At my wits end - please can anyone help

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goodie2su's picture
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Hi there

I've posted before about the problems our now 6 month old Dobie Phoebe was having on the lead and a couple of months later, several trainers later we are no better off.  Financially we have literally put our mortgage payment on the line at this point to try and sort out our problem. 

Phoebe is a very independent strong willed dog who will just point blank refuse to walk on the lead properly.  This is not even the worse issue, her main problem is seeing another dog on lead, she will jump, growl, bark, lunge to get there and there is just nothing I can do to get through to her.  We have been to numerous behaviour classes and in a class environment she is a perfect angel with her obedience and will training fabulously at home indoors and outdoors even with the distraction of another dog lying in the grass 2 feet away from.  It is a head on meeting on lead that is the issue.  If she were to meet the dog off lead, she would bound over happily to meet them without problem although she is extremely rude in meeting other dogs and absolutely has no manners.... she is never ever off lead because of this!  There aren't many dogs that are going to tolerate this behaviour from her.  She has done puppy socialisation class when she first came here at 10 weeks, puppy hour class, obedience class etc  We have had a private trainer out who just couldn't get through to her.  Phoebe is so stubborn she will just not do anything someone else (out of our family)  will tell her to including the trainer, she will just play deaf and pretend she knows nothing.  My own vet has told to basically to rehome her that she is so difficult :(  

After having no progress with the first trainer we were recommended by a dog trainer friend to go to a serious top trainer here in Ireland who has trained many champion dogs and has absolutely amazing credentials.  As a favour they took Phoebe for initally 12 days to try and break her habits and inforce new ones through positive reinforcement, they were in contact every day and we were told that Phoebe was hardly making any progress that they had to take her back to basics of sit and lie down as she would just refuse to do anything.  They ended up keeping her 3 weeks we picked her up on Wednesday and we were told that in all the years of dog training (30 years) Phoebe is definitely in the "most challenging" category.  We have her home now and she is exactly the same, she is dragging us for a walk and still over the top with other dogs.  The trainers told us to drive somewhere secluded to walk her away from the distraction of other dogs which we did and typically I rang into someone who was walking 5 dogs, all hell broke loose,  I could hardly hold onto her.  There is no aggression in her, 1 trainer said that she is afraid the other trainer said she is practically screaming "look and me look at me"  It is just unrealistic to expect for us never to meet another dog on our walks. 

I am absolutely devastated and I don't know what to do.  As my vet said, no-one would have gone to the lengths we have to help her and she is only getting bigger and stronger.  In any other house here she would have been given up on a long time ago and probably ended up in a puppy farm or in the pound where she would be put to sleep immediately as she is restricted breed.  I love Phoebe so much and I just want to be able to safely walk my beloved pet.

sorry its so long.

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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Im sorry it's not all working out how you planned... but my best advice is to just keep trying. If you truly love your girl, DON'T GIVE UP!! Just love her and work with her. Sure, its difficult and she may never be able to go on a walk without a leash... SO WHAT?? As long as she is happy and healthy and you are doing what you can to keep her that way, thats all that matters.

She is a stubborn pup, and she's a challanging dog... work WITH her, not against her. Don't set her up to fail by having such high expectations. Take it one day at a time and start with the lunging at other dogs issue, then move on to her pulling. Try taking her on walks with dogs she knows... or dogs that she has met before and you know she doesn't have issues with. Then re-direct her if she starts lunging at them. If she doesn't quit lunging, take her away from the situation, let her calm down, then continue with your walk. I would also make sure that the dogs you walk her with aren't energizer bunnies, see if you can take her with a mellow dog who won't feed into her wonky energy. When she gets used to walking with the mellow dog, take her with a dog that has a little higher energy and keep at it slow and steady, walking her with dogs that have higher energies till she's able to handle it. And by the time you are done, she will have learned some manners and (hopefully) will have become desensitized to other dogs. 

