How to Train a Doberman Puppy to be a Guard Dog

How to Train a Doberman Puppy to be a Guard Dog
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Time icon1-6 Months
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Introduction

You’re loving having your cute little Doberman puppy in your home. However, you know he won’t remain small and cute for too long. Which is fine, that is part of the reason you chose him. You also love Dobermans for their intelligence, loyalty, and energy but now you want to put those attributes to use. You would like to train him to be a guard dog. 

Training a Doberman puppy to be a guard dog will bring with it several benefits. Firstly, you will have an effective deterrent and an efficient way of keeping a place or object secure. But this type of training is also a great way to instill discipline, making it easier to teach your Doberman a range of other commands too. Finally, this sort of training is a fantastic way to channel his energy into something productive.

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Defining Tasks

Training a Doberman puppy to be a guard dog is surprisingly straightforward. You will use boundary training to show him the object is within his territory, therefore requiring his protection. You will also use obedience commands to bring out the defensive types of behaviors you would like to see, such as barking. Another essential component of training will come in the form of finding the right motivator. Dobermans, like most dogs, will do almost anything for food. So the right mouthwatering incentive will be needed. 

Because he’s a puppy he should be a fast learner. This means you could see results in just a matter of weeks. However, if he’s stubborn and not so interested in learning then it may take several months before you see consistent results. Get this training right and you will be able to sleep easy at night knowing your house is being safely guarded.

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Getting Started

Before you get to work, you will need to get your hands on a few things. Stock up on tasty treats or break your dog's favorite food into small pieces. If you’re stuck for ideas on food, cheese is often fairly effective. 

You will also need a long leash, a short training leash, and 15 minutes each day to commit to training. The more consistently you train, the sooner you will see results.

Once you have all that, just bring patience and a proactive attitude, then work can begin!

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The Boundaries Method

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Morning walk

Secure him to a short leash each morning and walk him around the perimeter of the area you would like him to protect. Remain quiet as you go and try to keep him focused. If he walks around it each morning, he will soon believe it falls within his territory.

2

Evening walk

You also need to walk him around the perimeter again in the evening. Walk just as you did in the morning and he will soon naturally want to defend everything within the boundaries.

3

Long leash

You can also tether him to a long leash, ensuring the object or space you want him to protect falls within his boundaries. Again, this will further reinforce what does and does not fall within his territory.

4

Encouragement

It’s also important you encourage any promising signs of guard dog behavior. That means handing over tasty treats and giving him verbal praise whenever he takes notice of strangers or barks at them.

5

Never punish him

Dobermans are big and strong, so it’s important you retain control during training. So do not punish him. This type of training can result in Dobermans becoming overly aggressive and potentially dangerous. Positive reinforcement is the most effective approach to take.

The Control Method

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Obedience classes

It is important you take him to group training classes from as early age as possible. This will ensure he is still friendly and sociable with dogs and people he does know. It’s important he can interact with those he knows.

2

Basic commands

Teach him ‘down’, ‘wait’ and any other basic commands that may come in useful later on. All will help you keep control of him later on in life while securing your position as pack leader.

3

Get animated

Have a stranger slowly approach the space or object you want him to protect. Then point and talk in a high-pitched voice to draw his attention to them. Continue drawing his attention until he gets worked up and barks.

4

Reward

As soon as he barks and takes an interest, hand over a tasty treat. It’s important he’s rewarded each time he displays promising signs of taking note of strangers. Make sure you have the stranger shout and run away too. He needs to know he has to bark until the person flees.

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Lose the treats

Once he’s got the hang of it and barks at strangers every time, you can slowly start to cut out treats. It will now be a habit and he will no longer need a food incentive to get to work.

The ‘Bark’ Method

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Setting up

Place him in a situation which is likely to cause him to bark. When he is about to be fed or go out are likely occasions. You’re going to use these to teach him to bark on command.

2

‘Bark’

When he is in a bark-inducing scenario, give a ‘bark’ command in a clear but upbeat voice just as he is about to bark. You can use any word or phrase you like for the instruction, Dobermans can learn hundreds of different commands.

3

Reward

As soon as he does indeed bark, you can then hand over a tasty treat and give him verbal praise. Just make sure he gets the reward within three seconds so he associates it with barking. Now practice this each day for 5 to 10 minutes in a range of different situations.

4

Have someone approach

Once he understands the command, it’s time to put his training to the test. Have someone he does not know approach the place he is supposed to be guarding. Instruct him to bark and then after a few seconds have the person run away. You can then give him a mouth-watering reward.

5

Change it up

Practice this every other day, but try to have a different person approach each time. It will quickly become habit to bark at anyone that approaches. When he starts barking without you giving the command, you can slowly phase out the treats.

By James Barra

Published: 02/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Zeus

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Doberman Pinscher

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1 Year

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How can I get him to stop pulling on the leash when we walk and to stop play biting when he doesn’t get his way. He has a bad attitude when he’s told no or gets in trouble

June 12, 2022

Zeus's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Dustin, Does the biting look kind of like the dog in this video? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcwvUOf5oOg Or is the biting more malicious in nature? If the biting is more of an aggression, attitude issue, I would work on building pup's overall respect for you, desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle so you can train without getting bitten in the process, and teaching some structured obedience to help pup's focus, attitude, and understanding. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BjPpXer8IE Respect building - with muzzle in place for safety as needed. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Obedience commands for structure and communication and attitude adjustment: 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: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark 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 Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it Watch Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zeZrOPzO-c For the leash pulling, pay attention to the Turns method from the article I have linked above. Make sure you are also telling pup what you want them to do, and not just saying no without teaching pup what to do instead, and that you are praising pup when they get something right - even if its the kind of thing that's easy to take for granted, like pup sitting nicely for a treat or pet, when pup doesn't pull, when pup doesn't bark at something exciting, ect... some dogs will get mouthy when highly aroused or when getting frustrated; adding some structured obedience to give clear direction to remove some frustration and to get them thinking and less aroused can partially help many dogs. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 14, 2022

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Pori

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Doberman Pinscher

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25 Days

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How do I start to train her?

May 5, 2022

Pori's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Arnab, Check out the free PDF E-books Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy. The first six months of puppy's life should be focused on socializing, manners, and regular puppy training. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads 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 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 the property or come to the door while pup watches from a window or inside somewhere. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person is there, until pup barks on their own when the person tries to enter without saying speak. At that point, have the person come 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 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

May 5, 2022


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