First Approach to all People, even known ones is with Suspician

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Rao
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Hi, I have a ten month old Dobe. I take him with me to work and back home in the evenings. He has been highly socilaised in both places since a young age; in general he is sweet tempered and playful by nature. I have been having only one problem of late. He approaches all people with the this attitude; 'Guilty unless proven innoccent'. If there is a knock on the door, or someone enters the room (even if he already knows them and is fond off)- he will first charge towards them with a continuous low throated roar; his body sloping backwards. As soon as he recognises the person, its like a switch goes off- in an instant he's licking this hands, picked up a nearby toy- tossing it in the air, etc. If he does not recognise the person; but if the person is unperturbed by his behaviour with confident body language- it also acts like a switch, instantly he is switches to his sweet puppy-like body language. If the person is even a least bit disturbed, nervous (and I dont blame them); he will continue to roar, and sometimes even jump up, barking continuously, getting more and more aggravted, intense and can be very very intimidating. I am sure he will not bite; and he does not get to baring his teeth- but it is scary enough- then I have to put him into his crate and apologose profusely. 

I have tried several tactics; have got a pyschologist to study him, etc. I have also spoken with his breeder and he says that his Dobes will never intimidate anyone he has himself brought home. I dont mind my dog, running around the coumpound wall, barking at noises/ poeple right outside/ strangers- but dont like him initmidating visitors I have invited/ even escorted into my home or office. 

I have dozens of visitors everyday; he's been exposed to this from age three months- he would also greet visitors with excitement- but he developed this aggressve behaviour at age 6 months- I have been trying to correct it from day one- to no avail. I have tried these things:

a. Giving him a treat when visitors come it; getting them to give him a treat. Until he has snapped out; the treat is useless.

b. I have tried to gently hold his spount and say- 'no', 'dont do that', make angry grunts, etc. 

c. I have tried giving him a sharp, short slap on his snout.

d. I have tried ignoring him completely, putting in on a leash, turning him the other way around and walking him to his crate. This works to some extend. 

e. Tried keeping him in the covered crate (which is right next to my chair), when I expect visitors. But he'll become restless, bark and get wound up until he's met them and they've passed the test; or they have left the building.

The only thing that works is if I take him out the gate and introduce him to the person just outside, he will happily walk in with them.

I have too many visitors to do this on a premnent basis. If there is an explaination, please let me know.

Thank you!

talisin's picture
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I could be wrong but I think his age has alot to do with it......and he is beginning to kick into doberman behavior of protecting you and his space.....and himself......

I personally would also think that he is a bit rebellious in the fact that when you tell him it's ok he really isn't believing you and thinking for himself.....which makes thinking breeds very challenging....

I really can't be of much help cause I am dealing with my 9 year old rescue rottie who totally I do mean totally ignores me when I tell him it's ok, he will barge right past me to get to whatever it is....I have no answers but will watch to see what answers you get maybe I can implement them too, hahahaha

For me I think I might try to have everyone totally ignore him when he goes all spastic, just have them walk in and interact with you and ignore him, you too...ignore him.....of course you want to watch for any signs of a nip coming from him but let him know this gets NOTHING, no attention from ANYONE.....

that's all I got on this one.....except congrats on being able to take him to work!!!! that's great....

Rao
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Hi, Thanks for your note. The last line made me beam! I know that the best way is for stangers to ignore him, but I'm afraid that its too much to ask of anyone, when he is specifically targets to have/ show fear. Lets see what else comes up here...

He is a Doberman, and is exhibiting Doberman traits - ie... personal protection breed.  I never never let people in my door (even people who know my Dobes) until I put at least 2 of the 3 away. Once they are in the house and away from the front door, my dogs are fine as long as the people are fine.... if they are scared, then the 2 stay put away. Walking into my house with 3 Dobermans would scare the bejeezers out of even the most dog loving of friends.  I will say, that they won't bite & 1/2 the time they are barking at each other in a competition of "who should be barking at the stranger" - ha ha.

When people come in, I instruct them to keep walking instead of stopping just inside the front door - my dogs are much more accepting once visitors are out of the entryway. 

So, you may just have to deal with it and continue with positive methods for getting him to have better manners at the door as he matures..... but realize that you have a Doberman and not a Golden or Lab!

