I need your help! I have a video of our walk outside tonight! Advice Plz!

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mommachap's picture
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So I got a video of Emerson tonight when we went outside. We live on a large property so I thought I would take him on a little walk over to the shop to say hi to my husband (like we do every night), and for some reason as soon as we pass a certain point on the driveway Emerson turns into a completely different dog. The video is of us walking back to the house, sorry its not a very good video. I just wanted to capture it so that someone else could see what is going on. He has been getting more and more aggressive every night, tonight obviously being the worst so far, but not by much. I am not sure what to think of this, so I thought that you guys might be able to help out. He has been doing so well when we are in the small part of the yard and in the house, he has started listening to everything I say! I can just snap my fingers and tell him once to get on his bed and he does it. Tell him to drop something and 90% of the time he does it right away. In the house he is now all kisses no bites, but as soon as we pass that point he starts up, and as soon as we pass that point coming back to the house he stops and starts walking around like a normal pup. What do I do? Is this normal behavior? What do you think his personality is like? Is he a "red zone" dog? I am just worried that we wont be able to fix him and that he will snap on the kids one day:( Plz help! Here is the video

I want you to know that I never hurt him... you will see me kick in the video, but it was only because I was trying to get him away. My legs are actually covered in red marks and are stinging from him biting tonight, he was biting so hard. I could actually feel his bites pretty good through a big winter jacket and a sweatshirt. I was told to look big and to take a step towards him, which works really well in the house, but when he is like this he will snap up at my face:( Anyways, here is the video. Let me know if it doesn't work.

 

http://youtu.be/TgeZZh-LYvE

finding Jackson's picture
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Jax used to act like that when we would walk into certain hallways because we used the space for playtime while he was in the process of becoming fully vaccinated. Now he only jukes (display of quick side-to-side motion) when we walk through because I scolded him for nipping a little too intense. He understood after several instances.

Your version of scolding in the video, on a scale of 1 to 10 and 10 is most intense, you were about a 2. When I scold dogs, I know the message gets across if they lower the head and tail. Did not observe that in Emerson. He also appeared more intense than my boy. Did your breeder say Emerson was a more alpha-oriented? 

He could be challenging you as big dogs tend to do in a pup-to-mature dog phase. You could take a leadership role, which is vague, but Cesar Milan appears to be effective with that method. In your situation Cesar might simulate a bite with his hand or put him on a leash to give him a leash correction.

BTW, are you a pure (and only) positive reinforcement dog owner? I'm just wondering so we could make suggestions that are suitable and comfortable for you style. I on the other hand, do not rule out any options. 

D and Evie's picture
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I tend to agree with fj here -- when Evie was a pup-pup, growling(at me) was certainly a huge no-no. She received maximum penalty known as the 'alpha roll' -- pinning to the ground thus taking away their freedom. This should done with all the authority that you can muster. Making sure the message is clear.

 

I feel your pain here -- it's no fun when they're testing you. One other thing you might try is a 'penalty box' -- an area(not the crate) where they can be confined for punishment(only for short periods and only within a few moments of disobeying). With Evie, her desire to be around her master seemed to outweigh her desire to test me.

 

I'm sure others will contribute better ideas but these are what worked with Evie.

D and Evie's picture
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I should also mention that it's normal to be exhausted and losing your mind at this point. But, hey, after successfully raising your dobe, raising your child in their teens will be a breeze;)

 

I also watched this skit quite a few times during that stage in Evie's young puppyhood.

mommachap's picture
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thank you for your advice! I use both firm and positive training with him. It really depends on the situation. I use the bite with my hand lots on Emerson, and it works great when we are inside, but as soon as we are outside, he is just fast and mean... lol. As soon as I go to reach for him, he runs fast... He never acts like this when he is on a leash, even when we do the same walk, but he wont go pee or poop when he is on the leash so I don't usually use one when we are in the yard. I have also tried the "taking him down" thing and I don't know if I was doing it wrong or what happened, but after 45 mins of circles on the floor, lots of him fighting me, and getting his head around so that he could bite my arms, he was just not giving up, he was getting more anxious as time went on and more aggressive, and I was just exhausted!

We had to drive 5 hrs to get him, so we told the breeder that we were looking for a guy who had lots of character and wouldn't have aggression issues. Emerson is the one she picked. He does have lots of character, but he also has his not so cute side. We had no idea what to ask or what to look for, so we just trusted her judgement.

