If you’ve added a Doberman Pinscher to your family, you’re in luck: Dobies are a loyal, devoted and super intelligent dog breed. Once you can tap into their natural instinct to please their pet parents, you’ll raise a loving, dedicated dog who doubles as your best friend.
“They’re good dogs and insanely loyal,” says Dawn Vendegna-Perovic a professional trainer who specializes in working with Dobermans and Rottweilers. “You absolutely have to know how to handle them, however. You never ask a Doberman; you always tell him what to do. You have to show him what you want.”
These dog training tips will help you show your Dobie exactly that.
4 Most Important Doberman Training Tips
1 Stick to a Schedule
Dobermans love routine. That means your routine as well as their own. Schedule their training sessions for the same time every day. If you want a happy Doberman, be mindful of your own schedule, as well as your dog’s.
“Everything, including training, has to be consistent,” Vendegna-Perovic says. “If you break their pattern, they may revolt.”
If you’re running an hour late one day, don’t be surprised if you come home to an unhappy pup.
2 Use Positive Reinforcement
Dobermans respond well to positive reinforcement—treats and praise to reward good behavior—rather than to training methods that involve harsh correction or physical punishment.
“Some dogs are more playful, others more adventurous, some more confident than others, and they're hardwired that way,” says Ardis Braun, of Dobies and Little Paws Rescue in Fillmore, California. “Learning new things should be fun for them so it's good to make it fun rather than just rote.”
More disciplinary measures are now decidedly out of favor. Too often they’ll teach your dog fear and aggressive behaviors.
“The age of militaristic training using prong collars or shock collars is completely passé and inappropriate,” says Nicholas Dodman, professor, section head and program director of the Animal Behavior Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts.
“Remember,” Dodman says. “The opposite of reward is not punishment. The opposite of reward is no reward.”
3 Start Early
The key to Doberman puppy training is to start at the right time—as early as when they’re six weeks old, at home. You won’t want to take them for off-site lessons until they’re four months old and have had their shots.
4 Understand Their Temperament
Loyal, obedient and devoted to their owners, Dobermans have earned the nickname “Velcro dog,” Vendegna-Perovic says. You’ll rarely need to call your dog—Dobies don’t want to leave their parents’ side.
“They’re one-person and one-family dogs,” she explains. “They’re gentle giants who seem to be very close and very loyal to their owners in an affectionate, trusting way."
The key to understanding the Doberman personality is recognizing that these family dogs will do anything for their people—as long as the direction from their owners and families remains clear and consistent, Vendegna-Perovic says. (This is equally true for Doberman shepherds, who also love their families and don’t enjoy too much alone time.) Teach your Doberman well, and you’ll be rewarded with a lifelong companion.
Obedience Training a Doberman Pinscher
Your puppy is so excited to show you how well he’s going to do in obedience training. So, put your dog trainer hat on and let's get started with some basic obedience commands and skills.
Not sure you're up for the challenge? Find out how to find the best dog trainer for your pup.
Obedience Training: Sit
The first step in Doberman puppy training is teaching them to sit.
- Take their favorite treat in your hand and let them smell it
- Hold it so that the treat is above their head — then move your hand backward, toward their tail
- They'll naturally sit, to reposition themselves to see the treat
- As you do this, say “Sit,” and give your puppy the reward as they do
Obedience Training: Stay
Once your Doberman has mastered sit, you can teach them to stay.
- Instruct your dog to sit
- After a few seconds of sitting still, reward your dog with a treat
- Repeat this sequence, increasing the delay each time
- When they can hold their sit for at least 15 seconds, introduce the stay command
Obedience Training: How to Walk on a Leash
This is an important skill for ensuring safe behavior in public, especially around other people and cars.
- Starting with your dog on leash, take a small step in any direction.
- When your dog takes a step toward you, reward them with treats and praise.
- Keep practicing with larger steps, multiple steps, and different directions, rewarding your dog each time they follow your lead.
House Training Your Doberman Puppy
Good news: An American Doberman is so smart and eager to please that it could take just a couple weeks to potty train your puppy, especially if this is done in tangent with crate training.
- With your dog on a leash, take them outside, to the potty spot
- When they begin to do their business, say “Go potty!”
- As soon as they're finished, reward them with a treat and praise
Be aware that a puppy might need 8-10 potty breaks per day. Get more advice on potty training your puppy.
Socializing Your Doberman
All dogs need socialization, aka positive exposure to new people, places and experiences. Through consistent practice with new things, your Doberman will learn to trust the world around them, which can lead to a happier, less anxious pup. (We can't promise they'll be less attached to you, though!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When should I start training my Doberman puppy?
A: You can start training your Doberman puppy when they're between 6 and 12 weeks old.
Q: Are Dobermans easy to train?
A: In some ways, Dobermans are easy to train—they’re smart and hard-working dogs, who respond well to rewards—but it's important that they understand who the boss is (aka you).
Q: How long does it take to train a Doberman?
A: If you’re wondering how long it takes to train a Doberman, the answer really depends on your dog’s temperament. Expect to spend 5-15 minutes per training session at first, adjusting that based on how well the dog performs.
Expert input provided by Dawn Vendegna-Perovic, a professional trainer who specializes in working with Dobermans and Rottweilers, and Nicholas Dodman, Professor, Section Head and Program Director, Animal Behavior Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts, as well as Ardis Braun of Dobies and Little Paws Rescue in Fillmore, California.