The Doberman is a highly intelligent breed. He is, by virtue of his physical prowess and mental excellence, one of the most formidable of all the working guard breeds. He is a finely tuned protection “weapon”, capable of doing considerable harm and damage to his foes. Because of his temperament and physical superiority, the Doberman must be “managed” properly from puppyhood. This means kindly and patiently and respectfully nurtured along—issuing appropriate discipline when necessary to make the point or correct undesirable behavior.
Because many people don’t research and study the Doberman breed and the characteristics of his temperament, problems with behavior can occur.
Be aware that **THE DOBERMAN IS NOT FOR EVERY PERSON OR FAMILY**. This is just the reality of the breed. It is a demanding breed and requires constant attention and guidance from the family. With the mobile society we live in, where often two people are working and out of the home for long periods of time everyday, the possibility that the Doberman will not be nurtured properly is a distinct possibility. This sets the scenario for trouble to follow.
The first year is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to the proper development of correct behavior patterns and the establishment of the *ORDER* that must be present in the family—which is the *people* call all the shots—the Doberman must comply and follow their lead. The family CANNOT be held hostage by an improperly raised and trained Doberman who thinks he is the ALPHA and is running “the show.” Poor behavior, lack of discipline and even dangerous displays of aggression toward family members and other acceptable people is the consequence of mismanagement of the Doberman in some manner.
Of course, there are exceptions, where the Doberman has a physical cause for behavior problems. But typically BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS follow improper training attempts or inappropriate or too severe discipline—or lack of bonding to the family because the Doberman is locked away and has not integrated itself within the family—and also the total lack of available time to spend with this Doberman that demands quality efforts to train.
BEFORE you purchase a Doberman—do your *HOMEWORK.* Study the breed—read everything available on Dobermans. Study and read about training methods and how Dobermans are different than the great majority of breeds. TALK to reputable breeders—go to AKC Dog Shows and establish contacts, so you can spend some time around Dobermans to observe and see how they act and react. Observe Obedience classes and how they’re taught.
Get all the details worked out on how you are going to handle a Doberman puppy coming into your home, including the proper usage of a portable wire crate/kennel to use in the training process. Do all of this BEFORE you go look for a puppy.
If you have very small children—babies, toddlers and young school age children—getting a tiny Doberman puppy is NOT GOOD!!! BABIES AND DOBERMAN PUPPY BABIES ARE NOT A GOOD MIX!!! Doberman puppies are high energy, bundles of **SHARP TOENAILS AND NEEDLE TEETH**!! Young children can be absolutely terrified by nipping puppies and the puppy can be absolutely terrified by running, screaming children that cause their mom’s and dad’s to harshly discipline the puppy for normal puppy behavior. This sets the scene for a very bad experience for both toddler/child as well as the young Doberman puppy and is frequently the start of major BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS that will follow.
The puppy gets locked up more because the kids are afraid and pretty soon the puppy is in the basement or garage or even worse—outside—and the puppy grows up with no family socialization–no house time–fear of children and possibly adults. MAJOR PROBLEMS start and are magnified once the puppy becomes an adult and the critical “imprinting” period of puppyhood is passed.
Many older puppies (6 months to 12 months) and young adolescent adults end up in Shelters, Humane Societies and Rescues across the Country because people cannot handle their Doberman. Or their Doberman is aggressive—or they are using the wrong training methods and they are afraid of their Doberman. Any number of scenario’s can cause behavior problems in the Doberman.
Make sure you seek the advice and counsel of a Professional Behaviorist, a Professional Trainer who has experience with Dobermans, and seek advice from experienced breeders who can point you in the right direction for help.
Dobermans are formidable guard dogs that have the potential to do harm. Do not wait to seek Counsel to correct offensive/dangerous behavior.
DPCA Public Education Committee
The American Kennel Club official *Standard* for the Doberman does an excellent job at describing the temperament of this ultimate guard dog.
The *ideal* Doberman temperament is:
Loyal and Obedient
The IDEAL Doberman is a stable, confident and FEARLESS dog or bitch. Correct temperament is so important in the Doberman that it is emphasized in the Standard by a directive to judges.
“The judge MUST dismiss from the ring any animal that is SHY or VICIOUS.”
The Doberman temperament is the “essence and persona” of what the doberman is and what sets it apart from other breeds and even other breeds of Working dogs.
It is the APPEARANCE and TEMPERAMENT that make up what the Doberman breed is distinctive for among all of the dog realm.
ENERGETIC—this trait is NOT an exaggeration! The Doberman is on the go. He is an active and involved dog, making himself a central part of the family and family activities. He requires intense and close contact with people of his family and has a very high activity level, requiring lots of exercise. Because of this need to be on the go, it makes this breed vulnerable to running and extreme bursts of speed which can be dangerous if not in a fenced yard or confined perimeter. Thus it is imperative that the yard and property be fenced securely. The Doberman is extremely obedient, however commands given to COME can be inadvertently missed by the Doberman when actively running and can lead to tragic consequences by running into a road or highway, only to be struck or even killed in his exuberance to stretch his legs.
A young Doberman is into everything and requires the family to keep an eye on him and puppy/dog proof the house and yard until he is trained and understands what he can and cannot do. They are very much like a curious toddler, interested in anything that is new and searching to investigate everything. And the fact that they are so high energy, coupled with their natural curiosity and investigative tendencies, makes it necessary to scrutinize the Dobermans activities so he doesn’t get into trouble.
