Frustration/Excitement Biting 16MO

Gumpapoo

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I need someone to be REAL with me. My 16 month Doberman started frustration and excitement biting about 4 months ago. No issues when younger.

We do a lot of work with him. Our trainer stated we needed to get him to his threshold to teach him how to keep listening while over aroused and to work through frustration. He is getting much better at listening when excited but we are still getting bit on a daily basis. And to be honest not only when training. This happens before exercise, after exercise, after being redirected and generally all times.

I am a a point where I have been working him through this for 4 months and I need hope that these are just hard adolescent times (as I am being told) but I suppose I’d like to hear stories of those who had this type of behaviour with a young dog that eventually outgrew it with age and tough training.

We bike. We tug. We run. We swim. We do fitness exercises. We do obedience. We scent. We do trick training. We have a trainer. He gets downtime to switch off. We live in the country. We have no other animals. We are stern.

I don’t necessarily need ideas on how to correct. What I think I need is hope and stories of others who may have gone through this. I read about doberteens and being challenged and biting but not to this extent.
 

Firestar Dobe

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I would get into an obedience training class. Exercise and play is wonderful, doing obedience training at home is wonderful, however, joining a club with an instructor and other people with dogs can make an amazing difference!
 

Gumpapoo

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Thank
I would get into an obedience training class. Exercise and play is wonderful, doing obedience training at home is wonderful, however, joining a club with an instructor and other people with dogs can make an amazing difference!
Thank you for the advice. We currently attend obedience classes. I do agree it is a wonderful activity.
 

JanS

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Does your trainer know this breed well? Some don't and it can do more harm than good. IMO all positive training isn't for the breed and neither is being too stern so it's a fine balance that isn't always easy to achieve.

All 3 of the trainers we have worked with know bigger guardian type breeds so they're really helpful. There's a dog training club in a neighboring town that's been around for a long time and I refuse to go back there after taking our past GSP there. Many of the dog people I know (including our current trainer) feel the same way.
 

LifeofRubie

Active Member
Hmm... When you say, frustration/excitement biting, can you be more specific? I can understand getting a hand or finger in the way when playing tug, but any other time, teeth on skin should not be allowed.

Is he biting at your clothes when you're getting ready for a W-A-L-K, for example, or actually going for hands/ankles, etc?

If my two get excited about something (walk, meal, treats, going somewhere, a passing bicycle, etc), we take a second to collect. Sit while we put your collars on. Wait to be released for meals. If you start dragging us into a building, we're going to go back and try again. This is more impulse control type work so not sure if that's what you're looking for? It's basically saying, We're not going to do this thing you're super excited about until you make the decision to calm down! You're not squashing their excitement but waiting for desirable behavior before moving forward.

The doberteens are a very real thing and are definitely frustrating! It's the most critical time to be consistent with boundaries and expectations.
 

Gumpapoo

Novitiate
Hmm... When you say, frustration/excitement biting, can you be more specific? I can understand getting a hand or finger in the way when playing tug, but any other time, teeth on skin should not be allowed.

Is he biting at your clothes when you're getting ready for a W-A-L-K, for example, or actually going for hands/ankles, etc?

If my two get excited about something (walk, meal, treats, going somewhere, a passing bicycle, etc), we take a second to collect. Sit while we put your collars on. Wait to be released for meals. If you start dragging us into a building, we're going to go back and try again. This is more impulse control type work so not sure if that's what you're looking for? It's basically saying, We're not going to do this thing you're super excited about until you make the decision to calm down! You're not squashing their excitement but waiting for desirable behavior before moving forward.

The doberteens are a very real thing and are definitely frustrating! It's the most critical time to be consistent with boundaries and expectations.
I guess I’ll be real with you because I guess in the end I have an idea that this might be bigger than adoloscebt/defiant behaviour that might not work itself out with more obedience, more impulse control and more exercise. I’m already doing so much. I’ll give three examples and I’ll preface by saying we work impulse control (beyond basics) on the lower stimulation end and only touch on higher with intentional training because of how intense he is. We work impulse control and boundaries in every facet of his life.

