Advice on my dog's resistance. Is she trying to dominate me?

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Sniper's picture
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My pup is about 5 months old. We tried walking her from the day we got her (got her at 8 weeks old). She started out floppy, running and stopping or resisting the leash. Then as she grew she started to do much better and would walk at a steady pace and sometimes jog even. She would stop to sniff here and there, but would keep going when tugged on.

I walk her every day or every other day. She should be pretty used to my walks/jogs. Just this week she started something new. She is now tugging on the leash and then pulling back, sitting or laying down and refusing to contunue our walks. Also, When she stops to smell an area now she REFUSES wto break away from it and will NOT continue moving when I tug.
 
I don't know if she hates walking, if she's testing her dominance, if playing tug of war at home caused this issue or if she's scared to walk in unfamiliar territory?
 
She is VERY skiddish and cowers easily, especially when any dog enters the picture. I hope she is not traumatized by walking because she is afraid of other dogs.
 
Does anyone have an idea of what is wrong or how I can break this resistance and get her walking/jogging with me?
KevinK's picture
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What kind of socialization have you done, and what methods have you used to stop the pulling on leash?

Sniper's picture
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We have a miniature pinscher. So she has been with her the whole time, though my min pin is a little b****. We take her to my moms house (who has a boxer and a yorkie). I met with my friend who has a pit mix a few times. The pit mix attacked her (my friend said it was through playing but my dog was terrified). Other than that, I only try to let her smell other dogs as we walk. I stop at the fences or while someone else is walking and give afew minutes for her to smell.

DJ's Dad's picture
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I dont think 'dominance' is an issue here. 5 months old is right in the beginning stages of 'testing their limits'.  Your girl is seeing if she can train YOU.  LOL. 

Because she's shy, she might very easily be cautious about where she's going, if she's trying to avoid running into people or other dogs while you're out walking.

You might need to take it slow with her, start all over with her training, and make going for walks really fun for her and something she looks forward to doing with you.  Tempt her with treats while you're walking, or take one of her favorite toys along with you as incentive for her to keep up with you instead of stopping often.

Sniper's picture
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Thank you for the advice. I am sure a lot of it s my fault for assuming that all dogs love to be outside or all dogs love to walk. I especially assumed this of big dogs. I think I will be more sensitive to her while walking and stop trying to use a forceful approach to getting her to move along.

DJ's Dad's picture
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from Sniper:  I am sure a lot of it s my fault for assuming that all dogs love to be outside or all dogs love to walk. I especially assumed this of big dogs. I think I will be more sensitive to her while walking and stop trying to use a forceful approach to getting her to move along.

I wouldnt say you're 'at fault'---you're learning what your dog likes, dislikes, responds to and balks at.  She's learning that you are expecting her to do what you tell her to.  It's a fine line, sometimes, between being too forceful and being just forceful enough and also with being sensitive to your dog and being too lenient..you know?  Lots of times, it's trial and error to see what works and what doesnt with a particular dog....not ALL of them respond exactly the same way to the same type of training.

Just be firm with her, let her know that you expect her to walk with you, but also reward her with small treats or a toy every now and then when she does comply.  Positive reinforcement goes a LONG way with dobermans.

Sniper's picture
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DJ's dad, thank you! You make great sense. I do a lot of research and keep ignorantly applying all the research to her, when in fact Yes, all dogs are different. Just like children. What works for one doesn't mean it is the Golden Ticket. What you said really clicked and I am very relieved to hear there can be more than one way. A lot of these websites make me feel like I am doing everything wrong and all the training needs to be this exact way. But I like your technique or trial and error.

With Dobes being so aimed to please, I think most can adapt to their owner then, right? I mean I never hit her or anything, but I do try to stay firm and consistent. I do a lot of deep staring into her eyes when I mean business. I read never break eye contact first. Sure hope at least that is right. LOL... It has been a lot of work. I appreciate all of your advice. :)

HarleyBear's picture
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"I wouldnt say you're 'at fault'---you're learning what your dog likes, dislikes, responds to and balks at.  She's learning that you are expecting her to do what you tell her to.  It's a fine line, sometimes, between being too forceful and being just forceful enough and also with being sensitive to your dog and being too lenient..you know?  Lots of times, it's trial and error to see what works and what doesnt with a particular dog....not ALL of them respond exactly the same way to the same type of training."

