Was just about to throw the towel in until I came across this website!

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Michellej's picture
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Hi, my name is Michelle and I am new here. I just want to say that I was having issues with my new puppy and on the verge of considering finding a new home. That maybe it wasn't the best idea to choose the Doberman Pincher as our newest family member. However, after reviewing this website and the forums since last night (I stayed up past 3 AM reading EVERYTHING when I had to be up at 6 AM for work!) I have began implementing some of the training ideas and tips since last night and I now realize that the problem didn't lie within Chico, but us. Since I've been using your training ideas all across the form and the techniques the stress level in the home has definitely lowered. Chico is a brilliant little guy that LOVES to learn. I was able to housetrain him within a few days and had him sitting after not even one day of training (ice works wonders for Chico as he LOVES ice and I don't have to worry about an upset belly from giving him too many treats while training). My main problems with him were his jumping and nipping. Especially when it comes to my 3 1/2 year old son. Since we've worked with him last night and all day today there has been a dramatic difference. I just wanted to thank you all for saving a wonderful relationship! We truly do love our little guy and did not want to let him go. Now I am sure that we don't have to. It's not a behavior problem after all- just a miscommunication on our part. Here are some pictures of him. I will be adding more shortly. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150391514942267.354207.56699...

I'm so glad you found us here and that you found the forum helpful!! Glad Chico gets to  remain with his family too!! There is a wealth of knowledgeable people on here on GD, so this is a great place to come for help.

Michellej's picture
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I am so glad, too! I thought that his jumping and biting were a bad sign. Thankfully, I came across the website and as I read and read everything clicked. Almost everything in this website pertains to Chico and I also leaned what I was doing wrong to encourage his "misbehavior". This has been a blessing.

DJ's Dad's picture
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per Michellej: It's not a behavior problem after all- just a miscommunication on our part.

Most of the time, especially with a new puppy, that's mainly what the problem is.  So glad that you are on track now and giving it another try before rehoming him.  Dobermans are not like so many other 'family dogs' in that they are strong willed and very intelligent--sometimes too smart for their own good--so it takes a little bit different approach to training a doberman pup than it does for, say, a poodle or cocker spaniel. But in the end, it's SO worth it all.

Welcome to the group. 

Michellej's picture
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Thank you, Ziva's Dad. I was so glad when I realized that we didn't have to let him go. I was concerned because he really "attacks" my 3 1/2 year old and I was concerned because of how fast Chico is growing. When Chico stands on his hind legs he's the height of my son at 3 ft. 4 in. I was concerned for his safety. However after studying up here I realize that he's not trying to hurt him or dominate him (even though he does unintentionally), but it's rough play that needs a different approach than the one we were using. We would yell "NO, JUMPING!" or "NO, BITING" and push him away where he would come back at us even harder. This caused more pushing from us and more jumping and biting from him. I thought he was being bull headed and stubborn until I realized through this site that he thinks we are playing with him and doesn't know any better until we show him. We've been telling him "NO" now sternly and turning our backs to him. We give him lots of love and attention once he stops jumping and biting and sits like a big boy.

I already love it here and thank you for the warm welcome!

DJ's Dad's picture
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Another good way to get a 'no jumping' message across to a young dobe is to leave a short leash attached to his collar, and watch him closely. When he jumps on your son---ideally, the time to correct would be just as he jumps, before he actually has his front feet on the child, and you will be able to read his body language to see what he does right before he jumps up if you pay close attention---grab the leash and give him a stern, no-nonsense, business only jerk down to get all four feet back on the floor while you tell him 'no'.  Every time (and I mean every time) he gets near your son and DOESNT jump up on him, tell him what a good boy he is.  Your Chico is a lot smarter than you think he is and it wont take long at all for him to get the message that jumping up gets a punishment, but keeping his feet on the floor gets him praise and pets.  You're correct in thinking that every time you put your hands on him to push him down, Chico was seeing that as a game...a contact sport...and he would be ready to do his part of the game again and again.  Ahhhhh, puppy daze.  LOL

Happydance's picture
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Hello Michelle and Welcome.  I'm glad that you did take the time and look for some help, these pups can be a handful!  I might suggest that you find some obedience classes too, a trainer watching you handle him can give you pointers on the spot should you make a wrong correction, etc.  Plus, it's wonderful socialization for a pup which is crucial. Be consistant and he'll get the picture and will grow out of the biting stage.

