought he was an idiot till now.  Thanks 

Sir-Phin's picture
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I'm sorry to hear that your fiance got snapped at, but to say that it's because of the breed one day turning on it's owner and snapping is a bit much, your friends comment is still idiotic and nothing more than perpetuating the stereotype associated with the Doberman breed. 

Dobe's don't "just snap one day", there had to be something that caused this to happen, whether it's something obvious or not.  Something caused her to react the way she did and even if this is routine that happens every night.

jeshykai's picture
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Well, that comment was an unintelligent one from your friend I believe.  It's one of those blanket statements that go along with owning dobermans.. just like their "heads will explode from brains growing too fast" or "brains leak out of their eyes".

Anyway.

It's most likely that she perceived your fiance as a fellow dog.  She seems to have a lot of privelages from your post.  Her own couch, space, etc.  I see you work with a trainer, and at a vet, which is great and you did the right thing double-checking there was no underlying issue that caused her to attack.  Him hugging and kissing her, though something I am sure has been taught to her since you brought her home, is perceived by them as dominance.  She could have been trying to fight for his spot.. you never know.

The biting to that extend is scary.  I can't imagine what you are all going through having experienced that.  Not to mention with the ER visit that must have followed, she likely has been put on a bite watch list by your local animal control.

Your trainer, if not qualified with evaluating and working with aggression, may need to recommend you someone who is HIGHLY specialized in handling attacks without warning.  You will need to keep a close eye on her.  I know you said no advice, but I'm going to also add that you take away some of her privelages and start working on reminding her 1) she's a dog and 2) you and your fiance are boss. 

Best of luck.  I really wish you all well.

parabolicphi's picture
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I'm sorry for your fiance getting snapped at also. But there has to be something more to this. You're the actually first doberman owner to say something like this. There are members to this forum that have owned dobes for 20+ years with no incident like this. It could be an issue of your fiance asserting his dominance a little to much. Dogs see kisses and hugs as such and not signs of affection. But honestly I'm not experienced enough to properly answer the question. That comes just from research I've done on the breed. I hope you find an answer because I'm sure you don't want to have to give your dog up.

doberman777's picture
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Thanks guys. We wouldn't give her up, were lucky we live far out of town In the middle of no where so we don't have to worry about people around. It's just such a shocking thing. No more hugs for her lol! It's just so out of character for her as shes a nice non agessive dog. To bite a stranger is one thing but hurting ur owner :( We will be more careful now. I guess We've never acctually had to work with the behaviorist she just does consults at out vet clinic so she knows our dogs and did a free one for us and she sees her often at work. So she was shocked when I told her.

She's done it for all our dogs, it's free so why not a perk of the job :) lol

jeshykai's picture
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Well sounds like it's time for her to come out and do more than a consult for you guys.

Good luck!

doberman777's picture
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Yes maybe she can see something we can't at our home.... Still u just don't attack your owner :(

Lady Kate's picture
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doberman777~ Sorry to hear about this.. I'm sure it was very upsetting.. was your girl sleeping when your b/f went to hug her?

doberman777's picture
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No she was alert and happy eyes open watching us get ready for bed

Lady Kate's picture
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Wow... all I can do is say how sad I am for all of you... and welcome to the Forum... I'm hoping maybe someone can shed some light on this alarming incident

Kate and Sofia

Joined: 2011-07-20

Best of luck to you.  Hopefully the behaviorist can shed some light.

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Sorry that this happened. Hopefully, you can find out just exactly what triggered her behavior, and your fiance will heal quickly from the injuries.  Sometimes a dog----of any breed----will just want to be left alone and all that close affection is annoying to them.  I have to remind my son all the time to NOT just go up to any of my dogs, Ziva or the terriers either one, and start hugging and kissing on their heads and faces without any warning.  Just something I personally dont like to see done.  I hug and kiss Ziva all the time, but I always put my hand on her first, pet her a few times and talk to her before doing so.  That way, I can sort of judge what kind of mood she might be in.

nupe's picture
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Yes maybe she can see something we can't at our home.... Still u just don't attack your owner :(

 

 

 

well be careful making the statement it was a attack...or like was said earlier did something trigger it?...and dont get upset but my 2 cents is why is he in her face? why is he face to face with her?...I know some like to hug and kiss their dogs, but its still a dog and a doberman at that...Just as I want him or her to respect my space I also repsect his space...more like a mutual understanding!!! Yes I will hug the dog or give my dog praise when warranted...but all that kissing I do not do!!...just my 2 cents...and GOOD LUCK!!