Hope I was able to help, and sorry it was long ;)

Joy

goodie2su's picture
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Thanks so much Joy.  No I'm not giving up at all, I just don't know where to go from here.  There is just no-where to go where I'm not going to bump into at least 1 person with a dog bar going to the North Pole :)  its just not going to happen.  Especially if we go out on a secluded trail, which we have done, there is just no getting away from an approaching dog walker, at some point you just have to either let them pass or we have to pass them.  We can't avoid the situation we just have to learn how to deal with it and no-one seems to be able to teach us or Phoebe how to do this.  We are just told to avoid these areas, but its just not realistic without locking ourselves in and never going out again.  There is a massive dog owner population here and dog walking is just huge everywhere you go.  There are 24 houses in close proximity to us and there are over 20 dogs and that is just one small area of our town.

Does anyone think a prong collar would suit our situation?  It is very frowned upon here to use one, none of the trainers would ever suggest that we try one and I would never ever want to hurt my dog but I'm beginning to think it may be the only way to try and control her.  Phoebe is 6.5 months old.  There seems to be alot of people on this site who swear by them as training tools.

I have two rescue older King Charles who basically ignore her, she is way too high energy for them.  Athough I notice she is learning to control herself alittle more, just now Carlisle my KC has just hopped off the chair and strolled past Phoebe (who is lying infront of the fire) and didn't even bat an eyelid at him.... now that is serious progress!  Usually if even 1 of the dogs move Phoebe thinks woohoo and will bound over and bounce all over them which will usually end up as Phoebe being put in her place very quickly and then us hauling her away because she is still ignoring the lesson. 

Rocket mom's picture
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I don't know much about the prong collar, but have you looked into some of the halters available? I don't remember the name but I recall there are some that place pressure in a manner that makes your dog stop pulling, don't know if they work or not. Rocky gets very excited still when I go to get his leash, he loves his walks, when I was training him to stay at my side I refused to go another step if he pulled at all and told him no, with me. I am petite and knew he would be able to win any physical battle when he was older. Sounds like Phoebe is pretty stubborn, maybe one of the halters would help. Don't know if it is possible where you are but if there is a trustworthy doggie day care where you could let her go play with other dogs, maybe she could have some of the doggie fun she seems to crave. It sounds like you have tried lots of avenues, hope you find something that will help.

goodie2su's picture
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thanks Rocket mom - I've used numerous halters with no joy at all, I've used the gentle leader nose band and she can even pull with that, she will just keep trying to point her nose down and push her energy into it and when I keep her nose tilted upwards or to the side she will lie down on the ground and try to get it off - nightmare!

I've done doggie daycare - which was the worst mistake ever as it just fuels her.  I actually got a phonecall from the daycare to come and take her home and not to bring her back  .... and these are dog trainers who couldn't get through to her!  I was like a bold child getting a telling off at school.  They said that Phoebe will not listen to anyone when she is in the heightened state and if I didn't do something about her behaviour immediately that she could get so frustrated on the lead that she will turn aggressive in time and could possibly turn on us while we are holding the lead. 

What else can I do?  Not even the experts can handle her

Happydance's picture
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Absolutely you can and should use a prong collar.  Please do the research on how to fit and use them properly.  If you let her pull with it, she'll get used to the steady pressure, especially if it's not in the correct position on her neck, which is right up behind the ears.

How are her manners around the house?  Is she allowed to do whatever she wants?  You could start implementing the Nothing in Life is Free method.  Again, research it.  She doesn't get to get on the furniture unless she's invited, she doesn't get to eat unless you say it's ok, etc.  Basically, she has to EARN everything.  It's an attitude readjustment for them and takes them down a knotch.

Do you play mind exercising games with her? 

She sure sounds like a challenge, but hang in there, she's depending on you.  Good luck!

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Thanks happydance yes we implement the NILF program all day every day with all of my dogs.  Phoebe is not allowed on the furniture at all now.  We did let her initially but she would just hurricane around the room, off the backs of the chairs, ontop of people, literally off their heads sometimes etc so its a big no no now.  We have a plastic bottle with stones in it and she doesn't like it very much, more of a startler, so if she makes a move to get on to the chairs then we give that a shake and she is off immediately.  She doesn't get invited up on the chairs at any time as she gets grand ideas about being there all of the time.  I've tried to work with the stone bottle outside but she won't react to it at all. 