Example one - working on 2km bike rides to work on positioning and easy intro into commands. We have done 8 rides that go as smoothly as possible without over exertion or correction. The last two times when returning to the property I make him sit and wait to be unleashed at the end of the property. He waits and I give him his toy. He lightly bucks around with his toy, drops it and charges me to bite my winter jacket.

Two - Car drove by end of driveway during excitable play moment (we live on property in the country) he took off to start chasing it down the driveway. I recalled him and when he turned around to return he came bolting at me and latched onto my winter jacket and arm

Three - playing two two toys he needs to sit and drop the toy, perform a couple of his tricks and then he is released onto the toy. This one is hard for him. At times if I push him too hard or long he will break away and try to get the toy which I do not allow asking him to sit. He complies and sits again and then looks away from the toy at me and will latch onto my winter jacket/arm

It’s pretty clear in writing I have a problem. I used to foster problem power breeds but I’ve never dealt with a dog that directed AT ME. I knew I was getting a high energy dog I would need to exercise extensively, I knew I was getting a dog that needed mental stimulation beyond imagine. I love dock diving and biking and nose work and walks and runs and trick training but Im overwhelmed.
 

LifeofRubie

Active Member
I am no trainer or behaviorist but it sounds like he's trying to engage with you?

Does it seem like it's in a "let's play!" type of engagement or is he thrashing and "seeing red?"

When he grabs your jacket, what is your response? Is it in a way that would increase his excitability or with almost no emotion and calm?

For instance, when I'm playing tug with my dogs, I'm excitable, tugging back, dancing around. When I want them to drop the toy, I stop moving, stop tugging, and give a calm "drop it." When I stop playing back, it's not fun for them so they disengage. Then I reward the "drop it" with more play.

IF it seems like it's in good fun, for him, this is actually not a bad thing; he just needs to learn to redirect, I think?
 

Rits

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I hope @Doberman Gang will put his two cents in as if I recall, his boy would redirect to the handler out of frustration. I think you have a really drivey guy that is above the levels most here have. DG trains and teaches in IGP which needs that level of dog so hopefully he has some thoughts to help.
 

Ravenbird

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Does it seem like it's in a "let's play!" type of engagement or is he thrashing and "seeing red?"

When he grabs your jacket, what is your response? Is it in a way that would increase his excitability or with almost no emotion and calm?
^^^ That's what I was wondering. ^^^

It really sounds like you are doing everything right, but still getting over the top reactions. Also wondering what he's like in the house. Does he have an off switch for non-play time? Does he stay on a Place command in the house or is he always crated?
Our trainer stated we needed to get him to his threshold to teach him how to keep listening while over aroused and to work through frustration. He is getting much better at listening when excited but we are still getting bit on a daily basis.
I didn't have the same problems that you describe, but the over arousal thing is real. I had a breakthrough with this (at about the same age as your dog) when trying to train focused heeling using a toy instead of food to get higher drive in her heeling. But the focus flew out the window when she knew I had a toy, and she would go spinning out of control. I was told to put her up. Full Stop. This dog lives to train/play/do anything so it was the most deflating thing I could do. And if I put the toy on the ground and went to heeling and she looked at the toy/or refused food/or got snappy taking the food - put her up. She learned that the toy would only be hers if she could learn to ignore it. It took a lot of sessions, lots of very short sessions (5 steps looking at me, then release to the toy, then 10 then 20 etc). But once she learned, she was amped and happy because she knew she'd get what she wanted, she just had to earn it. The biggest thing is that this turned into her having self-control in other aspects of training - could have been coincidental with maturing a little too, but I think it was one of the best lessons we learned. I did have to do Full Stop on training sessions many times, and if that's what your dog lives for it's the ultimate punishment. No anger or emotion, just NOPE, take by the leash to the house, pull off the collar and say your word for All Done. I was told to always end on a good note, but I made an exception with this out-of-control behavior. Just NOPE, and end it. Obviously it wouldn't work if the dog doesn't enjoy training anyway, but I think you don't have that problem.