KevinK's picture
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Wow, what a terrible, terrible story...  I would keep in your mind assuming there's no medical conditions that caused this, these things don't just happen.  There is a reason, so I would work on finding that reason.  I would ask yourself these questions, and go from there.

Do you train daily with your dog?

Do you give your dog daily jobs to do?

How much direct interaction do you provide with your dog daily?  By direct interaction, I mean getting involved with play, training, etc., not just snuggling on the couch.

What training methods do you use?

How firm are you with your dog?  Meaning, if you give a command, is it always followed?  Or do you let things slide.

In your day to day activities, do you work any kind of commands in for the things you do?

You say he's free to live inside when he wants, so, does he stay outside most of the time?

How much exercise does your dog get daily?

You say he spoils her, what exactly does that mean?

 

These are the main things I would look at, and I'm suggesting these since you said you had him checked out medicaly.  Otherwise, that would have been my first recommendation.  Dobermans are extremely loyal, and a well behaved, well trained, medically sound doberman would never just snap out of the blue like that.  Something built up to this, and it may have been such a slow progressioon that nobody even noticed. 

One of the things I want to point out is that we have to not humanize our dogs.  Humans think of hugging and kissing as a sweet display of affection.  Dogs, even though they will tolerate it from their humans view hugging and kissing as an intimidating, scary display of dominance.  A dog that is testing his position within the family would most certainly snap like that, as he would feel like the human is trying to take HIS position in the family.  In other words, he may think he is higher in the hierarchy than he actually is.  If that was the case, this would be a normal (though very, very innapropriate) reaction from a dog.  Many of the things we do to our dogs that we think are sweet, are not interpreted that way by a canine.  (even if they dont' seem to mind it)

Lady Kate's picture
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You know, Paul, something you wrote brings to mind Sofia's behavior. Sometimes, she just wants to be left alone. I too, will 'test the waters' to see if she's 'in the mood' ( sigh.. Divas...the house is full of Divas.. but that's another story)

I think this might be off subject, and the OP requested 'no advice'.... When Sofia feels affectionate, she'll put her head on my shoulder and gaze at me, sometimes a paw gently urges the petting...that's when I rub her ears and especially her eyes... but oh boy, when she wants her alone time.. she will curl up and turn away...sometimes adding a 'huff' to it. 

cisco9510's picture
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My 8 yr old Akita bit my step-son in the same place. It was awful and though I know why he did it - It makes it no easier to deal with. I had told my step children that Akitas are different and you can't treat them like other dogs. NUmerous rules were in place and as a 9 yr old some times you forget- Wyatt was sleeping under the table by Ross' feet and Ross decided he want to pet him and bent over him and said his name and startled Wyatt- The attack lasted seconds but the damage was done. Wyatt immediately knew he was wrong- TOO LATE.

Maybe even though you think she was happy and content and alert- she wasn't maybe she was zoned in on something and her startled her.

Welcome to the site,

In KevinK's post, this speaks volumes!

 "A dog that is testing his position within the family would most certainly snap like that, as he would feel like the human is trying to take HIS position in the family.  In other words, he may think he is higher in the hierarchy than he actually is."

Sometimes we forget that they are "dogs" FIRST! Not to say that yours is not as sweet as a krispy cream doughnut but to maintain your position in their preceived pack, you MUST do things that keep you on the top of the totum pole.

A few suggestions:

Never feed (food, bones, treats...etc.) the dog without making him do something for it. Something even as little as a "sit".

Never walk around the dog, walk through him. Make him get out of YOUR way.

