Intelligent Doberman

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mooose5's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-28

Hi, everyone, I have always admired Dobes and now we have one of our very own.  She is 4 months and not like any other puppy I have ever had.  Unfortunately, that's not really a good thing...

Some days I feel like we must have the dumbest dog on the planet!  I know she is just a puppy, but she is really driving me crazy.  She potties on the floor every 20 minutes.  Even if she was just outside, she will come in and go on the floor.  I have her penned in the kitchen (and we have a crate), b/c she was just not ready for the whole house yet.  She chews on everything (I know, normal for a puppy), not content with all of her toys she now raids the recycle bin, trash can, and climbs up on the counter to get any of my papers (my son's school art, bills, mail, anything), cardboard, etc.  She pulls my kitchen towels off the oven handle or even off the counter.  I have tried the no-chew spray on the furniture but it hasn't stopped her.

She steals food off the table (not while we are eating but if you turn your back for one second), counter surfs, jumps on my boys and bites them, grabs items from my hand for tug of war (tore a big hole in a bath towel today).

Oh, and the barking!  When we take her outside she immediately starts barking at the neighbors' deck, even if they are not out there.  She barks like crazy at any little sound, or even staring intently at NOTHING.  I look over, expecting a bird or at least a leaf, but no - nothing there.  I tell her to SHH! or I try calling her, I have even touched her side to get her to "snap out of it", but she keeps on barking.

She barks at our cat any time she sees it, and if the cat comes near (or the dog gets out of the kitchen), the dog prances around, barking, trying to get the cat to play when the cat is growling, hissing, snorting, and clawing.  The cat gave the dog a good scratch one day, but the dog keeps trying to play with her.

I bought a clicker and have been trying to work with her, but she just doesn't seem to "get it" for most of the things I've tried.  She has learned "sit" and will usually do it, maybe 75% of the time.  I was trying to teach "down" but she will just give up and walk away.

I tell her "NO!" when she bites, etc, "off" anytime she gets on the counter/table (and push her off if she doesn't get down on her own), but she just doesn't seem to care what I say or do.

I am hoping she'll grow out of most of this, but in the meantime I feel like I'm losing it.  Help!

Dennis Miller's picture
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Joined: 2011-11-12

1. She need to be in class.

2. You need to exercise her a lot more.

3. Keep papers, food, towels, etc. out of her reach like you would if she was a human baby.

4. If she's barking outside, you can bet she sees or hears something you can't plus it may be new         to her.

5. Exercise, play, exercise, play, exercise, play and throw a couple lessons in there too.

6. Train the kids and yourself not to say, "NO," constantly. No one wants to hear that and it loses       its meaning.

7. Patience and good luck.  You will end up with an incredible companion! 

DJ's Dad's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-04

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Totally agree with getting into a class.  Not only will your puppy learn things, YOU will learn things also. 

You say 'She potties on the floor every 20 minutes.  Even if she was just outside, she will come in and go on the floor.' You need to take her out more often...every 20 minutes if necessary...on leash, and dont let her play around, just go outside for potty breaks. Anticipate when she is about to go (watch her closely, she might sniff the floor or start walking in a circle right before she squats to pee) Stay till she does it.  Come back inside, then go out for playtime.  Just keep repeating to her 'potty' or 'pee pee' or 'hurry up' or whatever your word is for wanting her to go, and when she does, PRAISE AND TREAT immediately.  My dog will pretty much pee on command now because this is how she learned.

Chewing is a natural puppy instinct.  Just be ready to re-direct her chewing from things she isnt supposed to chew on to a toy or something that is appropriate to chew on.  Takes a lot of patience, but it's do able.

About the barking....thankfully I havent had much of a problem with that at all with DJ. She's pretty quiet most of the time, unless there is something she really wants my attention for.  One thing, you say you have even touched her side to get her to snap out of it when she's barking....she's going to interpret your touching her as an approval that what she's doing is a good thing.  I had a habit of yelling 'shut up' at my little dogs (terriers) because they start barking and wont stop.....had a trainer tell me once that by me yelling at them, the dogs saw that as me barking right along with them.  They dont understand what I'm saying, they just hear me making a loud noise while they are making a loud noise, so they naturally thought we were all barking together, and it was OK.  Sometimes you got to look at things from a dog's point of view instead of a human's point of view....and it's often totally different.

