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 and Success Stories

Question
Prince
AnimalBreed object
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Prince
AnimalBreed object
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
674 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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Question
Charli
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
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Question
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Charli
AnimalBreed object
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
674 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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