I have no problem with my dogs on the furniture but I will make them get "off" (which is the command) just because. Sometimes I move them and sit there. No reason other than it's MY furniture and I WILL sit where I WANT to sit. Even if they are laying down on the floor I'll move them and sit in THAT spot. Just because. Also I'll make them sit where (I) want them to sit in the house from time to time.

Also as KevinK suggested, training is ongoing, everyday, from now til he's gone.

This could have happened with ANY breed of dog, it's just that dobermans (and some other breeds) are so capable of doing alot of damage in a short amount of time. I'm sorry this happened to you and hope all will heal soon. Never forget that they are dogs first.

 

 

doberman777's picture
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Thanks everyone. She is a well trained well behaved dog extremely smart. She listens so well it's nice to have a dog like that :) other than the last scary incident we wouldn't have any complaints.

Guess we were just sad and we know no matter she is a dog and things can happen. Just so out of character for her.....

Thanks for all the advice and kind encouraging words.

She has been back to her old self ever since the bite.

I dont think we will ever know why??! We are just more careful now. :)

KevinK's picture
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Glad to hear things are better for now.  The biggest thing with working dogs is they need to be kept busy a good amount of the time, and there needs to be rules that everyone sticks too.  

von Cosack Dobermann (not verified)
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To many people try to express their love to dogs as people do to one another. Dogs don't hug (thats asserting dominance) they don't kiss (thats being sunmissive) so theres two actions that people force onto dogs and don't have a clue that the situation is very confussing to a dog. Your dog is NOT aggressive, if she was your bf would have been in bad shape and would have had to figt back or get his face ripped up. She nipped, a warning and probably a sign of possessiveness. Either the warning about you or her bedding or general area. Hard to tell without an inperson evaluation so my observations are just guesses. I've trained dogs a very long time and have specialized in Dobermanns since the late 50s. Find a good trainer who understands reasons for nipping. You might get lucky with a behaviorists but all the ones I knew were book learned and had little to NO experience. What did your BF do right after she moved on him??? Von.

doberman777's picture
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Well for 6 years we've been hugging her and our other dogs most people do, maybe it's wrong but people still do it I see clients hug there dogs all the time at the vet clinic.

It wasn't just a nip it was a full on bite, it happened so fast my fiancé just had to get away fast and run to the bathroom since he was bleeding. I quickly made her get off the couch and go outside couldn't do much at that point since I had to make sure my fiancé wasn't hurt to bad. It all happened so quickly it's hard to piece it all together.

Were just more careful now and weve changed some things.

We are dealing with it, and have help. It's done it can't be taken back and we've lost trust in her.

KevinK's picture
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While this may sound harsh, please dont' take it that way.  Instead of losing trust in your dog, I would learn more about canine behavior, and apply that to how you handle your dog.

Please, we can help steer you in the right direction if you answer a few questions.

1) How often do you train, and what training methods do you use?

2) How much time is spent directly interacting with your dog?

3) Do you give you dog jobs to do?  If so, what kind, and how often?

4) What is your daily routine like?

 

I would also have his eyesight checked out.

 

I asked a few questions above that didn't get answered, and these will help us give much better and more specific advice.  There are members here with significant amounts of doberman experience, and we can help steer you in the right direction, but it's hard to help without knowing these things.

I know you said your vet did a work up, but when there is a personality change like that I would still look into a possible medical reason for it.  I would suggest having a full thyroid workup - sent out and not just part of another blood test.  I use Michigan State for mine. 

 

I would also wonder if perhaps there is some neck problem going on - if she was used to being hugged and all of the sudden went off on someone she knew well, I would seriously consider some more testing. X-rays, thyroid, full blood work - it just seems like something is wrong.  I knew of one dog whose personality changed radically and it was a brain tumor. I don't mean to scare you but just ideas and things to consider.

von Cosack Dobermann (not verified)
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All dogs act differently when people use human interactions with them, some tolerate and others like it no telling why your dog acted out. Might be a physical problem could be a territorial or poccessive problem I have no idea not being able to set up the situation inperson and evaluate her and her interacting with her family. I wish you could have addressed her move immediately but I understand that the quickness and shock of her actions prohibited you correcting her immediately. 