My mom suggested maybe getting him a muzzle for when we go out there so that I don't have the fear and I can actually correct him. Just until the behavior is corrected. Right now when I try to correct him he is snapping at me, as soon as I try the bite thing that usually works in the house, he moves his body away, and snaps up either in my face or bites my hands or arms. Does he need to be on the leash, or do we just continue to correct him until he can walk without one?

DJ's Dad's picture
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Do you ever use a prong or pinch collar on him?  I'm not trying to advocate harsh punishment, and certainly dont think that a prong collar should be used every day, but it sounds like Emerson is testing his limits and hasn't really found his limit yet with you outside.  He should definitely be corrected IMMEDIATELY when he bites you.  No exceptions.  If you say he behaves much better on a leash, then keep him on a leash! Why set yourself up to be bitten if you know he will do it?  If it were me, I'd try a prong collar, and a longer leash---I've even made my own long line for training purposes by attaching a heavy swivel snap to a long length of cotton clothesline rope.  Give him some room to run if you want to, but you'll ultimately have the control if he's attached to a long line, even if you give him 50 feet of space to run around you.  Whenever he starts to act out or lose control and you know he is about to bite----snap that leash so that he gets a pinch to the neck area (I swear to you, it does NOT hurt them...more like it grabs their attention).  Shorten the leash and MAKE him mind you.  I know a girl that is a dog trainer, and has a Begian Malinois that was a potential police dog, but he flunked out of police acadamy because he was a biter and uncontrollable.  She rescued him from a kill shelter because she saw so much potential in him.  You'd never know that he used to be mean---he is an absolute angel now.  I remarked one day about what a good dog Curry is, and she laughed and said "It's not that he's a good dog, it's that he has a mean mom".  She isn't really MEAN to him, but she does make him toe the line.  Sounds like Emerson needs a lot more structure and less freedom to do whatever he pleases until he learns some manners.  A well trained dog is a total joy to have, always.  He wont get there on his own---you have to lead him and take him to that point.....it can happen. Dont give up or give in, just knuckle down on him and MAKE him mind you.  Dont even give him the option of not minding you. Believe me, it pays off in the long run....he's still very much a puppy right now and in a big learning stage of his life.

Happydance's picture
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Oh, naughty boy Emerson!  This video bothered me very much.  I'm glad that you're asking for help.  Clearly you need to take charge with him.  Absolutely have him on the leash for your walks over and back, and the very second he starts that you need to FIRMLY correct him.  I could hear in your voice that you do not have the confidence and state of mind to get through to him.  He's got you intimidated now and you have to get it in your head that YOU are in charge, not him, not ever.  He's testing alright and thinks you're a big toy, not his "master".  Before you go out, take a second and collect yourself, get it out of your head that that scenario is even going to happen, put your head up and shoulders back, take a deep breath, grab the leash and walk like he's not even at the other end of it.  Once you get from point A to point B with no trouble, praise the heck out of him.  I don't know if you're taking him to classes of any sort, but that would really help both him and you.  If he won't eliminate on leash, don't try walking with him anywhere, he's outside to do his business only and back in.  He sounds like a great pup in every other way, but it's manner learning time, and it's a hard, trying time I know.  Good luck!

mommachap's picture
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Thank you guys for all of your help. It is so great to have support from people who have dobermans. People who have them tend to look at them different than people who dont. My parents had me thinking last night that he was basically a lost cause. Thank you for all of your advice. Makes me feel like I can actually do this! We will be off this weekend to go and get him a new long leash, and I think I might try the prong collar. Was it just him playing? or was he actually being aggressive? Thanks again for all your help:)

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from mommachap: Was it just him playing? or was he actually being aggressive?

I would tend to think at his  age--less than 5 months?--that it's more of just seeing what he can get away with.  Playing, if you will, but definitely he is the aggressor in his play, and using YOU as his toy.  Play can turn into aggression, so for many many reasons, it's best to get him under control as soon as possible.  It wont be an overnight change---it takes time, and practice.  Dont forget to praise him, pet him, reward him, give him GOOD things when he does good things.  No matter how small that good thing is.  It's the negative behaviors you want him to replace with good behaviors.  And yes, you're right----people that own dobermans and have had them for awhile DO understand what you're going through, and in 99.9% of the cases, there is a light at the end of the tunnel....and sometimes it's a little bit rough ride just to get there.  But you can do it.  Just be more determined than he is.

mommachap's picture
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I wanted to let you guys know that I have found a guy who is going to help me train him:) He used to breed dobermans, and has been training them for the last 30 years, well training dobes and other breeds, but he is a doberman lover and said that they can be great dogs! He specializes in aggression and how to deal with it too (he says that he deals with it in a positive way, he never uses harsh training.) We are going to go hopefully next week to have our evaluation and consultation. I am really excited:) I am determined to have a great pup!

