Training a Doberman
It cannot be stressed enough that the owner of a Doberman must have an advanced knowledge of all aspects of dog training and understand the dog’s mind. Training a Doberman means to always be one step ahead in the thinking department and to be adaptable and choose tactics to meet the demands of the individual dog. The more interesting the training session, the more the Doberman will respond.
Early socialisation and training are especially important for this breed so that they don’t become too dominant and territorial as adult dogs. Their natural instincts lead the Dobe to protect his home and family without direction from his owner. Unfortunately this can mean that an untrained Dobe will decide for himself what he sees as a perceived threat.
Dobe’s have been known to guard their owners from other family members, friends or other family pets. This is one of the smartest breeds and is known for its reasoning power and its huge exuberance for life. They can get bored very easily and a bored Doberman is a very unhappy and often destructive dog.
Dog Obedience training has to be done on a daily basis incorporating lots of games, tracking and thought-filled exercised. There is nothing that this dog cannot do. They enjoy swimming, racing across open fields, retrieving objects, tracking and generally fooling around so long as they feel loved and at home with their family.
It is vital that potential owners only purchase Doberman puppies from reputable breeders. Often Dobermans are bred by people who have no real knowledge of the breed or any genetic health issues. Such breeders produce stock with unstable characters and genetic anomalies. This leads to adult dogs with behavioural problems such as aggression, fearfulness, hyperactivity and other issues, though most of these behaviours result from poor dog ownership and handling.
Lying within the breed are strong instincts to chase other creatures and this can express itself as aggression towards other dogs. Many breeders churn out puppies that have been bred more for appearance rather than working abilities and are more interested in profits than improving the breed. Only purchase puppies from reputable breeders whose stock has been tested for genetic failings and where both parents can be seen.
The Doberman’s personality is such that the dog does not respond positively to physical punishment, and why should it? This dog is a formidable emperor of the canine world, so they should have every right to demand the most skilled and ethical of owners.
Positive reinforcement, firmness and patience are the only way to train a Doberman. Mistakes made in training can be hard to correct with this breed. The owner must be one step ahead of the dog at all times. The Dobe learns quickly and demands continual challenges to keep him focused. Asked to do something that will please its owner and the Dobe will go beyond what is required.
All members of the family should be involved in training the new puppy and must be consistent in correcting negative behaviour and rewarding good responses. However the Doberman will bond closer with one family member more than others so will look for direction from an individual rather than the whole family. This is a dog that is so alert that it will pick up on any deviation from the desired command. For example; if the owner asks the dog to sit and then rewards him for a “sloppy” sit, the dog will always give a poor performance. This is the nature of their intelligence and attention to detail, and you can either take advantage of it, or let it work against you. Sloppy training will result in a sloppy level of obedience, and this is such a waste of a remarkable breed of dog.
The Doberman can and will train itself to give minimal obedience. Negative behaviour such as mouthing, jumping up, not focusing on a given task and slow responses must be correctively trained out. Patience, persistence and dedicated training with the Dobe puppy brings the best results. Train the dog in the same way every time and the puppy will be an eager student that can quickly master everything it is taught. With consistent obedience training the owner will improve communication, strengthen the trust and earn the dog’s respect.
So you still want to own a Doberman?
Potential owners may now be aware of the excellent qualities this amazing dog possesses. As with all things, there is a downside. Many people do not want a dog that is so needy that it just cannot be separated from its owner and family. The Doberman does not do well in boarding kennels so if you enjoy travelling the world, we believe you should choose a different breed. The Dobe does not like to be left alone for long so if you are a workaholic, do not choose this breed.
The Doberman is expensive to insure, to feed and to keep in the best of health so if your finances have the bank manager scratching his head, do not choose this breed. Perhaps it is the Dobe’s strength and working abilities that attracts you but be aware that this strong athletic dog can become a shivering wreck if the weather turns cold. It was for this reason that the Police and Armed Forces have changed to using the far hardier German Shepherd Dog that can withstand more extreme temperatures than the Dobe that heads for his nice warm bed if the thermometer starts to fall.
This dog will not be happy with a pat on the head. They need your full attention and will be sat on your feet, pressed against your side or trying to clamber onto your lap. Try ‘spending a penny’ with the door closed and your Dobe will be sat outside whining and sighing, peeved that you dare to shut him out!
They get bored easily, they need huge amounts of exercise and daily training sessions. Have the misfortune to own an unhealthy dog and veterinary bills can be very high. The Doberman is prone to Wobblers Syndrome (a spinal disease causing paralysis), Von Wilderbrands Disease (a genetic blood disorder), and Bloat (a life threatening condition caused when the stomach rotates after eating, often found in deep-chested dogs).
The Doberman is the result of one man’s dream to produce a large dog that was an excellent guard with the agility of a Terrier. Too many Dobermans end their days in rescue shelters through no fault of their own, more often because the owner did not think long and hard about the breed’s needs and whether they could meet them PRIOR To getting a Doberman. Poor breeding and poor owners have led to this wonderful dog being sometimes ignorantly labelled as a “killer” and to be known for its aggression rather than the lovable clowns they really are.
Is a Doberman right for you? Most probably yes, if you love all of the above.
ARE YOU RIGHT FOR A DOBERMAN? Most probably NO, going by experience of over 20 years in the dog business, and with the hundreds of owners I have met who wished to God they had never got one for one reason or another. This is not a dog you can take home and feel good about owning a pet for the next ten years. Once you take home your first Doberman, your life quite SERIOUSLY will never ever be the same again. If you get it right, it will be a totally new life full of adoration and respect for this incredible breed of dog.
If you don’t, both you and the dog will suffer. PLEASE make an informed, rational and considered judgement on this breed, before you even visit a breeder, as it’s almost impossible for any dog lover visiting a Doberman breeder to leave without a puppy.
The Doberman Pinscher – a very, very misunderstood and underestimated dog, which can be the best or the worst dog you could ever own, it’s all down to YOU. Make sure you are up to the challenge, before you fall in love with this breed, as nobody will thank you for a mistake with such a sensitive and loving animal as this.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if it seems like we are trying to put some people off the Doberman as a choice of pet dog, then we have done exactly what we intended. Sorry, but we have seen way too many mistakes with this dog breed, and these things just need saying. You may well be a Doberman’s PERFECT owner, but in our experience in the UK at least (and the US to some extent) around 70-80% of people who want a Doberman would NOT be suited to owning one, and often would not be capable of even handling one. To the rest of you, ENJOY! It’s a relationship of a lifetime!
Final Note: Please feel free to Contact Us with ANY questions or concerns you have regarding this breed, the training, the health issues, or anything else for that matter. We have a great deal of experience of Dobermans and we are always more than happy to offer guidance to people considering such a big decision.
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