I looked at your FB photo album, he's a keeper!  (yippee, another natural eared pup!)

Michellej's picture
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Ziva's Dad- That sounds like another wonderful thing to try (tugging on the leash as he is about to jump on my toddler). I have tried putting a leash on Chico and when I do he will pull and gag and cough and choke. I've tried to show him how to ensure that we have slack on the leash so that this doesn't happen, but he doesn't seem to understand and he'll usually end up planting his 4 feet to the ground and pulling backwards with all of his strength. I'm going to buy him a harness instead of a collar. I think this might help a little, but I was wondering if you experienced this, too? Thank you for all of your help!

Michellej's picture
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Happydance,

Thank you!

The photos of your dogs are gorgeous! I wonder if that's what Chico will look like when he grows up? :o)

Chico was supposed to begin the Petsmart Puppy Training Program this month, but I had to cancel once I found out that my youngest son, 3 1/2 yrs., has to have surgery on the 23rd of this month. I didn't want to commit to the program after finding out that I may miss 2 weeks worth of classes because I will be taking care of my little one. So, if all goes well he will surely be attending next month's classes. :o)

I think he'll do very well as he catches on so quick. Once I began to understand him- I can see how smart he really is!

Happydance's picture
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Thank you.  But, NO, no harness!  That only encourges him to pull.  At this point, you just have to persuade him to come along with you, treats will help.  If he starts dragging you, stop and turn around and walk the other direction.  You may not even get a block along, but he'll catch on.  There are many many threads on the site about this.  And, I'm assuming that he's been through ALL of his vaccination series before you take him out.

Good luck with your son, it must be terribly frightening!

Michellej's picture
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OK. Got it- no harness.

He's not had all of his shots that allow him to go out into the public yet. I believe it's after his next month's vet visit that he's allowed to go for walks, dog park, pet stores, etc. Right now I've just tried taking him to the front yard (mailbox) with me on the leash and it hasn't been successful at all :o(. I will try the treats next time!

Thank you so much.

DJ's Dad's picture
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Leash training can be a very trying time with a hard-headed pup that just doesnt want to give in---but it can be done.  I agree w/ Happydance---if he's already pulling, a harness will just allow him to do it even more and put more strentgh into it.  Think "sled dog".  LOL.   Baiting him with a treat to go along with you while on leash is a very good idea. It wont take him long to figure it out.  You're already making progress with him---dont stop now!  Once the lightbulb turns on and a doberman realizes that he is actually learning something that makes life easier or more enjoyable, it's like a whole new world has opened up to them, and they really DO want to learn.  Hang in there---it gets better...I promise.

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Hi Michellej

Re:My main problems with him were his jumping and nipping.

We've had Koda 8 months, a male pup who's just about a year old. I have since been researching and have found some WONDERFUL resources, including what's listed below that has made life with Koda fantastic. I have been given such wonderful insight into dog behaviour and dog psychology and would love to share these resources with you and anyone who cares to read this post. The resources are:

1. Be the pack Leader- Cesar Millan (audiobook)

2 Cesar Millan, Mastering Leadership series.(DVD)

3. The Dog Whisperer (Nat Geo)

All the issues you have described are covered in all of these resources that are available online or at Amazon I think.  Most importantly, Cesar shares his knowledge about Dog Behavioural Psychology that teaches YOU how to understand how dogs think empowering you to respond to you dog's behaviour in an appropriate manner that brings out the best in you and your dog.  I'm not kidding.  His take on how to deal with dog issues is among the best advice I have been given that has helped me with my personal relationships with my family friends and relatives oh yes, and my dog!

Basically what I have learned is this.

1.  We are all animals and share a comunication strategy that revolves around the energy we as animals transmit to.

2.  Species: this sets all animals apart from each other the main difference between humans and other animals is that we communicate primarily through language, that to other animals is unintelligible. When you say 'sit' and your dog sits, he does not compute S-I-T sit means place my butt on the floor.  He feels your energy about what you want...uh...see point 1

3. Breed: Dogs have been bread for different purposes for the last 10 000 years with specific traits and predominant characteristics.  Therefore the Dobermann has been bread for a particular reason and when you look into their make up, you will begin to understand what drives them, and when you can fulfill their needs, you autimatically illiminate the issues they display.  You are meeting their needs.

