Raising a Dobermann puppy for you and your family.
This page offers advice on buying and raising a puppy for you and your family, puppy training, socialisation and basic training tips.
If you would like to discuss buying a puppy from me, please email me in the first instance and I always appreciate a bit of detail about you. NB You’ll get the wrong side of me if you ask for a docked and cropped puppy. It’s illegal in the UK and I don’t think I give the impression anywhere that I’m a dog dealer! I’m happy to give information and advice on the breed, but please consider that I have my own dogs to care for. I have no problems with Dobermanns being a deterrent, but they are family dogs first, so don’t call if you just want a guard dog or are shopping on price or location alone.
One of the things I love about breeding dogs is the good friendships I make with owners. Not all want to keep in close touch, but I’m lucky that some become really good friends. Jane & Jeff on Guernsey have had Dobermanns for many years, and first bought ‘Tavi’ – Aritaur Xanadu (Ch Leibwache Al Capone x Aritaur Equinox) from me in 2008. I visited them in the summer of 2013 to see Tavi and ‘Riga’ – a naughty little German Pinscher Jane & Jeff had from me, and we took this picture of me and Tavi by the door.
Same doorway, five years later I visited Jane & Jeff in Guernsey again in 2019 when I took them over another Dobe puppy ‘Freya’ – Aritaur Riviera (Lux Jnr Ch Sant Kreal Focus on Korifey at Supeta x Aritaur Love You Long Time BH). Dear old Tavi was 11 in the February of that year, and died later in 2019 when her legs became too weak. I treasure these photos with her having loved watching her grow into a beautiful old lady in the Summer of 2019. I am privileged to breed beautiful dogs for great families.
If your puppy is not handling kindly and raised with love, they won’t develop into confident, happy dogs, so watch to make sure your breeder handles them kindly. Aritaur puppies are always raised in the home at the end of the house; enough privacy for mum to be relaxed with her puppies, and then noisy enough later for plenty of puppy stimulation.
Regardless of whether you want a dog for sport or show or protection, they must firstly be our companions. Unless prospective buyers have had a Dobermann or other working breed previously, choose a bitch to start with. However much research you have done, however committed and enthusiastic you may be, the breed is not suitable for first time dog owners who through inexperience and poor timing rarely cope with the behaviours that a vibrant and challenging young Dobe can present. (I’d like to race F1 and am sure I have the talent, but then reality kicks in and I turn the volume down and stop trying to bust the speed limit!). Because Dobes are very smart and work out very quickly that a novice owner hasn’t a clue what what they’re doing and gives no strong guidance, the dog then misbehaves. They aren’t being deliberately difficult but if you aren’t a good enough leader, they know you are weak and indecisive and their own safety is at risk. The owners then think the dog is trying to be ‘dominant’. Some may ‘come down hard on the dog’ in the misguided belief that the dog will then respect them for it. Some suggest anyone with a problem dog should assert their dominance by ‘taking it around the back and giving it a whacking’. Times have moved on from when we sent children up chimneys. Whilst in my personal opinion there are boundaries that are not to be crossed without tough reprimand, there are other ways to deal with unwanted behaviours than by just physical punishment – and if the problem was from you in the first place, it’s grossly unfair.
Dobermanns need mental and physical exercise; they are not a ‘Sunday afternoon walk in the park dog’. They need their owners to be of a steady nature (mentally) and to be competent handlers. As the Dobermann needs to be part of your pack, they are not a breed suited to solitary confinement. For that reason I do not sell to people who are out at work all day or who intend to keep their dogs in a kennel.
Think about the essence of the breed; Louis Dobermann created them to be by his side – his permanent companion. The Dobermann needs to be treated as a member of the family and they do badly without their person or people by their side. I will never sell to anyone who keeps their dog outside even in a heated kennel. Get a breed that is far better suited to outdoor life – a Dutch Herder, a German Shepherd, a Malamute, Dogue de Bordeaux etc.
Like all dogs, Dobermanns must have rules to work to. That doesn’t mean they won’t try to step outside the rules, Dobes will push and test you if they feel you may not be a worthy leader, especially the males during adolescence when they can be quite hard work, but if you gain their respect with calm authority, you will be rewarded with absolute devotion and loyalty. If you try to dominate, suppress and bully the dog into submission, you will never get the best out of your dog; they will always remember how you lost your temper. And inside you’ll hate yourself for being so weak and a bully.
As any experienced owner will tell you, Dobermanns are a very sensitive breed, and will not achieve their best if roughly handled or stressed.