I'm still assuming that the biting of your arm/jacket is in over-arousal, not vicious aggression, and my dog never bit, but the Full Stop & Put Away is what taught her nothing fun would ever happen when she got out of control. If I wasn't at home, I'd put her back in the car. All fun ends instantly, no second chances.

Looking forward to @Doberman Gang commenting. He definitely has the most experience with this type of dog.

Thanks for joining this forum - share some photos of your monster!
 

Ravenbird

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the over arousal thing is real.
and my dog never bit
LOL, well, I spoke too soon. Today we visited the Agility Field because our little Kennel Club was having their meeting there with fun stuff on the field after. I have not taken Asha out there for several months because I had to narrow down my focus for a BH trial... so Asha went out there on her turn and just went nuts, flying over jumps, over the A-frame, slamming to stops for a treat at the bottom, then through the tunnel 90 to Nothing, absolutely a bundle of energetic chaos. Pulled to a stop & I said OK, and kinda the "party" after a job well done and she was jumping all over like she does, then out of the blue just bit my arm - instantly letting go, but still... I told her Platz! - her formal no-nonsense DOWN, and she did and it was the end of that. My fault for letting her party when she was already amped with the Agility field, but so so so so glad I have her obedience to where she will instantly obey one of the key commands which ends it all. I'm still learning too!
 

Rits

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LOL, well, I spoke too soon. Today we visited the Agility Field because our little Kennel Club was having their meeting there with fun stuff on the field after. I have not taken Asha out there for several months because I had to narrow down my focus for a BH trial... so Asha went out there on her turn and just went nuts, flying over jumps, over the A-frame, slamming to stops for a treat at the bottom, then through the tunnel 90 to Nothing, absolutely a bundle of energetic chaos. Pulled to a stop & I said OK, and kinda the "party" after a job well done and she was jumping all over like she does, then out of the blue just bit my arm - instantly letting go, but still... I told her Platz! - her formal no-nonsense DOWN, and she did and it was the end of that. My fault for letting her party when she was already amped with the Agility field, but so so so so glad I have her obedience to where she will instantly obey one of the key commands which ends it all. I'm still learning too!
Agility is WAY too fun for these guys :D Ripley does this too on agility nights, especially after a break. An absolute nut with a rocket strapped to her. Hope your arm is ok?
 

Ukesox

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Hi Gumpapoo.
My currently 3.5 year old bitch was the doberman from hell for several months up until about 2 with regards mugging me (including biting) when out on walks on lead, & in training classes.
The on lead & in class episodes & I think came out of frustration, often if she didn’t get her own way…like being prevented from “greeting” another dog as we passed by, but sometimes they were just random & quite scary. Having had 5 doberman previously I’d certainly never experienced anything that came close! Standard advice (Ignoring & turning away) did nothing to stop it..neither did harsh words. What did work was a quick blast from a compressed air airosol “pet corrector“…not at her but away to one side so she didn’t know where it was comming from. The unexpected noise immediately got her out of the “mad zone” & she’d be fine again. A bit further down the line as the events became less frequent & less extreme, getting her to do a couple of very basic obedience routines finishing up with a food reward, had the same effect of getting her out of the “mad zone” & back to normality.
Despite decades of experience with the breed & seeking help in training classes for this issue, there were times when I really was overwhelmed & wondered if she would ever improve.…but she has, & though still challenging in some ways, (which I’m still working on) has left the “mad zone” biting days behind her & become relatively calm. It’s partly a case of her maturing with age but you must work with them & help them to avoid this behaviour continuing into adulthood as a habit, keeping as calm as possible along the way.
 