4. Character: Or name.  They are lastly your little baby that you ask in a high pitched voice,"Do you want to go for a walk?"

Cesar put it a lot mor elloquently, but I love to think about and try and articulate what I have learned.

Secondly, he talks about:

1. Rules

2. Boundaries

3. Limitations

Sounds like I'm talking about my kids, doesn't it?  Well I am. Koda's one of them and as animals we all need rules, boundaries and limitations.  When dogs behave in a pack, all these social structures are in place. And when you get these social structures in place in your home, one begins to develop order in the pack. To have order in the household pack, there needs to be a pack leader and guess what?  It's either you or Chico. He will challenge you and if you are weak, he WILL try and INSTINCTIVELY assert his dominance over you. Issues, issues, issues!  Just as one needs social structures in your home, one needs to also to assert order in the household pack who includes parents, children and pets (I hate to use 'pets' to describe Koda, because he is part of the family pack).  Cesar give you easy to understand tools to implement these strategies in order to establish this 'pack order.' When Chico agresses you child either by nipping or jumping, this is totally unacceptable! What will a pack leader do?  Dogs are 90% wolf.  Cesar shows you what a wolf would do.  Literally!  Footage. 

Nipping and jumping.  Exactly what Koda used to do and was cured of this in about 3 weeks and has stopped this altogether. How?  For me both these actions is a sign that Koda was trying to assert his dominance and he needed to know his place in the family pack, and that was at the bottom! We, including the kids,  would anticipate Koda's behavior.  It would happen when we walked from the gate to the front door (20m) when we came home or were leaving. Anticipating what he would do, we would wait for it to happen, catch him doing it, I would then pin him down as pack leader as Cesar suggests and let him know physically that this was unacceptible. You don't do this to hurt him though sometimes I make him feel very uncomfortable by grabbing the scruff of his neck and shake him. He's a big boy and tough! You see I don't have the equivalent to a muzzle full of sharp teeth to correct his behaviour with so I wait for him to submit and I get the kids to sit on him, pull his ears, pull his whiskers poke him!  And if he moves, I growl a deep "NO!" and he just lies still, ears back (submissive) and I may least one leg in the air.  He occassionally needs reminding. He's a pup and makes mistakes.  we all do! You need to see how Cesar does it.  Excellent!  Once or twice....problem solved.  Maybe a slight over exsageration but honestly these problems hardly exist anymore and we are all happier for it.

Walking on a leash! Cesar explains the 'structured walk!'... imperative for establishing a good bond and rapport with your dog. A pack leader IS ALWAYS IN FRONT!  This is 'dog language!'..by your side or behind.  Anywhere else is unacceptable and the walk ceases until he's in place.  No questions...uh...,"Please Chico, walk nicely beside me?  I'll give you a treat!"  Na ah.  "This is where I want you to be!" A member of the pack does not walk in front of it's leader without its leader's permission.  There's no discussion about it.

 

Obviously I have just skimmed the surface of what Cesar lays out for you so clearly in his DVD and book.  (I found the audiobook of Be the pack leader and listen to it when I'm doing the dishes....with Koda AT MY FEET! lol) You will learn that dogs need structure, routine and for their leaders to be consistent.  This way they will respect you as their leader.  Everyday, I see Koda improving and this makes me so proud of him, just as I am proud of my own kids.

 

Michellej, I take no credit for what I have learned and I hope this little bit of insight helps you.

Wishing you the very best with Chico

 

Love and peace

Lori's picture
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I'm a huge fan of Cesar Milan also - People always blame the dog for being misbehaved when really it's the owner's flaws causing it by reacting wrong or not at all.   Most people just don't know any better or care to learn. 

 

I'm glad you found some help here and even more glad your puppy is learning what you expect.  They are very smart but do need constant training and exercise.....good luck

Michellej's picture
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These are all wonderful ideas and I can't wait to try them! I'm going to do some research on Cesar Milan and his teachings. Seems like his ideas are exactly what we need.

Chico has pleasantly surprised me.