Problems & Support
I have a What’s App group for owners of puppies from each litter. I sometimes in the summer hold puppy training days for my pups and those sired by our dogs which cover basic training, problem solving, intro to tracking/working/obedience/showing training.
This photo was way back in 2008; L-R Richard & Lisa with Riot (Nominator x Leia), Vince, Victoria & Lizzie with Jack (Nominator x Leia), Mike & Karen with their Jack, Lisa with Lexie (Nominator x Tikka), Mandy & Gary with Logan (Nominator x Leia), and Tracy with Flynn (Nominator x Hastra Kastra).
Aritaur Puppy Pack
My puppy pack is really a shortened version of my book. It includes a basic guide to caring for your Dobermann puppy, feeding, control and training, behaviour – including dealing with problems such as separation anxiety, house training etc. Health guide; worming, teeth, ears, eyes, coat and skin care, nail care etc and exercise.
New owners are also supplied with a 5 generation pedigree, KC Registration documents. Food and detailed feeding guide including information on changing to natural feeding if required. ‘Comfort blanket’. Guide to house training (I start house training around 5 weeks). Puppies are microchipped (legally required). Show and work training is free here for Aritaur puppies for a couple of sessions. Health certification. Purchase agreement, 5 weeks free insurance. Lifetime support for you and your dog.
All good breeders have a clause in their agreement along the lines of: ‘if for any reason you cannot keep your dog, he/she must be returned to us for rehoming in the first instance’. Really none of us want puppies or dogs back. Good breeders want you to succeed, not least because taking back a feral 1 year old who has not been socialised properly, who has been allowed to rule all he surveys, and who has never been taught any manners, is a disruptive nightmare for us, so it’s in a good breeder’s best interest to help you get it right from the start.
House training tips
Choosing a breeder who starts toilet training early is a useful start, but your puppy needs to realise that they can’t pee or pooh whenever or wherever they like.
When pup relieves itself in the house and is caught in the act, it won’t know it has done anything wrong; it’s like a baby in nappies, they just go when they need to – so just pick pup up and put it outside using a command word. If pup has peed in the house and you haven’t seen it doing it, absolutely never reprimand it. It is completely pointless and worse still, as they don’t know what they have done and what they are punished for, they will get worried and anxious because again she’s done something, but doesn’t know what. NO, a ‘guilty’ face is not guilt, puppy is trying to appease you as it can see you’re angry about something but doesn’t know what. We are meant to be a smarter species. You need to return to basics.
1. Bladder control.
Pup has never had to hold itself, so initially these decisions need to be made for it. Pup must be taken outside on the hour, every hour without fail. Do not forget, set an alarm if necessary, for any mistakes at this stage are your fault and will undo all your work. After a while with no accidents (no sooner than a week), you can start to lengthen this time to an hour and 5 minutes, 1 hour and 10 minutes then 15 minutes and so on. Don’t push your luck on extending the time too soon.
(Word association). Every time pup pees, give it a command word. This could be anything – “do your business”, “have a pee”, whatever, but nothing you usually say to it, and continue this while pup is peeing, repeating continually in a happy voice with lots of praise. Pup will very quickly learn what to do. It is important to repeat it over and over repeatedly in the same tone, whilst pup is weeing. The words need to be virtually drummed into it.
If you can get her to wee in a particular place, then so much the better – again it’s association that is important, however, be aware that bitches in particular who lack confidence, may show reluctance to urinate anywhere else even when away from home and it can be dangerous for them to hold out for a long time.
Often puppies who are raised in a particular area of the house, urinate in that place if they can’t get outside. My dogs always return to the big end room, because that was where their puppy pen was, and access to outside was via the French windows next to it. Therefore remove that option of their preferred place. If pup has to be allowed to roam around places it has previously urinated in, then clean that area with washing liquid ie Persil as it contains no trace of ammonia to attract pup to the patch and covers any existing scent.
Praise is the way to train dogs, not punishment. Never, ever rub the puppy’s nose in his urine or excrement. Anyone who does that is not fit to own a dog, because a) it’s disgustingly cruel and b) it is their fault for not knowing how to train a dog properly! I would never in a million years sell a dog to anyone who would do that. Rub your own nose in it to teach yourself to train your pup better!
crates or cages can be useful with a young puppy. It keeps pup safe from being electrocuted by chewing cables when you’re out/asleep (always useful), and saves furniture, shoes and walls from being destroyed. However, training your puppy to go in a cage must be done carefully, otherwise puppy will think it is being punished or trapped and will panic. I dislike the modern reliance on crates as they teach no self-control for the dog who just gets frustrated being shut in a cage. Crates should be temporary measures, not a means of control for an exuberant puppy.
