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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Taiga

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Doberman Pinscher

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5 Years

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Question

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Our dog has some tendency to bite and really energetic. Imyworried about him biting visitors since we have them most of the time. He got some of our food one time and when we tried to get the food, he sort of flinched.

Jan. 10, 2021

Taiga's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

Hello. When a dog bites a person, it is often out of fear or protectiveness, or when they aren't feeling well and want to be left alone. Training to prevent dog bites involves proper socialization, providing structure, and building your dog's confidence. Socialize Your Dog If you've just brought home a puppy, the best thing you can do is introduce it to as many new places, people, and situations as possible. Keep things positive. This early exposure is referred to as socialization; a well-socialized puppy is far less likely to be fearful in new situations, and this lack of fear decreases the likelihood of aggression. If your dog is no longer a puppy, you can still work on adult socialization. Spay or Neuter Your Dog While having your dog spayed or neutered does not guarantee it'll never bite, there is some evidence that suggests that altered dogs tend to be less aggressive. There are a number of good reasons to spay or neuter your dog, and potentially preventing a dog bite is at the top of that list. Don't Make Assumptions Given the right circumstances, any dog has the potential to bite.1 Too often people are bitten by dogs because they assume their dog won't bite. Don't assume that because a dog is a certain breed or size, or because it has never shown aggression in the past, that a dog won't bite. Work on Obedience Training An obedient dog is easier to control. By working on obedience training, you can use basic commands to keep your dog focused on you in situations in which it is uncomfortable. If you are able to control your dog's behavior, it is less likely to bite. In addition, training provides structure for your dog and boosts its confidence. Use Positive Reinforcement Positive reinforcement dog training is a method of training which rewards good behavior rather than punishing inappropriate behavior.2 Positive reinforcement can include treats, extra play time, verbal encouragement, petting, or any other activity your dog enjoys. Punishment, by contrast, can be anything a dog finds unpleasant. Some common punishments include hitting, leash corrections, and physically rolling a dog over, a process referred to as alpha rolling. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior found that dogs who are trained using punishment are 25 percent more likely to respond with aggression than other dogs. By using positive dog training methods, you can reduce the likelihood of your dog biting. Be Aware of Body Language Dogs use body language to communicate. Pay attention to what your dog's body language is telling you. A dog who is afraid or unhappy about having its territory invaded has the potential to bite. Behaviors such as bared teeth, raised hackles, a lowered head, or ears lying flat against the head are signs that a dog is uncomfortable and may bite.3 If you notice a dog displaying this type of body language, give it some space and advise others to do so as well. Remove your dog from the situation as soon as you feel safe to do so. Don't Stop a Dog's Growls Your dog growls to let you know it is uncomfortable with a person or situation. It is a warning signal that it may bite. Very often our impulse is to teach our dogs it is inappropriate to growl. The dog may learn this lesson so well that it stops growling in any situation. This is why we so often hear stories of dogs biting without warning. By preventing them from growling, we don't allow dogs to communicate their discomfort. A better option is to pay attention to the circumstances that cause your dog to growl. Is it growling at someone approaching its food bowl, a child running past, a person cornering it? Once you know why your dog is growling, you can begin a dog training program to teach your dog to become more comfortable in those situations. In this way, you correct the problem that causes potential aggression rather than taking away your dog's ability to warn you it may bite. Once your dog is more comfortable in a given situation, it won't feel the need to growl. Problems and Proofing Behavior To proof your dog's new, more appropriate behavior you'll need to take the dog into new environments and introduce it to new people and animals.4 If it's able to maintain its behavior in a variety of settings, it has internalized the training; if not, you may need to take additional steps. If you know when your dog is most likely to growl or bite, you'll want to be sure that the dog can now handle that situation without resorting to aggression. It's not a good idea to startle or frighten your dog, but it is helpful to slowly introduce challenges to be sure your dog can handle them. For example, if your dog is aggressive around food but has learned not to growl or bite at mealtime, have another person bring the dog's food to be sure that the new behavior is followed even with a new person in the room. If you've taught commands using positive reinforcement and worked hard to earn your dog's trust, you may still find that your dog is having a tough time learning not to growl or bite. If that's the case, you'll need to take additional steps, like contacting a professional trainer in your area.

Jan. 11, 2021

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Lucifer

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Doberman Pinscher

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2 Months

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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.

July 4, 2020

Lucifer's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 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

July 8, 2020


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