Clicker training is a great learning tool, but it requires almost precise timing to click to let the dog know it;s doing what is being asked.  Treats and clickers go hand in hand.  When beginning clicker training, never click unless you are prepared to immediately treat.

She's still young. Down is sometimes a tough one to get through to them.  Once it happens and she knows that's the response you are looking for, let her know she just did the greatest thing in the world.  Keep your training sessions short---5 to 10 minutes at the most--- and interesting to her.  Lots of treats, praise, lovin'. Stop on a good note, not when you or she are frustrated. 


Keep working with her.  Training classes would be the first thing I'd look into---either group classes with other owners/pups or private training.  I've gone to both.  Been to Petsmart classes, and many many other specialized training classes over the past several years, and it never fails to teach me something I didnt know or at least shed some different light on things that I benefited from.  And the dog is always going to benefit from any kind of training.  Training is always a good thing.

mooose5's picture
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Joined: 2013-10-28

Thanks for the responses.

Today I took her out and she went potty.  A bit later (maybe 30 min?), she walked near the back door so I jumped on it and took her outside.  She just sat there so we went back in.  A bit later I took her out again, she did not want to go out but finally I got her out there and she pottied.  Came back in, and TEN MINUTES LATER there's a puddle on the floor.  I get it cleaned up, my son calls for help so I step out of the room, come back and (elapsed time about 12 minutes) there's another puddle.  I just think that at 4 months she should be STARTING to get the hang of this or showing she wants to go out, or holding it for longer than ten minutes.  Am I wrong?

I try to keep things out of her reach, but she will even grab them out of my hands, or if I'm sitting here doing bills at the table, I get up to get a stinkin pen and she's shredding my papers.  She can reach the counter already.

I don't think that we say "no" constantly... but when we say it she doesn't seem to understand she is being corrected.  Is she too young for that?  If we should not say "no", then what should we say when she does something wrong?  What should we say when she bites?

We do exercise her, and when the boys are out back running around with her is when she bites them the most.  What can we do?

We are going to get her into training soon, my hubs and I are trying to decide if a class or a one-on-one would be better.

thanks again

KevinK's picture
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Joined: 2010-07-15

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What training methods do you know, and what kind of training have you done so far?  You say the dog is "dumb", but to me, it just sounds like you have a dog that needs more training, more interaction, more exercise, and more mental stimluation.  Sounds like a bored dog to me.  Dobermans tend to be easy, if you have a good knowledge of training, dog behavior, etc.  If not, their intelligence often can (and WILL ) work against us.  I would recommend taking some classes immediately, and having a good trainer teach you how to use these drives to your advantage.

Joined: 2011-08-29

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A tiny bit of advice that I have learned owning 3 dobermans...A tired dobe is a good dobe ;) and please don't call your baby dumb. Dobermans are an incredible and amazingly intelligent regal breed. A doberman needs an incredible amount of exercise, on that note...I wouldn't let your kids run around the backyard with your dog..as in chasing the dog or the dog chasing them.  Believe me, that completely ruins the recall method. It took us nearly a year + to perfect our dobe's recall after playing chase with my husband. Also, for a dog as athletic as a doberman, running around a backyard hardly constitutes as exercise.  While the growth plates are still closing on your pup, you don't want to do too much.  As other people have stated...literally take the dog out every 20-30 minutes and as they get older you can spread the time out even more. 40-50 minutes, so on and so forth.  Most importantly, as long as the dog cannot be trusted alone in the house, keep the puppy on a lead and keep with you the entire time. If you aren't able to have them on the lead at all times, put them in their kennel.  Also, any time you are going to put your pup in the kennel, take him out, when you're getting the pup out of the kennel, take them out. It seems really tedious...and it is.  But we had our babe 100% accident free within a week or two max.