How to Train a Doberman to Stop Biting

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It has been a whirlwind adventure since your Doberman came into your life. He’s everything you hoped he would be, tenacious, intelligent and full of energy. However, he’s also got a rather bad habit. You occasionally hear a yelp as your Doberman gets excited and nips one of your kids. He also gets snappy when you have guests over and you can’t think of anything worse than him biting the in-laws. Things are also getting a bit worrying when you go out for walks. Rather than sniffing and saying hello to other dogs, your Doberman gets aggressive and tries to bite them.

Training him to stop biting is essential for several reasons. If the biting continues he may become more aggressive and do someone serious harm at some point. If that happens he may have to be put down. You also don’t want to risk the health of your small children or have to worry when he meets new people.

Defining Tasks

If the habit has developed over many years, training your Doberman to stop biting can be challenging. The first thing you need to do is take a number of steps to deter him from biting in the first place. You will also have to channel his energy into something more productive, through the use of toys and stimulating games. As with most dogs, Dobermans respond best to positive reinforcement, so you will need to focus on that.

If he’s a puppy the habit should be relatively new and therefore easier to break. You could see results in just a week or so. However, if he’s older and the habit has developed over many years then you may need up to six weeks to fully stamp out the habit. Succeed and you can leave him unsupervised to play indoors with strangers and roam outside off his leash.

Getting Started

Before you start work, you will need to collect a few bits. A water spray bottle and a deterrence collar will be needed for one of the methods. You will also need some mouthwatering treats. Alternatively, break his favorite food into small pieces. 

You will need to set aside 10 minutes each day for training. However, the more time you can spend being vigilant and reacting to his biting will speed up the learning process. If your Doberman's biting stems from aggression, consider consulting with a behaviorist or professional trainer to help you choose the best approach to training.

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

The Deterrence Method

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Step
1
‘NO’
Whenever you see him bite or display signs of aggression, quickly rush over and give a stern ‘NO’. You don’t want to terrify him, but make sure he is aware of your disproval.
Step
2
Water spray bottle
You can also give him a quick spray of water near the face whenever he bites. This will get him associating biting with negative consequences. Make sure you give the spray within a few seconds of him biting.
Step
3
Deterrence collar
You may also want to consider using a deterrence collar. They can be bought online and when you hit s remote button an unpleasant burst of citronella will be emitted. This will make him think twice about biting next time.
Step
4
Private space
Dobermans needs a safe space they can escape to. This is particularly important if you have young children as they can pester and frustrate dogs. So make sure his bed is somewhere secluded where he can spend some alone time.
Step
5
Encourage gentle play
While you need to follow all of the deterrence measures above, it also helps to reward gentle play. Hand over treats and give verbal praise whenever he plays calmly and doesn’t get too worked up.
Recommend training method?

The Distraction Method

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Step
1
Exercise
Make sure he gets plenty of exercise each day. Dobermans are big dogs with a lot of energy that needs using up. If they are kept inside they may get worked up, which could lead to biting. So give him a longer walk or throw a ball as you go. The short sprints will ensure he spends his time at home napping instead of biting.
Step
2
Tug of war
Spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war. This is a fantastic way to channel his energy into something productive. In fact, if he does start biting, you can pull out the toy and encourage him to chew that instead.
Step
3
Attention
Make sure he gets enough attention from you each day. Spend a few minutes in the morning and evening playing around with him and stroking him. If his biting is attention seeking behavior, this should stop it.
Step
4
Food puzzles
You need to make sure Dobermans have plenty to do, especially if you leave him at home alone for part of the day. So give him food puzzles and toys to keep him occupied. There he can vent some of his biting energy.
Step
5
Muzzle
Until you get his biting under control, it could be worth fitting him in a muzzle. This is particularly important when you are out in public. Once his biting behavior subsides you can then remove the muzzle.
Recommend training method?