She has to sit and wait for her cue to eat her food which she has done since day 1 with no issues.  She will sit, lie down etc immediately I ask and wait for her click and treat, she will also do this outside even around the dogs that she knows with no issue.  We also have a doggie pen in the living room (all open plan down stairs) and she is very happy to go into it when the King Charles need their own time and then visa versa.  She gets abit overly excited with the other dogs which we have to monitor very closely .... while still remembering she is only a puppy.  She has a treat ball that she has to figure out how to get the food out, we use kongs which she has fleeting interest in.   Basically she has to do something for us before she gets anything at all.  

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Our aussie use to pull very hard when he was young because he thought every other dog was to be played with etc... We used the prong collar with him during training. If we want to make sure he pulls no non-sense we will still use it.He is definately "collar smart" and knows when he has the prong collar on verses his flat collar. But over the years he has mellowed out and the prong collar did help. But we did work with him extensively for training.When I taught him "heel" he would actually rear up and try to nip at my hand holding the leash to which he got a sharp tug(correction) for doing. We had treats we tried and it wouldn`t hold his attention while doing the "heel" training. Do the research and try the prong collar. If used correctly it can`t hurt.

The other suggestion I have is , is there anything that holds your dogs attention for long periods of time? Maybe you could find where your dogs threshold is (distance wise) when encountering another dog while on leash and try to work on things that way where you work getting them closer and closer but making sure the dog has sucess. Sometimes a toy/treat only used when they are training and do well? not given at any other time... Not sure what else to give you to try, many have made good suggestions here so far. Even though our dogs are aussies we still imply the Nothing in Life is Free method and have since they were puppies.I however did not put up with his shenannigans when teaching him the "Heel" command no matter how much he didn`t like it.

Would a harness help? as you said that your dog does ok off leash ? Would a harness make your dog feel more like it is off leash while walking to overcome the leash reactiveness she has?? There are kong ones that have chest padding that may help with any insecurities your dog may feel? Just throwing out some options to consider. Don`t know if they will work or not.

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Hi mrszelly thanks for the suggestions, we have tried every harness/haltie/nose band/choke chain (which I was very reluctant to use) everything bar the prong collar.

Kim
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I never used a prong collar until I got Gabe - I put it on, and VOILA!  He doesn't pull at all. All I have to do is put it on him. He knows not to pull the minute it goes on.

Can't recommend it enough.

goodie2su's picture
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ooooo Kim, sounds good, would it stop her lunging at other dogs do you think?  I really don't know much about that collar.  Does it take long to get used to using one, I wouldn't like to be experimenting on Phoebe and then after a week of torture for the poor thing then realise how to use it properly.

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I would suggest researching about the prong collar before using it. It really needs to be put on a certain way. We too had very quick results with Bogie when he was young with one. If used properly they don`t hurt the dog.

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Let me add that the results we got with the prong collar were immediate. Once you understand how the collar goes on it is easy and simple typically with immediate results. It is designed to give a more natural correction like a momma dog would do. It is not a collar that I would suggest for every dog, some do benefit from it though.Again, do your research so you know before hand how to properly put it on and use it and make sure they are leagal to use in your area.

goodie2su's picture
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thats great thanks, I'm researching online all afternoon and have come across some brilliant info on them. 

Jim Rena's picture
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Ok...Im not an expert and my first dobie was a piece of cake 30 yrs ago.... wE got Alexis in FEb 2012 and oooooo my ...we have learnt a whole lot! For one thing - she has a changed Attitude from month to month and when she is in a growing spurt,... she is a demanding witch! BUT! What I have learned is that when you praise her you get a lot further than just telling or yelling at her for the bad things she has done. And if we leave her for several hrs in the day === we need to tell her what a good girl she is.... and then she tries to live up to it! When we are stern and say you better be a good dog --- she does Just the very opposite and tears the rugs up and pees on the floor!  Its like if you are constantly disciplining her = she is going to see what she can do worse .   My Point?  I think your pup needs more Good Phoebe (even if it is half ass good! LOL!) than any discipline.  You will be amazed at when she thinks she did good how much she tries even harder to be even better! Dobies are sooo unbelievably smart.... Its a good thing maybe that they dont talk! lol! Good Luck ! And what does it hurt to try this way for a day and maybe you might just get a surprise! Rena

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Hi and welcome to the forum.  I had an awful time with my 2 when they were learning to walk on a leash.  We went to obediance lessons and after a couple of weeks, the trainer sugguested the gentle leaders.  I did everything wrong with these 2 dogs.  When I would walk them both (before the lessons) when we would come upon another dog, Tony would just go crazy, Tory would just sit down.  gave me an idea.  I started carrying treats with me and anytime another dog walked by I would get their attention with treats and make them both sit.  I am sure more experienced people here would have some better ideas, but it worked for us.  We still use the gentle leaders, Tony is great, Tory will square her shoulders and pull, but with a couple of gentle corrections she does come right around.  Sorry this is so long,  just one mnore thought, remember, there is a reason we call them bitches. lol  Good luck and keep us posted.