When puppy falls asleep, pick it up gently and lay it in the crate with the door pushed to. When pup wakes up, don’t take so long that it starts to cry, or you’ll then have to wait for pup to stop before you can let it out.
During the day whilst you are at home, train pup to go in the cage for a treat like a juicy knotty bone that it can spend hours chewing on. When pup goes in the crate, give gentle praise in a soothing steady voice, not an excited one.
When you leave pup, just walk away as in the separation training. None of the “now be a good boy, Mummy won’t be long blah blah”. That just reinforces any anxiety. Do not feed pup through the bars of the cage. It will only highlight that it is a trap. When you return, ignore pup; walk past it (bouncing to get your attention), no talk, no touch, no eye contact, and make yourself a cuppa/open your mail/unload your shopping. When pup is calm, THEN pay attention to it, but CALMLY! Don’t wind pup up again, just a calm, loving cuddle; no over-excitement.
Puppy Biting is probably the most common question I am asked ‘how do I stop my puppy biting me/the children?’. It’s often a difficult concept to get your head around, but puppies won’t bite natural bosses; if they do, it’s just once. When someone tells me their puppy ‘KEEPS’ doing something, it’s because the owners have ALLOWED it once. Most of the time it is because puppy lacks direction, mental stimulation and is attention seeking because you are too busy to play with it. Dogs don’t have mobile phones/play stations/ friends around to play, so they’re bored. Get a game or training in BEFORE pup starts misbehaving through boredom. The remainder of the time it’s because the children have been rolling around on the floor with puppy biting at their clothes/arms etc, and the puppy can’t therefore be expected to learn that is not acceptable behaviour. Don’t put pup in that position to make mistakes, then you won’t have to correct it. One lady asked me recently ‘how do I stop my dog jumping up at the work surface?! This is odd, because if you don’t want the dog to jump up, you push it off! If you have to have lessons in this sort of ‘how to’ situation, you will absolutely not cope with a Dobe. There is no technical manual. You can learn skills, but you either have authority or don’t.
Red line for me is teeth on humans. I obviously allow for the fact that puppies naturally bite especially whilst teething and I wouldn’t strongly reprimand a puppy for that, but I do stop it. All puppies will nip when playing, and just as they have to with their litter-mates, they need to learn bite tolerance (ie what hurts. They are not being mean or ‘vicious’, you just need to teach them not to and that is not by smacking. I put my hand firmly around the back of the neck just behind the head and remove puppy. Never grip hard or pin down – that elicits a fight for survival. Nipping can be due to teething so provide something alternative to chew on, and it is also of to see what they can get away with – or not! Remember puppies don’t have TV or books, and they don’t have their litter mates anymore, so if you aren’t providing an interesting environment for your puppy, you’ll get a bored puppy who is attention seeking. In the same way that you would sit and play with a child, you should expect to spend as much time with a puppy.
Never ever smack a puppy or dog across the face or nose. You will end up with a head shy animal and it is the fastest way to create a snappy animal. If you tap puppy on the nose as some believe, the automatic retaliation is to bite back. I have absolutely no qualms about mimicking the way a good strong bitch enforces her discipline on the puppies with a warning growl, eye contact and a quick snap if necessary. Hold puppy gently around the scruff, just to stop them biting for no longer than a second, then release and give long gentle strokes to calm him down. If he turns around to bite your hand, you are either holding too hard, or you are introducing conflict and need to find another way. Try first easing off a bit on the hold, but otherwise distract them with a loud noise and them immediately divert their attention onto something positive like a quick training session. Show them there is another way by giving them a chewy toy – usually flesh is much more yielding and toys don’t yelp, but he will get the idea if you just fold your arms or walk away and ignore him. Remember, you would never let an adult male dog, chew or mouth your arm, so don’t allow it as a youngster. Do not expect a puppy to understand that rolling on the floor with your children is okay but running after them biting their ankles is not.
The first year – 18 months is hard. Sometimes hair-tearing out/what the hell have I done bringing this hell on four legs into my lovely life?!/ HELP ME! It is no surprise that the majority of dogs ending up in rescue, are aged around 9 months – 2 years. The novelty has worn off, you’ve stopped the training, your dog is bored as hell and starts destroying things and ignoring you. If you have a busy year or two ahead, park the idea of a dog for now. It will be a bad decision for you both. However, after that two years (if you’ve been a good owner ?) , your hard work will result in the best dog. It’s up to you to put in the time.