The Positive Reinforcement Method

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Step
1
Basic obedience commands
Teach him ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘wait’ and any other useful commands you might need. This will instil discipline into him, making it easier to control him if he does start biting.
Step
2
Training classes
It can also be useful to enroll him into group training classes. This will help socialize him with other dogs and people. Here he will see what type of behavior is allowed and what isn’t, such as biting.
Step
3
Positioning
When you are about to meet a new dog or person, position yourself between your Doberman and the other person or pet. If you are in front he will think it is your job to protect him and not the other way around. This should help him relax and remove the pack mentality to defend.
Step
4
Gentle introductions
Make sure he is comfortable when he meets new people and pets. Dobermans may look big and strong, but they can still be nervous and shy, just like humans. So have people approach slowly and if his tail drops or he looks nervous have them back away. Also have people approach one at a time and not in a big group.
Step
5
Reward
Whenever he does stay calm and friendly when he meets strangers, hand over a tasty treat and give him some verbal praise. You can also give him rewards every now and then when he plays gently. Dobermans respond quickest to positive reinforcement and this will soon get him associating gentle play with tasty treats.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
lugar
Doberman Pinscher
14 Months
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Question
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lugar
Doberman Pinscher
14 Months

when he is left alone he chews at the furniture especially the settee (have had 3 settees) do not want to use a muzzle.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Janet, Lugar needs to be crate trained or confined somewhere that is free of household items, including furniture. He also needs to be given plenty of interesting chew-toys to chew on while confined and free. I recommend stuffing hollow chew-toys with his dog food and bit of peanut butter or cheese. You can soak the food in water until it turns to mush and then mix the peanut butter, cheese, or liver past into it, and freeze the toy for an added challenge. It is natural for dogs to chew. The goal is to teach them to chew only their own toys and not your items. You cannot stop all chewing. The only way to effectively teach a dog what to chew and not chew when you are not at home is to safely confine your dog with his own toys, so that he will learn to prefer those items and create a good lifelong habit of chewing chew-toys. Stuff the toys with food to help him learn to chew on them and play with him with the toys when you are at home, to also make them fun. If you confine him somewhere other than a crate, in addition to giving him chew-toys you can also purchase an automatic treat dispenser to keep him busy. Pet Tutor and Auto Trainer are two options. These devices detect when your dog is being quiet and calm and rewards him with pieces of his own food. This can give him something to focus on, but also be sure to supply him with chew-toys, and stuff those chew-toys with food while he is learning to chew those instead of other things. If you do not stuff them with food, then he may not notice the toys until he later learns what they are for. If Lugar has not been introduced to a crate yet, then check out the article that I have linked below to introduce one to him. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate When you are home, spray the furniture that he tries to chew with bitter apple or bitter melon spray, provide him with chew-toys in the rooms where he hangs out, and supervise him. He needs to be taught through confinement with tasty chew-toys and through your supervision what to chew and not chew. You can purchase the spray at most major pet stores or online. When Lugar has not chewed on any of your items in your home when you are present for at least four to six-months, then you can see if he is ready for freedom by leaving him alone for ten minutes. If he chews something during that time, he needs to be confined for at least three more months before you can try again. If he does well, then the next time, leave him for twenty-minutes. Anytime he chews something he should not, he is not ready to be left alone, and him being allowed to chew your items without you there to teach him can delay his trustworthiness in the house by months or years if he develops a bad habit of it. Therefore, if you start to give him more freedom alone and he chews something, then postpone the freedom and confine him when you are gone until he is older. If he does well, then continue to leave him alone for gradually longer and longer periods of time, until you workup to four hours. If he does well for four hours, then you can leave him for the whole day as long as it does not go past his bladder capacity. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucifer
Doberman Pinscher
2 Months
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Question
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Lucifer
Doberman Pinscher
2 Months

The challenge is that when i try to take her out on a walk she bites the leash and wont walk, she also bites me and has made me get small cuts.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ana Belen, First, check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Yelp" method. At the same time however, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good at the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if her makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told her not to. The order or all of this is very important - the yelp method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite When pup gets especially wound up, she probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help her calm down and rest. Also, know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep at it. I do highly recommend a puppy kindergarten class or play group that has time for moderated off-leash play as well. Playing with other puppies is the number one way most puppies learn how to control their pressure of their bites - and this is a different type of interaction than what pup's gain from interacting with adult dogs. You can also create your own puppy class by having friends come over with their puppies and allow the pups to play together in a fenced area or inside with your supervision - separating the pups for a cool down when one pup seems to feel overwhelmed, and letting the more timid pup go first to see if they re-engage the other puppies to continue playing or are ready to stop each time. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ For the leash walking, continue working on teaching the Leave It command. I also suggest when pup bites the leash, gently pull the leash toward pup, so that the leash is pressing a bit into the area of pup's mouth where their gums come together at the back of their teeth - until pup tries to spit the leash out themselves. This shouldn't be done too harshly but makes the game of grabbing the leash a bit less fun. Working on really engaging pup with food rewards for heeling and staying with you can also help. Check out the Treat Lure method from the article linked below - you can transition to the Turns method when pup is a bit older and has more coordination, if needed then too. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bernigene
Doberman Pinscher
3 Months
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Question
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Bernigene
Doberman Pinscher
3 Months