WATCHFUL—The Doberman is aware and on guard. It’s part of his ongoing personality. He doesn’t miss a thing! This is a very important trait in an effective guard and watch dog. He MUST be aware of his environment at all times. His hearing and sense of smell is astonishing. These two senses are the primary tools that the Doberman uses to evaluate his world at all times. Sight is important, but secondary. Sight is effective to guard dogs, however “hidden” foes or danger can only be picked up by smell or sound. The Doberman will investigate any and all possible intruders, sometimes to the annoyance of their owners, as they will be up and in the check it out frame of mind. This is NOT a quiet dog, content to ignore his environment and stay curled up and snoozing. He is up and on the go at any possible noise, smell or sight of a possible threat.
DETERMINED—This trait can be appreciated in the Doberman when they are relentless in pursuing a threat to their family. They are not easily deterred from their “job” of guard and protection, and take the threat on the family totally seriously, and will not give up the protest until assured that “it’s all right, now”. This “determined” attitude also makes it a challenge to train a Doberman at times, as he definitely has his opinion about everything. But with patience, kindness and proper discipline, you will prevail in conveying your will and wishes on the Doberman. The result will be a well trained and incredibly responsive companion that will gladly come between a threat and his loving family.
The key to success with the Doberman is to be MORE determined in pursuing your training of him, than he is determined to resist. The Doberman needs something to do with his time and is a willing partner in family activities, and will develop into a perfect gentleman and good citizen.
ALERT—The Doberman is always aware of his surroundings. He is on guard and on duty at all times. He doesn’t miss a thing and is responsive and will check out anything that alerts him to possible danger to his family.
FEARLESS—The Doberman standing alertly—staring at the danger—ears held totally up and eyes focused on the threat. Woe to the foolish man who doesn’t think the Doberman will stand his ground and dare the intruder to go through him. It is this stance and attitude and lightening fast
reflexes and responses that, coupled with the Dobermans totally fearless and confident attitude, that make him the absolute PREMIER protection and guard dog, as well as cherished pet and family companion and comrade. He is unflappable when danger is present.
LOYAL AND OBEDIENT—These qualities make the Doberman more than simply a weapon for guard and protection. Only total devotion to family is what the Doberman’s job is everyday. He is focused on his family and wants to please and do exactly what they want him to do. He will bond and attach himself to the family and execute his role as companion and protector like no other breed can.
All of these wonderful traits blend and combine in the Doberman temperament to produce the end result of a devoted, loving and protective dog that is unique and truly admired in the dog world.
DPCA Public Education Committee
SO, YOU WANT A DOBERMAN PUPPY?
We thank you for your questions about Doberman Pinchers, and applaud you for not just rushing out, and buying on impulse.
You are right to question the different breeds of dogs, and how they might fit into your house, family, and life style.
Do you live in town? Or the country? What is your lifestyle, and how will a large, energetic dog fit into that. Dobermans are not known for tolerating temperature extremes. They are considered to be, basically, an indoor pet. It can be good to speak with your neighbors before you acquire your new dog. Sometimes fears can be put to rest by discussing this with them first, rather than springing a surprise on them.
Most of the Dobermans I’ve known were bundles of happy, exuberant joy. I think Dobermans need to be a part of the family, and don’t much like to be left behind….just how much on the go are you? could you take the dog with you, on errands? on vacations? will you be able to handle a dog with this much high energy?
Do you have a fenced yard, or an enclosure? Who will take care of the dogs needs? Will you be working outside of your home? And if so – what will you do with a large dog while you are at work? Many breeders are reluctant to sell or place a Doberman into a home with no fenced yard. Mistakes can and do happen, and many dogs are *still* killed yearly, by automobiles. An enclosed, fenced area where the dog can eliminate is better than a loose dog that could rack up hefty veterinarian bills if run over. To lose your Doberman, to a preventable accident, would be heartbreaking, for the owners, and the breeders. If you are a working parent, who will take care of the Doberman, give her exercise, and take her out to potty during the day? Who will be in charge of walking her in the A.M. rush? Late at night before bed? Who will give her that much needed daily exercise?
Puppy, Or Older Dog?
It’s my experience, that many parents want a dog to “teach responsibility” to the child. But most children learn by watching, by example – not by being told to do things. Which, again, shifts the responsibility of care back onto a parent’s shoulders. If you’re a single parent? This can become more of a burden than one remembers – especially if you’re considering a puppy! I think we all forget just how much work that new puppy can be!
If there are children in the home, maybe an older Doberman would work better than a young puppy. Not every dog of every breed is going to come out in a cookie cutter mold, personality- wise. A puppy might grow up to be very protective, so that if you have visitors, your Doberman might need to be monitored. When you take in an older Doberman, you have a better idea of what the individual dog is going to be tolerant of, and usually know in advance, what she doesn’t find acceptable. You’ll have more of a
finished product, so to speak.
Do you have a dog trainer already lined up, to help you with problems, and training classes for your Doberman Pinscher?
Because walking nicely on the leash is fairly dependent on how well the dog is trained to walk on leash. Generally, a well trained dog is a joy to live with, and many behavioral problems are solved, simply by thoroughly obedience training your Doberman. You’ll want to have spent time watching different classes, and observing different techniques, talking to different instructors prior to bringing your new dog home. This is an area where compare and shop is key, not money wise, but quality wise.
Do you have children?
I think the ages of your children could be a very important factor in this decision…. How old are they? Puppies and babies are not really a good combination. I know some folks have warm glowing visions of them growing up together, but really its more frequently a case of the blind leading the blind, and can have some problematic consequences. Again, a Doberman Pinscher is a high energy animal.
There are some medical conditions that can arise in Dobermans…. Some of those may come on as they get older. Are you aware of what these might be? Please do explore our web sites for more information on this, as
well other Doberman related issues.