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Your Doberman is, for the most part, extremely friendly. He usually loves meeting new people and pets. However, on occasion, you have heard a yelp from downstairs. You rush down and your Doberman has tried to bite your young child. Now you’re not sure if he’s just playing, but you don’t think he meant to cause serious harm. But you’ve also been on walks when you’ve seen him go to bite other dogs. This may have been harmless to begin with, but now you’re worried it could progress into something serious.
Training him not to bite is essential. He may become increasingly aggressive and he could cause someone serious injury. As a result, he may end up being court ordered to be put down. Alternatively, he could get into a fight with another dog who could cause him serious injury and land you with significant vet bills.
Training your Doberman not to bite is thankfully a lot easier than many people realize. Firstly, you will need to take a number of deterrence measures to remove the temptation. You will also need to use strict obedience commands to increase your control. There will also be a socialization element to training. This will ensure he knows what behavior is and isn’t acceptable.
If your Doberman is a puppy, he should be a fast learner and eager to please. This means you could see results in just a week or two. But if he’s older, stubborn and been nipping or biting for many years, then you may need up to six weeks to fully get a handle on it. If your dog is aggressive, consider getting the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist.
Before you start training, you will need to gather a few things. You will need a muzzle and some tasty treats. Like most dogs, Dobermans are food-motivated, and the right incentive will be essential for swift results.
For one of the methods, a water spray bottle and deterrence collar will also be required. Then set aside just 10 minutes each day for training and come ready with patience and a positive attitude!
The Deterrence Method
Whenever you see your dog turning aggressive or getting ready bite, quickly go over and give a firm ‘NO’. You don’t need to scare your Doberman, but you do need to make sure he can sense your disapproval.
Water spray bottle
The next deterrence step to take is giving a quick spray of water near his face whenever he bites. This will swiftly get him associating biting with negative consequences.
These collars can be bought from a range of online stores. You simply press a button on a remote control when he gets aggressive or bites and an unpleasant spray of citronella will be emitted. If you do this every time he will quickly start thinking twice.
Use a muzzle
Until you get his biting under control, you need to prevent him causing any harm to anyone, particularly in public. So fit him in a muzzle. This will completely remove any risk of injury until training proves successful.
Toe the party line
It’s important you make sure everyone in the house reacts the same when he bites. If one person laughs or brushes it aside, then he may get confused and you will push back the end result. So sit everyone down and ensure you are all on the same page with how to react.
The Environment Changes Method
Dobermans can bite when they become frustrated. To prevent this it’s important he has a safe space he can escape to, such as a crate or bed. This is particularly important if you have young children around who may pester him.
Dobermans are big and need a generous amount of exercise. If he doesn’t get enough exercise, that pent up energy may result in excitable biting. So take him out for a longer walk or spend a few minutes playing fetch each day. A tired dog is a placid dog.
Make sure when you meet new people or pets, that you are positioned between your Doberman and the person or pet approaching. If you do this, he will see it as your job to protect him and not the other way around.
A person a day
Try to introduce him to a new person each day, especially when he’s a puppy. This is when his future personality will be molded. So the more socialization he gets, the more relaxed and friendly he will be later.
Don’t punish him
It’s important you never punish him. Dobermans do not respond well to punishment. In fact, this may only make him more aggressive. So opt for the positive reinforcement approach and you will see results much sooner.
The Time Out Method
Whenever you catch him bite, take him by the collar and lead him away. Remain calm and take him to a quiet room without toys. You need to show him that he will be removed from the situation if he lashes out.
Leave him in the time out room on his own for 30 seconds. Once that time is up, open the door and release him. However, make sure you stay close so you can react swiftly if he acts up again.
If he does bite again, calmly take him by the collar back to his time out space. Leave him there for an additional 30 seconds this time. If he bites again, add another 30 seconds onto his sentence. Continue to do this until he gets the message.
Sign him up to group obedience classes. Here he will socialize with other dogs and people. But even more than that, he will see what types of behavior are and are not acceptable, such as biting.
Reward gentle play
Make sure you spend a few minutes each day playing gently. Just lying there and calmly stroking him will do the job. You can then give him an occasional treat and verbal praise. You want him to associate being calm with positive rewards.
By James Barra
Published: 02/28/2018, edited: 01/08/2021