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Erinsmum's picture
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Hi we havr a gorgeous ten month old bitch called Erin, she is fantastic in the home has never chewed anything was house trained super quick is very loving towards us and our 8 year old Daughter and wants nothing more than to be with us constantly we couldnt ask for a nicer dog in the house!

HOWEVER when we leave the house Erin turns into a Demon! Its so stressful going for a walk as when she is on the lead she will lunge at anyone  (man woman or child (which really worries me) or any Dog who is a stranger to her.When she is off the lead she is fine she happily trots alongside us! Its a real problem when I take her out on her lead and she meets another Dog as she kind of goes into a frenzy and will lash out at me and nip me when I pull her back she does not do this when my Husband is walking her just with me.

Can anyone give any advice as if we would love to be able to walk her without having to scan the area for other people and Dogs! Its my dream to be able to walk her in a crowded area! Thanks

KevinK's picture
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Welcome!  This may take some patience and dedication to break the habit, but it's certainly not hard.  This will be much easier if your dog knows the heel command.  Basically, you want to teach the dog that there's no benefit to pulling, and it won't accomplish anything.  You can even try practicing in the yard for a while.  Anytime your dog pulls, or goes or does something it shouldn't while you're walking, turn around, and go the other way.  When she's walking in the heel position, give her praise, tell her good girl, give a treat, whatever motivates her the most.  When she goes off somewhere else, tell her no, and go the other way.  It's that simple.  But you have to be consistent.  A mistake I see people do daily is to let the dog go where it wants to, essentially the dog is walking the person.  The dog goes wherever it wants, sniffs everything, pulls around, and when that happens, in the dogs mind it can go wherever it pleases.  Of course, that's not the case, YOU determine where you're going, not the dog.  She doesn't stop to sniff unless you let her, and she should be in the heel position.  Like I said will probably take some time, depending on how long this has been going on, but it is a simple behavior to fix, as long as your consistent.

In the beginning, I would try constantly talking to your dog, which is probably going to make you feel like an idiot lol.  But by talking to the dog, it will be easier to keep her attention on you, not on all the other fun stuff happening.  Dakota loved to pull around on the leash, and we did circles going back and forth in front of the house, we wouldn't leave until she calmed down and got in position.  Once you leave the yard, there's a whole new world of fun, exciting, and really cool stuff for a pup.  By keeping her attentino on you, she will learn to ignore all the other stuff, but you have to make it worth it.  If you're lame and boring, why should she give up all that fun stuff?  But on the other hand, if being next to you is super fun and exciting, who cares about that stupid patch of grass over there!

One more thing is that remember your dog can sense what you're feeling...  So if you see someone, and get nervous, anxious, excited, whatever, your dog will feed off of what you're feeling.  So stay calm.  Maybe you can practice with some friends that know the dog before just walking through a busy park?

Also, are you sure she's being overprotective?  Dobermans are vocal, and can growl, grunt, bark, and not mean it in a bad way.  Dakota loves everyone, and if we don't let her get to someone, she gets a lil cranky... But she just wants to play.  One of the things we worked on right away was teaching her to sit if she wants attention.  Has been pretty helpful.  Instead of running full speed and jumping on someone, or barking, or whatever, she runs up and sits at their feet.  We've had her about 5 weeks, and we can now get her not to run after someone on the street fairly easily... My neighbors daughter comes out, and it's all bets off though, dakota loves here and there's no stopping her lol.

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Hi Erinsmum,

Learning the heel position would be great - but you've got two problems to solve first. I'm making some assumptions here, because I've seen this problem numerous times.

One, as Kevin mentioned, you are most likely validating or even causing much of this aggression with your body language. You see a dog or person coming down the walk - so you tense up and tighten the lead... This signals to Erin that there's trouble ahead and she better be ready.

What you want to do is convey a calm confident attitude. Right now Erin feels your confusion, frustration, and fear - so she thinks she needs to take charge.

