This isn't a surprise, as he is a rescue and the shelter did warn that he isn't friendly with strangers. In part, this is down to a lack of socialization when he was a pup, but you also suspect previous owners were heavy-handed when dealing with this problem and made it worse.
Fortunately, you are aware of the seriousness of this bad behavior and are working with a certified dog behaviorist to put a desensitization and counter-conditioning strategy in place. Although time-consuming, you are making progress and are cautiously optimistic his unfortunate reaction can be improved upon.
Teaching a Doberman to be friendly means unlearning his automatic reaction to the encounter, and replacing that programming with positive and pleasant experiences. This doesn't happen quickly, so expect to dedicate considerable time and patience to this retraining. The result, however, will be a dog that is friendly and well-adjusted.
Key to teaching a Doberman to be friendly is to build his confidence with reward-based training methods and by facilitating positive encounters in any number of different situations.
The basic training equipment needed includes:
He is very nervous of other dogs, he was attacked in our local park by a greyhound, he didn’t retaliate, which has made him worse, how can we help him stop being so nervous. I know I’m guilty of tensing up when other dogs come near.
Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce his fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at his (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!
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Hello! Do you know anyone I can ask for help with training my Odin and especially, socializing him? In the Marietta/Atlanta GA area
Hello Kevin, Check out the website link below or download the WAG! app to see trainers near you. https://wagwalking.com/dog-walking/ga-marietta Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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