In part one of this article we took a look at a Rott Weiler our family had for many years.
Although the breed was different than the one I have now, training a Doberman follows many of the same principles.
We examined the effects that negative reinforcement and isolation can have on your pet.
The negative reinforcement approach took an adorable, kind-hearted, Rottweiler puppy and turned him into an aggressive, feared, beast of a guard dog.
Now that I have Doberman of my own, I take a very different approach to raising him. The best method for training a Doberman, in my humble opinion, is positive reinforcement training.
What is Positive Reinforcement Doberman Training?
What is positive reinforcement training? The act of praising and/or rewarding your dog for doing the right things as opposed to punishing your dog for things they do wrong.
Armed with a good clicker and a bit of patience, you can get your dog to engage in the behaviors you desire but in a healthy, positive way.
Whenever my Doberman Pinscher engages in behavior I don’t like, I let him know with a firm, strong voice, and (of course) he doesn’t get rewarded for it.
When he goes for long enough without some type of positive reinforcement. His Doberman brain goes into a feedback loop: “I wonder why master is being all stingy with the snacks? Was it something I did?…Ah-hah! I’ll sit down quietly and see what happens…Eureka!!” Munch, munch, munch.
Negative Reinforcement? What’s the Point?
There are people out there who choose to stick to their negative reinforcement methods, but some of the best-trained dogs in the world have been successfully trained through positive reinforcement.
If I beat up on my dog because I’m frustrated with his behavior, what will that really accomplish? I know for sure it will frighten & potentially traumatize my pet? Not good.
Sometimes I wonder if negative reinforcement is used with dogs that “have to be” more aggressive, like police dogs or guard dogs.
If I treat my Doberman fairly, treat him like is emotions and well-being matter, he’s apt to be far happier, far friendlier, and just easier to live with.
Unlike the Rott Weiler I had when I was a child, my dog isn’t reared to be the meanest on the block.
Positive vs. Negative Reinforcement Training
After having seen both methods dog training in action, I now feel that positive reinforcement training easily trumps negative reinforcement training.
With positive reinforcement training, your Doberman has a chance to process and think about what behaviors you desire from him/her, in a comfortable setting.
This is why you see dogs trained in this method that can do amazing tricks: from back flips to cone running to handstands (not that you necessarily want your dog to do that ).
Negative reinforcement training, on the other hand, fosters anxiety in your pet. Anxiety which can later transform into aggression. The dog doesn’t necessarily make the connection between being hit and what they’re doing wrong.
Is Training A Doberman Easy?
To say that Training a Doberman is easy would be a total lie. There are times when it can be challenging.
To all my newbie Doberman owners and trainers out there, try to keep in mind that dogs have feelings just like people do. Maybe they can’t express those feelings in the exact the same ways we do, but they do express fear, pain, sadness, and aggression.
So the next time you think about striking your dog, when he’s doing something wrong, just think a little deeper, and try to find the true source of the problem.
Use positive reinforcement to train your pet and you’ll be able to better communicate with your dog, your Doberman will understand you better, and the owner/pet relationship will be much more fulfilling overall.