Hello Mr. Wade,
My daughter adopted a rescue dog a female Rottweiler/Doberman cross, about 2 years old. Stella adapted well, has been to 2 obedient courses and finished at the top of her class! My concern is that she is very dominant and recently had a situation while visiting my other daughter who has a very gentle 7-year-old Doberman, “Isi”, who gets along well with other dogs but can’t seem to tolerate Stella. We went for a walk, let the dogs off leash to run and they got into a fight, where Isi bit Stella and my daughter needed help to separate them. She is also nervous walking her since she also lunges at vehicles and other dogs and is afraid to lose control and avoids confrontation. To top it off she wants to dominate my daughter and seems to want to protect her all the time. Can she be trained to be more sociable with other dogs and can she be trained to be off leash?
I wish dog trainers would wake up and smell the dog poop. What passes for a dog training curriculum these days does little to keep dogs off the guests or the kitchen table, let alone heel and come in real life settings for that matter. If the “graduation” test can’t be held on the street with real distractions they should be holding back those “top of the class” certificates for a while. There’s no way a dog should have “graduated top of its class” and have the owner in the next sentence say the dog, “is very dominant.”
I doubt Stella’s trying to protect your daughter. Based on what you’ve relayed it’s more likely she’s trying to protect “her property” that being your daughter, in the same way, you see a dog bristle up when someone goes near its food or toy. Provide the dog with a little clarity as to who’s the teacher and who’s the student and things change quickly.
Isi, probably didn’t get along with Stella even though she gets along with other dogs because Stella is a goof and the elder was putting the junior in her place with a goofendectomy. As a rule, dogs don’t fight, they argue or provide measured discipline to an underling. It doesn’t make sense to injure each other as they need to be in a tip-top form in the wild to go hunting so they’re wired to stop the aggression when the other acquiesces. Arguing vs fighting applies to dogs within an established social group i.e. a pack. Dogs meeting each other on the street or in the dog park for the first time can, depending on their nature have a different part of their genetics kick in and the consequences can be direr. Some breeds have had the “self-restraint” bred out of them and it can be a fight to the death. There are a few other exceptions to the rule as well.
If you want Stella to play well with other dogs and have some off-leash control she’s going to need better training. Find another training school. One with balanced trainers that don’t think that treats and timeouts are all you need to train a dog. I don’t know how sociable she can become with other dogs. It depends on her nature. I do know she can be taught to exert self-control around other dogs. As to the rest, I doubt it will take much; your daughter will just need to learn a bit about dog behavior as it works in the real world as opposed to a training arena and how to reward good behavior and discipline when bad behavior rears its head. Otherwise, it won’t be much of a life for either of them.