Great response DJ's Dad!  You are so valued on this forum!  

Sniper's picture
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One more question- I do understand that all dogs are different. I read a few sites that call a lot of the training methods or beliefs about dogs myths and say that in reality dogs are NOT aimed to please,  they do not learn "guilty" behaviors, they are motivated mostly by food and survival.

This somewhat takes away from the emotion that I always felt my dogs have. Do you feel that Dobermans are owner pleasers? Also, do you feel that they work better with the positive reinforcement method and being treated as an equal (demanding fairness)?

There is so much conflicting research out there. I am afraid to mess anything up. I did notice when I keep saying "Good girl, good girl" she will keep jogging with me. This dog seems truly smart, but truly stubborn as well. Can a breed really possess a certain temperament, or is a dog just a dog (according to the website on Myths)?

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....or is a dog just a dog (according to the website on Myths)?

Well, I'm no expert, not a trainer and have never written a book about dog behavior, but if you want my honest opinion, that is just a bunch of bull. NO---a dog is not "just a dog". Watch your dog, you'll see emotions.  They love, they get sad, they get happy, they grieve the loss of people and even other pets that they love when they are gone.  "Just a DOG?"  I think not.

In answer to you question about does a doberman want to please its owner...that's a big fat YES.  Do they sometimes feel guilty? YES, I believe they do. My dog has the most guilty look on her face and her body language tells me that she knows when she's done wrong when I walk into the kitchen and catch her getting into the trash can. I dont have to speak a word...she just knows. On the other hand, she gets so happy and excited when I tell her she did something good, she just cant stand still.  She actually smiles when she is happy. 

Perhaps a wild dog is mostly driven by food and the need for survival, but domesticated dogs, pets, 'family' if you will, are much MUCH deeper than that.  They respond positively to positive reinforcement, whether it be food, praise, or ear scratches.  They also respond positively to our being happy. 

My suggestion would be to stop reading so many conflicting opinions about dog behavior and training.  Do what what works for YOU and for your dog.  Spend a lot of time just bonding with your pup, and learn all you can about her---not from websites that try to generalize everything into a specific catagory--but from watching her, talking to her, playing with her, and from reading what you see in her eyes, her face, her body. 

I am extremely passionate about dogs, and especially the Doberman breed.  (does it show?  LOL)

Sniper's picture
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Thanks again! You made me very happy to hear that I can follow my own lead and develop my own bond. Every dog I have ever owned was raised on a whim. They all turned out fine! My min pin and I have a great bond, though she's a bit of a bitch at times.

I read too many senseless articles because of all the people pressuring me to train the breed. A lot of people that know I bought a Doberman responded with ,"pshh good luck!" or "You better do obedience class asap!"

I have never used obedience class with any dog that I have owned. I always raise the dog to be my companion and teach her what I want to. I do not know why I felt the need to do any different with my new baby!

I agree with you 100% that dogs have emotions. They are our companions, best friends, pick me-ups! I love my dogs just like I love my children. I also see how loyal dogs can be, which makes me believe they do aim to please and they do have feelings.

I also noticed a lot of people stating how stubborn the Doberman is and that you must be firm with your discipline. Now I may be a shmuck, but I tend to baby my animals. Hoping not to become too annoying to you, do you feel with a large Doberman that this would be a mistake in the long run? I do yell when she's doing bad things (like jumping up to the counter to get food, etc). But when it's a good moment, I like to cuddle her and treat her like a little baby (yeah, maybe spoil a little bit).

