How to Leash Train a Doberman Puppy

Medium
2-14 Weeks
General

Introduction

The Doberman is a stunning, aristocratic-looking dog who, though often appearing intimidating to those who don't know her, is a loveable ham with her family. Your Doberman is probably full of energy, loves play, and is already showing the breed's tendency to look to their human frequently and to engage them fully. The Doberman is clever and sensitive, prone to seeming to try to figure things out as much as participate. 

The breed was developed by a tax collector to protect himself on his rounds, and this makes the Doberman one of the few dogs actually bred to accompany a person on walks. This gives you a definite advantage in training your Doberman puppy to walk well on a leash, but keep in mind that this is an active, energetic dog that will need to be well exercised if she is expected to walk gently with you on-leash.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your Doberman puppy to walk nicely on a leash will rely on tapping into her innate tendency to stay beside you. It is essential that you begin on-leash socialization early so that your Doberman puppy will not develop a reactivity to people or other dogs while on a leash. This is very important for all guarding breeds, but especially so for the Doberman, who was bred to protect her owner on walks. 

To encourage walking nicely and to make walks a pleasant experience for your puppy, have her favorite treats and toys available. Use your particular Doberman puppy's personality to determine what sorts of rewards she will like best, but bring a variety in case this active dog loses interest in one or another. Determine early on what distance you would like your Doberman to walk at. Dobermans are very good heeling dogs, and if you would like a conformation heel, you can work with your puppy towards that, so long as she has plenty of off-leash exercise as well. If you would rather give your dog room to lope beside you on a flexilead, ensure that she is quick on a recall in case she should get too far from you. You don't want to have to reel in your Doberman puppy on a flexilead.

Getting Started

Your Doberman puppy should not have too much exercise until her developing body and growing bones are able to sustain the impact. Take it slow with your Doberman puppy until she is able to keep up with you. With that said, it is also essential that as much of the puppy crazy is out of your Doberman as possible before you work with her in leash training. Play with your Doberman at home to get the edge of her energy off before starting your walk. Even if you do this, you may find it useful to do some of the training at a bit of a jog, so that your puppy can conceptualize the idea of staying near you without coming up against the leash just because she wants to go faster. Make sure that at no time is your puppy running for longer than a few minutes on-leash, even if she clearly wants to go, so as not to stress her growing bones. Dobermans have a delicate long neck that can be injured by neck leads, so it is best to use a harness with your puppy. If your puppy is an especially enthusiastic puller, a gentle leader can be used, but this should not be necessary for most dogs.

The Click and Treat Method

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Step
1
Click means treat
Teach your Doberman puppy that a click means a treat is coming by clicking and treating as soon as she looks at you.
Step
2
Click to stay close
Start walking, holding the leash loosely. Click and treat periodically, to reward your Doberman's attention and walking beside you.
Step
3
Extend time between treats
Go longer without giving treats, so that your puppy begins to sniff around and act normally. As soon as she begins to take up slack on the leash, click and reward her for her attention.
Step
4
Change direction, go backwards
Test your Doberman's 'heel' and make it a game by turning suddenly, going backwards, etc. Click and reward steadily for attention.
Step
5
Click and treat for impulse control
Begin going without treats until you see your dog get distracted or start to wander and then come back towards you on her own. Reward for this so that she will think to keep track of you on her own.
Recommend training method?

The Pull, Relax, Treat Method

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Step
1
Hold the leash
Hold the leash firmly at a set length; generally about five feet from you is good.
Step
2
Pull, pull back
When your Doberman puts pressure on the leash, pull back, gently but firmly enough that she will look at you.
Step
3
Treat the relaxation
As soon as your puppy relaxes the pressure on the leash, reward her.
Step
4
Pull, pull back, reward
Keep walking, pulling back and rewarding the relaxation whenever your Doberman pulls.
Step
5
Reward for anticipating
Reward your puppy for stopping her pull before you pull back. Keep practicing until your dog self-corrects her pull every time.
Recommend training method?

The Tie to You Method

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Step
1
Tie your puppy to you
Tie your puppy to you at about five feet, using a leash with some elasticity so as to reduce abrupt pressure.
Step
2
Walk and change direction.
Walk along, and as soon as your puppy puts pressure on the leash, change direction.
Step
3
Reward attention
As soon as your Doberman looks at you to see where you are going, reward her.
Step
4
Walk, pull, change direction, reward
Keep walking, changing direction whenever your doberman pulls and rewarding whenever she looks at you.
Step
5
Reward attention before pull
Begin rewarding only your doberman's attention before she puts pressure on the leash. Soon you won't need to change direction often to reinforce that your doberman should watch you and not pull.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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