Adopted 5-month old dobermann junior arrived from a kennel. To best of my knowledge she has been kept good care of, been socialized with humans and other dogs, had regular walks since she got all her vaccinations and been trained to outside potty. When she arrived, she was startled naturally as she traveled a long distance in a car. We gave her safe space to acclimate and explore the new environment.

It's been a good couple days now but she's still afraid to leave the living room. Luring her rarely worked. I tried luring with treats and then sitting there with her to calm down.

Then, one day I picked her up in my lap to go down and play. She had a WONDERFUL time. Got super excited, played a lot with us. Every now and then she became startled and halted for 3-4 seconds, which I waited before letting her explore more on her own. Did not try any training here, only to reward and reinforce.

Then when it was time to go home it started again. Dropped on her belly, got scared, shaking, whining and refusing to move. Calmed her for a good while before I picked her up again and she drenched me in pee.

How can I identify what causes all this?

I don't think she was ever experiencing violence neither from me or the previous owner. Playing outside is clearly enjoyable and not a new experience for her. Only the transition from the living room to outside and back

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1 Answer 1


This is actually pretty common believe it or not. 5 months is still quite young, meaning she will be easily startled. In this case, your dog reminds me of my own dog, who had the exact same problem when we took him home at just four months old. He just hid in the corner, but we were able to calm his fears by doing a few strategies that I still commonly recommend to this day.

If it's you who spooked your dog, you can reassure her by feeding her a piece of food out of your hand. This will tell the dog "I'm your friend." I've been told doing this will also discourage aggression, but I have been unable to confirm this.

Another thing you can do, is try to not pressure your dog into doing the thing she is afraid of. For a few months, my dog was terrified of the hallway. We were able to help him overcome this fear by not pressuring him into going into the hallway and he eventually did it on his own. However, this will not work 100% of the time and will not work with all dogs.

Before you do any of this, you need to actually be able to specifically identify what it is your dog is afraid of and go from there. I shouldn't even need a source for this, as it's pretty obvious that you can't reassure your dog unless you know what she's afraid of. Also, the hand feeding thing, try to do that part regardless. It's a really effective socializing technique that can help your dog feel safer around you.

If you notice that a particular trigger is the only cause of fear, try eliminating that trigger. If that's not possible, slowly help your dog become comfortable with the trigger, and with small steps, their fear may be gone. "Just as with people, a dog’s fear can interfere with learning. When a dog is anxious, they aren’t focused on you, but rather the scary distraction. It can be a struggle to get them to listen." source

  • Thanks for answering, I do try hand feeding to build trust and trying to identify the source of this stress. I thought it's maybe the leash, so I tried coditioning putting it on with immediate treat rewards. Then I thought it's maybe the dark. I'd be happy to just give her weeks/months but I hear Dobermanns become exceptionally difficult if not socialized as soon as possible. Hiding for months in the living room might also harm her on the long term. Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 17:16
  • @DesperatePuppyOwner those are all things that do work. I'll expand my answer to address a few more things you can try Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 19:14

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