What All Dobermans should Learn

Every dog, especially large and intimidating dogs like the Doberman Pinscher, should learn basic obedience. Basic obedience comprises certain commands including the commands: “No, leave it, wait, release, come, sit, down, stay, and no bark.” A Doberman responsive to all these commands will be much more controllable by his owner. This control will result in a much happier Doberman who will have a much richer life interacting with the family and positively representing the Doberman breed outside the home.

These commands, once thoroughly learned, will also keep the Doberman safe. In particular, the “No” and “Come” commands will save the Doberman from danger, so they should be a focus throughout training.


The No command is self explanatory. For a puppy younger than six months, verbal correction is the only appropriate correction. Physical correction at this young age is destructive and will cause further problems.

The No command should be delivered in a deep loud confident voice and with an angry expression. Overuse of this command is the main reason it fails.

Young puppies will instinctively respond to a properly delivered No in a similar way they would to their mother’s correction, which is a sharp low bark often with a tap or grab from her muzzle.

Doberman puppies are extremely brave and may not respond to a simple verbal No. In such cases, the Doberman is either seeing the No as play barking or does know what No means and is simply testing his owner.

Here, the Doberman owner must be sure his No is deep, sharp, and loud. He must also project the right body language. Standing leaning over the puppy will project dominance. Often a clap of the hands, stomp of the foot, a pinch on the neck, or squirt with a squirt bottle just after the No is delivered will help enforce it.

The pinch on the neck is a way of simulating a mother’s correction or the way dominant dogs correct submissive pack members. The pinch is delivered by firmly tapping or grabbing the skin on the back of the neck with the thumb and two fingers.

For instances that require a more serious No, the use of Wrong can be effective. This command should be reserved for danger or other poor behavior and should be delivered as loud and serious as possible.

A less serious no I like to use is a tsst sound. It’s not always appropriate for a person to yell No so training the dog to react to the tsst is very handy. A good way to teach this is to give a tsst No. After the dog catches on, the tsst on its own will usually suffice.

Leave It

Leave It is a similar command to the No command and should also be delivered deep, sharp, and loud. The difference is that it’s usually introduced later on in training during socialization. Leave it should communicate to the Doberman puppy that what it’s barking at or reacting aggressively toward does not require such a response.

When the Doberman puppy begins leaving the house he should be on a lead with a pinch collar. If he barks or growls at other dogs, cats, or people the Leave It command should be given along with a quick snap of the pinch collar.

In the next section, Basic Obedience Behaviors, we will explore proper use of the pinch collar. Basically, the pinch (choke) collar should always be held loose. To deliver a correction, the collar should be ‘snapped’ by firmly and quickly pulling the lead then loosening it. When delivered correctly, the pinch collar correction is not harmful and simulates the mother’s correction with her muzzle.

Once the Leave It is learned, it can be used before inappropriate behavior occurs. A good Doberman handler will recognize when his Doberman is agitated and about to cause a ruckus. At this point, before the inappropriate behavior occurs, the handler will give the Leave It command in a low quiet growl with closed teeth. Upon receiving the command, the Doberman should relax and ignore whatever was bothering it. If not, a more zealous Leave It should be delivered along with a pinch from the collar.

The best time to correct a behavior is just before it happens and just after the dog decides to do it, but before he actually does. The Leave It command will relieve the dog of responsibility, allow it to relax, and assert the handler as the alpha figure.


The Wait command instructs the dog to wait for the next command. A big Doberman coming in from the rain with a wet coat and muddy feet could be told to Wait by the door while the owner gets a rag to dry him and remove mud. It could also be used to keep a Doberman in his seat in the car until the owner is ready for him to come out.

Training the Wait command is done in conjunction with other commands we will learn next. A good method is to place the Doberman, on lead, in the sit position. Hold a flat opened hand in front of his face and give the command. Walk away from him while keeping an eye on what he does. If he moves from the sit position, give a No and snap of the collar. If he stays still, light praise is appropriate but without exciting him out of the sit.

Once about 10 feet away, wait a moment then call him with the Come command. When he comes, give enthusiastic praise.

Wait can also be well taught by placing a treat on the Doberman’s nose. Give the Wait command, place the treat, let him wait a moment then give the release command allowing him to have the treat.

Release “OK”

The Release command is a keyword such as “OK” that lets the dog know he is no longer under command and can break from a sit, down, stay, etc. It’s important throughout training sessions to release a dog from command and play with him many times to prevent stress and boredom. OK should allow a dog to bounce around and act goofy, get petted, take a pee, and otherwise loosen up. It only needs to be a few seconds long, just enough to break things up.

This is also how the handler lets the dog know he’s done with him and the dog can do what he needs to do like sleeping, playing, eating, and emptying.