Owning a doberman should be fun. Unfortunately, some dogs are not as mellow as we would like. While the Golden Retriever seems to be the poster child for well-adjusted, calm dogs, the doberman, on the other hand, could use some help. For a variety of reasons, some dobermans have more anxiety or nervous behaviors than others. This could be a result of poor breeding practices, training issues or home environments, just to name a few causes.
So what can you do to help your calm your doberman?
The best option is still probably exercise, a good run or wrestling match with another dog is sure to get all that excess energy out. There is also the belief that a healthy diet will improve a dogs mood. Then there is appropriate training to address specific issues like separation anxiety.
As a last resort, there is medication available to treat certain anxiety disorders. Talk to your vet about may be suitable for your dogs issues. You may have also heard of something called DAP or Dog Appeasing Pheromone. It is available as a collar or room spray. It works by giving off a synthetic version of pheromones naturally released during lactation. I have tried this product since it was recommended by my vet for noise/thunder anxiety. Personally I did not notice any visible difference with my two dobermans, but you may see different results.
What I have noticed that works for my dobes is music. I had suspected that classical music had a calming effect on dogs and have since learned that solo-piano music is the key to influencing a dogs mood. A research study conducted by Dr. Deborah Wells, an animal behaviorist, studied the effect of different styles of music on shelter dogs. You can read more about the study here. While heavy metal caused dogs to bark and pace around more, psychoacoustic classical music on dogs showed fewer stress behaviors. (Pop and conversation seemed not to have a noticeable difference either way.)
Calming solo-piano seems to have an effect of reducing heart rate due to the slow rhythms and simpler arrangements. For dogs with separation or noise anxiety, try playing this style of music 20 minutes before you leave. If you expect visitors and your dog is a handful, try calming him with music to assist with training obedience when the person arrives. If you plan to board your dog, ask the kennel if they can play your soothing music for your dog.
I recommend solo-piano as an option to easing your dogs stress. In my home I frequently play solo piano music from an internet music station, (there are a few that specifically play this music) or you can purchase specially created music for dogs like the CD, Through a Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion.
With my two dobermans, I have noticed that within minutes of the music playing they settle down and sometimes even go to sleep. On another note, it’s great for calming humans too!
Other ways to relax a doberman or any dog include your own body language. If you look or feel tense and anxious, so will your dog.If you’re in a bad mood, your dog will sense this, try to smile and laugh often. Keep your body position relaxed, don’t look upset or agitated yourself. If you have an angry facial expression and a confrontational stance, your dog will pick up on these subtle visual cues. Keep in mind, standing over or staring are seen as threatening body language to a dog.
How do you calm your dog? Do you have any special tricks to de-stressing your doberman?