If you’ve added a Doberman Pinscher to your family, you’re in luck: Dobies are loyal, devoted and super intelligent. Once you can tap into their natural instinct to please their pet parents, you’ll raise a loving, dedicated dog. “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.”
Most Important Doberman Training Tips
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.
Obedience Training a Doberman Pinscher
Your puppy is so excited to show you how well he’s going to do in obedience training.
Use your Doberman’s natural desire to please to teach them obedience training skills and basic commands like:
- Walk on a leash
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 him to stay.
- From a sitting position, instruct your Doberman to stay
- Stand next to them, saying “Stay” — a few seconds later, give them praise and a treat
- If they do not stay, do not give them a treat
- Once they master staying put, try again from several feet away
- Repeat this process, rewarding each time they stay, for up to 60 seconds
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.
- Begin walking with your Doberman
- If the dog pulls in a certain direction, walk in the opposite direction
- When the dog follows you, offer praise and treat
Why Positive Training Works for a Doberman
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.”
When to Start Training a Doberman Puppy
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.
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.
Understanding the Doberman 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 owners’ 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.
“Remember that you have a dog who is in love with you and wants always to be by your side,” she says. “He will protect you to the death.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When should I start training my Doberman puppy?
A: You will want to start training your Doberman puppy when it’s 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 they’ll need to understand that you’re the boss. “There is a big difference between how an alpha dog will behave when being walked by a sweet owner, for example, versus an officer in the military,” Braun says. “The dog needs to believe that the owner (or handler) is alpha enough to make the decisions about who can approach, dog or person."
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.