I clipped his nails for the first time today. That was NOT easy at all. I tried to distract him with ice, but that only lasted for about 3 nails before he caught on to my tactic. He's such a smart boy!

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Hi Michelle, do let us know what you come up with and how progress is going.

 

KevinK's picture
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Michelle,

Welcome to the site, seems like you have your hands full! But who doesn't at first!! lol

I'm learning from previous communications, lol , so, here's my preface...  Everything said here I truly meant to help, and I took a long time writing this.  I've had a few peeps tell me that they thought I was being mean, and it's simply because the communication was lost via the web.  I tend to type exactly how I talk, which doesn't tend to translate well.. So, just wanna say, I don't think poorly, badly, etc. of anyone here, and I'm not trying to make people feel upset, or anything like that...  Ok, on with it!!

A few recommendations, I don't wanna get into a big thing, but I would recommend a few trainers other than Cesar...  Cesar is very popular in the pet dog world, but in the enthusiast circles, most people don't like what he does.  Forcing a dog to submit through fear does nothing but make your dog lose trust...  A young puppy that jumps on you is not asserting dominance, it's just excited... Alpha rolls are a dated, dangerous, and unproven method.  When you get more famiar with canine body language, you will begin to notice that many times, what he calls "calm submissive" is actually a dog that is terrified.  Positive punishment went out the door many, many years ago, and I would consider alpha rolls just as bad as hitting your dog. 

Jagabags, I don't think it's ok to pin a dog, and shake by the scruff for what is a 100% absolutely normal puppy behavior.  Do you understand what this means?  Have you looked into what an alpha roll is?  It is NOT a display of dominance.  I hate using the wolf anaolgy, because dogs are nothing like a wolf after years of domestication, and comparing the 2 makes absolutely no sense.  But, for the sake of the argument, typically when a dog in the wild gets pinned like that, as in an alpha roll, the dog is about to die.  Why does the dog submit?  He's giving up, and in essence sayingk, "Ok, go ahead, slit my throat".    Let me put you in the revers situation...  Suppose you send me an email, and there's a type, and I grab a knife, throw you down, and hold the knife to your throat.  You think I'm going to kill you... Is that fair?  Is that any way to treat someone?  I bet the next email (well, after that, you would probably think I was a psycho and never email me again, but if it did, I bet you would spellcheck) would not have any typos...  But, would it be because you understood that propper spelling is important, or would it be because you feel I'm an unstable, explosive individual that severely over-reacts to otherwise harmless behaviors...  I don't believe that EVERYTHING he teaches is bad, but in my opinion, the things I don't like, especially flooding, and his use of positive punishment, are enough to make me not like what he does.

 

I would recommend trainers like Karen Pryor, if you want to do clicker training, Michael Ellis & Ed Frawley, kikopup has some amazing youtube videos, and other more positive methods.  Much of the "pack" mentality has been dropped by many trainers, because, well, you know, you're not a dog??? lol 

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Great points, Kevin. 

I personally, am of the belief that "gentle training produces gentle dog demeanor"...maybe that's just because that's the way I do things, and I am happy with the personality traits all my dogs end up with.  Likewise, aggressive training can very easily lead to a more aggressive behaved dog.  The way I see it, if I had to choose one end of the dog personality spectrum or the other, I would MUCH rather have my dog----especially my doberman---lean towards the gentle end of the spectrum than the aggressive end. That's because my doberman goes everywhere with me and encounters many people and other dogs. She lives with five little dogs---so I have to INSIST that she be a gentle dog.  If given a "fight or flight" choice, my Ziva would rather walk or even run away from a dog that throws confrontation in her face than to jump in and rip its face off.  And I have never ever regretted that choice she makes.  How you train your dog has a lot of bearing on how that dog will be as an adult.  You can help shape that dog's personality by demanding respect from it, but also giving respect right back.

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I agree.  Agressively training an aggressive dog (another thing about the Cesar thing, is that many dogs are not "problem" dogs...  They are just not trained, and it's easy to reaize that it's handler error, not an out of control dog...  In other words, the owner simply doesn't know how to propperly train the dog, and hasn't looked for help in the right places) is a great way to get bit, or worse.  It just doesn't work effectively, and will only shut down your dog. 

