How to Train a Doberman for Protection

Hard
12-18 Months
Work

Introduction

There are many people in the world who are interested in having a dog for personal protection. Whether it’s because they are well known, they live in a certain part of the world where the streets may bring danger, or they simply feel safer with a protective pup by their side, personal protection dogs are top of the line defensive animals. The breeds that are typically chosen for this type of work generally have a reputation for being particularly intimidating, not to mention highly intelligent. Among them are the German shepherd, the Belgian Malinois, the Rottweiler, and the Doberman Pinscher.

The Doberman particularly carries an air of menace with its sleek, black coat and its thin, yet powerful body. Popularized in media and reality both, the Doberman is a smart choice for any owner who is in search of a dog for protection training. The breed is intelligent, quick, highly responsive to training, and fiercely protective of the family. However, protection training is not for the faint of heart. Defending the home may seem like something a dog is born to do, but in the wrong hands, an improperly trained protection dog may very quickly become a dangerously aggressive one.

Defining Tasks

Protection training is more than just being able to intimidate and attack, as movies and television are prone to showing. It is a rigorous set of training regiments that not every dog may be suited for, whether or not his breed is ideal. Temperament is an important factor when it comes to protection, immediately disqualifying dogs who are anxious, nervous, fearful, or overly friendly.

Protection involves advanced obedience and pairs it with a dog’s prey drive, then relies on the owner’s level of control to end an altercation. To train a protection Doberman, he must not only be able to make snap decisions and respond when you are in danger, but he should also be able to release on command and return to you once the incident has been de-escalated. With obedience training beginning as soon as your puppy is old enough to bring home--at about eight weeks old--you should start early and expect to continue training for a year or more before you can safely rely on your Doberman as a protection dog.

Getting Started

There are several things you will need to get started with protection training. Before anything else, your Doberman should be temperament tested and should receive a health check from a veterinarian to ensure that he is capable of protection work. Once you receive approval, training should begin immediately.

Determine if your dog is food or toy motivated and use that in order to start training obedience. Other items that will come in handy are a six-foot leash, a sturdy muzzle, and a bodysuit or protection sleeve for attack training. When possible, training should be supervised by a professional in order to prevent injury.

The Obedience Method

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Step
1
Teach a solid ‘sit’
Learning the basics is important for any Doberman puppy. A great 'sit' command will act as the foundation to the rest of the obedience commands your dog must learn.
Step
2
Move on to ‘stay’
Teaching your Doberman to stay where he is will ensure that you remain in control in a potentially dangerous situation. Work on your dog’s ability to stay for long periods of time.
Step
3
Teach a release command
Your dog should know when he is able to relax and be himself. A command like ‘okay’ or ‘all done’ can act as an off switch to his protection mode.
Step
4
Work on walking etiquette
A protection dog should know how to properly heel at his owner’s side. Reinforce good walking behavior and etiquette on leash in your day to day routine.
Step
5
Off-leash commands
In a safe, fenced in area, work on commands without the leash, including heeling at your side during a walk. Your protection dog should be able to remain in control both on and off of the leash.
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The Release Method

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Step
1
Assess the situation
Protection training involves you as much as it does your dog. You should know how to assess when an aggressor has been successfully taken down in order to time a proper release before your dog severely maims or even kills her target.
Step
2
Verbal release
Just as you developed an attack command, a release command should be used in order to get your dog to release the aggressor. This command should be unique to you and your dog.
Step
3
Return to heel
As soon as your Doberman releases the aggressor, she should immediately return into a heel at your side and await the next instruction. Use a heel command early on in training and gradually phase it out so that it is your dog’s first response after releasing.
Step
4
Building confidence
Your dog should always receive a reward for proper behavior. Be enthusiastic during training, reward heavily with toys, play time, or treats. Keep training short at the beginning, in order to not overwhelm your Doberman, and stay consistent.
Step
5
Practice often
With supervision from a trainer, get plenty of practice in, especially in the attacking portion of the work. Your dog should be given ample opportunity to test her ability to respond to commands and master the obedience required before trying to test her in a real situation.
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The Defense Method