Doberman Gang

Hot Topics Subscriber

Correct, yes. It's actually stress, even if it's happy stress, if that makes sense. Like children getting out of control, even if it's a happy out of control.



OK, that's two votes to quit recalls from the sit, I'd better stop! She does have an excellent recall from any distance, so you're right, no worries about that.


So even in a two minute session, several ball reward breaks? If I do the BH routine, I try to break it up so she doesn't anticipate the pattern, but we have done the pattern several times and is pretty good. Break that into sections with play between each one?

I did try re-doing my throw and realized when I lift my arm to toss, my arm comes forward first, then toss back. As soon as she sees the forward motion of my arm (left or right) she jumps in front of me, then either spins to go get the ball to the left or runs around to go right, but she constantly comes forward the second I make a motion with my ball hand. Correct that? If I keep my arm straight down and just flick it backward with my wrist it's not going to go very far, but I'll try that. I need to see a slow mo video of how you guys get it to go behind you, LOL!


I've used a mirror at the end of my long hallway to practice the basic and focus so I don't have to twist to see what she's doing. It helped a LOT. I don't have a mirror or place that I can think of to use a mirror for recall though. "Call from different angles" - do you mean not down the field in front of you? Over to one side or another so she comes in at an angle and has to straighten herself for the front? I don't want to call her to basic at this point as it took me ages to un-do her going from front to basic before I asked.

We are having fun, she has improved tons since I learned to increase drive with the ball/tug. She still has tons of food drive. I so badly need an instructor in real time, even watching the videos I can see what needs improvement but don't know how to go about it.

Thanks All, for the compliments and the suggestions. Onward and forward - !

^^^ That's what I was wondering. ^^^

It really sounds like you are doing everything right, but still getting over the top reactions. Also wondering what he's like in the house. Does he have an off switch for non-play time? Does he stay on a Place command in the house or is he always crated?

I didn't have the same problems that you describe, but the over arousal thing is real. I had a breakthrough with this (at about the same age as your dog) when trying to train focused heeling using a toy instead of food to get higher drive in her heeling. But the focus flew out the window when she knew I had a toy, and she would go spinning out of control. I was told to put her up. Full Stop. This dog lives to train/play/do anything so it was the most deflating thing I could do. And if I put the toy on the ground and went to heeling and she looked at the toy/or refused food/or got snappy taking the food - put her up. She learned that the toy would only be hers if she could learn to ignore it. It took a lot of sessions, lots of very short sessions (5 steps looking at me, then release to the toy, then 10 then 20 etc). But once she learned, she was amped and happy because she knew she'd get what she wanted, she just had to earn it. The biggest thing is that this turned into her having self-control in other aspects of training - could have been coincidental with maturing a little too, but I think it was one of the best lessons we learned. I did have to do Full Stop on training sessions many times, and if that's what your dog lives for it's the ultimate punishment. No anger or emotion, just NOPE, take by the leash to the house, pull off the collar and say your word for All Done. I was told to always end on a good note, but I made an exception with this out-of-control behavior. Just NOPE, and end it. Obviously it wouldn't work if the dog doesn't enjoy training anyway, but I think you don't have that problem.

I'm still assuming that the biting of your arm/jacket is in over-arousal, not vicious aggression, and my dog never bit, but the Full Stop & Put Away is what taught her nothing fun would ever happen when she got out of control. If I wasn't at home, I'd put her back in the car. All fun ends instantly, no second chances.

Looking forward to @Doberman Gang commenting. He definitely has the most experience with this type of dog.

Thanks for joining this forum - share some photos of your monster!

I need someone to be REAL with me. My 16 month Doberman started frustration and excitement biting about 4 months ago. No issues when younger.

We do a lot of work with him. Our trainer stated we needed to get him to his threshold to teach him how to keep listening while over aroused and to work through frustration. He is getting much better at listening when excited but we are still getting bit on a daily basis. And to be honest not only when training. This happens before exercise, after exercise, after being redirected and generally all times.

