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SabrinaG's picture
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Draco came home at 7 1/2 weeks and has always been a bit timid. He started puppy classes at Petco when he was 8 weeks old and did a good job. He has always been very timid with other dogs. We go to the dog park quite often since I don't have a yard for him. Until just recently, he was sure we were going to the park so he could play with the other people there. I never coddled him when he was afraid, but, unfortunately, he learned that others would pick him up. Thankfully he is too large for that now! I don't mind people petting him or playing with him, but picking him up, to me, is over the line.

Anyway, he is almost five months old now, and still doesn't play with dogs. He likes to play with them, but as soon as they start to play with him he runs and hides behind me, between my legs, under the benches, or whereever he can. If they touch him he starts yelling like he is being tortured. Still, I don't baby him or reinforce his fears in any way. He's so funny ... he will "play" with a dog for a little bit, then run over to me as if saying "Look what I did, ma!".

So, long story short ... is this typical behavior for a pup his age? He has never shown any agression while he is fearful, but I don't want things to escalate to that point. I haven't had a pup for a very, very long time, and I have discovered that I have forgotten quite a bit!

Thank you for any advice you can offer.

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

Hi and welcome to the forum.

You'll find lots of helpful info here to make the puppy training process easier. I got my pup at 10wks and it had been a long while since I'd had a puppy too. It takes some getting used to. My families needs required a puppy, and training has changed so much (for the better) since I last had one.

Where did you get your puppy from? Was he a rescue, or from a breeder or somewhere else?

It could be that if you don't have a yard for him, he's not getting enough exercise and stimulation at home and when you take him to the dog park he's getting overstimulated. Do you walk him regularly?

He may need some quiet peaceful walks to let him build confidence, before having to enter the gladiator pit that can be the local dog park.

The dog park can be tricky, because you have no control over others and their dogs. I go early in the afternoon when there are only three or four dogs - usually we know the dogs and the owners- and if there's no one there at first, I spend some time practicing off leash training.

Once the park fills up, Storm likes to start up a chase game (with her being chased) but often, if I don't put an end to it, she rapidly switches on other dogs prey drives and their owners don't know how to turn them off. So when I see other dogs starting to go over the threshold of play, no matter how long I've been there. I leave. Storm lets me know shes grateful for it too. There's a fine line between coddling and protecting your dog IMHO.

Maybe you need to control the times you go to the park and listen to what Draco's telling you. If he's yelping - in my book- he's had enough. I think you need to get him out of there before that point.

Maybe go back to where he is more happy and confident and start from there? Quiet peaceful walks, building up to more stimulating ones. Maybe even replace the dog park with walks for a while, then come back to it.

Socialization is great, but it has to be positive and rewarding. If all Draco is learning is that interacting with other dogs is scary, and that there's no escape, you could be heading down a slippery slope.

SabrinaG's picture
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Thank you for the welcome, Oz, and thank you for taking the time to read and respond.

I read quite a few of the forum posts before I created my own account. I was actually quite impressed with the responses from individuals here.

Training has changed! It has amazed me. Some of it I agree with ... some, not so much.

Draco came from a breeder about four hours away. I asked for the most outgoing black and tan male, but I think perhaps I was given the runt. I'm presuming this because of how timid he has been since he came home.

He's had a small yard (about 5 x 20) for about a month. That was one of his potty training demands.  :-)

I had a couple of mobility issues the last month that precluded me from working with him on his walking skills. Luckily, those issues seem to be resolved so I have started working him again. He hasn't learned "heel" yet. He still spends a lot of time jumping and nipping, or biting my feet, or playing tug with my pant legs.  lol

I live in a small town so the dog park doesn't really get that crowded. The most I've seen there is about 8 dogs. Looking back, I probably started taking him too soon (8 weeks). He seems to be a bit more comfortable with the smaller dogs, and that makes sense to me.

The only time he is quiet and peaceful is when he's sleeping! That little guy has a lot of energy, which is why I take him to the park. It allows him to expend his excess energy before we start working. Most of the dogs there are well behaved ... some better behaved than their owners.

Draco LOVES the park! Even if he does yelp, he's usually back up and "playing" in a few minutes. I can usually tell when he's tuckered out. If I try to leave before then, he lets me know he isn't happy about it.