And that leads into the second problem: You need to take charge of your team. The fact that Erin bites at you when you try to get in her way is a natural dominant behavior. She's telling you to - "get back - I'm trying to handle this!" It's for your own good - she thinks...

So you have to start behaving like the dominant one here, and not just on walks but day to day. And this includes not allowing her to pull on the lead (another dominant behavior - she's leading you) and you must correct any behavior you deem inappropriate. And when the inappropriate behavior is aggressive, the best way to correct it is with a touch along with your verbal correction - and before she fixates/attacks.

As soon as she points her head in an aggressive manner - issue the "leave it" or "tsssst" (whatever you verbal command is) and touch. The touch (which can be a snap of the lead or, poke with the fingers, or tap with you foot) is necessary to snap her out of the frame of mind she enters.

Lady Kate's picture
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Another thing that helped me with Sofia is something I watched Cesar Milan do.. He would get in front of the dog and distract her, blocking the view with his body, almost herding it away from the intended 'prey.

Sofia HATES bicycles.. don't know if it's baggage from her past or if she's just taken a dislike for them.

When I see one coming down the street, I immediatley get infront of her and block her.. telling her "leave it" Then give her a treat almost at the same time she sees and goes into prey mode.. it worked..

We have a new problem emerging since Mike went back to work after the summer break.. One that I'm going to work on here before I post.. She has turned into a Houdini and will find escape routes in the ( what we thought) a secure area.. more on that later.. as it could really be dangerous..

Consistancy with your Erin is the key.. Good luck and have fun.. they don't stay puppies for very long

KevinK's picture
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Another thing to teach is that heel means 2 things... while walking, it means walk at your heel, and when YOU stop, heel means the pup sits.  If a car passes, or a runner or something like that, I'll have her sit and wait until they pass.  On our walk earlier (after my first post) we had a jogger, I told dakota to heel, and she did, and she stayed most of the time, making 1 weak attempt at running over, to which she received an immedate correction.  Not bad so far, considering a few weeks ago she was uncontrollable and would pull to the point of gasping for air if someone was around. 

Erinsmum's picture
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Thanks so much for your advice, I so want Erin to behave like she does behind closed doors when we are out in public! She is def is not being friendly and wanting to say hello when she lunges at people as the hairs go up on her back, she is barking aggresiveley and she tenses up. I feel so embarrassed as I feel that people are saying 'look at that woman with a dangerous dog that she cant control!'. I also worry that the bigger she gets physically she will be harder to pull back in those situations.

Am thinking of getting a muzzle as that way if she does lunge at someone she wont be able to bite them but am worried that it will create negative reactions towards her as it will make her look vicious?

We know that she sees my Husband (her Daddy!) as the Alpha Dog and I need to be more dominant over her but not really sure how to go about that now she is older. I also worry that I may have caused some of the problem by treating her like a Baby and spoiling her!

We are grateful for any advice you can offer.

Thanks

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Erinsmum - give this thread a read. It has lot of good information about taking the leadership role:

Problems With Ginger

KevinK's picture
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here's some things you can do to re-establish your position, and you need to do them consistently.  Dogs don't really understand "sometimes" too well, so you have to set the rules, and follow them always.

Don't let her on the bed.

Don't let her pull on walks.  I gave advice for that above.

When you take her outside, make her sit before the door opens, and don't let her go out until you make the first move.  After a few practice runs, try to open the dooor, but don't go out, when she "gets it", she won't make a move.  If she runs out the door as soon as it's opened, get her back, make her sit, and don't let her go till you do first.

don't let her sit in doorways inside.  If she does, never, ever, walk around or over her.  Stand there and stare at her until she moves.  May take some time, but she will move out of the way, and you'll see a total attitude change.  Her ears will go back, tail down, and she'll move.  That's just her being submissive. you should do that all over, not just in doorways.  make her move, you don't move around her.

when she is doing something bad, never, ever try to calm her down by telling her good girl, petting her, etc.  a simple no, and re-direct her to something else.  will be hard, and take practice, but will get easier.  what most people consider "calming down" their dog with positive attention is really just re-inforcing that what she's doing is good...

if your dog is looking you in the eye, you CANNNOT be the one to look away.  if you look away, the dog takes that as a sign of submissiveness on your part.  SHE looks away, not you.  It may seem silly to have a "staring contest" with the dog, but under no condition is it ok for you to break your stare, until she does first.

