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Aggressive Doberman Problem

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
[email protected]

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24 thoughts on “Aggressive Doberman Problem”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.


  2. Heather

    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

  3. 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.

  4. I have 14 month old male doberman, everything was good till 4month after that he started showing aggression but not much ( like small growling, when snatching his food ).
    But suddenly he get very aggressive, i m confused either he is touch sensitive or fear aggression. We use to keep him tied all day ( except morning and evening 30-30min each walk).
    I dont want to lose him. He almostbit every member of family like twice or thrice. He act normal on walk but get insane in home. Please help

    1. Hello Sooraj,

      The primary reason any dog might become suddenly aggressive would be due to an illness. However, there are a few things in your email that indicate that perhaps it may not have been sudden. There are a few signs that there may be behavior factors that need addressing. As I don’t have the information I need to give useful direction what I recommend is carefully reading the .pdf I am sending – “Essential Tips Especially Prepared For Doberman Pinscher Puppy Owners” to the email address you included with your comment. If this isn’t a physical injury or disease triggered problem I suspect you will uncover what may be behind your dog’s aggression making it easier for me to help. If you don’t see something in your inbox shortly, check your spam or junk folder as the .pdf might flag it as spam.

      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade

  5. I have a 3yr old Doberman female and she is always going after my German wirehairs neck. It hurts cause he yelps every time. You try and pet her she nips am I fighting a losing battle

    1. Hi Paula,

      You’re likely only fighting a losing battle if you keep doing what you’re doing. It’s possible that your Doberman has a screw loose but much more likely is that you haven’t found the right approach to living with her and training her. I’m betting you may have made some of the mistakes outlined in my free Doberman Puppy Need To Knows and ‘John Wade’s Guide To: What Are The Different (and best) Puppy and Dog Training Methods?‘ Read these and you’ll likely find a better way to fight and win the battle without losing a great relationship with a great breed.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense
      London’s #1 Referred Puppy and Dog Trainer

  6. I have a large 4 month old male doberman who is constantly trying to challenge me. He wants to use me as a chew toy rather than his many toys. He is trying to alpha over me and I need some advice on how to handle this as hes really pushing me. He listens to my husband fine but he is 6’2 and his voice is deep. I am 5’2 and about to start wrestling him . I’m kidding, but getting frustrated with this boy. He will easily weigh over 130 as an adult so I need to get a grip now. Any advice would be helpful please.

      1. I would be really interested to read your reply to Tracy’s comment (Feb 2, 2019) as I have a similar situation with an 8 month old Doberman but cannot see your reply or the column that you wrote in response to the question. Could you please re-post your response?
        Many thanks

  7. Rachel Swaney


    I have a serious newly developed issue with my 6 year old doberman. He has never shown any sign of aggression. However I was petting his head on the couch when he snapped at me and hit my hand with his teeth. He did not break skin but this could have easily been my face or a child. He has snapped at other people but only just a bark to be left alone and never once to me. I have had him since he was 6 months old and he has never acted like this. Ithe snapping started about 6 months ago and on average I’d say it is 1 time a month. Please help.

    1. Hi Rachel,

      I’d need to know more. There’s too much conflicting information in the little you’ve sent.”He has never shown any sign of aggression.” AND, “He has snapped at other people”. It’s one or the other.

      If I had to guess, a lot of excusing unacceptable behavior, working around his behavior as well as your overall expectations of him are behind this. Fixable but you’d have to learn how to live with and train him correctly. If he’d legitimately never done this before I’d recommend a complete physical workup as that’s the only other reason a dog would behave in this manner if they were legitimately free of any signs of aggression for the first three years of their lives.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  8. Hello, we have a 6 1/2 year old female Dobie. She was 7 weeks old when she came to live with us. At the start, she showed some aggression, mainly growling and snarling showing teeth, especially when picking her up. Our vet showed us some techniques to correct that behavior and it completely went away for several years. However, in the last two years, it has reared its nasty head again. My son loves to cuddle with her and love on her. She has started growling at him if he were to lay his head on her or try to cuddle her. Immediately, I started applying the techniques again. Basically, showing her she is not the dominant person in the house. In the last 4 months or so, she will go outside and viciously bark at the ground, for hours at a time. Today, she had been outside for about 3 hours barking. It is very hot here. She was panting so hard and appeared to be overheated. I had tried to get her in, she would not come. My son went to try to get her and she bit him. He tugged her collar to move her towards the door and she lost it. Not a hard bite, she did break skin, but no stitches are needed. The bark/growl was the most ferocious I have heard from her. Could she possibly have a medical condition, do you think her behavior can be corrected, or is it time to say, “I can’t have a dog that will bite my kids, or any kid!”? Please help!

