Your Doberman pinscher will take good care of you. All he wants is that you do the same for him -- and love him to pieces. He reciprocates your affection many times over. The Dobie's incredible devotion to his person makes him a splendid companion for the active owner.
While you know you must feed your Dobie a high-quality dog food, portions and the number of feedings per day are also important. Like other large, deep-chested breeds, Dobies are prone to bloat, a condition formally known as gastric torsion. That means the stomach twists, cutting off the blood supply. It can strike any time, and only emergency surgery will save your Dobie. One way to avoid this condition is by feeding your dog smaller portions several times a day, rather than giving him all of his food at once. Another is to withhold water for a while after the dog eats. Also, don't feed your Dobie for an hour before or after he's heavily exercised. Your vet can perform a surgery known as stomach tacking to prevent bloat from occurring.
Training should be a pleasure for the two of you, because your Dobie is so smart, eager to please and willing to learn. He not only learns, but what he learns is encoded in him and he doesn't forget. For all his reputed toughness, a Dobie is a sensitive dog -- so don't yell at him or scold him too much if he makes a mistake. A firm voice is more effective, as long as your dog recognizes you as the leader in your little pack.
Your Doberman pinscher is a natural guardian and watchdog, but he can overdo the barking. If that's a problem, work with him so he knows when enough is enough. Since you are dealing with a large, bright, strong dog, take him to obedience school so he learns the basics. Dobies excel in any canine field, so you can continue with agility, search-and-rescue, flyball or therapy dog training if that's your, and your dog's, pleasure. Dobie puppies are easy to housetrain.
Your Dobie needs both physical and mental exercise. All that energy and sharpness needs an outlet. Otherwise, your home and property might incur some serious Dobie damage. Take your dog for long walks every day. If you run, jog or cycle, he might be able to accompany you. Exercise his mind with games like hide-and-seek, where you hide a toy and he finds it. This also relates to training, as you can go through basic commands while playing with him.
Because they're short-haired dogs, Doberman grooming is pretty basic. Give your dog a good brushing once a week or so to get rid of dead hairs. Bathe him as needed -- that's usually only every couple months or more, if he doesn't get filthy outside -- but don't wash him so often that his skin becomes dry and dandruffy.
Your Dobie needs an annual vet checkup, like all dogs. Part of a Dobie's annual exam includes a heart check, as cardiomyopathy is so common in the breed. While there's no cure, early diagnosis means the vet can prescribe medication that might keep your buddy around longer.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.