How to Train a Doberman to Heel

Medium
1-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

Despite his somewhat intimidating appearance, you know your Doberman is totally soft at heart. True to their nature, he’s loyal, alert, and intelligent. For the most part, he’s also a pleasure to have. When you’re in the house he’s relatively well behaved. However, when you head out the door for a walk then standards start to slip. He simply will not heel and because he’s pretty big and strong, he’s constantly pulling you across the sidewalk when he sees a dog on the horizon or something he wants to sniff.

Training him to 'heel' is essential for your health as well as his. You worry he may pull you into the road one day and cause a traffic accident. You also worry that nobody will be able to walk him when you aren’t around because he’s simply too much to handle.

Defining Tasks

Training any dog to heel can be challenging. With Dobermans. it can be increasingly difficult. This is a result of their size and strength. The first thing you need to do is take a number of steps to deter him from pulling. You will then need to use obedience commands to keep him walking calmly by your side. The right incentive will also play an important role. Luckily, Dobermans, like most dogs, have a soft spot for all things edible. 

If he’s a puppy, the habit should be relatively new and he should be a fast learner. You could see results in just a week. However, if he’s older with years of poor leash behavior under his collar, then you may need a couple of months. Get this training right though, and you can enjoy those relaxing strolls you first pictured when you brought him home.

Getting Started

Before you can start training, you will need to get your hands on a few bits. Because Dobermans are relatively big and strong, using a body harness is a sensible idea. This will increase your control while reducing strain on his neck.

You will also need a short training leash and a generous supply of tasty treats. Alternatively, you can break his favorite food into small pieces. You can train when you are out on your normal daily walk.

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

The Heel Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Head out
Secure him to a relatively short leash and then head out the door. Keep him on one side of you and hold onto the leash firmly. When he walks ahead of you, you will need to be ready to react.
Step
2
‘Heel’
As soon as he walks ahead and begins to pull, issue a firm ‘heel’ command. Use a clear, but stern voice. You can use any word or phrase you like. Dobermans can learn hundreds of different commands.
Step
3
Stop
As you give the command, stand still and look at him. He will eventually come to a halt and probably stare back at you confused for a while. Then wait for him to return to your side. You may have to wait a little while the first couple of times.
Step
4
Reward
Once he returns to your side, give him a treat and some verbal praise. You can then start walking again.
Step
5
Consistency
For this technique to work, you need to use it every time he is out on the leash. That also means that anybody else that walks him does so too. Once he gets the hang of it, you can then gradually phase out the treats.
Recommend training method?

The U-Turn Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Walk time
Remain calm when you secure him to his leash and then head out the door for a walk as you normally would. In this method, you will show him who is in control when he is on a leash. Also, check he has a body harness on.
Step
2
U-turn
As soon as he starts to pull, turn around and start walking in the opposite direction. You don’t need to say anything, remain calm and collected throughout.
Step
3
Pull gently
Make sure you don’t yank him too hard when you pull him around with you. You need to be firm so he knows you mean business, but you don’t want to cause him any injury.
Step
4
Practice
Now simply follow this technique on every walk. It may mean you spend a while walking back and forth to start with, but he will quickly catch on. You will also need to make sure you are consistent. Each time you let him pull without a consequence will only set back the end result.
Step
5
Never punish him
Although it may be frustrating, it’s important you don’t punish him. If you terrify him then he may become aggressive. You will then have an even more challenging behavior to tackle.
Recommend training method?

The Treat Lure Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Head for the door
Secure him to his leash and then head out for your normal walk. However, make sure you have a pocket full of treats with you, or his favorite food. The more the food smells, the more effective it often is. Many Dobermans love cheese, for example.
Step
2
Set the lure
As soon as you are out the door, hold a treat out at your waist, or his head height. Make sure he can’t get to it, but let him sniff around and take an interest. This will keep him walking at your side and not pulling.
Step
3
20 yards
Once you have walked 20 or so yards, hand over the tasty treat. You can also give him some verbal praise. He will soon start associating walking calmly next to you with some mouth-watering rewards.
Step
4
Increase the distance
Start walking again, but this time walk 30 yards before you hand over a treat. Again, give him some verbal praise. Continue gradually increasing the distance you walk for each time you head out.
Step
5
Lose the treats
It may take several weeks, but eventually you will be able to do most of your walk with him walking next to you in the hope of a treat. At this point, it will have become habit to heel and behave on his leash. Therefore, you can gradually cut out the treats.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

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

When he gets something he knows he cant have he will run and he will not drop it. And I end up chasing him because I dont want him to get hurt. He loves to use his paw and he has scratched my daughter, grandkids and myself

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

Hello! So I am going to give you some tips on teaching recall. It is something you will have to practice to ingrain it into him so he is responsive in those settings. Recall: STAGE ONE – 'Catching' or Charging Up the 'Come' Cue Start in a distraction free environment so that your dog can focus only on you. Whenever your puppy or dog is coming to you on his own, wait until he is a couple of feet from you and then say his name and the word 'come.' When he gets to you, make a big fuss. With this exercise, your dog will learn that coming to you is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance between you and start using the word when he is coming to you from a greater distance. Coming to you should always be rewarded, whatever the circumstance and no matter how long it took your dog to respond. Motivate your dog to come by being exciting, running away from him, waving a toy, or having delicious food for him when he gets to you. This will show him that coming back to you the best thing he can do. STAGE TWO – Solidifying the Cue Through Play Make sure you play the Back and Forth game with another person that your dog is comfortable with. Start the game in a quiet environment so it is easy for your dog to focus on you. Hold your dog back while the other person calls him excitedly. Try not to use his name or the cue word but talk excitedly to ‘gee’ him up. Do not release him until the person calls his name followed by the cue word “come.” When the cue word is given, release your dog and let him go running to the person calling. As soon as he reaches them they should praise and reward him with a game of tug or a food reward. When your dog has had his reward, have the other person hold him back as you call him and release as you say his name followed by the cue word. When he comes to you reward him with another game of tug or food reward. Repeat this game back and forth but only do a few repetitions so your dog does not get bored or too tired. Keeping it fresh means the game is always fun to play. STAGE THREE – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Inside Now your dog knows what the word “come” means you can use the cue word to call him to you while adding a hand signal to the word. Hand signals are always good to build with vocal cues so that even if your dog cannot hear you he will understand what the hand signal means. This is good if your dog is a distance away from you. Start in a quiet environment. Walk away from your dog and call his name followed by the cue word and a hand signal. Praise and reward him when he comes to you. Start increasing the distance you call him from and praise for his compliance. If he does not respond, go back to the previous distance and repeat. Only practice this cue for a few minutes so your dog does not get bored. The secret to success is to always keep it fun, exciting and fresh. When your dog recognizes the hand signal, try calling his name and using the hand signal by itself without the vocal cue. You will then be able to use a combination of vocal cue only, hand signal only and the two together. Now your dog knows what the cue word means you can start to call him from different rooms or from areas where he cannot see you. This will encourage him to respond even when you are out of sight. STAGE FOUR – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Outside Now your dog is consistently coming to you in a distraction free environment you can proof your recall cue by taking it outside. Practice the recall in your yard and then gradually build up to the point where you can use it in the park or similar environment. The ultimate test is to use the recall when your dog is engaged in a different activity. Wait for a lull in that activity and then call your dog to you. Praise his decision to comply.

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