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Step
1
Barking on command
Many altercations with dangerous individuals can be deterred with a show of menacing barking. Teaching your Doberman to bark on command can act as the first line of defense. A good ‘speak’ command will help with this.
Step
2
The defensive heel
Using a trainer or another experienced volunteer as a helper, have them play the role of aggressor and work on teaching your dog to maintain a heel position, even in the presence of a dangerous or distracting individual.
Step
3
Recognizing danger
Your Doberman should be able to discern a dangerous situation in order to make quick decisions. Use a helper or volunteer with the appropriate safety measures such as a muzzle and bodysuit in order to prevent injury to the helper or the dog. This helper should pretend to be an aggressor in order for your dog to get familiar with what a dangerous situation looks like.
Step
4
The attack command
This word should not just be ‘attack’, but rather a word that is special and unique to your dog and your method of training. A command in another language is often popular. This verbal command should be used every time you have your helper take an aggressive stance towards you to condition your Doberman to recognize what his response should be in these situations.
Step
5
Using teeth
Encourage your Doberman to use a strong bite by having the aggressor present a protected arm to his mouth. Be sure to use your attack command at this point to reinforce that it should only happen after you have issued the command.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Charli
Doberman Pinscher
2 Years
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Charli
Doberman Pinscher
2 Years

She's very socialized but not as easy to walk and just tough bark but not attack which I'm realizing is necessary.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
916 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christie, Check out the article and video linked below to work on a structured heel. Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Elvis
Doberman Pinscher
4 Months
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Elvis
Doberman Pinscher
4 Months

Need to train dog for protection and proper behavior

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Training a dog to be protective is a fairly long process and involves multiple steps and many months of work. The best solution is to contact a trainer in your area for guidance. As far as general training, you can start with basic commands and work on 1-2 commands per week over the next couple of months until your dog is consistently doing each command for you.

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Prince
Dobberman
6 Months
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Prince
Dobberman
6 Months

Hi! My Dobberman is 6 months now and my goal is to have a cosy, kind and just a friendly dog in general but at the same time I want it to be a bedient guard dog that can protect me and my girlfriend on command. However, he has a hard time to concentrate on letting go of a arm or even listen to me saying "stand back". He can sit and lay down but not listen to any other command. I just need some advice so he listens go my commamds. Terribly sorry if I speld anything wrong, not american

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
916 Dog owners recommended

Hello Oskar, First, know that pup is right in the middle of puppy adolescence so a lot of the behavior you are seeing now with short attention span and mouthiness is related to that - its definitely something to work pup through and be proactive about for pup to learn good manners as an adult, but try not to be discouraged by it at the same time because it is normal at this age. Work on commands that build impulse control and respect for you at this age - that will lay a great foundation for more formal protection training later. Continue to pursue socialization with pup even though that can seem counter-intuitive, because a good protection and guard dog needs to know what's normal in the world, especially around people, so that they can tell when something is wrong correctly and not just react to everything and be unreliable. Good socialization also boosts confidence. Getting pup around a lot of people and places is great, but also work on pup's manners and obedience in those settings so pup is learning to focus on you around those exposures - like practicing heeling past people at a park, a Down-Stay at an outdoor shopping area, sitting for being petted, ect... To help pup learn better self-control and focus, practice the following commands over the next few months. Work up to pup gradually being able to do these things around distractions and for longer periods of time. For example, work up to an hour long Place command, heeling past people at the park, holding a Down-Stay while you walk away at the park while pup is on a long training leash and harness. Those types of commands can also help with respect and trust for you - which is important for guarding work later. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method - good for the mouthing too: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Check out the article linked below for good respect building tips: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Many dogs will naturally guard if it's in their genetics and you have laid a good foundation of respect and obedience, once they mature mentally between 1-2 years of age. If pup doesn't, you can also teach pup to bark automatically when someone enters the property and be more watchful in general using reward based training. For anything that would involve bite work, you would need to pursue training with a professional protection trainer who knows how to utilize pup's defense drive, build confidence, utilize rewards like a bite bag and tug, and have the right staff and equipment to practice things like arms holds - this training should only be done with a professionals help and should not encourage fear or true aggression when done correctly - it's more like teaching pup a task, teaching alertness, obedience, building confidence, and encouraging a natural defense drive - opposed to poorly done training that encourages suspicion and fear to get a bite from the dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bella
Doberman Pinscher
6 Months
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Bella
Doberman Pinscher
6 Months

She is learning very quickly however day to day her obedience wavers. Some days tasks are performed over and over perfect others virtually impossible to get the basics followed. I do plan on having professional help in the protection training of her but also have read that that should not really take place until roughly 18 months. I would like proper information on how to get the proper regiment and ideas to keep the focus from one day to the next. THanks

