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Ethel's picture
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Joined: 2011-07-17

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Hi

I'm new here, but I know I'm in the right place. There are a lot of dobby lovers here and I'm very glad for all of you.

I have allmost 4 months old puppy. She is so smart and stubborn - and that is good. But in the last 2 or 3 days I noticed that she started to show fear from very strange objects, like leaves on tress (moved by a very small wind), of airconditioner blowing on some building when we walk, or birds in cage in a petstore (when she heard them, she panicked).

I'm really concerned about this and would do whatever it takes to help her. 

She has 2 ways of handling thing, she wants to go and play with everything or she wants to ran away.

Do have some advice?


P.S

She likes to play with every dog she sees, but somethimes if she hear them barking, she would like to ran away - while on leash. I'm trying to teach her to ignore them, but it is nor working. She launches to play or to runaway from them.

Please help!

Dabbles's picture
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Joined: 2009-02-20

Welcome to the forum!

4 months might be a bit early, but dobe pups usually have 2 different "fear stages".  One at about 8 weeks, another around 6 months or so.

There is a great article on this site about these stages.  Alpha has written some really good advice about how to handle it. 

When Brinks went through this I just had to remember - don't make the issue worse, but don't coddle either... 

Dabbles's picture
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Ethel's picture
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Joined: 2011-07-17

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Thanks for the post, I know that at 4 months it should not be a fear imprint period, but suddenly this happened. I hope she will get out of it. It is very strange that from some some very loud noises she is not afraid, but from something else she is very much afraid. Hope this will pass and go away.

When she is getting scared while we walk on leash, I don't let her to ran,  I'm acting that Iike everything is normal. Don't know what to do. I tought I socialized her, but obviously we have a problem.

DJ's Dad's picture
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Ahhh---the fear factor.  Happens to a lot of pups.  When Ziva was going through those stages (yes, they tend to come and go) and I would notice something that caused her to back away, get all bug-eyed, and pretty much just let me know that she had more than just 'some reservations' about approaching things like trash cans on the curb, plastic Wal Mart bags blowing across a parking lot, temporary metal sheet across the sidewalk where the city was working on a water line....all sorts of things.... I would just calmly stop when she showed her fear, not say anything to her (didnt want to inadvertently assure her fears by letting her think that attention was a payoff for balking) and we'd just do an about-turn and approach the object again.  Repeat as many times as it took, always allowing her to get as close as she dared to get, then turning around and approaching it again.  When she would actually touch her nose to the strange object, or put her feet (even one foot at a time) on a strange surface, that's when she got praised and told what a big brave girl she was, and we'd just turn around and approach it again and again until she had conquored her fear.  I have often done about turns 8 - 10 times in one area just to get her to see that there is nothing to be afraid of if it's something that I knew didn't warrant a fearful reaction.  She started trusting herself, and me, and would sniff the air before we approached something weird to see if there was anything to really be afraid of or not.  That stage doesnt last too long but in a few months, it may pop up again over even new situations.  Just meet it with confidence and calmness, and your dog will pick up on your feelings.

Ethel's picture
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Thanks that is very encouraging to hear. I will do my best to help her. Really, I started to be desperate, but it is encouraging to know that other puppies went trough the fears too.

I saw pictures of Ziva, Milady and Brinks, they are really gorgeous Dobermans. Ooooooo heart stealers. 

KevinK's picture
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Here's the one thing I picked up...  "I thought I socialized her".  Socializing is an ongoing process, it's not something that you do and then you're done.  And at 4 months, there's no way a dog is done being socialized.  Just keep introducing new environements, people, places, etc. in a very positive way.  Everything needs to be fun and positive, so your pup realizes that a falling leaf is not going to attack her. 

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

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Paul, I really love your training methods with The Queen Z. You have so much patience and it truly pays off... The calm and assertive approach works. ( Thank you Cesar)

I know for a fact that Dobermans, even more so than other dogs, take on our moods, when we're sad, so are they.. if we hurt somewhere, they instinctively know where to lay a head..and nervous handlers extend that vibe right through the leash..

Our kids are a very curious breed, letting them know that something new and at first glance might seem scary..and encouraging them to investigate makes it a lot easier to dispel the fear.

Good luck!

blue4's picture
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Welcome!  Great advice already here.

