Is a Doberman right for you?
Our training suggestions are suggestions only. They are the methods
we have used in successfully training our Dobes to be welcome visitors
and good examples of Doberman for the last 30+ years
(Not finished yet)
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 and attain their potential. That takes work, time
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.
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 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 extreme 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 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 quit 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).
Quite often a pup will not appear particularly
interested in a training session. Most of the time, the right goody can
change that. Can't think of when it didn't. Ultimately, the treat
becomes icing that is for some special behavior. Formal training in a
class in a good school is great for socialization. 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. Depending one 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.
A few things that we work very hard on is using words correctly. 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 and 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?". The dog hears No and Good side by side. Or I 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 slow down trainging.
For all early training the key 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
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 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. 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
litigatious 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) Stop doing that (and if possible provide an alternative behavior)
5) Lie (down)
(To be continued and edited and continued and edited and------)
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