I believe very strongly in being fair, consistent, straightforward, and showing a dog what to do instead of what NOT to do.  I prefer to use positive reinforcement, negative punishment, luring, free shaping, and behavior markers as opposed to flooding, positive punishment, and scaring the crap out of your dog.  I think physical corrections, like kicking your dog, alphs rolls, etc., have no place in dog training.

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I am not trying to overpower him as we train him. Although he is so young, Chico and I seem to now have this mutual understanding. I love him and he loves me. Thankfully, I don't have to be aggressive with him to get him to do what is right. He doesn't do well with negativity. Maybe I'm a lucky one or maybe  he just hasn't begun to demonstrate this "who's the boss" behavior yet since he's so young. Through the forum I had learned that I was doing the wrong things in the beginning by pushing him off of us when he was nipping and jumping. To him we were playing so he'd come back even harder. He's so strong and fast for a puppy! Instead we now just flip it around on him and we DON'T give him what he wants. We DON'T play when he jumps or bites we now give him a stern "NO!" and turn our backs. He is a quick learner and will correct himself by doing what we've trained him to do (thank you again to the forum) by sitting pretty to get what it is that he wants. Chico thrives off of positive feedback and not negative. Call me crazy, but I think he likes things the way they are right now. The home is much more calm since I've started using some of these ideas that everyone has shared. Some I have used and some I haven't needed to yet, but I may in the future. I will adjust fire as Chico grows and changes.

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I am not really a Cesar fan either.. and the "''Ppssssttt" thingy never did a bit of good over here.. I think the thing that really gets to  me the most is there's always a disclosure about NOT TRYING THIS AT HOME... I do agree that watching the body language and interpreting BEFORE you need a correction is important, and Senor Milan is very good at that..

Good luck with your pup.. There is enough really valid advice and suggestions here... but the most important tip I can give you is consistency...

Chico is a great looking little guy and will be a very handsome young man..and smart?/ yeah.. tell me about it.. Sofia is smart enough to play 'dumb'...

Michellej's picture
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Thank you! Yes, I've taken a little of this and a little of that and put it to good use from the forum and from everyone's input. Everyone has such wonderful ideas and I use the ones that will pertain or work with Chico.

Right now we are doing well- except for the fact that I can't get my toddler on board. My 3 1/2 year old is understandably scared of him (from his previous misbehaviors) and Chico still runs all over him because of it. He will still try to take toys from him or jump and nip at him to get him to play. I am working on teaching my little one the confidence to stand his ground with Chico and to tell him "NO" and do the things we are doing with him, but he's scared and I can understand why. It's a work in progress - I will keep you updated :o)

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Hi Michelle,
Nothing specific to add, I just want to say that you have a gorgeous little man there. When we had our pup the hardest part was getting everyone on the same page. Unfortunately, my father negated the toilet training several times that delayed his success in that area. I warned him to be firm but fair and above all consistent in applying the right practices. Only recently has he done this after realising our Onyx has no respect for him. That's not to say that Onyx is a threat or badly behaved, he is just doing what a normal dog would do. He wants a stable pack, and shifted my father to the bottom of it. That's what it all boils down to, not what the dog is, but what we put into our relationship with the dog. It's not much unlike children in that regard. We have the capacity and responsibility to bring out the best in these infants, child and dog alike, and it's up to us to ensure that we do. I admire your willingness to seek out ways of bettering your ownership and wish you, your family and your pup a long, happy and fulfilling life together. They truly are remarkable companions.

Michellej's picture
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Thank you, Dobe$! Onyx is soooo adorable! You are right...the hardest thing is getting my little one to cooperate, but I won't give up :o)

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Welcome Michellej, as you can see, the support here is great and diverse. I'm a bit on the more harsh side of training, but not until they mature and show better abilities of understanding disciplinary measures. I find that puppies are all over the place and do not learn as well as any random mature dogs or maybe my puppy inexperience has been exposed. I would like to add to the long list:

Advocate patience with puppies because they develop rapidly, that is if your willing to accept the notion that owners may take too much credit for good behavior exhibited by puppies whether it's soft or harsh.

Do you have a general goal for Chico? What is the purpose of Chico? This line of questioning can be similar to what is the meaning of life or you might actually answer it easier than you think.