DJ's Dad's picture
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YAY!   Sounds like the Cavalry is approaching!  Good luck--keep us posted on the progress, ok?

mommachap's picture
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Of course, cant wait to give you guys good updates! We can't get in until early Jan, but I will keep working with him until then. I can't wait to have a great dog! Super excited!

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Walking off leash should be a priveledge that is earned.  If he hasn't earned it, then don't let him off leash.  Also, I hear your corrections, and while it may not seem like it, it's very inconsistent...  I heard "Ouch".   "Hey"   "No"   "stop".  Do these words all mean the same thing?  Are they different?  How did you teach the dog what they mean?  Pick 1 word, stick with it.  4 words in a few seconds is way too much.  If your dog nips you off leash, put him on leash immediately.  He will soon make the connection.

As far as alpha rolls, please, do not ever do this.  I would completely disregard that statement, and you should NEVER do this unless it's a life or death situation.  Alpha rolls are dangerous, and it's a good way to get bit, ruin your dogs confidence, and weaken your bond.  Never, ever do this.  This is the most extreme possible correction, and the only thing worse from your dogs point of view is if you were to kill him.  Seriously.  Don't do it.

Training a dog is easy, it's being consistent and timely that is hard.  If you are consistent, and can accurately mark behaviors, training a dog is a piece of cake.  It's the consistency that is difficult...  After almost a year and a half with Dakota, and teaching Steph how to be better with her, I still find myself often giving Steph tips and pointers, and showing her how to do things.  It's not because she isn't trying, but it's very hard to be quick and accurate under all conditions, especially when things are happening quickly.  It's something that comes with time and practice, there's no other substitute.  

As humans, we tend to overcomplicate things...  The solution here is quite simple.  If your dog continually nips you, take away the possibility of that happening.  That's it!!  

Leash work for sure and a much more authoritative voice is needed big time!  I agree with Ziva about trying a pinch collar and finding one word to use. It can be OFF, NO... or whatever you want it to be, but keep it consistent and DO NOT let him get away with thinking that biting you is ok - even if he is just playing. 

Positive training is great, but sometimes with our breed, it isn't enough. These are strong willed and smart dogs.  I do use corrections when needed.  There are times when I've grabbed one of my dogs by the jowls and picked them right up off the ground (rear feet still on the ground) and told them in no uncertain terms that their behavior will not be tolerated - I have an 88 pound intact male Doberman that HAS to behave around other males and bitches in heat at shows - if all I ever used was positive training and a wishy washy voice, he would have turned out to be a giant pain in the ass - LOL!  I don't advocate my methods because if you don't know what you are doing and you can't really read dogs, you could be badly bitten - but most anyone could learn how to get what I call "growly" with your dog - tone & level of voice is really important. Using your body language to convey - authority is important too. 

A good trainer is your best bet... and maybe a few good training and dog behavoir books too.

 

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Mommachap, hang in there! You have great advice here! So glad you have found a trainer with Doberman experience. Sometimes seeing a trainer work a dog helps the understanding more than reading about it. You have the desire, so be firm and consistent. You'll get him trained and the rewards are tremendous! Best of luck! Will be watching for your reports :)

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oh no sounds like bratty growl.  Yes, Kevin is right it is so hard to be consistent, crazily Kaiser being my first dog I decided to use o.k. as my release word... Do you know how many times I mistakenly say ok!!!  Living and learning... I am trying so hard to,  So when I inconsistently use the word o.k., for example like innocently saying "O.K. let's do something different are you ready?" Then he walks away b.c I said O.K., I look at my smart dog and then curse myself as I am standing alone.... lol 

 

Try using one word for sure, and I would stop moving saying no and make him sit before you take another step with the leash on. So much work but so worth it when you see the progress. Good luck....

mommachap's picture
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I just thought I would let you know that I was testing him today outside to see how he would do with positive training, and I think it will really work with him:) Instead of me trying to grab him and be harsh, I tried using a calm voice and told him to "come" and then "sit" and as soon as I told him to "come" his ears went back and stopped the jumping and biting right away. He kept coming back and trying it again, but I would just do the same thing and he would stop. Really showed me that I think I have been training him the wrong way, and I am pretty sure I am to blame for the way he has been acting. People have been telling me that I need to be harsh and to physically put him in his place, but I think that he will be a great dog if I am calmer with him:) I am going to keep researching about this positive training so that I can start working with him now, and then we will at least have a base line for when we go to the trainer