A Well-Mannered Doberman
It's been awhile since I've posted on here so I'll take a second to say "howdy". Freyja says "howdy" as well, which typically means she know expects a pet from mere humans. Freyja is almost 4 years old now and is doing very well.
This weekend we were at our "hideout", a place we go on weekends to get away from real life. Freyja always goes with us to the hideout and most everyone there knows who she is, as we walk a lot down there. This weekend there was a dance by the pool and I decided I would take her up for it, at least for a while.
Of course Freyja quickly became the topic of conversation. She did a few tricks and everyone had to get their pets in. Then someone commented on how well mannered Freyja is. They couldn't believe a Doberman was that calm. Others agreed then someone asked, "Could I leave my dog with you and get him back behaving like she is".
I tried to tell them that this had been a long process, it started when Freyja was 7 weeks old and we brought her home and immediately began going on short walks and introducing her to our neighbors. During my explanation on how to get a well mannered dog it hit me what the 3 main requirments are: Love, Exposure, and Consistancy.
For a dog to be well mannered it must be loved. It must know it is a member of a family (pack) that cares for it, and it cares for. This love is necessary for the dog to have a stable temperment no matter what situtation it is in. The bonds formed in building this relationship make the dog want to behave as you want it to. We've all seen dogs that behave out of fear, and these dogs are definately not well-mannered. Perhaps dogs can't "love" like we do, but they must have that sense of well-being and the knowledge that they are a part of a family (pack) in order to become truly well-mannered.
Secondly, the dog must be exposed to as many situations as possible. With Freyja the day after I got her we began going to short walks in the neighborhood, with the goal of introducing her to a new neighbor each day. At first she was scared, but then became comfortable going onto a strange porch. We found the park, stores, even the beach. The more places we took her the more she experienced, and fewer things were new and frightening to her. She learned what I wanted her to do in situations, not because I was a great trainer, far from it, but because we had been in those situations many times before. While it's true you can't expose to every possible situation, the more situations the dog becomes comfortable in the more it will have for a frame of reference when analyzing a new situation.
Finally there is consistancy. Dogs must know what kinds of behaviors are allowed and what kinds of behaviors are not, and they must be REQUIRED to stop doing the bad behaviors. While it's fairly easy to reward good behaviors sometimes we fail to correct bad ones. Now, before I go any further, a "correction" is not a "punishment". You should never punish your dog. But let's say you're trying to get your dog to quit chewing on your slippers. The dog must be corrected each time it gets your slipper and the slipper replaced with an appropriate chew toy. If you're watching TV and don't feel like getting up and correcting the dog and he is allowed to keep chewing on your slippers you'll never change his behavior. You must correct his behavior EVERY TIME so he will understand it is not allwed. That's even when it's 3rd and goal from the 4 and your team is down by 6. Letting it slide reinforces the bad behavior.
The more I thought about this lady wanting me to "make her dog well-mannered like Freyja" the more I realized it was these 3 principles that helped Freyja become a well mannered Dobie. I certainly wasn't any magic pill that I had, nor any super dog training technique. Freyja and I were simply fortunate enough that I accidently followed all three of these principals; love, exposure, and consistancy. Despite of my shortcomings and lack of knowledge as a trainer, these principles helped Freyja become the great dog she is today.