The Doberman pinscher breed was developed by a late 19th century German tax collector who wanted a loyal, intelligent traveling companion who would look intimidating and protect him if necessary. Those traits are seen today in modern Dobermans. These intelligent, energetic dogs need owners who can provide plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, proper socialization and solid training
to bring out this breed's best traits and prevent the development of behavioral and aggression problems.
Dobermans are devoted family dogs. They need to be in their owners' homes and included in their activities. A young Doberman kept outdoors and isolated from family activities will develop into an adult dog who distrusts people and exhibits fear-based aggression. It is important to socialize your Doberman properly, so that your dog is confident and knows how to behave around unfamiliar people and dogs. Take your Doberman along when you go outside your house. Ensure that the dog's experiences with meeting people are positive. Give your dog treats to reinforce those positive feelings. Dobermans generally get along well with other animals and children, but they can be impatient with young children who bother them with unwanted attention. Keep visits with children positive, and always supervise. Teach all children who visit not to bother or tease your dog.
Doberman pinschers are active, athletic dogs. Because they are bred to work as guard dogs, police and military dogs, or in fields such as search and rescue, Dobermans need activities that engage them both physically and mentally. Dobermans without something to do are easily bored. Engage your dog in a variety of activities and games, such as fetch or hide-and-seek. Use games to teach your dog basic obedience commands, and vary the training to keep your dog's attention focused. It's a good idea to join local dog training classes or a dog training club where you can both train and socialize your Doberman.
A Doberman pinscher left alone at home will suffer separation anxiety and boredom. Given the run of your house, an anxious, lonely Doberman is likely to find some comfort in chewing your furniture and belongings. It is important to create a safe and secure place for your Doberman to stay during times when you must be away. It is a good idea when you first introduce a Doberman puppy to your household to place a large, comfortable dog crate in your bedroom, where your puppy can sleep near you at night during the important bonding time. This crate then serves various functions, providing a familiar, comfortable den-like refuge for your dog, as well as an aid in housebreaking and a place where your Doberman can safely stay and feel secure when you have to be away for a time. Be aware of your dog's needs, such as water and the need to potty, so that the crate is never associated with discomfort. Never use the crate as a punishment. If your Doberman must be alone for several hours, have a dog walker visit at intervals to take your dog out for some exercise.
Some Doberman pinschers exhibit behaviors that can result in self-inflicted injuries, such as obsessively sucking and licking a chosen spot on a leg. This anxiety-related behavior creates a condition called acral lick dermatitis, or lick granuloma, which are open sores that can become infected. Causes of such behavior may include separation anxiety, lack of socialization, lack of proper exercise or cruel treatment.
If your Doberman exhibits such behavior, discuss possible causes with your veterinarian and inquire about anti-anxiety medications that could help your dog. Medication can provide some relief to the dog's stress while you make changes to your Doberman's environment. Increase the dog's exercise and activities. Provide your dog with lots of interesting toys to play with to help prevent or end obsessive behaviors.
Because of the Doberman's intimidating size and some incidents involving aggression, Dobermans are banned in some cities, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Dobermans should be bold and intelligent, but not aggressive. The American Kennel Club names shyness and viciousness toward people or other animals as serious faults that will disqualify a Doberman from AKC events . Exposure to other people and animals through obedience training classes helps to prevent issues with both aggression and dominance. In training or dealing with your Doberman, never use negative training methods such as harsh corrections or yelling to teach your dog. Dobermans don't react well to such methods, and they can actually cause your dog to become aggressive with people. Use positive methods such as praise and treats to encourage wanted behavior.
Many Doberman pinschers will exhibit dominant behavior in their interactions with other dogs, and sometimes with their owners as well. Dobermans generally need experienced dog owners who can handle dominance issues firmly and fairly.
Some Dobermans may aggressively protect food and toys, a behavior called resource guarding. Such dogs may threaten or attack anyone who approaches while they are eating. If you notice the start of resource guarding tendencies, you can employ some techniques to help head them off.
Hand-feeding your young Doberman while keeping the food bowl in your lap allows your dog to know you provide the food and you are in control of it. Teaching your dog basic obedience commands, including "Sit" and "Leave it," and rewarding your dog for dropping a toy on command or sitting to receive a meal can also help with guarding and dominance behavior.
Doberman pinschers generally have a high prey drive, and they enjoy chasing small animals such as cats, rabbits or small dogs. Dobermans may not make the best of pets in multi-pet households, especially around cats. Dobermans can also be dominant toward other dogs. Keep your dog on a leash when out for a walk.