Chris 

I would suggest the prong collar but I TOTALLY agree with what happydance said. If not used correctly your PUPPY will pull and do the same crap she is allowed to get away with now. The collar needs to be worn tight high up on her neck and when a correction is given it needs to be a strong one. You should not allow your puppy to pull into the collar or she will do exactly what she is doing now. She is testing you and the training is not consistent. This is why she does well in a class situation and can do all kinds of things but you bring her out in new surroundings that she hasn't been trained and proofed in and all hell breaks loose. Prong collars do not hurt the dog after a few good corrections which will help her to respect you and the tool you are using. Right now there is no respect for you or the trainers that have worked with her. I only hope that you can find a reputable person that knows the breed and can help you with day to day life situations to make your training successful and that the dog has not been ruined with the others that claimed they knew how to help.

I have a very strong willed dog and I'm around very HIGH DRIVE Schutzhund dogs with pedigrees that support tough attitudes and wills and never do we have the kind of problems you are describing. Somewhere along the way something has went wrong. Training has been inconsistent and you have allowed people to take and train her that maybe didn't really know what they had or how to help her. Not everyone that says they are good trainers are. There are more people that ruin Dobermans that claim they are dog trainers. Im not a fan  of sending puppies away for training with others. There are many all breed handler/trainers that just don't get it. You give them a puppy that you are complaining about with certain areas of training and they are looking at it like they need to fix this right now using methods that are not good for a puppy. They see it as a accident waiting to happen when in fact it is nothing but a puppy that needs to be worked with and trained with it's family in a consistent manner. It is harder to fix other peoples mistakes than to do it properly from the beginning. 

Where did you get Phoebe and what were her dam and sire like? What are her lines, are they working lines? have you talked with your breeder for suggestions? The breeder should know the lines behind her and be able to give support and training suggestions.

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Thanks to everyone for the helpful information.  We try our best to ignore a bad behaviour, get her to "look" or divert her into another behaviour and then praise the life out of her.  The high value treats on the walk we do bring, but she is just unreachable when she gets over hyped up and it happens very quickly.

The breeder is basically useless and it was only a money making scheme.  I foster for numerous rescue groups and apparently a conversation with someone in these groups with the breeder started this ball rolling.  I never went looking for her.  I was contacted by the breeder asking if I would be interersted in this puppy who was 10 weeks saying that she was the only 1 left and that she was in with a full litter of 8 week olds who were almost ready to be homed and that no-one would want her because she was the older one and would I be interested in coming to have a look at her.  When we got there the pup that I was supposed to see was already gone and Phoebe was a pup that had been returned.  She comes from world champion bloodlines, the sire is a Serbian and Croatian champion and I honestly can't remember what she said about the dam but the bloodlines were exempleary.  We have full papers for Phoebe.  We met the dam and sire, the sire was intimidating just in his size and an absolutely jaw dropping amazing looking dog.  The dam was in the house and was a beautiful stunning and very serene dog.  Apparently the dam had rejected the pups at 3 weeks and they were hand reared from there on so Phoebe obviously missed out on alot of the mothers lessons in proper acceptable behaviour.  When we got Phoebe home it was like world war had broken out, she was unstoppable, she would not take any heed when my 8 year old bitch would warn her off or correct her, when my 8 year old dog corrected her it was the same (and in all his years I've never up to that point heard him growl and snap) she would jump back up and go right back to what she was doing to begin with.  I called the breeder about 3 times that first week in tears at one point begging for some advice and help to which I was told leave the dogs at it and they will sort it out between them - at the end of that week I asked the breeder if she would take her back that Phoebe was just so highly strung and I was told, "no, she is your problem now"

At this point Phoebe is much better, she loves all people and dogs, she will sit and just lick and lick you, she is a stunning looking dog and people have often asked us if they can take her picture.  We entered into a show at 14 weeks old which she won.... believe it or not..... 1st in the obedience section and she was the youngest there and was in a group with all ages.  She will listen to myself and my daughter 99.9% of the time the only problem is when we take her on lead.  Everything else I can cope with.  You are absolutely right rnddobermans she did not take any of the trainers seriously at all and will listen to us but gets so distracted.  These trainers were top of the field here, there really is no-where else to turn to. 

