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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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‘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.
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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.
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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.
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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’.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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