Rao
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Hello Fritzmar,

Thanks for your response. You are abolsutely right; and I am trying to understand a Dobe- my first one- more each day. I have had only retrievers before! And yes, he only guards the entry way. It is also correct that he ignores confident people (after a quick 3-5 sec. 'checking out') who walk right in, avoinding an inflection point/ entry-way. Unfortunately there are not many confident people around Dobermans- that I can train him with... My thought is, if I tell him its ok; he should absolutely listen to me; and be ok. Is that too much to expect? I've seen this with his breeder; who has a strong personality with strong pack leader traits- and I dont think he has actively trained his dogs; they have just fallen into line- they are not pet dogs though.

talisin's picture
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it's my understanding with my own dogs that an insecure person is an unstable person to them, therefore the insecure person must not be trusted, hence the barking and so forth....I have also noted that some very calm people get the same result with the barking and all because they are so relaxed that they come off as not being confident and that's seen as insecure, I know that has happened to me personally I am very laid back and some dogs don't trust that yet my husband who is on edge all the time has a very alert persona' and he gets a different reaction so sometimes it isn't just fear in a person that causes it, it can be just totally laid back personality I guess the dogs figure if you're that laid back you are not paying attention so they feel they have to be on the look out......and I have had all sorts of dogs during my lifetime and I have noticed that the rottweiler does this same thing, when I am outside with my rotties they for some reason don't trust me to handle a situation cause I don't react to anything in the neighborhood so they feel they are on call all the time.....I mean surely there is something that needs to be barked at or stalked or sent running in fear for their life....but I do not react.....so they just think it through on their own and figure I am useless I guess.....but when I stand up they think otherwise.....my other dogs that were not of the rottweiler, rhodesian ridgeback, or our staffy mix - those other dogs were very easy going with people and accepting so when you do get one of the protection type breeds it comes with a whole new set of rules for people and socializing and whether or not you can "take your dog to work"; I know some of my dogs were great up to a certain age and then poof they were like "I will no longer tolerate this or that" and eventually they were left at home for everyone's sanity and comfort no sense in stressing out my dog and the people we were visiting....so you may come to the realization that he just won't accept certain people in the office and the more and more he refuses the less likely it will be he will be the office dog.....a possibility but I think when you figure out just how to work with him you should be ok......the hardest part is figuring out what and why he is doing what he is doing and then go from there.....sometimes protection dogs are not the people lovers that other breeds are and some are not animal to animal social bugs either, trying to force those reactions on them can cause more stress than just accepting they will go into protection mode just know how to handle that mode when it arises.....

enough rambling for tonight

MommaL's picture
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A great thread ... we also have our first doberteen and we are trying to understand him as well.  Thanks for all the good input Fitz and Tali!  Ours is the only dobie in a multi-dog home.  He only barks when the doxies bark while he looks around trying to figure out what he is supposed to be barking at!   Once he is barking at newcomers though, he does release once we touch/release him. 

He had his first instance just yesterday of someone coming into the driveway while he was outside without any humans present (an unusual scenario).  Of course, the doxies went nuts, so he assumed the lead position and started barking but did not advance and neither did the visitor.  We came out quickly because we were excited to see our suprise visitor and once he saw our reaction of welcome and affection, he responded in kind.  Its pretty amazing how intuitive they are.  Once inside, he was bringing toys and showering her with kisses. 

Rao, I shared that story as an example.  You should also remember that he reads your stress level better than you do, so when you are harried or stressed about the context of your work meetings, he will sense that and respond to it.  That's part of why they are such amazing companions.

Rao
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Hi Everybody, thank you for your feedback and insights- it has helped us make progress. I have also been more carful and experimentative in his first meeting with strangers; and this was quite revealing to me;

01. If a new person, who maybe afraid of dogs, walks in with a bigger group of people who know him, his is quite friendly in his first approach.

02. If I get out of the gate- even if its one step outside, and escort a new person in- he treats them much better than if I was inside the gate, ushering them inside.

03. If the person is already inside, and then the dog comes in, from a walk- he is perfectly fine.

04. If he meets the person outside the gate, and walks in together- he is also fine.

05. If a new person entres through another access/ gate- he is fine.

06. If the person walks in quickly; avoiding a confrontation at the gateway- but meets him in the interior of the building, he is also fine.

In all the above cases, I have ignored and urged visitors to ignore him, until we have already greeeted each other and settled down. Then they can say hello.

So avoiding the repetative pattern of a direct confrontation at the same point (gate) with everybody- has helped tremendously, plus I have a very social space- I have twently different people walking in and out eveyday, multiple times- and now most of them are falling over him- with hugs and kisses! There are still odd case of people ringing the door well, and standing at the gate- but he rushes out less agressively than before; and also responds to his name a little better. Earlier he would charge threateningly and no treat or recall would have any affect.

As a person, I am highly wound up most of the time, so learning to clam down as well, and be as casual as possible when I expect visitors- and avoiding direct confrontation at the gate- has helped- a lot!

talisin's picture
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yayayayaya progress - any progress is good and it sounds like he is doing great with that end of things.....and yes they feed off of our energy they are so sensitive so you being able to calm down is a great help to him....

Terrific news!!!!

Rao
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Thank you for your encouragement :)