As I've read back through your posts concerning your Puppy Phoebe it is very obvious what has happened to her that has caused your problems and it is how you handled it afterwards that has created what you have now unknowing of course.

She is really no different than most dobermans, nothing special or high drive out of the ordinary. She needs to be raised with consistency and constant training. The fact that she had the extremely negative situation while in a fear development stage is the basis for what you have going on. She was then given to other people who did not know how to help her through this and probably thought of her as a evil Doberman who if not corrected would be a negative part of society.

If she were mine I would back up and start from square one with her. NO dog parks, no walking her by fences where she will be met with barking dogs that she cant see, very bad idea with a puppy that has had such a very negative experience with other dogs.  No walking her by strange dogs that you do not know what there reaction will be. You had a VERY NEGATIVE experience with her when she was going through a fear stage that has set the tone for what you are experiencing. You need to back up. Start with having a very calm dog maybe even one of your own being walked on a leash by her outside in a neutral territory or your backyard depending on just how bad she is. As the friendly dog approaches you have her sit well before and pet her in a soothing manner telling her what a good dog she is giving her treats. Important that you don't treat and coddle her if she is acting negatively. The friendly dog is just walked by nothing else not allowed to stop and visit. You do this several times a day or a week and make her sit in a calm way while they walk past. This then can be slowly built upon until you are able to walk by other dogs in the street that she doesn't know. If she has no negative experiences you will then work up to other areas where you know that walking may be a dog on the other side of the fence acting up. By this time she should be well aware that sitting, treats, ignoring the other dog are how we react with other dogs in general. Do not allow her to behave this way, if you build upon it correctly you are not going to have the problem you are having.

My male is very reactive with other dogs and had a severe issue with a inline skater during a fear stage while being watched by a so called experienced trainer that I thought I trusted. I've been able to work through all of this with the same similar methods as I've described above. Your dog is no different and is not a special case that cant be trained through it. She should never be allowed to be hyped up, you know what sets her off and it is this that needs to be trained in a calm manner, and in a set up manner. You set her up for success with tools on how to succeed.  This was not her fault that the negative experience happened to her but THAT IS the ROOT of what you see going on now. It is how you handle it from here on out that will matter. I hope this makes sense I'm a much better trainer than writer. If you have any questions please ask, this is all very simple to train. Most importantly don't give up, it is all very easy.

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bloomin genius rnddobermans - I TOTALLY AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE SAID!  

You have made perfect sense thanks so much for taking the time to read all of this.  I am definitely going to work on this asap.  Please God, it will work!  If she has a negative reaction what should I do, ask the other person to move further away and start again?

Thanks also to everyone who has taken the time to post.

It WILL work as long as you take it slow! The problem will be if you move to fast. Your job is to prevent any negative experience until she has the tools to handle it better. If she is as bad as you make it sound I would start off in my own yard with someone else walking one of your other dogs that she knows. Again it should be a casual walk by you see them coming and you sit your puppy long before they are close and calmly talk to her giving her treats as they walk by. Progress ever so carefully from there, she should not progress any further until she can sit by you calmly without lunging to say hello to the your other dog. Your job is to keep her calm without coddling her. From the safety of your backyard you will progress to the street in front of your house with the same dog and SETTING her up for success. Do you see how slow this should progress? Most people move to fast. Let me know how you do and what happens I will help you from there. The problem is most people want to move to fast after seeing positive results...slow down for the sake of your dog or you will always be moving backwards.

My male after going through something similar will actually sit himself now if we are out walking and he spots a dog in the distance that he is apprehensive about. There IS hope and it is quite easy to train.

