How to Train a Doberman Guard Dog

Medium
1-3 Months
Work

Introduction

Despite his somewhat menacing exterior, your Doberman is probably a sensitive soul at heart. He’s energetic, intelligent, obedient and loyal to a fault. All of those characteristics mean he has great potential to be a guard dog. The challenge is training him to do so. You haven’t had him long so most of your time has been spent messing around and taking him out for regular walks. You’re thinking ahead though, and you want him to be ready for the job at hand when he grows up.

Training a Doberman to be a guard dog will give you an extremely effective security measure. Not only are they a visible deterrent, but they’re fast, strong and pack a menacing bark. This type of obedience training and discipline will also help you to teach him a range of other commands too.

Defining Tasks

Training a dog to be a guard dog is no easy feat. It requires consistent training and discipline, from both you and your canine companion. Fortunately, Dobermans possess a lot of the natural attributes you want from a guard dog. The challenge comes in conveying precisely what it is you want him to do. So, the first step will be territory training. You will also need to teach him how to bark on command. Don’t worry, with the right incentive you will soon have your effective guard dog.

If he’s a puppy he should be easy to train and you could see results in just a few weeks. If he’s older with a few bad habits he’s picked up on the way, then you may need several months. Succeed and you’ll have an effective deterrent, allowing you to sleep easy at night.

Getting Started

Before you start training, you will need to gather a few items. You will need a secure, short leash. You will also need a long leash or rope for one of the methods below. 

Try and set aside 15 minutes each day for training. The more frequently you train, the quicker you will see results. Treats or his favorite food broken into small pieces will be used to motivate him throughout training.

Once you have the above, just bring patience and an optimistic attitude, then work can begin!

The Boundary Method

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Step
1
Morning & evening
Secure him to a leash and walk him around the object/space you want him to guard. Do this once in the morning and once in the evening. This will reinforce to him that the item in question falls within his territory. He will then naturally want to defend it.
Step
2
Long leash
In the day, you can also tether him on a long leash. Make sure he has enough space to walk around the item/space. This will further make it feel like it falls under his remit.
Step
3
Start early
Try and start this training when he is just a puppy. Dobermans are most receptive when they are still young. So, if you want swift results, start as early as possible.
Step
4
Encouragement
You will need to encourage any of the signs of aggression you want to see when he’s guarding something. This means handing over a tasty treat when you see him bark at an approaching stranger.
Step
5
Do not use fear
It is important you do not use fear to make him aggressive. Fear could quickly lead to him biting and causing serious damage to another person or pet. Instead, opt for positive reinforcement. Dobermans respond best to this type of training.
Recommend training method?

The ‘Bark’ Method

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Step
1
Monitor
Spend a couple of days monitoring him for situations which cause him to bark. You are going to use these triggers to teach him to bark on command. When he is about to eat or go out for walk are likely occasions.
Step
2
‘Bark’
Now start giving a ‘bark’ command in a clear, but firm voice when he is about to bark. Once he then does just that, hand over a tasty treat. You can also give him some verbal praise. Spend several minutes each day doing this.
Step
3
Bring forward the ‘bark’
After several days he will associate the command with barking. You can now start giving the command when he isn’t already in a bark-inducing situation. Continue to give him treats until he responds every time.
Step
4
Have a stranger approach
Have someone your Doberman does not know approach the item/place you want him to guard. If it’s your house, have the stranger knock on the door. Now use the ‘bark’ instruction to get him barking. Make sure the stranger then shouts/screams and runs away. This is important, it tells him he needs to bark until the person leaves.
Step
5
Reward & practice
Once the stranger has fled, hand over a mouth-watering treat. Practice this every other day but use different people each time. It will soon become habit to bark when someone approaches and you won’t even need to give the instruction.
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The Socialization Method

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Obedience classes
Sign your Doberman up for obedience classes. The earlier in his life you can do this the better. This will instil discipline as well as teaching him a number of useful commands, from ‘down’ to ‘stay’.
Step
2
Socialization
Make sure he gets to spend positive time with other dogs and humans from an early age. You need him to know what behavior is and isn’t normal. Otherwise he may become overly aggressive and unsafe to be around.
Step
3
Breaking in
Have someone your Doberman does not know knock on your door or windows. Then point at them and get animated. Dogs mirror their owners behavior, so if you show the stranger lots of interest, so will he. Keep encouraging until he gets so worked up that he barks.
Step
4
Reward
As soon as he barks, make sure he gets a decent reward. The better the reward, the more likely he will be to repeat the behavior again. Also, try to give the treat within a few seconds of him barking, otherwise he may not associate the action with the reward.
Step
5
Consistency
This training will only yield swift results if you can practice regularly. Aim for every other day, if not, at least a couple a times a week. You should praise and reward him for all signs of loyalty and interest in strangers until it becomes habit.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Blue
Doberman Pinscher
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Blue
Doberman Pinscher
5 Months

