Shy unsocialized doberman

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kaykee4's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-20

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Hello everyone,  I am a new doberman owner of a 2 year old dog.  He has a sweet dog that was rehomed as he started digging at his previous home & the owner felt he was not giving him enough attention.  He was a outside dog with his previous owner who got him at 7 months old.  Prior to that he was with the breeder.  When we first met him, he didn't bark and came up to us.  He had no apparent shyness or fear.  Since he has come to our home, he has shown fear (barking & growling) at strangers.

Since I did not know if he had any housetraining/manners, his first night was spent outside in a covered patio.  My kids and I spent a great deal of time that night trying to reassure him as he was shaking and whining.  It took us an hour to get him from the point his owner left him into the back yard.  Every time we tried to walk him toward the back gate, he would panic & struggle on the leash.  He would put him in a sit position & waited until he calmed down.

The next morning I put him on a leash, walked him within the yard.  He was too fearfully to walk the yard by him self, he felt safer on a leash.  Once he did his business, I took him into the house.  He did wonderfully.  He didn't try to jump onto the furniture, he does not jump up on people, he sat at our feet & put his head down on our lap.  He did great in the house and followed the bounderies that we set.  It took a few days before he would willing run around the yard to play fetch. We did simple training the first few days, sit, down, stay, come, find it, fetch, drop it.  He knows a lot of commands and listens wonderfully.  He is not toy or food aggressive, accepted the 2 existing dogs (1 female & 1 male), polite while playing with kids(will not chase, nip or bark).

My in-laws live with us.  At first he would just look at them and did nothing.  They are not dog people so that have not tried to socialize with him (play or train).  They will occasionally toss him treats.  Around the 4th day with us he started to bark at them.  At the time, I pulled on the leash & scolded him.  I also stood in front of him & scolded him.  It did not get better but worse.

I searched the forums as well as read several books on dog signals, aggression and realized I had handled it incorrectly.  Now I will tell him "enough", put him in sit/stay.  I will also try to redirect his stare by asking him to watch me (still working on this).  I previously patted him & told him it was okay.  Now if he sees them & doesn't do bark or growl, I would pat & praise him.

Last night we had guest over.  We had him on a leash and he barked at first then settled down.  When we went to eat, I put him in his crate.  He did fine, barked a little if some spoke to loudly or approached his crate.  His crate is in the family room so he had view of the gathering.  I also sat in a chair within 4 feet of the crate.  I would tell him enough if he barked longer than a few barks.  Basically "Kaiju quiet".  Toward, the end of the evening, I took him out of the crate again & had him sit. Again a few grumbling barks, growls but nothing uncontrolled. 

I played & trained with him for about an hour then I put him in his crate for bed.  My son (17 yrs old) had come by to tell him goodnight & he growled & barked at him aggressively.  During the day my son had taken him for a walk & played with him with the family for 2-3 hours.  We walked, trained or just sat with him.

Why did he act this way?  What are we doing wrong?

We know he needs socialization so we have started taking him on daily walks within the neighborhood.  We took him on his first walk in the neighborhold after he was with us of a week, he barked at anyone he saw.  Yesterday, he barked, my daughter (21 yrs old) told him to leave it and he stopped barking & continued walking. He has been with us for 11 days now. 

We had planned on taking him to obedience class and doing obedience trials.  He has not been to see a vet since he was 7 months old.  I have an appointment scheduled but I am now fearful of taking him to the vet.  He also has not been in a car since he was 7 month old.

We love him & are willing to help him.  However, my husband is fearly that we will not be able to control him & he will hurt someone.  I want to say that he wouldn't bit anyone.  He has never snapped or nipped at anyone.

I want to say that he does have a more submissive personality.  I have a 3 year old Pom that will growl & snap at him & he will run away.  He has not been neutered.  But he does not hump anything or mark within the yard or oh his walks.