I'll just add that we are not very far removed from where you are.  And Reesie was scared at that age too.  The investigating thing really does help.  On going exposure to new situations helps too.  As Lady Kate said, dobies pay close attention to surroundings.  In just a few short months, Reesie has gone from being scared of new things to being confident to investigate. 

When I planted new annuals, Reesie noticed.  I couldn't believe it.  The way he barked at them, looked sideways at them, lowered, raised, slowly approached them...he didn't know what they were, but they were new and  not to be trusted yet.  The fact that they notice everything and the fact they are young, IMO, makes for lots of situations where they could be scared.  But like others said, lots of patience, training, and sociallization (we still go out - in fact, we went to the park this past weekend b/c they were bringing a race car in...we got there as they were driving it in...LOUD.  And Reesie wasn't bothered at all...2 year olds screaming, dogs, lots of people walking around touching him as they passed by, swings etc.  He did great.) BTW, we aren't race fans...we only went for Reesie!!

I can't believe the difference now, just a few months later.  So, hope that was helpful and hang in there! 

Ethel's picture
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Thank you all very much, you are such a help for a first time Doberman puppy owner. Many times I don't understand what is going on and it is confusing and frustrating.

It seems like she is back to her "normal" fears from unknown. For 2-3 days she was scared from everything, thank God it passed.

Now she started something new, she stared stubbornly to pull on leash in every direction. And she was quite well before - which we accomplished with very much patience with stopping when she pulled. Hope this is a faze too.

As I said it is confusing for me, that it seems like she is regressing in some areas, but thank you for sharing your experiences. It is good to know that it happens to other puppies too and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

blue4's picture
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I wonder if you've ever watched kikopup on youtube?  She has some great training videos that were so helpful to me and still are!  I love to watch kikopup.  Everytime I watch her I am so motivated!  Seems like these puppies find ways to keep us on our toes!

Ethel's picture
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Thank you Blue4, I found some of Kikopup's  videos and certainly they are amazing and I plan to start with clicker training. Queen learnt basic commands without it, but certainly we will try with a clicker.

She is a smart girl, just like you said: they find ways to keep us on our toes and she changes her tactics every 2-3 days.

Joined: 2012-10-12

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Ethel,

   OMG, your little Queen looks exactly like my little Ava. Unfortunately, she also has the same issue that you posted this message about. I took possession of her at 20 weeks, and she grew up before that in a suburban Chicago home where the lady was supposed to be leash training her for me, but I could see by her reaction to the streets where I live that she had NEVER even been taken out on the streets of the suburban area she came from. Now she is here with me, 2 miles SW of DOWNTOWN Chicago. She is also being trained as a medical alert dog, so, she has to use public transit here. She is paranoid as hell. She is a WONDERFUL dog, and has so many perfect service dog traits it is unbelievable that she is only 24.5 weeks now. She sits on a bus or L train perfectly calm and quiet, or in my doctor's office. She watches everyone so closely though that I worry that I will not be able to ger her to pay MOST, if not ALL of her attention to me. She jumps about loud noises, cars, bikes, skateboards, those wheeled luggage things, anything that moves and makes noise. She plays well with other dogs in dog parks, although she is wild and rough as hell with these 90 and 100 lb MALE dogs, and they respond naturally by being just as rough with her, and plays well but again rough as hell with my 8.5 year old Doberman, who is also female, has an 8 year career as my first medical alert dog, and is a CGC award holder. When you see a service or guide dog next time, don't let the robot like personality fool you. ALL service and guide dogs are just as playful as your companion dogs are. They are still DOGS.

   So, I was wondering, what ever happened with your dog's fear when she was a young puppy? How did you work through it? Is she still even the least bit fearful?

   It makes me so sad to watch Ava suffer from everything she sees and hears, because she is such a wonderful dog, and was just never taken out in public between 10 and 20 weeks of age. I got her Nov 2nd, and the woman I got her from mentioned in the 2nd week of Oct that she was just now letting Ava run around the house with a leash hooked to her collar. That should have been what she was doing in early Sep, and by mid Oct, should have been walking her out on the streets of her neighborhood. Then she could have been introduced to all these moving noisy objects gradually, and in a suburban setting where they are not as extreme as they are in central Chicago.

