How to Train a Doberman for Protection

How to Train a Doberman for Protection
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Time icon12-18 Months
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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Obedience Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Release Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Defense Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By TJ Trevino

Published: 02/26/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Princesa

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German Shepherd

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16 Weeks

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Id like for her to be more okay with going on walks but also to be able to defend here family she knows basics, sit, stay, heel, etc.

June 30, 2022

Princesa's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Joseline, Is pup currently not wanting to go on walks or fearful during walks? Pay attention to pup's body language and the environment. Some pups don't want to walk because they are afraid of a neighborhood dog in a fence barking, construction workers, funny objects (like Christmas decorations), and things we would never think twice about. If pup isn't familiar with something (no matter how normal it may seem to us) it can feel scary to pup and be a reason why they don't want to leave the safety of the yard. If pup seems nervous or something might be bothering them in the environment, work on helping pup overcome that fear first by using play and treats to distract pup and then reward pup for any confidence, calmness, or tolerance they show around the fearful thing. Practice this further away from the scary thing first and very gradually work up to pup being able to pass that thing as her confidence grows with your help. Simply spending time sitting outside with pup daily in the environment pup is uncertain of - without expecting walking yet - can help the area become less scary or distracting. Next, spend time getting pup used to leash pressure in general if pup's not familiar with coming forward toward you when there is a leash tug. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Next, if pup still won't walk, take some small treats or pup's dog food pieces in a small ziplock bag in your pocket or a favorite toy. Every time pup takes a couple of steps, give a treat or toss the toy a step forward or let pup give the toy a tug. Keep your energy excited and confident. When pup stops, tell pup "Let's Go" in a calm and business-like tone of voice (it's not a question, it's a confident, calm command), then tug and release the leash several times in a row until pup takes a couple more steps - at which point give another treat or play. The leash tugs should stop as soon as pup starts moving. Keep your walking goals short at first. If pup won't leave your yard - your first goal is just to leave the yard. When pup reaches that goal - go home as an additional reward for pup following you - even if a lot of leash tugs were involved. When pup will go to the end of the yard easily then walk to the next house. Gradually increase your walk distance overtime. If you make your goal something huge like the whole neighborhood at first you are less likely to succeed - work up to distance overtime. Also, do not continuously pull pup on the leash. Doing so can harm pup's neck, but also dog's have a natural tendency to pull away from something - so if you pull pup in one direction, she will just pull back in the other direction, budging even less. This is why you do the quick tug and releases so that not following is uncomfortable with the tugs but not a continuous pull. You want pup to choose to walk to get away from the annoying tugs and to receive treats. Pup is most likely nervous or distracted about the environment or not sure how to respond to leash pressure - so don't skip over desensitizing pup to the environment and leash if pup seems at all nervous about those things - freezing and looking like a deer in headlights is one sign of nervousness. Finally, make sure pup isn't in pain or sick, causing her not to want to exercise in any form due to feeling bad. If you have reason to suspect pup is ill or injured, definitely see your vet. (I am not a vet) 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 or someone approaches you or your family whom you don't know, and to be more watchful in general using reward based training. It's really important to socializes a protection dog as a puppy still. That can seem counter intuitive, but you want a good protection dog to be confident and not fearful of new things, easily adaptable, and to know what's normal human behavior so they can tell when something is not normal and is suspicious. A dog who is suspicious of everything can't be around people and go places with you, so can't stay with you to protect you, and they will react to guests and friends too, so aren't safe around those you want pup to be safe around. You need a dog who can tell the difference. Puppies should be friendly with new people at this age, even a future protection dog. Those protective instincts tend to kick in once pup gets close to mental maturity. For the alerting, first teach pup to bark by teaching the Speak command. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak Once pup knows the speak command, recruit friends pup doesn't know to step onto your property while pup watches from a window or the fence, or approach you in public. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person approaches, until pup barks on their own when the person tries to enter or approach without you saying speak first. At that point, have the person come onto the property or approach, wait seven seconds to see if pup will bark on their own, reward if they do, and command speak if they don't. When pup has to be told speak, then reward but give a smaller reward when you tell pup opposed to when pup does it on their own. Practice until pup will bark each time someone enters the property or approaches without needing to be told. Practice with different people you can recruit who pup doesn't know so that pup will learn to do this with anyone who enters the property or approaches and not just with one person. Draw pup's attention to people outside or people on your property, and reward pup when you see them watching someone in general - so that pup will begin watching people and staying more alert as a habit. Pup doesn't have to bark to reward this one - just reward when pup is watching someone and you notice that. You are encouraging her to stay tuned into her surroundings. This will be more applicable as pup ages and is less distracted - at this age pup is going to be distracted and that's okay, reward when you see pup paying attention but don't stress too much about it yet at this age. I also recommend teaching the Quiet command, so that you can tell pup when to stop barking after they alert. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark 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. The training is 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. This training is usually started somewhere between 9 months and 2 years, at the discretion of the trainer who evaluates pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 30, 2022

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Bruno

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Doberman Pinscher

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7 Months

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How can i get rid of his fear?

May 31, 2021

Bruno's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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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/

June 1, 2021


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