How to Train a Doberman to Stop Biting

How to Train a Doberman to Stop Biting
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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.

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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!

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The Deterrence Method

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‘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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Distraction Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Positive Reinforcement Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Legend

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Doberman Pinscher

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15 Weeks

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Question

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Wants to bite and jump. Also acts aggressive on leash

May 30, 2022

Legend's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Laura, For the biting, I recommend teaching Out and Leave It. 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 For the jumping, check out the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump What exactly is pup doing while aggressive on leash? Is pup tugging and fighting with the leash itself? Are they reacting to other dogs or people aggressively? Are they biting or acting aggressively toward you, and does the aggression seem like pup is trying to play rough or pup is truly aggressive? Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 31, 2022

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Bruno

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Doberman Pinscher

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12 Weeks

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Question

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Bruno does not like to go for walks on a leash. We have tried treats, which he loves, but he won’t even eat them. He just sits pushing all of his weight down or lays down, again pushing all his weight down so he can’t be moved. We are using a regular collar and leash as he’s only 12 weeks. We haven’t tried a harness yet. Any suggestions?

March 5, 2022

Bruno's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cristina, Pay attention to pup's body language and the environment. Some pups don't want to walk because they are afraid of a neighborhood dog in a fence barking, construction workers, funny objects (like Christmas decorations), and things we would never think twice about. If pup isn't familiar with something (no matter how normal it may seem to us) it can feel scary to pup and be a reason why they don't want to leave the safety of the yard. If pup seems nervous or something might be bothering them in the environment, work on helping pup overcome that fear first by using play and treats to distract pup and then reward pup for any confidence, calmness, or tolerance they show around the fearful thing. Practice this further away from the scary thing first and very gradually work up to pup being able to pass that thing as his confidence grows with your help. Simply spending time sitting outside with pup daily in the environment pup is uncertain of - without expecting walking yet - can help the area become less scary or distracting. Next, spend time getting pup used to leash pressure in general if pup's not familiar with coming forward toward you when there is a leash tug. Do this in an environment pup is comfortable in first, like in your home or yard since pup is too nervous to take treats outside yet. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash Next, try rewarding walking in an area pup isn't as nervous about, like just your home or yard first. Gradually work up to going slightly further outside. Often a dog won't eat if overly stressed. If you go slower and work up to it, pup is more likely to relax enough to take a reward. If pup won't take a reward, then practice rewarding with genuine praise and a silly dance to get pup excited about following. To reward with food, take some small treats or pup's dog food pieces in a small ziplock bag in your pocket or a favorite toy. Every time pup takes a couple of steps, give a treat or toss the toy a step forward or let pup give the toy a tug. Keep your energy excited and confident. When pup stops, tell pup "Let's Go" in a calm and business-like tone of voice (it's not a question, it's a confident, calm command), then tug and release the leash several times in a row until pup takes a couple more steps - at which point give another treat or play. The leash tugs should stop as soon as pup starts moving. Keep your walking goals short at first. If pup won't leave your yard - your first goal is just to leave the yard. When pup reaches that goal - go home as an additional reward for pup following you - even if a lot of leash tugs were involved. When pup will go to the end of the yard easily then walk to the next house. Gradually increase your walk distance overtime. If you make your goal something huge like the whole neighborhood at first you are less likely to succeed - work up to distance overtime. Also, do not continuously pull pup on the leash. Doing so can harm pup's neck, but also dogs have a natural tendency to pull away from something - so if you pull pup in one direction, he will just pull back in the other direction, budging even less. This is why you do the quick tug and releases so that not following is uncomfortable with the tugs but not a continuous pull. You want pup to choose to walk to get away from the annoying tugs and to receive treats. I suspect pup is nervous or distracted about the environment or not sure how to respond to leash pressure - so don't skip over desensitizing pup to the environment and leash if pup seems at all nervous about those things - freezing and looking like a deer in headlights is one sign of nervousness. Finally, make sure pup isn't in pain or sick, causing him not to want to exercise in any form due to feeling bad. If you have reason to suspect pup is ill or injured, definitely see your vet. (I am not a vet) Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 7, 2022


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