    1. Hi Angel,

      Generally speaking, you should never, ever, EVER blindly accept behavior modification/training advice from a veterinarian or a vet tech, unless of course, they do the professionally ethical courtesy of prefacing that advice by warning you that the education they received to rightfully earn the designation DVM or RVT included at best 3 hours of education regarding behavior and that was for cats, dogs, etc. It’s not their day to day experience as well and much of what they think they know is generally just enough to sound legitimate but also often enough to be useless in the long run or sometimes dangerous to the dog or those the dog will cross paths with, in and outside of the home. In essence, you might as well have a chat with an amateur dog trainer, pet supply employee, another dog owner, or treat the movie the Lady and The Tramp as a canine behavior documentary.

      Something is going on here and it might be medical and that would be exactly what your veterinarian is qualified to diagnose or dismiss. However, 9 times out of 10 when it’s related to sudden changes in behavior (although this doesn’t seem sudden?) they don’t do a properly thorough investigation so you may have to tell them what you want. If you can’t find local qualified behavior help (Best Dog Training – Different (and best) Puppy and Dog Training Methods), book a ‘Virtual+’ – Training/Assessment with me online.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense


  9. Hello John,
    I found your site while doing a Google search about aggressive behavior in a Doberman. My female Doberman is eight months old we got her as a seven week old puppy brought her into a home that has another little dog who is a Chihuahua mix of about 10 pounds. Over the last two months they have become aggressive toward each other granted the little one can be snippy but it is our Doberman now who has sent her to the vet twice this last time was very serious and close to the point of death for our little Chihuahua. We feel that the next time our Doberman will kill our little dog it occurs like a match to gasoline. Sometimes we can predict the behavior but sometimes it comes out of nowhere. Any suggestions outside of keeping them in different rooms? The Chihuahua has been around two other big dogs in our household and this never occurred in the past we have kept a pitbull in our home on occasion for neighbors and it’s never happened with them only with our new Dobie?

    1. Hi Mary,

      I’m going to be frank. Unless your Doberman has a screw loose what you’re describing only happens when someone buys a dog that is by breed, breeding and/or nature a Ferrari, and then raises that dog as if he or she is a minivan. On paper, yes these situations can be resolved with training. Off paper, there’s only so much of you left over at the end of the day and one misstep on your part and your Chihuahua will pay the price of your reach exceeding your grasp with her life. I recommend the following reading:

      Seven Options Available to Dog Owners with Dogs With Very Serious Behavior Problems (Aggression)
      The Five Most Common Doberman Pinscher Mistakes, How To Avoid Them And End Up With Your Dream Dog (e-book)

      Alternatively, book a ‘Virtual+’ – Training session with me.

      – John Wade (

  10. Rosalie Shallcross

    I have a female doberman 15 months. She has had aggressive interactions starting at about 10months, (she came into heat around a year) with my other 3 dogs, 2 females and a male, golden retriever, saint Bernard and a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Most times there is an obvious reason, playing ball and she wanted it, though grabbed the golden by the back of the neck. Other times, just reacted randomly to things that hadn’t previously bothered her. She recently fought the older female ridgeback for wanting to sit with her on the ridgebacks bed. She won’t be allow to sit there anymore. She cut her chest before i could grab her and stop the incident. After this exchange, my ridgeback is now guarded towards her and it feels likely a fight will start. My question is: how can you tell if the aggression is a serious or something that will stop. She is super sweet and never been aggressive towards us. But feeling like we can’t keep them both with such troubles.

  11. Ellease

    Hi I have a 9 month old male Doberman who recently when he’s being told off ( not all the time though ) will growl and sometimes go to bite but doesn’t actually use much pressure. It started when telling him off and grabbing his collar but he doesn’t do it in normal circumstances grabbing him by the collar and not every time he’s told off we think it could be that he’s scared but just not sure it’s so out of character as he’s so lovely the rest of the time and as soon as he does growl or ‘bite’ he knows he’s done wrong and is almost apologetic. Just wondering if it’s and age thing and if there’s anything that we can do, thankyou

    1. Hi Ellease,

      I’d need to learn more, but generally speaking with a dog of this age, particularly a Doberman, it’s a sign that he thinks that at best the two of you are roommates, as opposed to you being perceived as a loving authority figure that he has to listen to, even when he might not want to do so. (“I’m not asking you, I’m telling you – the mother speech)

      If you’ve been following the usual nonsense found on the internet or spread by the amateur dog training world (‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free/Never Say No/R+…’, treat, treat, treat) he’s likely, like so many other dogs in North America just confused. You don’t need to use the equally unscientific ‘Might Is Right’, Alpha, Pack Leader, Dominant (Yank and Crank) nonsense either.

      You’ll find a lot of information on this site about training. Maybe start with these articles, and, or write me if you’d like to book a session with me directly and get on the right track.

      1. Questions You Should Ask A Dog Trainer – Especially If They’ve Given Themselves A Fancy Title
      2. The Five Most Common Doberman Pinscher Mistakes, How To Avoid Them And End Up With Your Dream Dog (e-book) (Note, this is for people thinking about getting a Doberman or have one under 12 weeks of age so they can head off problems. However, I’ve added it, because I think it will help you drill down to why you’re having these issues.
      3. Contact me to ask for appointment information – [email protected]

      – John Wade (

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