Any help or suggestions will be appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tannaidhe's picture
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Joined: 2013-02-25

Absolutely get him into an obedience class, but talk to the trainer beforehand so they know the situation with him.  They may want to do some one-on-one work before a full class or something of the sort.  If they would be willing to come to your house for an evaluation/advice beforehand that would be even better.  You definitely need to get someone familiar with dogs to help you in person, though.  The difference between reading advice, even advice tailored to your situation, and having a good trainer on hand in person is staggering.

I wouldn't worry about taking him to the vet, they are professionals, but again, make sure they understand the situation beforehand so they are prepared with how to handle him.

If you have the time and patience, and arm yourself with the appropriate knowledge, I have no doubt you can get him past his poor manners.  But it will probably take a lot of work.  Be prepared for that, and to be consistent.

kaykee4's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-20

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Thank you for the reply.  I do have an appointment with a trainer in 2 weeks to have him evaluated.  I don't think he is a aggressive dog just really scared.  I wanted some advise for the next 2 weeks.  If we are doing something to provoke this behavior, I wanted to correct it.  If his behavior has changed after only a week, I would hate to see him in 2 weeks.

I have had dogs most of my life & have been the trainer / leader in the pack.  I never owned a pure doberman but I did have a 1/2 doberman & 1/2 lab which I had no problems with her.  I've taken previous dogs to obedience class as well.  I had planned to take him into obedience trials as a fun way to get exercise as well as training.

I am committed to him and will do what it takes to help him.  But also knowing that id our home is not be the best situation for him I am willing to find him a place that he is comfortable in.  I don't want him overly stressed and unhappy my sake / ego.

 

Oz Dobe's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-25

Hi kaykee4,

I know this is a bit late to post, but I'm a new comer to the forum and I felt there was something I could add to this thread.

I suspect your dog is lacking confidence in himself due to not knowing his place in the pack. Your in laws not being dog ppl probably magnifies the issue.

My limited experience of the Doberman is that they thrive on your trust in them. If you harbour doubts about them, they lose confidence in themselves and this is displayed in some of the ways you mention.

Its early days for him yet, and he is still learning his place in the pack. Once he's shown the ropes and he knows whats expected of him I'm sure he'll come good.

My latest dobe was socialy delayed due to illness preventing her being vaccinated, and I've been through a little of this.

I would start with really basic easy stuff for him to deal with and really build his confidence. Just boost his confidence, almost to the point of boredom. Get him do the perfect sit, the perfect stay, the perfect down, all the basic stuff you know he can do, before going into the really complex taxing stuff.

Try and keep everything as it will always be ie if your in laws arent really going to get involved in the future, just make them part of the furniture. If they make a big effort to love it up now, then they drop him some time in the future, it could do more harm than good. By all means, have some connection there, but dont make it more than it will ever be. Conversely, if others intend to train/ work with him in the future, go all out and really build that bond.

I found obedience classes for my dog just too demanding on her, and we've just used training at home, the dog park and long walks, building up distractions very slowly. The more confidence I have in her doing all this stuff the stronger she has gotten.

I know you guys are going to do ok though, when I read your post stating you'd be willing to give him up to help him. That selfless attitude will always win over any dobe.

 

 

 

kaykee4's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-20

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Thank you for your kind words and support.  He has settled in the last few days and seemed less stressed.   For me I didn't want him to be unhappy or stressed.  We also had a dog trainer assess him today.  His thoughts  were that Kaiju was stressed with the new family / home as well as unsocialized.  We will be working with him weekky to socialize him and build up his confidence.   He also saw that he was being protective of the family.  Because we were worried about his reactions it increased his stress. For me I was concerned that in his fear he would bit or hurt someone,   However during the session he barked and growled but he never snapped or nipped at him.

I now have more confidence in him.  I am sure we will work out our issues.  The 2 weeks that he has been a part of our family has been wonderful.  He is such a loving dog.  I have always wanted a Doberman and he exceeds my expectations. 

Tannaidhe's picture
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Joined: 2013-02-25

Good luck and keep us updated!  It sounds indeed like it's just a combination of new-home-stress and lack of socialization; I am sure that working with your trainer will, with time and patience, bring out an amazingly wonderful companion!