Young Doberman Pinscher Has Owner Worried
I have a large 4-month-old male Doberman who is continually 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 he’s 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.
The first thing to do is to read this – Puppy Mouthing, Nipping and Biting – Do Not Redirect – Redirecting Has Far-Reaching Negative Consequences And It Almost Always Sets You Up To Fail With Your Puppy – by John Wade
As you will learn in the article, puppy mouthing, nipping and biting exist for reason best not ignored or misinterpreted. It is nature’s way of forcing conflict between a puppy and its mother and a puppy and its littermates for a variety of reasons. A byproduct of that forced conflict is the puppy learning bite inhibition and learning to become aware of tone and body language related to warnings that a line is about to be crossed. However, the primary reason and the reason you should be most concerned with right now is that it starts the whole, ‘Who’s going to be the teacher,’ and who’s going to be the student,’ ball rolling.
The irrationally perplexing advice given by most veterinarians, vet techs, amateur dog trainers and ‘behaviorists’ is to redirect with a toy, timeouts, reward good behavior and other nonsense. There are some strong evolutionary reasons (biology and psychology) behind the behavior, and a mother dog or litter mate that responds similarly (redirect, …) will at best be tagged as ‘student’ and expected to do the looking and listening. In other words, to take the subordinate role in future encounters. Imagine my biting your hand and you giving me $50.00? Yes, I suppose, the $50.00 might divert my attention from your hand. However, one might argue that more often than not over the long term it might do a lot of things and not all of them positive. That’s the irony of the nonsense that is ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free…’, treat, treat, treat amateur dog training. They mean well I’m sure but deep thinkers, they are not.
I’ve come to believe that how the dog’s owner responds to this specific aspect of a puppy’s behavior during the first period of ownership is critical to how relationship and training will progress. Failure to address it appropriately will in some dogs merely result in a dog that loves you but doesn’t listen to you. In others, the consequences will be far more dire for the dog and the owner to say the least.
The fact that your husband is larger and has a deeper voice than you isn’t insignificant, but it’s nowhere near as significant as most women think it is. At least it doesn’t need to be when you learn the other things that also influence behavior. There’s a saying, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” – Mark Twain. It’s not how big, strong you are, it’s how big, and strong your Doberman thinks you are. It’s also how to use that advantage whether it be real or imagined.
Almost without exception, adequately informed and equipped, women are by far better natural dog trainers than men. I can practically entirely guarantee that your Doberman doesn’t listen to your husband better from the perspective of learning life-skill obedience. From the standpoint of learning to ‘stop doing something’ is another story. I’d bet money that when that Doberman puppy has been mouthing him, he not only said, “No!”, he looked and sounded like the personification of “No!”. Initially, that’s about all men typically bring to the training table. It’s not training so much as it’s ‘Might Is Right.’ However, it does in the puppy’s mind clear up the ‘Who is the student and who is the teacher?’, equation and so, moving forward the puppy takes direction more readily from the ‘teacher’ that said ‘No.’
I have the following advice for you and any other dog owner similarly struggling with a puppy that isn’t planning on working with, or can’t find a local Fully Balanced Companion Dog Trainer’:
- Read this article – Canine Resource Guarding In A Nutshell by John Wade
- If you are finding your dog a physical handful, learn about selecting the training collar/equipment that is appropriate for your situation. Read these two articles:
- Learn about and how to avoid the most common mistakes made with Doberman Pinschers. – The Five Most Common Doberman Pinscher Mistakes, How To Avoid Them And End Up With Your Dream Dog – by John Wade (eBook)
Finally, if you’re not making progress sooner rather than later and can’t find appropriately qualified local training help book a Skype consult with me and I’ll get you on track. Heads up though, this isn’t a chat, it’s a minimum 90-minute session with harassment level followup on my part. 😄