My dog is very friendly when it comes to strangers approaching us, when we leave him alone in the house he just lays there he doesn’t bark or anything when anyone comes knocks the door. Any help on how to train him to improve him?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alejandra, First, I suggest teaching pup the Speak command. Once pup knows that command, practice telling pup to speak whenever someone approaches the house - especially people he doesn't know, and praise and reward the barking. Recruit friends pup doesn't know well to approach the house to practice this often. Practice this until pup begins to anticipate the speak command and reward and barks on their own without the command - reward heavily, then when people approach, wait several seconds before giving the speak command to see if pup will bark on their own- then reward if they do. Speak: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak Once pup will consistently bark without having to be told - to get a reward, then because it has become a habit, also reward pup whenever you catch them watching people and generally being alert to people in the area. Barking is a self-rewarding behavior, so many times once pup gets into the habit of barking at something while you are there to reward it, the reward of barking itself will continue to encourage the barking at people even when you aren't there later. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Kacey
Pitbull lab mix
5 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Kacey
Pitbull lab mix
5 Years

My 5 year old pitbull mix won't leave my side. I've always wanted to train Kacey to protect me from people, animals, or other dogs. Please help me with that!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lilly, You can work on obedience, commands that send him away from you like "Out" - which means go over there, to watch for people acting strange, generally be alert to things around you, and growl or bark on command to seem intimidating; however, to teach him to truly protect you in the event that alerting you and intimidating someone else isn't enough, you will need to pursue formal protection dog training with a qualified trainer who has the right resources and experience to do it safely - such as a bite bag, body suite, and training that utilizes a dog's defense drive and doesn't create suspicion or fear of people in general. True protection training builds a dog's confidence, involves a ton of obedience so that you have better control of pup's behavior, and teaches pup skills like biting and holding when someone moves toward you a certain way - and not just true aggression around strangers in general, which would make your dog a liability and danger to yourself and friends. True protection training is something I only recommend pursuing with professional help. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Versailles
Doberman Pinscher
8 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
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Versailles
Doberman Pinscher
8 Weeks

I am new to training and I’m wondering where to start with my new dog, Versailles

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

Hello! When training is started at 7 to 8 weeks of age, it is best to use methods that rely on positive reinforcement and gentle teaching. Puppies have short attention spans, so training sessions should be brief, but should occur daily. Puppies can be taught to “sit,” “down,” and “stand” using a method called food-lure training. You can do a quick google search on "treat training my puppy sit" etc and you will find tons of wonderful resources for each command.

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Question
Shadow
Doberman Pinscher
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Shadow
Doberman Pinscher
2 Months

I. Struggling to much with my male dobie pup. He is so stubborn and do things like he thinks. I live in appartment and i tell him to poop or pee at one of those papers you stich in the ground. But he sometimes do it sometimes not . Thank god he always poop outside at least but he pees inside to often . I k ow he is to young but i cant continue to other trainings if i dont do this first . I want to make him a personal guard dog but there are no such trainers in my country. Any help how i can try and make him personal guard for me and my kids ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Frenkli, Check out the article linked below and follow the Crate training method. If your end goal is outside potty training and your schedule will allow you to just take pup outside, I highly suggest getting rid of the indoor pads - that can cause confusion and make potty training a lot harder in the long run by getting pup used to going potty inside. Crate training method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If you must have pup go potty inside because of your schedule, I suggest setting up an exercise pen in a room that can later be closed off to pup - since they will be learning to go potty in this room, you don't want it to be a general area of your home. Instead of using a pee pad, I recommend using a disposable real grass pad in the exercise pen. When you are home, follow the exercise pen method above. When you are away, have pup stay in the exercise pen with the grass pad on one end and a non-absorbent bed, like www.primopads.com or https://k9ballistics.com/ . When you first start this, crate pup and take pup to the grass pad in the exercise pen on leash each potty trip. Praise and reward pup when they go potty on the grass. Once pup is consistently going potty on the grass, you can then just have pup stay in the exercise pen while away, with access to the grass pad, and take pup potty outside on leash when home. Disposable grass pad brands - also on amazon. www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Your can also make your own out of a piece of turf and a shallow plastic storage container, bagging up poop and changing out the turf as needed, likely every couple of weeks, until pup is old enough to be able to be crated the whole time you are away and hold it. As far as guard dog work, start by thoroughly socializing pup and exposing them to a lot of different things - you need pup to know very well what is normal human behavior and not be scared of the world, so that they will be more confident and be able to tell what's suspicious and not normal as an adult. Once you are ready to start obedience, spend the first year working pup up to an off-leash level of obedience. Guard dogs need a lot of self-control, responsiveness to their owners, confidence and calmness, and enough of a bond with you to want to work for you and protect you. When you catch pup watching things around them calmly and staying tuned into you and their surroundings calmly, reward with a treat. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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