I am a a point where I have been working him through this for 4 months and I need hope that these are just hard adolescent times (as I am being told) but I suppose I’d like to hear stories of those who had this type of behaviour with a young dog that eventually outgrew it with age and tough training.

We bike. We tug. We run. We swim. We do fitness exercises. We do obedience. We scent. We do trick training. We have a trainer. He gets downtime to switch off. We live in the country. We have no other animals. We are stern.

I don’t necessarily need ideas on how to correct. What I think I need is hope and stories of others who may have gone through this. I read about doberteens and being challenged and biting but not to this extent.
First off, I agree getting your dog into a high state of drive then capping that behavior is in your benefit. I always train this way. You say you don’t necessarily need ideas on how to correct, so I can’t help you there. I will say being able to read the dogs behavior will make a difference in your success. The dog needs to have a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to biting. If your dog is biting from excitement and wanting to play it is an easy fix and your dog just needs taught the rules in what is allowed. Mark bad behavior, Correct and then redirect. If you dog is coming up the leash aggressively to bite you and out of control then you need a trainer who understands this behavior and how to fix it. This can become dangerous for you and will usually end up with the dog getting put down.
 

Kswoodssue

Jr Member
I was searching the forum to get answers and came across this discussion. Sasha will be 15 wks next Monday. We are not new to dogs, but we are new to Dobermans. In a nutshell, she has episodes that I read as over stimulation, or anxiety, or frustration, or a desire to play. She jumps and jumps and strikes us with her paws. She finds a coat sleeve and hangs by her teeth from it, or she did manage to nip my stomach and bruise it. It has become something she seems compelled to do. I considered the idea of demonic possession. She is “driven” to struggle with us, but not growling in anger. Usually it happens on leash. I stopped park trail visits for the time being, as leading the Tasmanian devil while hanging by her teeth read of overstimulation for her and for me too. She is a pro at frisbee fetch. Doing fair with drop it, and will sit and down. She is so smart. I need advise so that I can be just a bit smarter. Of note, she is growing like crazy. She moves well, and looks fit. Vet checks are all good. I have considered growing pains, but her gait is smooth. Thanks.
 

Ukesox

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At that age what you’re experiencing isn’t unusual, in fact I’d say it’s normal. Sometimes removing the stimulus is the simple answer. Mine hung off my jacket sleve, so I changed the jacket to one that wasn’t so puffy & was tighter fitting in the arm & she stopped!
To stay ahead, extend the brain work. So, introduce other training aids so it’s not just the frisbee & gradually extend the obedience & fun activities. Its easy to wind them up with praise, so keep this calm. Teaching “focus“ will help massively now & going forward. A separate “look” and “release“ command are essential & easily taught & will help to establish that you are the boss.
The sky’s the limit, but it is relentless & hard work, so the more fun you can make it (for the both of you) the better.
 

Ravenbird

$ Forum Donor $
First off, I agree getting your dog into a high state of drive then capping that behavior is in your benefit. I always train this way. You say you don’t necessarily need ideas on how to correct, so I can’t help you there. I will say being able to read the dogs behavior will make a difference in your success. The dog needs to have a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to biting. If your dog is biting from excitement and wanting to play it is an easy fix and your dog just needs taught the rules in what is allowed. Mark bad behavior, Correct and then redirect. If you dog is coming up the leash aggressively to bite you and out of control then you need a trainer who understands this behavior and how to fix it. This can become dangerous for you and will usually end up with the dog getting put down.
@Kswoodssue ^^^ what he said ^^^^ plus the mantra "firm but fair" and "consistent and persistent". At this wild puppy age it can be difficult but if you work on shaping the behavior now you will save yourself tons of grief if she's still doing this as a teenager. Nothing will happen overnight, and remember every waking moment Sasha is learning what she can & can't do. Read through lots of these former puppy behavior threads for ideas that can work for you.
 

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