Dog training tips

Doberman, the most recognizable shadow in the dark

Introducing the Doberman: Smart, strong and confident!


While there is definitely no shortage of articles about Dobermans on the Internet, I would like to share my insights on the breed since I own one and have trained dozens of others over the years. I will also discuss the key differences between the European and American Doberman to help you decide which breed is the best fit for you and your family.

Dobermans are extremely smart, which can be both a blessing and a curse. They are very easy to train because they love to learn new things. However, they get bored very quickly – forcing you to come up with creative ways to keep them physically and mentally engaged. This breed requires firm and consistent leadership and is not the right choice for first-time dog owners.

Known for their loyalty and devotion, a Doberman will quickly discover the identity of the true leader of the family and then stay by that person’s side. A simple way that they do this is by observing who calls the family to dinner and brings the plates to the table. Once they see the person who does this, they come to the conclusion that, “When he or she calls the family members down to eat, everybody comes to the table . . . so he or she must be the leader.” ” Dobermans are very vocal and need to be taught when and how to bark. My dogs (including my Dobie) all bark one time when the UPS guy is at the door. All I have to say is “Got it” and they know I’ve received their message loud and clear. If I don’t reply, they will bark one more time to tell me: “Just want to make sure you’re aware that someone is at the door!” By responding immediately and consistently to their single bark, my dogs know exactly how to respond in such situations.

Loving leadership – and not a choker – is the best approach for training this breed. Don’t underestimate the Doberman’s intelligence or they will quickly outsmart you. They require a lot of human contact and don’t like to be left alone. Use a crate during their training to help control their anxiety while you are at work as well as protect your couch! For some more helpful tips, please see my video on Longline, Crate and Housetrained.

This breed is not for a novice dog owner. Don’t be fooled by the cuteness of a puppy: he is still a confident Dobie that can overpower you if you do not show firm leadership. I like to refer to Dobermans as the “Fearless Protector” because of their strength, size and steadfast confidence. They are also extremely sensitive, which means that any physical correction is to be avoided with them. In addition, yelling at them is not an effective or recommended practice because of their delicate hearing.

Dobermans are great protectors and often anticipate dangers and threats to the family. Keep in mind that these dangers and threats, which are often disregarded by the owner, could become a problem down the road. I always tell my clients that these primal instincts need to be controlled with firm leadership. I often take my Dobie to Home Depot so that he has many opportunities for successful interactions with strangers of all ages. More than a hardware store, it’s a great place for teachable moments when you’re a dog owner!

There are numerous differences between the American and European Doberman. The European breed is more fearless and a better work dog. It is smaller but larger and more muscular with a shorter snout and requires more in-depth training. Meanwhile, the American breed is taller and slimmer and a little more laid back. The American temperament is closer to human beings than that of the European. For example, you can tease an American Dobie but the European is always mentally engaged and may not respond the same way. Both breeds are equally intelligent and will make a fine addition to any highly dedicated dog-loving family.

As I’ve mentioned in my other posts, please get your canine buddy from a reputable breeder and not from a puppy mill. By doing so, you are not only contributing to the humane treatment of dogs but will also get a healthier and better adjusted animal.

Training a Doberman requires a lot of time and patience – all of which will be worth it! You will be ultimately rewarded with a loyal and devoted four-legged friend that will always be there to protect your family.

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