He is making progress. Like I said, he is starting to interact with the other dogs, down in his little play bow position, barking, etc. He loves to chase the dogs that are chasing balls, but comes back to me before the other dogs start playing with him. He reminds me of a little child standing in the playground that wants to play but no one will play with him. He whines, runs toward them ... but doesn't like to get more than about 20 - 30 feet away from me.

I don't know if I'm expecting too much from him right now or what. I certainly don't want him to be traumatized, and I don't think he is at this point. He sniffs the other dogs, allows them to sniff him, but if they are running after him and touch him, he yelps. I've taken him a few times when no one else was there. He enjoys it, plays fetch, lopes around a bit, but he does seem to enjoy it more when other dogs are there.

I guess what I want to know is if this is typical pup behavior or not. There are other dogs here in the complex, and he has always been timid with them, even the little ones (although he is outgrowing that a bit).

Oz Dobe's picture
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Ahh with that added info it sounds like he's doing ok.

My dog was a little nervy at that age, to the point where I was a little worried. I just worked on building her confidence and now she's a great ambassador for the breed and very stable. I have had to work hard on loose leash walking and we're still perfecting that at 12mo.

Heeling is an art we are still working on too. Storm can heel and stop with treats with other dogs around at the dog park (in a quiet corner) but it has taken a lot of work in the back yard to get there. She will walk close beside me on a leash, when we pass people and other dogs but we havent put the the heeling name to it yet.

Enjoy the ride. It can be a challenge, but Its great when stuff starts to click and its so worthwile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SabrinaG's picture
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I apologize. I should have gone into more detail in my original post.


I am absolutely loving the ride! We have only clashed wills a couple of times, but I keep telling him that I'm going to win because I'm bigger and have thumbs.  :-) He has brought me such an incredible amount of joy ... and a fair bit of frustration, but that's okay. He keeps me on my toes and I wouldn't want it any other way.

What kinds of things do you do with Storm to build her confidence? This is something I haven't really put much thought into, but I can see that it would be beneficial to Draco and I both.

Oz Dobe's picture
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I try as much as possible to positively reinforce behavior that I want Storm to perform, and ignore or redirect behavior that I don't want her to perform.

This hasn't always been easy, but it has helped to come to the understanding that many unwanted dog behaviors are positively reinforcing on their own ie barking, chewing, digging. They get a buzz from doing these things. I have needed to find something more interesting and just as reinforcing that I prefer over what she's doing. For example Storm enjoys barking. That's perfectly natural, and she enjoys it. I don't. I've started playing tug with her when she barks because chewing is reinforcing for a dog, and is incompatible with barking. When I do this, I'm not as frustrated, and she's not hearing negativity all the time. She is also getting to do something she enjoys. So its a win/win.

I've also focused on setting Storm up for success in our training. She was quite reactive on leash at first. I tried forcing/flooding her to 'face' her fears. The more I tried, the worse it got. Finally, the penny dropped and I decided to change my approach and find places without distractions, like shopping districts before the shops open, or industrial zones where its all concrete and bitumen which is about as sterile as it gets. We haven't looked back since.

Gradually we build up to walks with more distractions until it gets to a point where she's having trouble concentrating, and we go back to the last place where she was doing it easily and I try again later. She is now calm on leash and off, and is even starting to see people/dogs coming towards us on a walk as an opportunity to obtain a treat by getting into a heel position on her own.

I've spent lots of time reading about dog behavior and have learned so much from Stephen.R.Lindsay and Victoria Stilwell. I'm focusing on trying to learn more about the world form Storms perspective and I have noticed some improvements in our communication. I'm able to see outside of the box a little more.

Everyone has their own way of doing things, and as long as trainer and dog are happy, that's all that matters.

Max's Dad's picture
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Reading this post made me laugh. It seems that Dobermans are either overly ballsy at that age, or overly timid. 

Seems to me, that if they are brought up around another dog, the chance they get to play with another dog their size, they are all in for it. On the flip side, if they are by themselves (which Dobermans prefer, they don't need another dog, just the person they own) they don't know what to do with the sensory overload with another dog that has energy like them. The yelping is to get your attention, and also showing they are admitting defeat (being less dominate, and getting to a safer place). 

But, from the sounds of it, he doesn't sound like he's in bad shape! Best of luck on your journey!

SabrinaG's picture
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Thank you both. Last time he yelped I couldn't help but laugh at him and call him a baby.