How To Train A Doberman?
Training your Doberman is essential to a good relationship with your dog (and your neighbors). It will help you bond with your pet and also mentally stimulate him.
It can also be fun for you and your dog!
In order to be successful at Doberman training, you need patience, lots of it. Also, you should understand dog behavior. Read some books on dog psychology to get a better understanding of how your dog thinks and sees the world. Stanley Coren is a professor who has written some excellent books on dog psychology. I recommend his books to dog owners. Karen Pryors, Reaching the Animal Mind is also a must read for dog owners.
As far as training methods, they seem to fall into three main categories:
- purely positive reinforcement, this method avoids any corrections and the focus is on reinforcing or encouraging good behaviors.
- dominant/forceful punishment training, this method has a focus on eliminating unwanted behaviors by force, it demands that your dog obey via corrections. Your dog might obey, but he also might be scared of you and training won’t be fun. Sensitive dogs may become fearful of doing any training since they worry about getting corrected. Punishment training also increases anxiety in the dog and you risk him losing trust in you.
- a balance of the previous two styles, will use food/toy/praise rewards and appropriate corrections for disobedience. The dog is never physically hurt from corrections, a simple stern NO can be enough if you have built a good bond with your dog. He should respect and trust you as leader, not fear you. Appropriate corrections are made by your tone of voice, or removing something a dog wants, like your attention.
- Then there’s Clicker training, the latest and most effective method of training new behaviors. Dogs easily come to understand that a clicker marker means, “This is what my owners wants me to do!”. If you’ve never used a clicker before you might be surprised at how well it works.
Training methods best for your dog, will also depend on his personality and drive. Scientific dog research tells us training with positive reinforcement or a clicker is most effective. If one training technique isn’t working, try something different. For example, there are a few different methods to teaching your dog to fetch.
Again, never use physical punishment.Even though you might get the dog to obey you, you can make the situation worse. It can create fear, anxiety and mistrust in a confused or aggressive dog. Don’t risk ruining your relationship with your dog.
Some of the best resources that I have found for training a Doberman and that I recommend for Doberman owners, especially with problem dogs are, Karen Pryor, leerburg.com and Michael Ellis.
For a free training guide, this pdf will break down the training commands into 8 weeks of training. The basic commands of sit, down, stay, heel and come are explained.
The ASPCA also have lots of great articles to help dog owners with training and behavior problems.
Leerburg has many articles with training information and a forum. Check it out especially if you’re having aggression or behavioral problems. One of their articles explains the method of voice marker training. It’s a long read but worth your time as it will help you understand how dogs learn, and teach you to become a better trainer.
Another great dog trainer is Michael Ellis. He has extensive experience training dogs and has many videos posted on his website from his seminars.
Then there’s Cesar Milan, better known as the Dog Whisperer. He has a popular series on the National Geographic Channel that should be watched by every dog owner. If you’ve never seen his show, I recommend you watch the series. Just keep in mind that he is working with extreme cases on that show and not the average house dog. His techniques may not be suitable for your dog.
Also, note that the theory of the pack hierarchy or alpha dog training methods are now thought to be inaccurate. New research into wild dogs show that the dominance theory is outdated and doesn’t apply to the domesticated dog.
Is there a dog trainer that you respect or recommend?