When handling and training a dominant Doberman pinscher, safety should always be on the forefront of your mind. Dobermans are large, powerful dogs bred to be protective, fearless and highly intelligent. With early training, proper socialization and confident handling, even dominant dobes can become well-rounded members of the family.
Use a martingale collar with your dobe from the moment he joins your family. Dobermans are notoriously prone to slipping collars due to their slim head and neck. Made out of two conjoined loops of nylon, a martingale collar is also known as a "limited-slip" or "greyhound" collar and it is designed to be "unslippable" to prevent your dobe from backing out of it. The limited-slip action tightens the collar to your dobe's exact neck size, but doesn't tighten enough to choke him or cause damage. Preventing your Doberman from slipping his collar and getting away from you limits liability for you and helps keep him out of trouble.
Keep your Doberman on-lead at all times when you're not in your house, enclosed yard or secure area. Don't put your dobe in a situation where he may find himself in trouble and you wouldn't be able to recall him without difficulty. Use a sturdy, well-made lead. Leather is easy on your hands, extremely strong, and readily available.
Condition your dobe to wearing a basket muzzle. Even if your Doberman isn't aggressive, there may be instances when he'll need to be muzzled. Instead of the muzzle inducing fear, panic and unease, help your dobe become comfortable with wearing one in a variety of circumstances. Wrap the muzzle in plastic wrap so food doesn't fall out of it and feed your Doberman his meal out of the muzzle once or twice a week. After a few weeks, practice having your dobe wear his muzzle around the house for a few minutes a day during various activities. Randomly feed him treats through the wires and enforce a positive association.
Enroll your dobe in a group class. While it's best to begin with an obedience class, other classes include tricks, agility, rally, tracking, weight pull or competition preparation. Dobermans are people-oriented dogs and they thrive in situations where they can learn and master material. They love to please their people and will work hard to perform new tasks, commands and behaviors. Working your dobe in a group class helps you become confident in your handling skills, distraction-proof your Doberman's obedience and learn new methods to keep your dobe physically and mentally active.
- Use high-value treats such as diced hard-boiled eggs, cheese, chicken or steak to secure your dobe's focus and attention.
- If you fear your Doberman may bite someone, consult a professional behaviorist or trainer.
Since 2001, Kea Grace has published in "Dog Fancy," "Clean Run," "Front and Finish" and an international Czechoslovakian agility enthusiast magazine. Grace is the head trainer for Gimme Grace Dog Training and holds her CPDT-KA and CTDI certifications. She is a member of the APDT and is a recognized CLASS instructor. She's seeking German certification from the Goethe Institut.