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Alright so this is what happened.

Tyson is my cousin's dog who is a Doberman, about 4 and a half years old. I was at their house one day, and Tyson was eating a chicken bone. I kinda surprised him and gave him a hug from behind, putting my face beside his face. He snapped and he bit my ear, had to get about 20 stitches to fix it. I go to my cousin's house frequently and see Tyson all the time, but I have always been afraid of him after that day. I would usually just pet him, but sometimes I try to play around with him a little, doing little things like shaking his neck, and whenever I try playing around with him, he snaps on me. This has happened about 4-5 times. I went to their house again today and Tyson was afraid of me. He always the one scaring me when he snaps, but for some reason I frighten him.

Can anyone explain why Tyson is afraid of me when I have done nothing to hurt him?
 

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Do they punish him when he bites/snaps at you? That would do it. Or maybe you come on too strong (like "shaking his neck"--how often do you do that?) and it intimidates him? That could account for the bite, too. . .most bites are from fear.
 

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You should never surprise a dog, especially when it's eating. You should never grab a dog from behind, especially when it's eating. You really shouldn't hug a dog at all unless you know it extremely well and know it's okay with hugs, and still never when it's eating. You should never shake the neck (?) of a dog that's already nervous around you (or any dog, really, unless it's a dog you know extremely well and it finds that kind of rough play fun). It sounds like you just have absolutely no idea how to interact with dogs, and you are unpredictable. The dog is nervous of you because it doesn't know what you're going to do to it.

Stop trying to play with the dog, ever. When you visit, ignore the dog; don't look in his face or try to play with him. If the dog is nervous and won't approach you, keep some treats in your hand and toss one near him every once in a while, while otherwise ignoring him. If he does approach you, pat him nicely on the side of his neck, not reaching over his head. Be calm and polite and do not try to play with him, especially roughly. If you do this every day for a while, he should become okay with your presence.
 

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Do they punish him when he bites/snaps at you? That would do it. Or maybe you come on too strong (like "shaking his neck"--how often do you do that?) and it intimidates him? That could account for the bite, too. . .most bites are from fear.
Yeah they do punish him, so that could be a factor.
 

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You should never surprise a dog, especially when it's eating. You should never grab a dog from behind, especially when it's eating. You really shouldn't hug a dog at all unless you know it extremely well and know it's okay with hugs, and still never when it's eating. You should never shake the neck (?) of a dog that's already nervous around you (or any dog, really, unless it's a dog you know extremely well and it finds that kind of rough play fun). It sounds like you just have absolutely no idea how to interact with dogs, and you are unpredictable. The dog is nervous of you because it doesn't know what you're going to do to it.

Stop trying to play with the dog, ever. When you visit, ignore the dog; don't look in his face or try to play with him. If the dog is nervous and won't approach you, keep some treats in your hand and toss one near him every once in a while, while otherwise ignoring him. If he does approach you, pat him nicely on the side of his neck, not reaching over his head. Be calm and polite and do not try to play with him, especially roughly. If you do this every day for a while, he should become okay with your presence.
Thanks for your reply, makes a lot of sense. I'll try and take your advice. :)
 

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Yeah they do punish him, so that could be a factor.
Yeah, especially if they hurt him (like hitting). Now all he knows is that he gets hurt whenever you're around. He'll never like you as long as that goes on. You can try everything Crantastic mentioned (great advice), but if he's being hurt when he's trying to defend himself he's just going to get worse.
 

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Tyson was eating a chicken bone. I kinda surprised him and gave him a hug from behind, putting my face beside his face.
Please NEVER do this again (to any dog). You got VERY lucky that only your ear was harmed.

That being said, if you're friends are punishing him harshly, that would be why he doesn't like you. I don't blame him either, you kind of set him up for failure.
 
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