Problem Doberman

Posted by MysticJet
Jan 16, 2008
Hi, my 12 month old Doberman, Titian's Maximus is becoming a problem. He has had obedience training and is normally well behaved and gentle. However, in the last couple of months he has developed a very bad habit of charging me or my 84 year old mother while we are just sitting down and watching TV. I had an animal behaviorist at great cost come out with a trainer and observe him and was told that he had separation anxiety and a extreem need for attention. We do not feed him until we are through eating and the only punishment he gets is a gruff "OFF!!" or whoever is across the room from him will squirt him with a waterbottle and yell OFF!!

He has a doggie door and will go outside and dig up rocks, especially lava rocks and demand that we try to take them from him. The trainer said not to let him eat them as they are glass and can harm his insides so it is imperative that we get them from him even if it means offering him a chew or cookie to divert attention while one of us grabs the rock.

My arms, legs and back are covered in bruises and bites, this dog weighs 120 lbs and acts like a playful puppy who thinks he is 10 lbs. My mother has had two broken hips during Katrina and cannot be knocked down without breaking a bone. We were told to turn away from him when he charges and nips and ignore him, well, this only seems to make him more determined to get our attention and he will sump up and grab out back, it is really scary when I am sitting down and suddenly he comes into the room, crouching like a tiger and then takes a running jump at my face. It is clear that this is a big game with him but must be stopped. Any ideas? Thanks, MysticJet
Posted by Blue
Jan 25, 2008
Hi there!
It sounds like your dog has become Alpha in your household, I recommend reading the book "secrets to becoming the Alpha" and follow these tips that are scattered through the forum!

[COLOR="DarkSlateBlue"]Some Advice by Todd another member on this site:

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you [I]and your family members [/I]have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where they stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-
1) If you come across your dog while he is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved

You should reprimand your dogs for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dog's poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior. What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

The other important thing to work on is your dogs general obedience. It is very important that when you give a command your dog responds to it. work with him for 15 minutes twice a day on the basic commands of sit, stay and come. It is important that he is well trained so that you can control him no matter what the situation.

If he is allowed on "human" beds I would disallow this immediately as it puts him at the same level of hierarchy as the rest of the pack...

One thing I would also suggest trying is not to back away when your dog jumps up on you, your backing away is a submissive gesture - especially if you avert your face (but do avert your face if there's a threat of biting!!). Dogs, when establishing alpha status in a pack will jostle and push one another prior to becoming directly aggressive, your dog jumping up on you may seem playful, but it is about gaining dominance over you and challenging your position in the pack.

Just prior to your dog leaping up (like in the catlike pounce stage), if you can, try taking a step forward and making the noise GRRRR or AAAAh at your dog. This will hopefully establish that the forthcoming behaviour is unacceptable by you. If you do it just before the behaviour happens, the idea is that by reprimanding just before the bahaviour happens the dog won't get near enough to your face for you to have to avert your face or move away from the dog. Just move forward by one or two steps, confidently (shoulders squared, standing tall) but not aggressively - you are the boss, but not the tyrant!

If your mother doesn't feel comfortable growling or aaaahing at the dog, give her a can full of pennies to shake and a squirt gun to reprimand the behaviour, she can do this while seated (if the dog has been previously allowed on furniture, this is where disallowing it will give your mother a hierarchal advantage - her being on the couch similar seated situation). If your mother is not strong enough to reprimand the dog herself, it may be worth keeping the dog away from your mother (either by leashed visits or not allowed in the same room as her) until your alpha training has progressed.

The priority is for you to stop the behaviour before it takes it's full form, and to regain your position as alpha, as well as help your mother attain a position of alpha over the dog.

Good Luck! and I'm sure a member of the Kingdom of Pets will come along to give you further advice!