Is a Doberman right for you?
or to put it bluntly, Do you deserve a Doberman?
For a start, nothing beats the befits you get
from a good professional trainer in group
training sessions with your puppy or dog.
I can't count the number of well intentioned
dog owners who missed critical training steps
with their pet and ended up with an unruly dog,
not welcomed everywhere or one that they said
was unmanageable. I almost shudder giving the
following link as a help in working with your puppy
. It is not a substitute for formal training but does
help as a good reference to have between classes and
after you think you know it all.
Why Does My Dog do That .
Our training suggestions are suggestions only. They are the methods
we have used in successfully training our Dobes to be welcome visitors anywhere
and good examples of Doberman for the last 30+ years
we are not professional trainers so listen to YOUR trainer
(Not finished yet)
Excuse the fact that this may be a bit disorganized as we are slowly building it as a
"Things to consider in buying a Doberman and then training it" page with edits and
new thoughts periodically appearing
just about anywhere within it.
Far too many people buy dogs (and produce
kids) without considering the responsibility that comes with the
territory. A Doberman is a magnificent dog that thrives on human
interaction and challenge. Dobermans are intelligent but although maybe
somewhat psychic, they still need to be taught what is needed for them
to be good companions admired by all that see them and attain their full potential.
That takes time, work and patience. Formal obedience training is not a must but it is
a good investment and great aid in teaching the owner how to teach and in socializing the pup
with other dogs and people combined.
You don't simply go and get a dog, bring it home
and expect a fantastic, well behaved companion to miraculously develop.
Despite the best screening, too many times we have seen a great pup
become a dog that was: "Terrible", "Untrainable", "It hates me and does
things just to make me mad" "It's destructive" etc. etc. etc.. It gets
returned and we find a dog that was frantic for training/interaction
One beautiful example that we took back was a year
and a half old male who "Can't be housebroken", destroyed furniture,
never obeyed any command and was a total terror. About twenty minutes
after being brought back here and left in chain link fenced area
outside, he ate through the fence and disappeared. After we found him
the next day in the morning, we brought him into house and put him in
crate in kitchen. Didn't know what we had so we didn't trust having him
with loose with the other dogs in the house. We only took him outside
Start of a nightmare??? One trip around the dog's
~ 2000 ft. "boundary" with him and he understood it. Wouldn't cross it
to get a thrown treat. We spent a little time bribing him to react to
his name and "Come". By night if we took him out, the leash was
unnecessary and in fact, he was unwilling to leave the front steps unless one of
us was with him. Gee, it felt like he was afraid of losing contact.
After about a week of time spent with him and
primarily gentle "Come", "Sit", "Stay" work, we did some serious "Heel"
training. After ten minutes of work I took a break and --- surprise - without a
leash he wouldn't leave my side. I had to convince him it was OK. Every
time he thought we were taking him out, he'd get all bouncy, thinking
he'd be getting some new training. Not one case of "going" in the
house. Now on the other side but totally understandable, for the first
days there was constant howling if left alone in crate and he probably
would have torn it up if alone too long. The issue was not that he was
destructive, he just wanted companionship. He had an active mind and
wanted to do things. Just to lie in crate was not one of them. The more
we worked with him, the better he got. The pup had been starved for the
things he needed and wanted most. The dilemma we then faced was that
all the work was creating a bond and we wanted him into a good, new
home as soon as possible. We didn't want him (and us) to get so
attached that going to a new owner would tear his world apart. In his
case we wanted a place were he would have pretty much constant human
contact until he got settled.
After about three weeks he was ready to go to new
home if we found somebody who would give him the time he deserved.
Thankfully we found the perfect family - or they found him and they
have a dog that is admired by all. So why are we telling this tale?
Because anybody who gets a Doberman (or for that matter any dog) needs
to accept the responsibility of the training that will be necessary so
that the dog can achieve its potential. In the case of a Doberman, not
doing the work is destroying the potential that is just waiting to be
unleashed (no pun).
A sidetrack ---- As I add some more to this Doberman training commentary,
we are in the middle of an "event" with a new Dobie pup we just got. As the product of a winter litter
during really lousy weather, her house training was pretty much training to go in the house.
