Avoiding Traumatization

Negative Experiences Unsocialize

An important part of socialization is preventing traumatization of your Doberman puppy. One traumatic event can undo hundreds of positive experiences and will take many positive experiences to undo, if it is ever undone.

In your effort to socialize your Doberman puppy you must protect him from situations where he will become overwhelmed, confused, or feel pain. You should avoid risky situations and places where your control of your environment is limited.

Children should be educated and supervised when interacting with your Doberman puppy. Besides their clumsiness, children are experimentative and do not regularly foresee consequences to their actions. Tying the puppy to the wagon, falling on the puppy, and dropping the puppy or something on the puppy are all examples of childish behavior that can be seriously traumatic to a puppy.

Additional precautions include protecting the puppy from physical injury. Puppy proofing the house and backyard are important before bringing home a Doberman puppy. Also important, is supervising the puppy. A Doberman puppy should never be left alone unless safely kenneled.

Particular care should be taken between 8 and 11 weeks of age, the first fear imprint period. During this period puppies are highly susceptible to conditioning from fear and pain. A second and less intense fear imprint period is experienced between 6 and 14 months. Although less powerful, the second fear imprint period still requires care.

Preventing trauma also includes preparing the puppy for inevitable trauma, such as spending time alone. For example: a teacher with children who purchases a puppy over the summer. This puppy becomes accustomed to being surrounded by the alpha figure and lively children. All of a sudden one day, after school starts, everyone is gone! Such an event can be traumatic and cause separation anxiety, which is an extremely difficult problem to remedy.

In this situation the puppy should have been prepared for the eventual disaster, or should now be allowed to adjust slowly. Over the summer, the family could have established a quiet area of the home where the puppy's kennel could go where he would not see or directly hear the family members. In this quiet place the puppy could then be left for successively longer periods of time, allowing him to learn that it’s ok to be alone.

Another way to adjust a puppy to this type of situation is to organize lunch breaks so that the puppy gets a visitor twice throughout the day. Friends and family with whom the puppy is familiar can be very helpful with this.

Or, the puppy can spend the morning at grandma’s house then be dropped of around noon to practice being alone until the kids get home. Maybe a neighbor can bring the puppy on a walk. There are usually similar options for most families.

Besides needing socialization, the Doberman is very easy to socialize. They learn remarkably fast. I have dealt with several breeds of dog and I am still amazed at the Doberman’s lack of fear.

My Dobermans sleep soundly through thunderstorms, don’t mind the neighbor’s lawn mower, or the other neighbor tweaking his snowmobile. They think fireworks are cool, love meeting new people, as long as they come through the front door under my permission, and don’t even mind my loud tools. They love watching me work on things and sometimes get too close, so I have to try yelling over the sound of the tool.

On this note, I will mention that it is important when using dangerous tools and chemicals to keep your Doberman out of the area. They love being helpers and can get in the way, causing injury to themselves or to you.