For Jax, it's about living harmoniously. I know it sounds a bit hippish, but it helps us to limit frustrations with our dogs and enjoy them as members of our family. One of the actions we took was to drop the perception that dobies are smart. It's a good way to set them up for a failure. Nobody wants a dumb dog (whatever that implies).

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Thank you for everyone's input. I truly appreciate it!

Finding Jackson- here is my response to your question about what is Chico's purpose:

Please read all the way through. I know it will start out badly by saying that his purpose was as a
"replacement" dog, but I hope you understand once you finish reading.

Many years ago when my son was 9 (he's 16 now) I bought a Boston Terrier for he and I as our Valentine's Day gift to ourselves. Because of this we named her name, "Valentine". She was the best dog I've EVER had. She was with us for a total of almost 4 years altogether-when I was stationed in Virginia and then she came with us to Georgia. After 2 years in Georgia I recieved hardship tour orders for S. Korea. During a hardship tour you are not able to bring family members, pets or your vehicle with you. My parents were on my Family Care Plan to take care of my son, but I could not find anyone to take Valentine for the life of me. Nobody wanted to adopt a dog for a year. To make a long story short I couldn't stand the thought of selling her, but I wanted her to go to a good home. I ended up giving her and all her belongings to the Secretary where I worked in Georgia back in 2006. When I came back in 2007 I went straight from S. Korea to Virginia. After Virginia I went to Puerto Rico for 8 months. Now we are back in Georgia and Valentine still lives here. Almost immediately, I contacted my her and we began getting "visitation" of Valentine. We loved spending the time with her, but it became harder and harder to give her back. It was heartbreaking for all of us. First I began with the hints and then I flat out asked if there was any chance of us getting her back. Unfortunately, Valentine is the perfect dog and naturally she doesn't want to give her up either. We've agreed that we can continue our "visitations". However, my youngest son, he'll be 4 in March, doesn't understand why we have to give her  back and he's distraught whenever we have to. He's always asking if we can go get her and keep her. He doesn't understand why we can't. So our visits have stopped because it was too hard on my youngest to give her back.

My boys then began begging for a dog they could call their own. I told them I would consider it only if we could get and older dog already house trained, female and a small breed. My oldest son had other ideas and wanted a male Labrador or Geman Sheppard. If we were going to go that route that would mean that we would need a puppy and not a full grown dog because I'd prefer to raise a large breed by myself out of precautions with my baby around.

I began many many months of searching and researching and visiting dogs and couldn't find the right match. We looked at a Chinese Crested, a Boxer, a Maltese and a bunch of others, but nothing really was right.

I came across Chico and his litter online and did a little research on the breed and they sounded like exactly what we needed. I wanted a dog that would be loyal and loving to friends and family, but leary and protective when it came to strangers. I am a single parent of 2 lovely boys and I read and hear about break ins, murders and robberies all the time and I don't want my children or myself to be a statistic. Growing up I had 2 Doberman's next door - a red female named Lucy and a black male named Sammy- and they had always left an impression on me. Just beautiful regal dogs that I can remember petting through the fence and getting paid to walk them.

So, we drove the 4 hours (10 hour trip altogether there, picking out our little guy, and back) once we got there my oldest instisted on getting a male, so they put all the females away and that left us with 5 males. 2 blacks and 3 blues. I told my son that we wouldn't get a blue because of the skin problems I read that they can tend to have. However, my oldest son and I were leaning towards one of the blue males, but my youngest put his foot down chose Chico (black male) and could not be swayed the 2 hours we were there to choose. I figured my oldest and I would get over not getting the one we wanted better than the baby would-so Chico it was.

My hopes is that he grows up and grows old with my boys. I know my oldest may be leaving home in a few years, so he'll mostly be Nathan's companion once his older brother leaves. So, all in all Chico is a "replacement" to fill the void that Valentine has left. He has big shoes to fill, but I think he's doing very well so far :o) Ultimately, I would like him to be a family companion just like Valentine was and a fearless guardian for us and our home.

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I'm a little sad to hear that Chico was a "replacement" dog, but your sons'll have the bestest friend ever :) (my Zelda scares the bijeebers out of my 6-year old cousin)

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Maybe "replacement" is the wrong word to use. I just wanted another 4 legged family member for my boys to love and be loved by that they could call their own again. Please believe that he's very very very loved.