Your dog is acting aggressively most likely as a display of dominance, like alpha mentioned.  A stranger comes around, and the leader of the group needs to make a decision, is this person good, or bad?  In general, a stranger walking by, or running, or whatever, may be considered a threat.  Again, like mentioned, when you tense up, get nervous, or whatever it is you do, your pup feeds off of that and now it's not just someone walking by, it's something to be nervous about.  When a dog gets nervous, and feels threatened, that's how it reacts... growls, lunges, etc.  Once you learn to calm down, and not be so nervous, the dog will likely no longer consider someone walking by to be a threat. 

these are just some general ideas, if you have any specific behaviors you want to work on, let us know, and we can give more detailed advice.

rgreen4's picture
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Erinsmom - I have had many a staring contest with Red, usually when he had done something he is not supposed to do and I have corrected him. He will sit and stare at me and just stare back. I have yet to lose a contest because I have long known the consequences. After all, I certainly did not want to lose control of something that weighed 147 pounds and had four paw drive. (He is now down to 105 since we discovered he had throid problems and is now on medication).

You have to make the decision to be dominant and controlling, something that may not come naturally to you, but you have to work on it. Strangely enough, Erin will actually be happier.

Erinsmum's picture
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Thanks again for all your comments I take on board all the advice!

Kevin ,I really like the sound of the Heel technique and getting her to sit when something grabs her attention! Could you give some advice on how to teach Erin this?

Thanks

KevinK's picture
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it's easiest to do on a leash, so you have  control over what's happening.  When you're walking, she should be walking at your pace, and slightly behind you.  That's where the "heel" comes in (your actual heel on your foot).  She can be on the right or left, doesn't make a difference, but be consistent with what side you use.  Anytime she's not walking in the heel position, give whatever correction you use, and when she IS walking in the heel position, you praise her, and use whatever rewards works best for her.  Constantly talking, and tons of praise will help keep the attention on you, but you'll probably feel like an idiot talking to your dog with people around lol.   I kept telling dakota "good heel" and I also use "yes", but you can use whatever wording you want.  When she's in the right place, you make it a very positive experience, when she's not, give a little correction.  You can tell her "No" when she starts to run away, give a correction, and show her the propper place to walk.  THen lots of praise.  If you use the same word, and always give a correction (slightly after) after a while your dog will understand that when you say no, a correction will be given, and she will come to learn that a simple "no" is enough, and get back into place.  With some dedication, she will learn that there's no benefit to running around all over the place because she's just going to get a correction, but when she walks in the propper position, fun things happen.  (treats, praise, whatever you use)

Once you have that down, (don't expect it overnight) you can start practicing heel off leash in small increments as she gets better and better. 

When you stop, have her sit, next to you, and as she sits, tell her heel, and then tons of praise.  If your dog knows it's name, always say the name before any commands.  If she doesn't know or respond well to her name, let us know, that's a whole other thing to work on.  But by calling her name, you should have her attention, then you give the command.  Teaching her to sit when you stop is about as easy as teaching sit, shouldn't take much other than patience and dedication.  To get her to learn the position, what I did with Dakota was I would turn my back to her, so the first place she came was to my side.  I'll take a quick vid so you can see exactly what it should look like. 

KevinK's picture
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here's a quick clip... she was napping so pretty slow lol but you get the idea

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShtbqM9cIU4

Erinsmum's picture
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Thanks for that advice Kevin and Dakota is so cute! Have given Erin a little training session following your advice with some chicken for a bribe! Will keep at it!

KevinK's picture
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keep the sessions short, few minutes at a time max.  You can spread them out throughout the day.  And remember to never repeat commands.