OK, so first things first, we need to remember that Dobies were bred to be guard dogs. So, they will have a tendency to bark. My first dog was a Dobie… And even when he knew people, he’d still bark at them. And he got so excited. If you have those problems, you’ll find help in this blog post!
It used to be funny, because my next dog was a GSD. She’d run out barking with Zak. Then run straight past the person knocking because: “we know them, we couldn’t possibly be barking at them”. We used to joke that Zak was a bark first, think later kind of dog.
As with all dogs, you get some who love food, others who don’t. If there’s something more exciting than the food, it won’t matter to them. You may as well throw the treats away.
So what do you do instead?
One of the most important things to know about your dog is their “Why” You can read this blog post about it. Because knowing why your dog is doing what they’re doing takes the blame off you and your dog. Now your job is to take their why and use it to help them behave better.
The first place to start is teaching your dog to be calm. And that is an exercise in teaching you patience (I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t need to work on this, so you’ll be fine)! Now, I know that this is very difficult. Because for many years this is the part where I struggled. But lucky for you, I take you through it step by step in Teach Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash.
The key thing is to take things slow. Set both yourself and your dog up for success by not rushing things. Start where there’s less going on. For instance, start in the back yard at first. You can then start adding more and more distracting places.
But what do you do when things go pear shaped?
When your dog is overreacting to something the first thing to do is get them out of there. Making them sit is actually an advanced skill (so is walking past another dog). If things are not improving after a week, consider changing what you’re doing. Now us humans tend to see the negatives not the positives, so keep track of where you started.
That is information. Your dog is telling you that what you’re doing isn’t right. Learn to listen to that. Practice the same thing for at least a week (and at least once a day) before you can see if what you’re doing is right or not.
Your dog isn’t being difficult to make your life miserable. They genuinely have a concern over what’s going on. So, do an online training course or get a trainer to help you with the behaviour. Remember: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”.
Don’t fall into these traps:
I thought that if I showed my Dobermann how to do something once or twice, he’d remember. Or that if I did a training session in the back yard he’d magically know how to do things out and about… Um… Nope that’s not how dogs work.
Firstly, every interaction you have with your dog is telling them how you want to behave. That means: every step you take matters. If your dog is doing something you don’t want them to do, you may as well give them a treat for that.
Also, dogs don’t generalise. What does that mean? If you teach your dog to sit in the kitchen, in front of you with no one else there. Expecting your dog to understand how to sit next to you… or how to sit at the park… or how to sit when visitors are there, they might look at you like you’re stupid.