   One BIG issue is her fear of bikes and skateboards. I have a walking disability, and I use a 20" BMX bike for a mobility device, and I also skate. Dana (my 8.5 yr old) walks wonderfully alongside the bike and skateboard. I only hope I can get Ava to get over her fear of it. Like I said, she is the perfect dog on a bus or L train, calm and quiet, and she does very well with Dana, and Dana is not a very puppy tolerable older Doberman, and she also considers Ava a new puppy now taking all my time and attention, and doing what she has done for me for 8 years now.

   Dana and I have been down a road that started for me right after being disabled by an uninsured drunk driver when I got her April 27, 2004. I went to Phoenix in Sep, 2003 on a winter building contract, and this happened 8 days after arriving. The massive morphine dose combined with other medications whacks me out, and after falling numerous times, and starting 3 accidental fires in my house because I zoned out smoking or cooking, I got Dana to alert me when I began zoning out. She can also summon 911 for me. Adjusting to losing an income of around $70,000 a year, and now drawing disability benefits of about 12% of that (then) was not easy, and going through mental issues about losing my ability and no longer working tore me apart, and Dana stuck with me well through all of that, and all kinds of transition, starting out in Phoenix, and that September, surving and saving me from a house fire there that was actually electrical and burned the whole house down quickly because it started in the ceiling (it was a real wooden shack and all I could afford there for a house). Then we ended up in a motel room in Albuquerque for 7 months until April 2005 when we came back to my hometown here in Chicago. We hitched rides on both those trips. Dana's gear was lost in the fire, and I wasn't aware then that I could have still flown with her in the cabin as a service dog by simply explaining her purpose. We slept under the Gateway Arch in St Louis. Met all kinds of cool ppl. Then were dropped off in Cicero, and walked into town on a nice warm April Sunday (about 8 miles).

So, after getting back home, and getting the benefits they give us here locally, we are well taken care of and actually live very well here. I was getting food from behind grocery stores by taking outdated food from their trash to eat myself back out west. I made sure Dana had food, and then we were broke. They gave us NO benefits there locally. Now I can eat filet mignon if I want. It just pisses me off that the Maricopa county Az government is responsible for what happened to me. This loser had NINE prior DUIs and was out on bond on 2 pending cases. He should have been given a bond he couldn't have afforded or none at all. He actually got killed in the accident, so he'd still be alive if he had been in jail. His Nissan hit my GMC 3500 pickup fast and hard. I still say he should have been locked up. Ppl like that are just as dangerous as serial killers are. So, now the city of Chicago takes such great care of me and my dogs, and I think they should be charging Maricopa county for it.

   To wrap this up, this is why Dana and I have the bond we have, and Dana just can't let go of that. I myself have SEVERE separation anxiety when I am out with Ava, Dana is home alone, and we are apart. It kills me. It actually ruins many a moment that I should be enjoying with Ava outside. So, you can just imagine how it effects Dana. She does fine at home alone now, but she used to bark her head off while I was gone. She still takes some of my dirty clothes out and lies with them, but that's it.

   She is also more tolerant with Ava than she was to the first 2 dogs I trained but had to rehome one for health reasons and one for protective issues (service dogs are not supposed to be protective), and Ava has more respect for her space and seniority than the others did. That's another wonderful trait of Ava's. This would work so well if only she gets over this fear. BTW, she is the 18th Doberman I have trained since my first in 1980, 14 companions and now 4 service dogs. So, I am not a stranger to it. I have NEVER had a fearful puppy, though. I mean, not like this. Not about EVERYTHING. I mean, even Dana gets spoofed at times, any dog does, but it doesn't effect them or her this way. She might jump back or stop quickly, but regains her composure right away, and only at stuff that really is scary, even to a human.

   Sorry I went on so long, but I wanted everyone to have a real detailed idea of Ava's whole situation, and mine too which are some of the reasons for her situations. That way you all have a good picture of Ava's life with Dana and I. I'll check out the link to the file on GD, but I'd still like to hear about how Queen made out from you, Ethel. Queen is what, about 22 months now, right?

   Please, everyone - pray for Ava to let go of this, and for me as I watch her go through it and help her get over it.

   Thank you,

Shaun Adams, Dana the Doberman service dog CGC (semi ret), and Ava the Doberman SDIT