As the weather here is cold with feet of snow, the whole house training and general training is
going to be challenging.to say the least. There is little time and space for the pup to burn
off energy outside playing with other dogs, sticks and all the neat things there so the energy
will be burnt inside with everything a potential target for for teeth and "stuff". We could confine
her to crate for much of the day but that would be wasting good time to interact and train.
Hey, we asked for it. This does bring up one problem that people can run into - dogs chewing on
furniture and other
treasures. Remember, you have an active mind looking to do things You either give it
something to do or it finds something all by itself. You didn't really want the shoe. Our standard
cure for the desire to chew up the wrong things is to stop the action with "No" or negative
sound and immediately give it one of its toys or its rags. The standard
practice for eliminating undesirable behavior - always supply the pup/dog with
an acceptable alternate behavior.
Quite often a pup will not appear particularly
interested in a training session. Most of the time, the right goody can
change that. Ultimately, the treat
becomes icing that is for some special behavior. Formal training in a
class in a good school is great for socialization with a combination of humans and dogs. Not absolutely
necessary but the exposure to the group environment is good. All of our
pups are exposed to a multitude of things while still here. They get
vacuum cleaner rides, mower rides and truck rides to meet new people.
They get to hear chain saws and weed wackers and for the most part, our
only problem is that they will become too curious and get too close to
things with moving parts.
The friendly, painless, rewarding exposure is the
easy part. The most important and perhaps most difficult aspect of
training is getting infallible, instant obedience to the key commands
like "Come", "Stay", "Wait" and that all important "NO!". The only good
solution is work and repetition. By the way, we try to use "No" as
sparingly as possible, saving it for very important things that must
never be done. Other negative sounds and words like "stop" are used to
get a dog to quit doing what is not wanted. "No!" saved for things like
about to run into street where cars can kill.
Doberman training step one
Ok, you brought your new pup home and have
figured out the name you will use for it. One little point I'll interject is that I often get
surprised and maybe a little scared about is the number of things that I teach our dogs
without meaning to teach anything. Dobermans particularly, are watching and listening
and connecting dots to make sense of the world. Once, if somebody told me that they
had a shy dog, I'd have simply attributed it to that dog and probably poor genetics. Now,
the first thing that comes to mind is "How did you teach it that?".
A silly example of that teaching is seen on that link on our home page -
"A Doberman Daily Routine". If the dogs see me changing shoes which I often do when going to
town, it means that there may be a car ride in the near future and they go wild in anticipation.
Same reaction to change of shirt or maybe brushing my hair (depending on what preceded it).
And so the message is that if your pup or dog reacts in a poor way to some event(s), gently
teach that all is good and better yet, rewarding for alternate, desired behavior. I'll say this
often: discourage the undesired and immediately give them an acceptable alternative and reward.
Depending on the amount of
time that the kennel spent in basic training, the pup may not have the
slightest idea of what the words you speak, actually mean.
We work very hard on is using
words correctly and use the dog's name with any command. Example: For
us and our dogs, STAY means stay just as
you are. If lying down, you stay lying down. You do not move from that
place and ideally that position. So now we cannot say "Stay in the
house". For that command meaning stay in a general area, we use "Wait".
Wait in the car (you don't jump out), wait in the house (don't go out
the door) etc. It works well for us. Next - a really nasty problem is
not having the sound of words conflict. I constantly find myself
telling a dog something like "Do you know how good you are?" "I
know you understand" etc. The dog hears No and Good
side by side or "No" and meaningless words. I may just use the word
talking to somebody else while the
dog is waiting for some command as I show off the dog's behavior. Just
what is it supposed to think? In short, be careful what words you use
as conflicting messages can can confuse and impede training. Another
reason to use the dog's name with commands. Dobes are smart and will
often figure out what you actually mean but why make things take much longer
when just using good words can make things go easily. Again, a great reason to
use a professional trainer to train you to be effective and efficient.
For all early training the key (for us) is a treat that
that the pup likes. All good behavior gets rewarded with a goodie.