I'll suggest you employ :Boundries & Limitations" with her for a while. Its an easy exercise simular to NILF were their "freedoms" are on hold for a while. The access to the bed is denied, also couches only "her" possessions remain hers. Pickup her toys and offer her 1 or 2 a day and replace them daily with 2 other toys. Rework her schedule as to walking times and training sessions. Go off in different directions for her walk find a new place for her free running exercise. Try to bring in new things for her to experience. If you walk her together both of you share the lead and mix up were she walks (outside of both or in the middle) find situations were both of you call the shots completely. I'm trying to give you suggestions on how to redefy the pecking order in the household. Something happened that made her strike out and theres a multitude of reasons why!! I use boundries & limitation for problems with the obvious terms themselves but also for situations were I have no way of telling without an inperson evaluation. It is a great exercise to use even when theres no current problem its just a great OB exercise. 'I'd be interested to know what Method you use when training, and which technique you use for corrections. Good luck and be aware of moving over the top of her!! Von

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Im a first time Dobe owner and although I have experience with other dogs I think everybody can agree that Dobes are just overall very different dogs, I would suggest not giving so much freedom put barrriers in certain rooms or block her off from rooms at certain times of the day, just so she knows that this is YOUR house and she lives in it and if YOU want then she's CAN'T go to a certain room, also what I do with Luna is putting her leash around my waist for about 1 to 2 hours a day and everywhere i go she has to come with me, this just sends her the message that I make the decisions and I tell her where to go, the less decisions you make her do on her own the more she'll respect you because she will look for guidance in YOU for more, these are all things recommended by a more experienced friend of mine and so far it works very well. I'm being very strict and investing a lot of time in my Luna because I have kids and I cannot just raise a super spoiled dog and then have to deal with the consequences or worst!!! let MY kids deal with the consequences, although she is a very submissive dog I do not wanna take the risk and let her get a bit more dominant. Good luck!!! and really its too bad this happened to you guys :(

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I too am new here............well kinda. Been here and posted, but I don't come here regularly. I have to admit, that as a vet tech for the past 16 years, Dobermans are not a visious breed of dog. But I have an 11 month old female Dobie that has been and continues to be aggressive towards ONLY me. She adores my husband, grown son and his family. I have never hit her or been abusive, but I did rescue her from a bad situation. I'm going with the understand that she associates me with her old situation, and has "baggage" so to speak. Dobies can and will turn on you, if you don't show them that you are the alpha. Its that simple.I hope your fiance gets better soon.

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Something similiar happened to me once, my dog Dobie attacked ME, seemingly unprovoked. But I was letting him climb onto my lap. I don't let him get onto me or the furniture now, and haven't had a repeat  since.

3sacrowd's picture
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Wow, this was all kind of shocking to read...hope it never happens with my dog, to me or children. Scary stuff.

3sacrowd's picture
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https://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/dogsbite/ An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

WilliamP's picture
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Our 8 year old Doberman viciously attacked my wife last week and she's still in the hospital. All she did was try to put his leash on him and he attacked her. She sustained hundreds of stitches and staples, her left pinky was bitten off, her head was severely cut up and she lost a large chunk of her scalp. She's had 2 surgeries so far trying to piece her back together, it's a very sad situation. Our dog was the most well cared for dog that I know of. He got the best of everything with lots of love and care. Lori was always so gentle with him, it's hard to fathom that he attacked her out of nowhere like this, but he did. So saying that a dog will not attack unprovoked is false, they most definitely will. 

I'm very sorry to hear this, however, when a dog attacks unprovoked after 8 years then I would be looking at a medical issue. Could be a brain tumor or even an untreated low thyroid.  One thing for sure, there is ALWAYS more to the story.  Did he ever have a full senior panel blood work up? Every dog should have one once they reach the age of 7. 

