Dog Training and Dog Care advice from UK Professionals

My Doberman: 'Shadow'

Shadow - DobermanI have a Doberman called Shadow who is now approaching eight years old.

He is so true to type that the Doberman Breed standard could have been modelled on him.

He is a creature of stunning beauty with the power and strength that the Dobermann breed is renowned for.

Shadow came to me through slightly unusual circumstances. Some years ago I had a Border Collie that I had purchased from a farmer as a puppy. Max was bought with his sister from a litter accidentally bred on a nearby farm. He was a very strange puppy from the very beginning and he had been rejected by his canine pack. I noticed him hiding behind a wall, not allowed near the rest of his litter by his mother. Perhaps she knew something I didn't?! I pitied him terribly and had to take him home, even though we only intended on getting one Collie puppy on that day.

Max was walked with his sister twice daily, but on one of the early walks a local neighbour who was renowned in the neighbourhood for being shall we say "troublesome" or "anti-social" to say the least, was standing outside his house and saw me and the two still young Collie pups walking along the path. He owned a Boxer which he regularly kicked and treated horribly. On seeing us, I heard him laughing as he let his dog out of the back garden and told it to "get" us.

The Boxer raced towards us and viciously attacked my pups and myself. Max was petrified but did his duty as a male pup and tried his best to fend off the attack, obviously not managing to win. The Boxer jumped on my back and injured me in several places and Max constantly tried to defend me and his littermate.

From that awful day onwards Max was a different dog altogether. He was petrified of people and petrified of dogs, but he chose fight rather than flight and for the rest of his time with me, he attacked every dog which came into his view, so was therefore kept on lead in all but the most remote spaces. I was advised by many vets to have him put to sleep, but I couldn't do it as that would be a total failure and I was determined to find a better life for Max which I knew was waiting for him, even if it meant he was no longer with me. I did manage to find a great area to exercise him, and we managed to keep him and give him a reasonable life so long as we kept away from other dogs, however even just living in a house where he could hear other dogs was intensely stressful for him.

I spent several years training Max to a very high standard. Max would do anything on command. All the basic commands were quickly learned and I soon had Max retrieving, tracking and performing no end of tricks.
Kodi the rescue Dobermann
Max in one of his rare daylight off lead moments. Stressed and nervous, still anxious of where the next dog attack would come from.
The trouble was that Max hated other dogs, joggers, cars, cyclists, children, cats and quite honestly anything that moved.
He developed skin problems, food allergies and became more and more withdrawn and difficult to handle to the point that I had to walk him at 4.00am just to let him exercise off lead before anyone else had risen from their beds. This stress was doing neither of us any good.

At that time, Martin (site editor) was moving to a farm and he knew Max extremely well. Martin had a Doberman which hated outdoor farm life and the harsh weather conditions. I on the other hand had a Border Collie that needed a farm life and the working conditions and remoteness that he was bred for. The solution was simple. A swap. Shadow could have the warmth of his own bed by a radiator and a sociable and interactive life with me (he already adored me!) and Martin could take Max to work on the farm.

Kodi the rescue Dobermann
Max learning the safety of keeping company with other dogs, in a remote open place with a working farm task to perform and no lead in sight for over 6 months. He was now surrounded by ten locally rescued dogs of all shapes and sizes. He loved it!
It was upsetting for both myself and Martin at first, as it always is when your dog is no longer there to greet you in the morning, but we were in close contact and regularly visited each other, and so it happened that this dopey Dobe came into my life.

We had both been around both of these dogs since puppyhood, so the dogs were not bothered at all by the change, though it was quite hard for us at first.

However, on seeing both dogs thrive in their preferred environments, we knew it was a great decision, and although it was only a trial swap to begin with, we instantly knew we couldn't send these dogs back to the life they clearly had not enjoyed as much as their new ones!

I can't truthfully say that I was impressed by the Doberman breed. Martin did however say that within a few weeks I wouldn't trade him for all the gold in the world and that his velcro and protective nature would fill me with love and remind me of what a peaceful and satisfying experience owning a dog could be after spending so long handling my vicious and highly-strung Collie who had even bitten me out of fear of other dogs at times. I also walked several times a day alone and in dark sometimes not very safe areas, so a Doberman with such great obedience but an underlying nature of protectiveness over me would be a very welcome companion.

Kodi the rescue Dobermann
Max watching over his fields, stress-free, anxiety-free and with a newly grown thick outdoor coat, no more itchy skin!
At first I missed Max greatly, because as much as he had driven me close to insanity with his difficult nature, I felt that I had let him down even though I knew that I had done everything humanly possible to correct his negative behaviour and rehabilitate him. Max on the other hand thrived. All he had needed was to do the job he was meant to do, away from the towns, the noise, and everything that caused him so much stress. He worked alongside Martin, herding sheep, thousands of chickens, a pony, some goats and even a flock of angry geese!

I can’t quite remember just when Shadow worked his magic on me and became my closest friend. Gradually I found myself stroking his noble head and chattering to him as I worked around the home. Wherever I went, Shadow would be at my side, his nose into everything, often looking at me as though to say ‘Take me with you.’

Doberman Shadow

At first his presence irritated me as he was always under my feet looking at me with that typical Dobe stare with eyes saying, ‘I love you, I do’. I wasn't used to such overwhelming attention and devotion from a dog as Max had spent the past year hiding all day under the dining table or behind my chair in the living room.

Thankfully Shadow was extremely well-trained and I could at last go for long walks without fear of meeting another dog or human. How lovely it was to actually look forward to meeting people and other dogs on a walk! Shadow was far too well-mannered to even think of acting aggressively or behaving badly. I grew to enjoy working Shadow by hiding an object deep in undergrowth and telling him to find it. He loves to climb trees, jump over obstacles and generally fool around.

Doberman Shadow
It has been six years now and I cannot imagine life without Shadow by my side.

Shadow gives me all the love, affection, companionship and devotion that I need. So much so that he has become a part of the very essence of my being, that special part that makes me who I am.

I know that he would defend me with his life and asks only to be near me. We have formed a unique partnership filled with fun and affection, and I would never ever be without this special dog.

'One More Doberman Addict'

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