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DobieGirl

Nervous Dog

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Hi,
I have a 18 month old male Doberman Pinscher. He is great around the family and people he knows however he is sooooooo anxious around strangers or people he has only met a few times. He has never bitten but whenever we go out or someone new comes in the house he makes a huge scene! Growling (not showing the teeth however), barking, hair standing on end, he will go on for about 10 minutes and then slowly warm up to them. A trainer suggested that when I have him out in public to get strangers to give him treats. I've tried this but he'll take the treat and them make a scene. He's never bitten anyone, but I find it so exhausting sometimes when people just want to pat him and he makes his big scene. Any advice?

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Increase the amount of time he has to behave before getting the treat, even if its from 1/4 second to 1/2 a second. Work up from there. Take him out all the time and in lots of different circumstances. If possible ignore his undesired behaviour and have others do so as well (you may have to set up an artificial situation to reinforce this.) When he is actually calm and quiet, then have the "stranger" give him a treat and praise him yourself. Do something similar with the door - arrange a dog training bbq. You bbq and invite freinds over. Have them cycle throught the front door irregularly and ignore the bad behaviour and reward the good - a few hours of this might help.

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Thanks. I'll give it a try. I am also taking him to a different obdience class, the last place we went was not very good. So hopefully that will make a difference as well.

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I socialized him quite a bit as a puppy, and he was great, it just seems that he got increasingly worse as he got older, he used to always run up to strangers but at about the age of 7 months he started reacting differently. Now that you mention it I usually do pet him and try to relax him when strangers are around, I never realized that I was encouraging the behaviour but now I do. THANKS :) I've tried getting strangers to give him a treat when he meets them, he usually takes it and keeps barking, is this a good idea? I've heard some people say yes (my vet being one) and some say no, what do you guys think?
As for where he came from, I admit it, I bought from a BYB, I never realized what a problem this was and how it was encourgaging BYB's until recently but it's too late now, I'll know for future reference. So I don't know much about his parents, I met his mother and she seemed great with strangers but I don't know his Father. I suppose I should have mentioned the fact that he is not Neutered, he will be within the next month (my bills are finally getting caught up) Does this make a difference with his nervous behaviour, again some people have told me yes, but my vet 9who specializes in Dobermans) said that it doesn't usually affect nervous behaviour) I've started doing the NILIF training (as of last night) . I didn't realize how much he ruled the house until I read that post, he truly is the Alpha in the house, I'm hoping that will make a difference. Thanks everyone for you help! This dog is a child to me and I really want to get him through these behaviour problems.

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Does anyone know any condidence building exercises for dogs? I've had numerous people suggest them for Sirius but no on ever gives me any examples. Thanks!

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If you do agility with a good trainer it is a wonderful confidence builder - the dog develops some real skills and is acknowledged for them. You have to take it slow though.

Positive-only obedience training is great too. Same reasons, the dog learns a skill and is acknowledged for it plus it reaffirms pack order which is reassuring to a dog and helps with confidence issues so long as everything is kept positive.

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Sirius seems to be calming down quite a bit lately, I have not been allowing him to demand attention anymore.... at least not as much anyway :roll: and have been making him work for his food, I have also been getting new people who come in the house ignore him until he calms down then they give him a treat. I have not had time for agility training with work, but now that schools almost here I am looking for an agility trainer for him once things calm down. I am neutering him this month, perhaps that will help a little. Thanks for all the tips guys! :D

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Sorry to be so late to join in here, I am new to this forum.

I have to agree with newfiesmom. It sounds like this behaviour is genetic. More than likely one of the parents or perhaps even grandparents had a weak temperament and this was thrown in this litter. Dogs with questionable tempraments should NEVER be bred. You can work on building his confidence BUT you will never totally change it and you will probably never have a 100% trustworthy dog. What training and confidence building will do is help your dog "deal" with situations a little better but it won't change the genetic makeup of the dog. Unfortunately he's just genetically hardwired to be this way. Not too much you can do except basically "condition" him to different situations. I don't mean to sound negative but it sounds like this dog could be a liability even with lots of your TLC. Be careful!!

As far as neutering changing things. It won't.

Good luck.

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Thanks for everyones advice. It seems Sirius just needed some serious socializing. I took him up to Ontario to visit my brother for a week and he was pretty much thrown into the situation that he normally freaks about for a full week (strange people, dogs and places) At first he was a wreck but after he realized all these people were ignoring his explosive behaviour until he calmed down (including me) he quickly calmed down, and even made friends with a new male dog (a gender he normally hates) He's even great at home now, he warms up to strangers incredibly quickly (still a little nervous) He is doing great! Thanks for all your great advice!

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