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Joined: 2012-10-12

Pet Profiles

Fellow Doberman lovers,

   I have an 8.5 yr old (Dana) and a 6 month old (Ava). Dana has been my medical alert dog since she was a young puppy. Ava is being trained so Dana can retire. Ava is the 18th Doberman I have trained since I was 15 y/o in 1980. 14 companions and 4 service dogs. Dana was my 1st service dog, my 2nd (Jodi) turned protective, and 3rd (Duncan) I decided was not physically fit to keep up with me after growing up in a black mold infested apartment. So, I am not unfamiliar to training Dobermans in both companion and working capacities.

   I brought Ava home when she was 20 weeks old but she had been my dog since she was 10 weeks old. She was being kept out in the suburbs here because I wanted her to learn about stuff like ppl walking around, cars, bikes, skateboards, trucks, and all those things that move and make noise in a setting where she would be acclamated to them gradually (compared to where we are here 2 miles SW of downtown Chicago). That way when she did get down here, she would already know what all those things were, and what they did, and wouldn't be so overwhelmed by the extremity of the way they are in a busy urban area. She would be encountering the same things she already knew about but on a larger scale. I also was doing renovations in our house, and I didn't want her around all the mess, and I also thought that power tools were a bit much for a very young puppy in a new home.

   The woman I got her from was supposed to be leash training her, and I was going up to her store on Saturdays when she was there with all her puppies and cue training her. That store was in the city up near O'hare airport in an area just as busy as where we live. I chose for her to leash train so Ava would get out in the suburban streets of her neighborhood more. In mid Oct, she told me that she had Ava running around the house with a leash hooked to her collar. When she was delivered Nov 2nd, and I took her for her first walk, which we took on the sidestreets like the one we live on and in the alley behind our house, she was terrified of everything that moved and/or made noise. That's when I thought about what she mentioned about Ava dragging the leash around just a few weeks prior to that, and realized based on Ava's behavior that her very first actual walk was taking place right then and there, and that Ava had never been taken out anywhere. The exact thing I wanted to avoid when she was 10 weeks old she was now encountering at 20 weeks after going out only in a suburban backyard up until then. She was also not leash trained, and now on the leash would be fine if the fear she exhibited wasn't causing her to make erratic movements. I did get her leash trained myself if she'd only quit flipping out about stuff. She is moving forward SLOWLY, but definitely in a forward direction. I do see a very wonderful service dog buried under all this fear. Since she wouldn't let me leave her home alone, I have been forced to take her everywhere with me. This woman did crate train her, so she doesn't know what to do alone in an entire house or even just a room, so, she barks her head off, and I didn't want that to add to her stress, so, she is now in OTJ training. She does wonderfully in public places like buses, L trains, my doctor's office, etc. She lies calmly and quietly, usually with her paws crossed, and her head resting on my foot. She is the picture of professionalism as a service dog. She presents herself better than some fully trained assistance dogs who are professionally trained in programs do. She just has to get by this fear, and she'll be perfect.

   I do know that this is the 2nd fear phase she goes through as a pup, but this is more than the phase fear a dog would experience. This would even be more for the first fear phase, and is so obviously brought on because of not being socialized with society. She is socialized with dogs, and is learning to ignore them unless in a dog park, but there's no way she was ever taken out, and like encountered pedestrians, or any of the other things that a dog with an active handler encounters. Her socialization ended with dogs (and this woman's family) until I got her. This woman even made a point of having her socialized with children, and all I need Ava to know about children is to stay the hell away from them. She had her grandkids playing with Ava until I told her to stop, and start training her not to solicit attention from children at all. Like I really need a Doberman assistance dog who sees a child and wants to play.

   So, other than getting her to face her world and her fears, and get acclimated to it by practice, does anyone have any other suggestions? She did overcome her fear of bikes because I use a BMX bike to walk with, as I have a walking disability, and I really needed her to acclimate to that ASAP, and she is. Like I said, she is slowly progressing, and I also know that the best thing is to be patient and give her time. If she were going nowhere or on a backwards slide, then I would be very worried. I was just wondering if anyone else may be able to toss some advice at us. I've never dealt with this in a Doberman as severe as it is. She has her mind on everything except where her and I are going.

   Thank you,

Shaun Adams, Dana the Doberman service dog CGC, and Ava the Doberman SDIT

Happydance's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-14

Pet Profiles

I would suggest taking her to classes.  You could talk to the trainer ahead of time about your disabilities and what you hope to accomplish with Ava, so it's clear to start with.  Get her Canine Good Citizen award to start with and go from there.  Classes are a great way to build their confidence with the addition of a trainer to point out any mistakes you may be making right as you make them.

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

Wanted to say HI and welcome and that I'm so sorry that this woman did a dis-service to your dog and you by not doing what you asked. I think you are going to be fine and with some great advice here you and her will be well on your way to getting past this phase in her life and having that great service dog. Ben says HI to you both and post her pics for him to see, he loves to see the new girls hahahaha