Something else to keep in the back of your mind... With my male that had the negative issue during his fear stage, I can take him to the busiest of places dogs, bikes, people and he is a perfect angel no problems whatsoever. He doesn't have issues until he is one on one with what he is afraid of. Does that make sense it is easier for dogs to go to dog shows, be in public busy places but when they are out on their own with the owner and they see something that causes fear of the unknown this is where they act out. So desensitizing plays an important role as well as setting them up for success on a one on one situation. In groups they feel a bit more safety when it is one on one they feel the need to defend themselves.

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rnddobermans, very good advice.

We have had to do this with our oldest aussie recently as he just yips and yips when he sees other dogs. We found his reactive distance and started working at that point to start working him through it. We even used the technique of turning around and walking the other way which didn`t work well. So we had to find  the distance away from other dogs where he was calm verses reacting with the yipping and started working from there. He is doing much better with it now but it has taken months of working on it. He is a great dog and friendly but his yipping was getting to my husband and I so I decided to correct it.

I will definately keep these ideas in the back of my mind because I never thought to suggest working in the back yard with dogs she already knows.  I love having tons of options and how much I have been learning even before starting my classes to become a dog trainer. As we all know each dog is unique so what works for one may not work for another so it is good to have LOTS of techniques and different ways in your arsenol that you can try. Consistency is definately a MUST though.

Great info, again, ty. ( I love learning.)

 

 

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I have no advice... just wanted to send you some good thoughts and karma.

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thanks so much for the advice, its brilliant.  We are working on it from NOW!  The trainer who had Phoebe for the last 3 weeks rang to check up on her since bringing her home.  I told her exactly how it was going - she said we moved way too fast with Phoebe expecting her to walk properly outside and we should be getting her walk to 100% before venturing any further.  As the the crap with the other dogs... she said don't let her do it .... if I was able to do then I wouldn't have bloomin had to send her down there grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

rnddobermans I am following your advice and you make perfect sense to me.  I am training on leash in the garden and my daughter will walk my very calm KC and see where we go from there.  Thanks again, I wish you lived near me xx

Buddys_Mama, that is so nice, thank you

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Goodie2su: I just saw this post and am very sorry that training has been difficult.  How is she doing around your foster KC's?  I know that my foster group was a little hesitant to have me foster with Harley around, but he barely acknowledges my foster baby.  In fact, I think my foster baby prefers Harley to Ellie!

I think finding a Prong collar in your area might be difficult.  I would check the laws to see if they are even allowed?  I seem to recall reading somewhere that they are outlawed in some countries.  I personally think that is ridiculous.  I have put one on my own neck and arm to see if they hurt and they do not.  But I would check.  If they are allowed, awesome!  Harley responds very well to it and you can use it as a training tool.  It is a good stepping stone to get them to focus.

Have you tried doing a training class that is fun so you guys can bond?  Maybe Nosework, Click-and-trick, Rally?  We have done Nosework and Agility and they really make training fun.  Even within those area we work on Obedience.  Harley has to learn to be calm around running dogs for Agility and it is a process we work on every week.  Sometimes we have to walk far away from the dogs doing their runs, so we can build up tolerance.

I think RNDoberman's advice is right on.  You can be successful with Phoebe.  Like I said before, Dobermans take time and energy, but they are worth it.  I am sending over good vibes from California!

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Goodie2su

Sorry, I've been MIA for a while and just now getting to all the theads and posts I've missed.. Hoping to hear a great report and so happy to see that you're so open to the suggestions and advise so lovingly given here.

Good luck with Phoebe. Your patience and care will be rewarded and just think.. next year this time, you can share your knowledge and help someone else who will definitely need it.

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Pet Profiles

Hi sorry to hear you have been having trouble. 

My dog Rolo has just turned a year old and we have had many difficulties. Something I have found works for us is him wearing a Dogmatic headcollar, a K9 Julius harness (for strong pullers) and a fleece lead. You link the lead to both a little like a horse but it gives you more contact with your dogs body and therefore more control. Rolo hasn't pulled me over once since we have been using this method and trots next to me most of the time. Having a fleece lined lead also stops the blisters of a leather lead and a strong puller! We have had a behaviourist come to the house and this has also helped our personal problems my attitude is if we rehomed him it wouldn't fix the problem for him only us and I would be heart broken. 

 

Good luck you will find what works for you and your family.