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
916 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stephen, First, teach pup what the meaning of each command is and be sure pup really understands and isn't just guessing. Second, practice each command pup has been taught around a variety of distractions and in different situations. Dogs don't tend to generalize well so if for example, you taught Sit inside facing pup, and ask pup to sit while outside with your back turned toward pup, pup may actually not understand the command in that context, the command would need to be practiced both outside and with the different body language of your back turned to pup. A harness and long leash are good tools for field trips to practice commands around new distractions and situations - start with small distractions and changes first and work up to harder ones. Third, have pup work for what they get throughout the day by performing a command they have been taught to help with reliability. For example, have pup sit before feeding, down before resuming your walk, Come before petting, wait before tossing a ball, or watch you before giving a pet. Anytime pup wants something you can use what they want to motivate them to obey without having to have treats in hand to always practice (treats are still great for initially teaching things and for progressing to harder distractions in new places). Fourth, be patient. Use what pup wants to gain compliance through your patience, and be very consistent with follow through. For example, when you tell pup to Down on a walk, keep the leash tight enough they have to stand there bored - but aren't being tugged, and wait until pup obeys before they are allowed to walk more or go sniff something. At first, you might be standing there for 15 minutes, repeating the command every 5 minutes when pup may have truly forgotten, but not over and over again, then waiting until your persistence pays off and pup realizes they can't get what they want until they follow through and they 'give in'. This can be used for all sorts of commands once you know pup truly can do the command in the situation and around the distractions present due to practice. For come, you can attach a long training leash to pup, like 20 foot, and if pup doesn't come, reel pup in, have them sit, release them again, and repeat the process over again several times in a row, until pup comes willingly five times in a row - once they do, let pup resume what they were doing/playing before. Coming willingly with calm consistency via the leash on your part, earns pup free time again, but they can't simply ignore you. If pup comes the first time you call, then give pup some play after the check in for their compliance whenever you can. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Kairo
Doberman Pinscher
3 Years
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Kairo
Doberman Pinscher
3 Years

Kairo has so much drive and he knows the common commands like sit, stay, heel but was wondering if he can be taught at 3 years old for more difficult commands?....just watching his drive and being so prey driven I feel like I’m not letting him reach his full potential...thanks in advance

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
916 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mark, If pup has basic obedience already, was well socialized, and has the inherent temperament for it he can certainly be taught more advanced things at 3 years old. Just know that it will probably take pup a little longer to learn than it would have when younger but it sounds like he is able. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Ralphy
Belgian Malinois
9 Months
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Question
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Ralphy
Belgian Malinois
9 Months

I’m wanting to have my dog trained in PP. His obedience is brilliant, he will sit, down, heal, stay, stand and speak all on command and off lead. He will also ‘OUT’ when told and will return to heal, the issue I have is that I really don’t want to take him to someone who says they can train him in protection and then just get him sleeve mad or become aggressive. I live in Teesside and would love if you could recommend me a reliable trainer who would teach him to understand when a person is a danger to myself or him. Any advice would be brilliant thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
916 Dog owners recommended

Hello Emily, Unfortunately, I am not located in your region so I don't have any personal recommendations or experience with anyone I could send you to; however, as you look into who is available for you to send pup to I would ask them for several references from their clients and speak with their clients about what their dogs were like when they returned home, helping to give you an idea of what to expect with that trainer. Another good route could be joining something like IPO, Schlutzhund, or French rings club, and actually training pup yourself in a club environment where there is an instructor and staff to instruct and facilitate bite work but you are present to see how things are being taught and to influence how your dog is trainer, which could also be interesting to you to learn how to train those things yourself, since it sounds like you have done other training work with your own dog already. Connections at a club environment may also be a good places to find personal recommendations for trainers who could do the protection training for you if you find the club isn't the route you want to go. There may even be an IPO type facebook group or instagram group in your region who you could get some personal referrals from. Most of the Wag trainers don't tend to do protection specific training, so it isn't unlikely like a Wag trainer will offer that in your area. I certainly agree that you want to be careful who you go to, and its wise to vet that trainer or training group, because aggression is a risk with protection training, and you want a trainer who focuses on things like drive training and a more positive reinforcement focus with bite work - where things like tugs are rewards for holds, instead of pup just becoming suspicious and fearful of the person in the suit. Focusing on building control, confidence, and calmness. When you interview trainers you should hear a focus on rewarding the dog and not scaring the dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bruno
Doberman Pinscher
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Bruno
Doberman Pinscher
7 Months

How can i get rid of his fear?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello! The best way to get rid of any fear based behavior is with proper socialization. Here is a really great article about how to socialize a dog. https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-behavior-training/timing-matters-when-socializing-a-puppy/

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