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Hi, I am new here.  Like so many others, for years I used to be one of those people scared of Doberman.  A neighbors down the street has two beautiful ones, and one evening, my husband got mesmerized after looking at them and talking to their owner.  Shorthly after, since we had just lost our rott, he managed to find a puppy dobie, way against my will.  This was over a year ago, and I have been in love with this dog since then.  I now understand the magnificience of the breed. I respect it.  Not a day goes by where I am not totaly blown by his agility and his beauty. 

With that said, having such a powerful animal living in my house has to be for my protection and peace of mind, so no matter what the reasons may be, anything that shows that it can be any other way around is simply not acceptable.  

The other reason why I didn't want a dobie besides my irrational -though also justify in so many ways- fear of them was mostly that I knew in the first place how demanding it would be to have to take care of the special needs of a working dog.  While I stepped up my game to raise to the task, I know deep down we are still not providing the training this dog needs to reach his potential.  It's like having kids, and never taking them to music lessons, soccer practice, or what ever else.  We could be awesome parents, good providers and all, but if we are not doing all we can for them, we are not truly raising our children, we are just feeding them.  

I am sure not everyone on these doberman chat boards are taking their dog to agility training, spending hours daily on the court like if training a police dogs, but in fact, that's what such dog really deserve!  Constant, strick, good discipline, great training. Our full devotion.  Who has that kind of time for that though, and therefore, does this mean that almost none of us should even consider being a Doberman owner?  

Well, I don't know... but maybe!  If we are such dog's lover that we need to kiss them, have them on the couch, laying by our bed, trailing behind us like poodles, maybe we should choose another breed.  Many are way more qualify for easy going lifestyle and are not so demanding.  Through the years, we took a breed purely created for protection, and we made pretty statue out of them, even dressing them up during the holidays.  That's not just right, you know?  

I realize I am just learning with my dobie.  And I am also learning through the experience of others, like yours here.  

I am very upset to hear what happened to you, but it is a lesson for me.  I have been trusting my dog so much that I know I crossed the line many times, giving too much affection, letting things slip by:  Oh, he's so cute, etc!  Your story is a good reminder to remain in charge of my own emotion if I want to be in charge of my own dog.   

There is no doubt I adore my dogs, yet aggression toward me or any member of my family will never be an option.  Sorry again about your bad experience, but if it had happened to me, I would NOT take the risk that this could e-v-e-r happen again.  This may sound way drastic -because it is- but I feel that trying to justify or explain a dog's unprovoked attack, then trying some more to possible correct the "behavior"  (not a snip, but a full bite or multiple bites) is ignoring the red flag flashing in your mind.  It is sad and unfair, but it happens once... and the truth is that it could happen again.        

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Hi OP,

First, I'm so sorry for the terrible situation you, your fiance, and your dobie have been put through! I wish all of you the very best! I am a complete newbie on this forum (and to doberman ownership- I only recently adopted a mix), but I just wanted to interject and strongly second what Fitzmar suggested: looking into possible medical causes.

I know this is purely anecdotal, but I just wanted to throw it out there: I grew up with a german shepherd/australian shepherd mix, who was a fantastic dog his entire life, with absolutely no aggression issues.  One day, when he was 12 years old, out of nowhere he suddenly attacked my mom-- completely didn't recognize her and didn't act like himself at all.  My mom had to go to the ER with numerous defensive wounds.  However, right after the incident, he went back to his normal, happy self, like nothing ever happened.  When we took him to our vet, they did an MRI and discovered that he had had a tumor his whole life, which was impossible to detect in normal veterinary appointments.  It had ruptured and he suffered something similar to an aneurysm (albeit non-fatal).  

I just wanted to bring this up, because this specific tumor was ONLY detectable through an MRI scan.  Senior panels and other routine bloodwork never caught it. I am not at all knowledgeable about veterinary medicine, but I wanted to share my experience, as it sounds somewhat similar.  In any case, though, I wish all of you the best! Good luck and hang in there! 

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It's a big responsibility to take such large breed of animal into the home to care for. Reading these stories is a good reminder - so true.