"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Aggressive Doberman Problem

– Posted in: Columns

I have a male neutered 10 months old aggressive Doberman problem. In the last month he has turned very aggressive towards us. He will lunge and snap at my boyfriend and I, as well as anyone else in the house so no one is aloud to touch him anymore. The rule is “NO TOUCH, NO TALK, NO EYE CONTACT.” You can pet him for 5 minutes, everything good then all a sudden he snaps at us so I grab him at the neck like another dog would and pin him to the ground until he submits to me.

I have been reading Cesar’s books hoping that will help but this morning he was with me in bed and I was talking to him like I always do and he lunged at my face. So again I grabbed him quickly took him off the bed and made him submit.

What am I doing wrong?


Dear K.R.

For this sort of situation you might as well try and get the dog to read the book for all the good it will do. Trying to train a dog with a serious problem using a book as your guide is like doing a paint by number picture with only a couple of colours in your palette. The dog is not likely to going to get the big picture, you’ll get discouraged, and the situation will deteriorate.

Some books are flat out garbage. Good ones (like mine) are for no more than the basics. No matter how good the books you read might be (even mine) and no matter what the author say or thinks, they’re not for resolving serious behaviour problems, especially like a 10-month-old Doberman that thinks he’s an alligator.

By pinning him to the ground you’re at best winning a round but obviously if he keeps coming back for more, you’re losing the fight while taking a real risk of getting your face bitten off. In addressing this sort of behaviour a lasting solution involves not as much what you do when the dog goes “Cujo” as to how you’re interacting with the dog throughout your day. I guarantee the solution will be found more in adjusting the way you live and replacing the signals you’re unintentionally sending out with better ones, rather than your wrestling prowess.

Also who ever told you to deal with a dog being this spontaneously aggressive, using “NO TOUCH, NO TALK, NO EYE CONTACT.” is a few colours short of a full palette. How do they think one is supposed to live with and care for a Doberman this aggressive using those rules? If this is the same person that told you to pin him down ask if you’re supposed to do so with your eyes closed and only the power of your mind. If that were the only cure I had for a dog living with my family that was lunging at people’s faces, I’d be giving some serious thought that maybe he, “NO LIVE HERE”.

The only book that’s going to help is the booking of an appointment with a professional. Do so before someone needs surgery and it costs your dog his life.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade
*protected email*

6 Comments… add one

Hi John. This is about my 7 month male Doberman. I want to know if his aggressive behaviour in some situations is normal. For example when I’m giving him a bath (which he strongly dislikes) he gets snappy towards the end and will bare his teeth and growl at me.
However the alarming situation was that today when I tried to apply his rash ointment on his leg he kept running away and then when finally my brother held him as I tried to apply it on him, he got very aggressive and he bared his teeth and tried to pounce on me. I had to run to another room and lock the door to prevent him from lunging at me. I was left shaken. Following this episode his behaviour was normal. Is it normal for dogs to react like this when another person is trying to dominate over them or do I have a behaviour problem at hand. Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you.

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Leah,

Thanks for writing to me about your Doberman. I’d say there’s a problem there. Not necessarily an unresolvable one but if a 7-month-old Doberman has his owner running off now, it’s best to get on this sooner rather than later as when he hits 18 months of age (young adulthood) it will have escalated to a point where few companion dog owners can turn it around.

Is the “rash” due to licking the leg excessively? Acral lic granuloma is often diagnosed as a reaction to a bug bite or another allergy-related cause but with some dogs, particularly Dobermans it can be caused by psychological instability.

Why are you bathing him?

How much control do you have over him in less stressful times?

1. If you were to make a cup of tea in your own kitchen and told this dog to stay on a mat while you did so would your dog, without treats or your monitoring for the slightest twitch, do so? Or would you be drinking a lot of cold tea?
2. In your own yard, does your dog come when called or does your dog react as if you’ve made a suggestion?
3. Does your dog keep the leash loose regardless of distractions when you say Heel, and walk about the inside of your own home, or yard?

I have two suggestions.

The first is to help me to help you by sending some video. I give emails that include video of the dog issue much higher priority for replies. In fact, you’re almost guaranteed a detailed response. So if you can get video in a safe manner that would be great. The reason I give email inquiries with video priority is that I feel if I can add a video to the on-site version of my reply it will help more people visiting the website also looking for answers to similar issues. If you decide to send some video I’ve included instructions with options for sending video to me as simply attaching a video to an email doesn’t always work due to file size.

Another option is to book a telephone or Skype consultation with me. If that’s of interest let me know and I will send you the details regarding what’s involved, costs and on how to go about booking if you wish.



Hello am writing wanting some major Advice my doberman is going to be 1yr old this month and he has always had a bitey nature to him. He recently got castrated and is behaviour is 100% worse to the point we have to muzzle him but sometimes he will even try attack you through that. When you tell him off he will listen but then will do it again we are goimg for a consulation at our vets but i nust seen food reviews and thought id ask for some

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Can you have another look at your last sentence? I can’t make head nor tails out of it.


Val Doberman

Hi. I have a 3 year old male doberman.
We did obedience with him his whole life.
It started of as redirection. He got into a fight with his brother. When i tried braking it up he snapped at me. And i had no choice but throw him down and hold till he gave up. I made him stay there for 30 minutes after i let him go. Seemd to work. Till about 5 months later he was laying down. I reached to grab something behind him and boom another bite no warning. And he kept going after me , so same thing again he was overpowered and held on the ground till he gave up. With my blood dripping all over. So now what hapened later. A drunk guy aproached him, and bent over infront of my dog and acted like a fool. My dog started showing his teeth and i went to stop him from getting the guy in the face . So instead he got my hand and i needed stitches, another redirection.
Also when ever he does something he knows he shouldnt. If i come and tell him no but he decides to ignore. I raise my voice he gest all tense and raises his tail walking away slowly looking like his a ready for a fight.
Now the odd part.
-I am the only person he listens to.
-no matter what we do or where we go he will allways follow me i stead of any other family member.
-he is off leash 90% of the time recall is 100% with me only.
-He will sit and stay on my comand even if there are dogs and people all over.
-He will not touch his food unless given permition.
I even forgot to tell him OK when i put his plate down. 20 minutes later i got out of the shower.he was still standing there drooling all over. I felt so bad.
His obedience is amazing with me.
I can heg him to heal off leash for as long as i want
Working on constant eye contact.

But why is it that he still chalenges me. And if there is any aggretion he will take it out on me.
And if i raise my voice he will go into a defensive state. And will atack with no warnning if i as much as touch his collar. Even if he bumps into a tree when walking he might think its something i did and growl at me for a moment. I never over corected for no reason. Other than when he went off and i had no chice.

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

Hi Val,

I’ve replied but turned this in to a column instead as it might help others a well and sometimes people don’t read the comments. Here is the best I can do using this medium to help:


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