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Controlling a dog


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We have a Dobermann - had her from a rescue centre at 4 years old. The story being that the previous owners were from NZ and had her there, then taken to Australia and then to the UK. They got rid of her because they were going to be working between the UK and Australia.

She cries every time she sees children or other dogs and is extremely friendly.

However, we have to be selective as to where we walk her. Most of the time she is fine but occassionally runs off and then back past us and this can go on for 1.5 hours.

Horses are a draw, if they are standing then she runs up to them and then off and then back to them again.

If they are galloping then she will chase and, on a beach in S. Wales a Land Rover drove down the beach and she chased that and then a quad bike with the same reaction.

Calling etc does no good - she comes back when she is good and ready.

We believe that her origins might be true and the person that runs the rescue centre would have met the previous owners and would have detected the NZ accent. However, think that her running off might have been the reason they got rid of her.

She is now 8 and our hopes of her quietening down have not materialised.

We did think of the collars that you can use to give an electric shock when they misbehave but research threw up some horror stories.

Luckily our house in France has a reasonable sized garden that she can run in.

I would welcome any thoughts you may have as to how to control her mad moments / stop her when one starts - and save vets bills as on occassions she has run and run until her outer skin of the pads has gone.




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Hi Paul

I think your best bet is to talk to an expert in behaviour problems with dogs - I don't know if the term behaviourist is right.  You vet might know someone.  Equally, is there a good dog club in your area ?(where are you in France?).  There are a lot of dog trainers now who have an ethological approach, ie they listen to what the dog is trying to tell them and then work on communication rather than simply disciplining the dog.  Rescued dogs can be more difficult to understand as it is not always easy to know how they were treated before. 

The other thing is to contact a Dobermann rescue place as they should understand this sort of problem.  Equally, a Dobermann breeder may be able to help you.

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I have a similar issue from time to time with my rescue dog too, never had the same issue with dogs I've had from pups.  Mine is better though if I ignore her and make a fuss of my other dog.  I am often seen in the woods telling my spaniel what a lovely dog he is very loudly, this makes the errant dog come bounding back to me for the same treatment.  Mine chases cars,bikes etc.  very dangerous but luckily we only get one past a day!  If I walk her somewhere unknown she generally sticks with me, when I walk her locally she takes off at will and not calling seems to be the best way to bring her back, along with fusses for the 'good' dog.  I've heard or read somewhere that shouting for the dog that runs off makes things worse as as long as they can hear you shouting they know where you are, if you keep quiet and carry on then they come looking, this works for me (to an extent).

Latest problem with mine, disappearing at bedtime to bark for an hour in the woods at hedgehogs, my old spaniel, who would pee himself if he can't see me for one minute,  just looks at me with disgust as if to say where did you get her from??

Sorry no answers just sharing in your frustration...


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We had a border collie that chased cars, and chased one too many [:(] My main worry was that he would cause an accident and people would be hurt.

So P2 if your dog presents a danger to traffic, I think it would be worth trying the collar. We used one on Tip and it did work, with no bad side effects. But it wasn't a permanent solution, and needed to be used whenever we were out with him. So sometimes we put it on the other dog, who copied him. And that was when he was killed.

You can put the collar on very low power so that it just gives a strong tingle - we tried it on ourselves. He had a thick coat too.

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Thank you for all your replies.

Callie, we are still in the UK with a house down in 31 (would have been relocating permanently next year but for the change in health rules!). She absolutely loves it at the French house - so many smells, lizards and holes to dig. In fact when we arrive she is so excited. When we get back to the UK she sulks.

Have spoken to the person who runs the rescue centre and she has a similar problem with one or two of her dogs (it is a Dobermann rescue centre).

Panda, our last Dobermann was from a pup and would not leave your side. When we got our present dog she was very much aloof which is perhaps understandable but has become very affectionate with a great deal of cupboard love - if I am not fast enough giving her a biscuit I get a whack with her paw. I must say it was a good feeling having a rescue dog and hopefully giving her, hopefully, a good home.

Patf we are acutely aware of the dangers of roads. We have two main places where we take her. One is to woods about 6 miles away which is often very muddy so not ideal. There is only one part where there is a road but it is quite a way from the path. Normally though at weekends we drive 35 miles each way to take her to an area of chalk upland that is not boggy and far from any roads. I am always very fearful of letting her off the lead when there is a road nearby and in fact will not do that. Always very apprehensive letting her off in any new place and even more so in France although I suppose there is no real difference between the UK and France.

Thanks for the reassurance that the collars can be set to a tickle, might be worth a try. Perhaps the horror stories that I have read are where they have been turned to ZAP power.

Will also try the keeping quiet option though I must say it might be hard to do. Perhaps I could get a shotgun - not to shoot her but if there is gunfire then she sticks herself to my leg.


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  • 2 weeks later...


Its very common for rescue dogs to have lots of anxieties that show up in different ways. Please take time and patience with your Doberman rather than find a punishing quick fix. Even a tingle can have an adverse affect from an electric collar if the animal is the slightest bit  anxious or nervous. We have in the past had different breeds in for retraining with running off and chasing problems. They all had stress triggers, for example one Old English sheep dog would never leave his new owners side unless he saw children in the distance then no amount of calling would get him back. (It seemed the dog was always convinced that the children were friends he knew-possibly from a previous family that had owned him) Others  dogs would disappear after bikes or horses, not anything and everything just particular familiar objects or noises from the past.

Most of those dogs were helped by routine and structure work i.e.  takeing the dog  towards the trigger objects or sounds (once identified) but on a long line. The owner was taught not to react even if the dog did but to let the long line out after the dog. At the moment the long line is about to bring the dog to a halt the owner blows a dog whistle to coincide with the halt (20ft) The owner then walks calmly to the dog gathering the long line without yanking or shouting. On arrival at the dog praise is given and treats of cooked liver given to divert attention and briskly walk in a different direction with the dog praising and keeping his attention. This obviously has to be set up in a safe area and can be a process of maybe a few days work or weeks of repatition depending on the level of anxiety the dog is in but it does work with contenuity and patience. I hope this helps.

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Having watched a series on UK TV called "Dog Borstal", a trick they tried which quite often worked was a plastic bottle partially filled with pebbles.  When you take your dog out on a lead, if it rushes towards another animal (a horse, another dog, a cat, etc) or even a human, just rattle the bottle at them, tap them gently with it,  and say NO firmly, followed after a couple of times with a treat.  Apparently, they don't like the noise, but it isn't harmful in any way to the dog, just teaches them to associate the rattle with the word NO.  And apparently, after a while, you will no longer need the pebble bottle as when you say NO, they associate it with a treat.

Don't know if this is helpful, but it worked on our friends Rhodesian Ridgeback who was very friendly but would pull on the lead every time another dog passed.  He didn't want to eat them, he was just very friendly, and a RR is not the kind of dog you can gently pull back on a lead as they are so strong.

Maybe worth a try ?!!


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