Let's start with name recognition. Using the pup's name every time you interact with it at
all and giving a treat if it responds to its name it is a start. We (try to)
combine all commands with name. Initially we work hard to avoid using
the pup's name with any negative. You don't want the pup to think that
its name is anything but good. That can take some work and patience as
there can be many things that you don't want the pup to do - like chewing on
furniture, "going" in the house, jumping up on you and on and on.
The first things your pup has to learn
1) Its name ****
As already said, try to save "No!" for the
most important things and it is quite surprising how the pups can
interpret negative sounds as versions of "no". Unh unh - excuse the
phonetics is my mild "don't do it". Speaking of chewing on the wrong
things, stop it and give an alternative - a toy, a rag that is
specifically a "toy", any chewable alternative. One thing that we teach
pups from about four weeks onward is that teeth on skin is a "No
teeth". Dogs have two major tools and teeth are the #1. They will use
them on skin if allowed with no harmful intent but allowing the behavior
can create problems if say, some person freaks out and yanks their hand
away from teeth and a mark is left. When a pup gets its
teeth on a finger, we'll roll the pup's lip over its teeth so that it
is chewing it's lip and the finger at the same time and say "No Teeth",
immediately with a young pup, I'll bring it up to my face and they
often lick it and I'll tell them "Good kisses". If I don't do that,
I'll give it an alternative to use teeth on. Maybe a rag that I'll use
to play with the pup. Use of teeth on us is usually a rare occasion by
week seven. It may still need some reinforcing but it is quite easy to
train your Dobe that teeth on skin is an absolute NO. In this
litigious society, that is a nice piece of insurance where scratch
from play can be warped into an attack from a killer Doberman.
2) Come *****
3) (You pick the word - a milder form of No) Stop doing that (and if possible provide an
4) NO! for absolute do not ever do that.
6) Lie (down)
8) No teeth! (that starts here)
I keep on getting amazed at what I inadvertently
teach our dogs. They are always watching and listening and trying to
connect the dots and anticipate what is about to happen. It's really amazing
how quickly any pup or dog learns that your putting on a jacket means that
you are going outside. On our main page I have a video of "A Doberman Routine" -
I'll be there as soon as I get my shoes on". I have slippers that I wear in the house
and if the dogs see me go to change to shoes it means ---- "He may be going out and
for a ride" and they go wild at the thought of the possible ride to come. It can take me
a long time to put on my shoes
All those tales of "The dog is timid", "The dog is afraid of
people in uniform", "The dog hates xxxxxxx" - I would bet that the vast majority of
those situations were learned behavior. Sure, occasionally there is some genetic
quirk that rules but having watched my inadvertent teaching of many things,
if I run into any strange behavior I try to think of what the dog has seen that would have caused it
and immediately work very hard at countering it. Too bad that I didn't always
do things that way in the past when I didn't understand the teaching I was
doing just going about my life.
I'd love to go into training methods for all commands but again, I'm not a professional trainer and
there are some really great training videos out there. I will go into a few things that are key.
- Don't think about quick fixes like shock collars. Improper use of one can ruin a dog. In some
circumstances they can be a godsend but mostly, they are used in an attempt to short change
- Dogs do not speak our language. They will learn much of it over time but initially, what we say
is just noise. They need to be shown (pleasantly) what words mean. All commands are best
if as short as possible - like one word, particularly at the start. We have a few short videos of
my wife playing/teaching young pups in their first session, when the pup was waiting an extra
day or so to get picked up after their litter mates had gone, that show how command,
body language and treat do a great job of getting the messages across.
- When you get a pup, be slow and careful how you introduce it to collar and leash as initially a pup
is likely to panic getting pulled by a collar as somebody tries to make it come or to restrain it.
- You want all training to be pleasant and fun for the pup so load up on good treats.
- Don't get in a situation where you have to repeat the command over and over again to get the
pup's attention and tempt it to obey. The goal is to give the command once and have the pup want to
obey. Yes, sometimes a tug on collar is needed to start things in the right direction but you don't want to
have to be dragging the pup across the room to you after you said "Come!" and it ignores you because either it doesn't understand or simply chooses to ignore you.
(To be continued and edited and continued and edited and------)
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