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How to Train a Doberman Guard Dog

How to Train a Doberman Guard Dog
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-3 Months
Work training category iconWork

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.

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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.

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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!

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The Boundary Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The ‘Bark’ Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Written by James Barra

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 01/23/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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LUXE

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toy poodle

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1 Year

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He knows commands , but I have to constantly repeat them. Also it takes a few times to recall him. When I have guest he doesn't listen at all.

Dec. 17, 2021

LUXE's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, First, know that what you described is normal for basic obedience, especially at this age - the initial goal is just to teach pup what a word means and motivate them to learn. What comes next is intermediate obedience. For intermediate obedience, you will gradually work up to distractions and pup developing the skills to obey in those situations too - at first the distraction might be someone walking through the room, a squirrel in the yard, a leaf blowing by, ect...Start with less distracting environments, then gradually move onto harder environments and spend intentional time practicing in each of those new environments until pup can focus there too. For example, in your home without others around is easiest, your backyard is a bit harder, your front yard is even harder, your neighborhood is even hard, your home with guests present is even harder, a pet store is even harder, ect...Go out of your way to practice at the current level pup needs to learn at and to create the distractions pup is ready to learn to overcome during training sessions when you can control things - so that pup can also respond when things are more out of your control in every day life, but keep the distraction level what pup is ready for at that point in the training so pup can still succeed with your help - the goal is to guide pup and provide consistent, calm boundaries at this point. Second, you may need to switch some of your training methods now that pup knows the commands and is sometimes choosing to disobey. For example, when teaching Sit I would first recommend using the Treat Luring method from the article linked below. Once pup knows that method well and has worked up to some distractions, I would enforce my command using the Pressure method from that same article when pup chooses to disobey something they know. The pressure method will still reward some but will also give a gentle consequence for disobedience to encourage pup to obey even when they don't find it as fun. Sit - Pressure method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-sit Some other methods to help enforce commands when pup is ready: Reel In method for Come: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Turns method for Heel: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel The Leash Pressure method for down: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-lay-down Finally, check out the Consistency and the Working method from the article I have linked below. You can use everyday things pup wants as motivators to get pup to obey, such as telling pup to Sit before giving breakfast and waiting until they do so before putting the food down. Often you will have to wait pup out pretty long the first time, fifteen minutes being normal. Repeat your command just once every five minutes. When pup finally complies, give the food and praise calmly. As pup sees that you are consistent, calm, and firm, pup should start to obey more quickly as you practice. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you A drag leash can also be kept on pup when you are home to supervise, to ensure it doesn't get caught on things. When you give pup a command like Leave It, Place, Off, Come, Out, ect...You can calmly pick up the end of the leash and help pup follow through with your command, like walking pup over to where you called them from originally, showing pup that you mean what you say and they need to follow through without having to get angry or let pup get away with ignoring you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Dec. 17, 2021

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Zyro

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Doberman Pinscher

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6 Months

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I would like to train him for a guard dog and would like to know what tools I would need and what I would need to do

Aug. 19, 2021

Zyro's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Raeleigh, As counter productive as it may seem you will want to socialize pup still to build confidence and help pup have a good foundation of interactions with people to be able to tell what's normal and not. I would work on commands that build impulse control, like a very reliable Come, Quiet, and Stay around high distractions, working up to those distractions very gradually using a long training leash and padded back clip harness to better mimic off leash, while being able to still enforce the training consistently. You can either hire a professional protection trainer to train pup formally, or you can work on teaching pup to bark when someone comes onto the property and generally be more alert of surroundings, on your own. For any bite work, you will need to hire professional help though. For bite work you will need things like body suits, bite bags, flirt poles, the right kind of harness, and people who know what they are doing to wear those suits and hold those bite bags while you train. Working with a training group or at least a club who does such work will be necessary. To teach pup to bark and be more alert, first, teach pup 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 the property while pup watches from a window or fence. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person is on the property, until pup barks on their own when the person enters without saying speak. At that point, have the person step onto the property, wait seven seconds to see if pup will bark on their own, reward if they do, and command speak if they don't - 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. Practice with different people you can recruit, that pup doesn't know so that pup will learn to do this with anyone who enters the property and not just that 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. 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 Come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 19, 2021


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