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Jeana's picture
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Joined: 2008-07-29

Zeus is currently being fostered by my family from a local animal shelter. This will be done for 10 days after which we can decide to adopt him. He was an owner turn in at the shelter. He is approximately 1 year old and there is no health record for him. He has a black/brown coat with uncropped ears. His coat appears shiny and healthy and he is a good weight. He has not been neutered yet but still goes like a female.

I had went to look at a saint Bernard puppy to foster but Zeus was so full of personality!! He was super outgoing and goofy I had to have a look at him. He kept sticking his face through the side bar pulling his face back til it looked as if he had a huge joker smile.  The shelter worker took him out of the cage for me and leashed him. He was ready to go out!

He has been here 24 hours now and I have already noticed much about his personality. He hasn't been trained properly of course. He knows one basic command-sit- and will do so IF the house is calm and there is a treat involved.

He had a separation problem upon entering our home. He cannot go outside to potty without a person. If you put him out to go and shut the door he will cry, and bark while scratching and digging the sliding door.

He loves balls. He ran and played his heart out with my family the first evening. He loves to get a ball and be chased. If your run from him during ball play he has to chase you even if he is holding the ball :)

He doesn't like my aggressive cat at all. Upon meeting him the cat Nugget, wasn't friendly. Zeus now loves to find the cat and bark making the cat very agitated. He has not tried to bite or attack Nugget though.

He does jump and tackle my children (ages 5 and almost 3) It is great fun for him although my kids find it a tad spooky. He is gentle when he "bites" during play. He think any forming of running by any family member is an invitation to play.

He has been inside the majority of time here (obviously) and has peed inside twice. The previous owners of the house we bought did have inside dogs so not sure if that is why or if he is confused a bit about his potty place.

He spent time with my daughter laying in her room and letting her "read" to him and decorate him with play jewelry.

He does have an issue with people entering a room he is in. If someone is downstairs and he is upstairs and a person walks up the steps or vice versa he jumps up to bark and run toward them. He also did this to my daughter when she came out of her bedroom after the night.

At bedtime he was happy to go in my room and sleep beside me until I got up.

That is about all I can say about Zeus.  :) He seems like with some work he could be an awesome part of the family!

Oh by the way I have never had a doberman before so this is why I am here!! I would love to guide him into being a awesome dog and feel like I could use assistance by people familiar with his breed.

Jeana

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Joined: 2010-01-18

Pet Profiles

Hi Jeana,

Welcome, and it's great you took a rescue Doberman.

He sounds like he's very happy with your family. He's being protective (barking at people moving around in the house) and likes playing and hates being locked outside.

From what you've explained, I see only two potential problems with Zeus' behavior, neither anything to worry about. The first is his knocking down children. Personally, I don't pet or offer affection to our dogs unless they are sitting politely. This is one of the first things I teach a new dog - if you want my affection, plop your little butt down and look up at me. Jumping-up, nosing and pushing, are all punishable with my ignoring them for a moment.

The Doberman usually learns this lesson quickly. What it's doing, what most companion animal training is doing, is showing a dog how to get what it wants appropriately. Right now he's still reverting back to his instincts. He sees the kids as litter mates - something to drag around and wrestle.

The second is the anxiety he's displaying when getting put out. This could also explain his marking in the house. He wants to stay with you guys so he feels a strong needs to mark the house so everyone knows that your territory has been claimed. Look out too! Our male, he's unaltered, well trained and highly obedient, but ever now and then, he tries to mark me.

He needs to learn he can go outside and come back in without his family leaving. I've seen this in rescues that have come through our home. This one set of brothers would just sit by the door and do their thing right one the porch. Then, they'd look at me sheepishly when I tried letting them in - like I was asking them to do something wrong. Obviously, they hadn't been in the house before.  ::)

Now, with the digging and barking at the sliding door, he's just doing the thing he knows will get him back into the house quickly. What he need to learn is that this behavior is not appropriate and at the same time needs to learn a new and better way. Sound easy when you say it like that... Usually, you would ignore the bad behavior until it stops, then let him in or wait until he performed the other behavior and let him is. The problem there though, is that could be very hard on your door. He is a Doberman, and if he's able like Dobermans in the past, to drag their injured handle out of a gun fight, or defend their family even after injury to himself, he able to dedicate himself to digging an actual hole back into the house.

I'm thinking of two approaches to this. The first is to start out like he's a new puppy. Keep him in a kennel unless someone is able to watch him closely. This means a member of the family needs to be only watching the puppy, to the TV and homework too. If he tries marking, he gets a "NO" followed quickly with a happy "outside" where he is brought out. The watcher person then stays with the puppy until he pees outside. Once he seems empty, he quickly gets praised and brought back in. The idea is to teach him that when he need to pee, he needs to be outside, and to get back in, he needs to pee. If he likes treat you can incorporate those as well, as long as they're healthy treats.

Once he starts to learn, the watcher can start staying inside when the puppy goes out. They can watch until he does his thing and then let him is. If he starts the scratching, the watcher can correct him either by giving a "NO" or turning away from the behavior.

The other approach is to teach a new behavior to enter and exit the home. You could teach him a signal for when he needs to go out and come in.

MaddeMama's picture
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Joined: 2008-07-18

Hi Jeana,
I sounds like you've made a little dobe boy very happy :)  This is a wonderful place to learn about your new family member.  Everyone is very knowledgeable & helpful.

Horse - that's a really good idea about signaling to go outside.  I'd like to do this too, any suggestions how to teach a specific signal? 

AlphaAdmin's picture
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The easiest way is to teach the signal on it's own. Say you decide on using a bell, just teach him how to ring it on command, rewarding him with praise or even a treat. Then, next time you're taking him outside stop at the door and command the ringing. As soon as he does it, you pull the door open happily and out you go. It might only take one trip outside if he has already learned to ring the bell on command.