Doberman’s bark, it’s in their genetics. They were originally bred to be guard dogs and any good guard dog will alert their owners when they sense something is off. The problem comes when you leave for work, someone comes to the door, or your neighbor walks by your back fence and your Dobie is barking their head off. Luckily this is a common problem with Dobermans and there is at least one common way to approach the issue that seems to work great for this breed.
6 Basic Steps to Stop Your Doberman from Barking:
- Determine why they’re barking.
- Reduce or eliminate the motivation to bark.
- Put your dog in tempting barking situations.
- Give correction.
- Reward when not barking.
- Repeat as necessary.
These steps are the down and dirty basics. This technique worked wonders for my Dobie when we started getting calls from our neighbors saying he was barking all day after we left for work. But this will work for most barking situations.
There are also additional techniques to stop barking in certain situations such as when your neighbor walks by the fence, someone comes to the door, or you leave for work. I help you out with these situations specifically too.
It’s important to learn what other Doberman owners do to stop barking because many traditional methods used to stop barking (such as ignoring your dog) just don’t seem to work well with Dobermans.
Step 1: Determine Why They’re Barking
You likely won’t be able to correct the barking issue if you don’t first determine the cause. Dobermans bark for many reasons, but here are a few of the most common:
- Hungry or thirsty
- Need to go to the bathroom
- Separation anxiety
For Dobermans, boredom is a huge issue for them. They’re a working breed and thrive when they have a fun and interesting task to perform. If they are left alone while you go to work for 8 hours, you very well may have a bored Doberman. You can usually spot this because they’ll often start barking part way through the day and generally won’t bark much in the first few hours after you leave.
Another major issue is separation anxiety. This is especially true for young Dobies under a year old. These dogs are called “velcro dogs” for a reason, they love to stick right by your side. The tell-tale sign of separation anxiety is barking combined with howling. Especially a long, wailing type of howl.
Sometimes, it’s simply your dog being overally needy—something that’s common in Dobermans.
Step 2: Put Your Dog in Tempting Barking Situations
Ok, now that you have done your best to remove the motivation to bark, let’s do the reverse during the training. This is what I call the “Anti-Barking Sting Operation.” This can actually be a lot of fun.
The way this works is you purposely re-create the situations where your dog normally barks so that you’ll be able to immediately correct the bad behavior or reward the good behavior.
Whatever the situation is that get’s your dog to bark, you need to recreate it as authentically as possible so you have a chance to correct the behavior.
My Doberman would bark when my wife and I were at work and he was home alone.
So we did our sting operations on the weekends. We would start by acting exactly like we normally do when we leave for work. We did all the same morning routines, got dressed, grabbed our car keys, my wife grabbed her purse, and we walked out the door like it was a normal workday. Then we’d go around to the front of our house and sit, wait, and listen.
Whatever the situation is that causes your dog to bark, recreate it. So if your dog barks at your neighbor on the other side of the fence, see if you can get your neighbor to walk back and forth by the fence while you are hiding nearby. If your dog barks when people come to the front door, have someone come to the front door when you’re ready to work on training.
Step 3: Reward When Not Barking
This is where the rubber meets the road. Your goal is for your dog not to bark for longer and longer lengths of time during this sting operation. So while you are doing this, if your dog doesn’t bark for a few minutes, go in and give him a treat, followed by lots of praise.
Then do this after 10 minutes of no barking, then 15, then 30 minutes. Keep increasing the time your dog will have to go without barking before you go in and give a treat. This may seem like a long process but Dobermans are incredibly fast learners.
Step 4: Reduce or Eliminate the Motivation to Bark
Now that you’ve figured out why your loyal defender is barking, it’s time to make the environment less likely to trigger them to bark.
Take some common sense steps to reduce the urge for your dog to bark. Is your Dobie barking at your neighbor on the other side of the fence? How about you putting a screen of some sort over the fence so they can’t see the neighbor as easily. Are they barking at people passing by your front window? How about some thick curtains that they can’t see the street? Is there a hole in the fence where they’re able to see people walk past with their dogs? Patch it!
Take some extra steps to reduce the barking triggers for your dog as much as is reasonable (it doesn’t have to be perfect) and I promise it’ll make the training much easier.
Step 5: Correction
When you successfully get your dog to bark with your “sting operation” it’s time to give correction. You have to do it quickly after they bark so that your Dobie is sure to associate the correction with the barking. Some people will use a spray bottle of water for correction, but I have found another method that seems to work much better with Dobermans.
So when my wife and I are performing our sting operation, this is what we do as soon as we hear our Dobie bark:
- Quickly get to the dog. Immediately upon hearing the bark, we will walk to the front door of the house, unlock it, and go inside to find our dog waiting.
- Immediately tell the dog “Stop” in a firm voice. This is our “quiet command” that we choose, you can pick any command to stop barking that you want such as “hush”, “quiet” or something else.
- Have him get into punishment position. I don’t get physical with my dog, in fact, I make him get into position for punishment himself. I tell him “sit” and then “down” so that he lays down in front of me. Your dog needs to be able to perform these basic commands for this to work.
- Kneel next to him with your hand on his back with light, but firm, pressure. I apply firm pressure to the back shoulder blade area (just below the neck) with my hand. This makes him feel as though he doesn’t have the choice and needs to stay in his laying down position. The idea here is not to pin your dog down, just to provide light to firm pressure to remind them you’re in charge.
- Wait. This is like “time out” is for a child. I wait in this position for about 15 to 20 seconds and then release.
Why this works: In the dog world, alpha dogs will pin down other dogs to show dominance. Also, a mother dog will pin down a pup to give correction. Also, if a dog is “submitting” to another dog, they look down to the ground. This method works so well because they instinctively know what it means. It seems to work especially well with Dobermans.
It’s important to note that you should never be rough and all pressure you apply should be light pressure (but still firm). You should never yell at or hit your dog. This can have very serious consequences down the road.
In fact, yelling out of pure frustration will show that you are not a calm “alpha dog” and may lead to more disobedience down the road. Dobermans are very in tune with humans and will be able to tell if you are “calm and in charge” or “panicked and frustrated.”
Step 6: Repeat as Necessary
You’ll probably only have to do this exercise a few times (at most) in order for your dog to figure out what you expect of him. It took me two weekends of doing this process for my Doberman to understand that he was not to bark while we were gone.
This process solved most of our problems and we are very glad we did this process. In the end, though, we had to use an electronic bark collar to assist in the process. My Dobie was a little more stubborn than most. We will discuss more of these alternate options below.
Even if you eventually need an electronic bark collar, it’s important to do this method of training a few times first. Your dog needs to understand what is expected of him.