Any advice on spoiling the dog? It is difficult not to. LOL! Again, I hope all of my questions are not getting annoying. I just have never had a Dobe and you seem very experienced with them. I appreciate your help :)

DJ's Dad's picture
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I really wasn't trying to discourage obedience training---I honestly feel that the owner and dog both benefit from that sort of training.  It doesnt have to be done in a formal class, though.  Obedience trainng doesnt necessarily have to be at 'competition levels'--but your dog should be trained to do the basics...sit, lie down, stay, come when called.  I always loved the class environment myself, and so does DJ,and we are currently in an Intermediate Obedience class.  She begins a basic agility class in a few weeks, which I am really looking forward to, also.

Dobermans do need to know their limits, though.  They are SO smart, they honestly can outsmart their way around things if you are too lenient with them.  So, work with her, in a fun way, and get those basic skills instilled in her. 

As for spoiling.....yep, I'm guilty of that as well.  My dog sleeps with us, goes for rides in the car just for fun, gets dog biscuits from the bank teller at the drive up window, and I have been known to buy her a Dairy Queen ice cream cone once or twice, also.

glengate's picture
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I think an obedience class does most people a world of good.  I've owned Dobemans for more than 30 years, I've put obedience titles on 10ish Dobermans, and I still attend classes with one or two or three of my dogs at least twice yearly.  It's important for them to learn to mind you when there are distractions, you learn better timing as you've got someone giving their input to you, and you just learn to be a better trainer, imo.  *I* don't really need classes at this point, but I think they are hugely beneficial to my dogs. 

As to your original question, I think it's highly unlikely that a dog you describe as skittish is trying to dominate you.  This "dominance" term gets tossed around far too much.  If people don't know how to handle a problem, they just decide the dog is trying to be "dominant".  Most dogs are not dominant dogs, most dogs don't want to be dominant dogs, and will never be dominant dogs.  People worry about this way too much. 

You say something about her jogging beside you.  She's way too young for enforced exercise like jogging on a leash.  If you're trying to turn her into a jogging partner, she won't be physically ready for that until her growth plates close around 18 months.  Maybe she has a physical problem and she's trying to tell you she's in pain? 

Some of it does sound like training issues.  For instance, you say you stop to let her smell at fences but now you're upset that she wants to stay and smell things.  It sounds like she needs to learn the "leave it" command or the "nevermind" command.  It sounds like you taught her one thing, stop and smell, and now you wonder why she wants to do that.  It sounds very conflicting to me. 

KevinK's picture
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 One more question- I do understand that all dogs are different. I read a few sites that call a lot of the training methods or beliefs about dogs myths and say that in reality dogs are NOT aimed to please,  they do not learn "guilty" behaviors, they are motivated mostly by food and survival.

This somewhat takes away from the emotion that I always felt my dogs have. Do you feel that Dobermans are owner pleasers? Also, do you feel that they work better with the positive reinforcement method and being treated as an equal (demanding fairness)?

There is so much conflicting research out there. I am afraid to mess anything up. I did notice when I keep saying "Good girl, good girl" she will keep jogging with me. This dog seems truly smart, but truly stubborn as well. Can a breed really possess a certain temperament, or is a dog just a dog (according to the website on Myths)?

 

This dog is WAY too young to be jogging, like Glengate said above.  

Dogs do have, and express emotions.  What we, as humans have to do, is not humanize these emotions and try to compare them to our own.  As far as guilty, I see alot of people regularly saying "He knew what he did was wrong, I could tell by his reaction" but it doesn't work like that.  The dog is reacting to YOUR reaction...  Dog chews a hole in the wall, you get upset, dog gets scared because you are upset at him.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Sniper's picture
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I am so glad you pointed out she cannot jog yet. Oh boy I feel terrible thinking she could keep up with me :(

I agree this breed is very intelligent. It took her only a day to get down sit, paw and lay down. She does it immediately now when she walks in from going potty (already waiting for her treat).

DJ's dad... oh Dairy Queen and the dog sound like a fun little date. That is by far the cutest thing I heard all day. Hope my dog turns out as cool as yours seems :)

Thanks everyone. Glad to learn all these things.

DJ's Dad's picture
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BTW----what's your dobergirl's name?

Sniper's picture
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It is Sniper. I never knew naming could be so hard!