Every time we take her outside to go potty or walk she bites my ankles. I thought initially she was drawn to the movement of my pants but i have shorts on today and she continuously bit my legs and ankles. At first we read to hold still so she gets bored and moves on -- but it is quite difficult when she is biting your body!! Every time it occurs we give her a stern NO. Sometimes we push her away while saying NO or hold her at a distance with the leash. We have also tried grabbing her muzzle and saying NO -- just to get her to stop moving and calm down. Any action we take I feel like she is interpreting it as a game.. but no action means I will be bleeding. Please help!!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello B, Check out the article that I have linked below. Work on teaching her the "Leave It" command from the "Leave It" method found in that article. Once she knows that command, when she obeys your command, then reward her. If she disobeys, then use the "Pressure" method also found in that article to enforce your command. It is important to teach her the "Leave It" command in addition to using the "Pressure" method though, because the leave it command will help her learn self-control and will help her understand that you are asking her to do something and not play, then when you use the "Pressure" method to gently discipline her disobedience she will understand what you are doing and will be more likely to respond to your correction in the way that you want her to. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Also, teach her a "Heel" command using treats and have her work on looking at you and heeling while you walk. When she is focused on you and working for you, her trust and respect for you will grow, and she cannot easily bite your legs while focusing on following you and looking up at your face. Doing this helps her learn what walks are supposed to be like. Check out the article below and use the "Treat Lure" method to teach her "Heel". https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Phoenix
Doberman Pinscher
14 Weeks
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Question
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Phoenix
Doberman Pinscher
14 Weeks

After I have Phoenix out in the yard for several hours and I play with her when I bring her back into the house she runs around like a lunatic jumping on everything and everyone in sight. How do I handle and correct this.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marianne, First, keep a leash attached to her so that you can direct her better in the house. Second, work on teaching her commands that build impulse control like Zazz Up, Settle Down - where you practice getting her a little excited, then giving a command she knows like Sit and freezing until she calms down and obeys - then give a treat, then tell him to play again and get her excited again, then give a command and freeze until she obeys, then give a treat when she is obedient and calm. At first keep the excitement low before giving a command, and as you practice this more and she improves, make it harder by getting her more and more excited before giving the command and freezing. Overtime she should learn how to control herself and calm herself back down during times of excitement and respond to commands when in that state. Third, you can teach something structured like Place or Crate Manners and go straight to practicing that after being outside to bring her energy level back down through a command that requires a lot of focus and calmness. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Fourth, when she is outside, at the end of her time out there practice something that requires a lot of self-control and focus, like structured heeling, Place, lots of different commands in a row quickly, and things that require self-control. Making her work mentally can tire her out and produce a calming effect better than running around. What you are describing is normal for puppies her age though - definitely work on teaching her self-control and calmness, those are great skills, but be encouraged knowing it is normal for her to need to learn calmness then too - those crazy bursts are called the puppy zoomies and more puppies get them at certain times. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Duke
Doberman Pinscher
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Duke
Doberman Pinscher
3 Months

He is a great natured dog and very loving but he does bite a lot.. He seems to nip then when he is told 'no' he becomes cheeky and snaps.. The distraction technique works but he continues to nip and can be very destructive too..

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jennifer, I suggest teaching the Leave It and Out commands. I also suggest working on desensitizing pup to handling and touch more. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out- which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Work on getting puppy used to touch and handling. Use puppy's daily meal kibble to do this. Gently touch an area of puppy's body while feeding a piece of food. Touch an ear and give a treat. Touch a paw and give a treat. Hold his collar and give a treat. Touch his tail gently and give a treat. Touch his belly, his other paws, his chest, shoulder, muzzle and every other area very gently and give a treat each time. Keep these times calm and fun for pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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