Doberman Dietary Needs
A consistent and high quality diet for your Doberman is worth every penny. Not only will he be more healthy and happy, he will also avoid many future health problems. Quality food costs more, but you need less – this means less poop in the back yard and less noxious gas in the house. Consistency is important. Changing a Doberman’s food suddenly will cause an upset tummy and likely some diarrhea. Buying whatever is on sale at the supermarket is a harmful habit.
When choosing a commercial food, it should be specific for your Doberman’s age. Dogs in different age groups (puppy, adult, and senior) have very different needs. We feed our Doberman Pinschers Victors Super Premium Dog Food that can be bought for a reasonable price online or at your local pet and feed store. Not only is this food affordable, but your dog will fill up on less, which results in less poop to pick up as previously stated! It is well worth the $30-35 for a 40lb bag. For my full grown Dobermans, I feed them twice daily, roughly 2-3 cups each in the morning and 2 cups each in the evening. For a rare treat any Doberman Pinscher owner will tell you that they love raw hide to chew on, I give mine a couple pig ears each month and they love them.
Table scraps are not part of a quality diet, and may be harmful to their health. The plus side of not giving your Doberman human food is that they will not beg for it, knock over the trash can, or jump on the counters to get it. They will learn quickly that they are not allowed that kind of food, and will stray from eating it if left out. An occasional bone is the exception, as long as it is not a cooked turkey or chicken bone. When cooked, the chicken bone will be brittle and it will break into sharp shards that the Doberman will eat and could pose a danger.
Exercising the Doberman Pinscher
Daily walks, and exercise is a must for the Doberman Pinscher, they need at least 30 minutes of exercise twice a day. No human is capable of exerting the amounts of energy equal to what the Doberman requires on a daily basis, but this should not stop you from trying. Running and jogging with your Doberman Pinscher is an activity they are thrilled to do by your side, and it offers them a high performance body challenge.
The Doberman requires an open area where they can run at top speed, and they are fast. This usually requires a Doberman owner to have a reasonably sized yard enclosed by a 6ft fence. Apartments and homes with small yards are not suitable homes for a Doberman. Even with a dog park close by, these situations rarely offer the Doberman adequate daily exercise. If they do not exert their energy by exercising/playing, they will become bored and destructive; it will cost much less to take them for a walk than replacing carpet.
Simply having the space does not necessarily mean your Doberman will exercise themselves properly. One way of assuring proper amounts of exercise is having two Dobermans, or another type of dog along with your Doberman capable of keeping up. Dobermans love to chase each other, and together, they will usually exert more than enough energy to tire themselves out before retiring for the night.
Playing games with your Doberman is a good means of encouraging exercise, and will create a stronger bond between the Master and the Doberman. Training a Doberman to fetch a ball or catch a Frisbee are both standard and effective. Similarly, make sure to buy a proper tug-of-war rope for your new Doberman (puppy or adult), because this will be one of their favorite games and toys.
Dog sports are also currently growing more popular in the Doberman community; Dobermans excel in Schutzhund, Flyball, tracking, obedience, and agility competitions. Besides providing exercise for their body, games and sports also exercise the Doberman’s sharp mind; giving them the necessary mental exercise.
Contrary to the common misconception, the Doberman is no different to train than any other dog. This misconception is due to the Doberman’s strong will. Amusingly, the same strong will that makes a Doberman puppy initially difficult to control, is the same strong will that makes the trained Doberman so obedient and loyal.
The most difficult part of training is the beginning, before a critical point. This critical point is when the dog realizes that what you are doing is teaching him how to get what he wants effectively, not unlike his superior pack members would in nature. At this point the Doberman, with their strong will, will stop pushing for what they want and begin looking to you for instruction on how best to get it.
What does a Doberman want? Food, water, potty breaks, and to give and receive affection; mainly to give and receive affection. The Doberman is an extremely clean animal, and does not want to relieve himself near his bedding or food; keeping this in mind, every time they whine, they most likely have to go outside to do their business. Make sure to use positive reinforcement to reward them for their efforts on using the restroom outside. They are always looking to their Master for praise and approval, this is essential in raising a properly trained Doberman Pinscher.
Proper training at an early age allows the Doberman to understand quicker, and once they understand their Master, training suddenly becomes easy for them. The critical path to any new training is the ability to show them the behavior that is desirable. Teaching them a new behavior or command is only a matter of getting them to perform it once, and using positive reinforcement to instill the new command or behavior.
Dogs develop a comfort zone with the things around them. This is especially true for the Doberman breed. Anything outside this comfort zone is met with suspicion and anxiety. Socialization is the effort to expand this comfort zone. By providing positive experiences to a variety of people, animals, sights, and sounds the Doberman is conditioned to meet new things with less suspicion and anxiety. This process is called socialization and makes the Doberman a more sociable dog.
In our society, a dog is constantly exposed to new things, especially in cities and town. Socialization is extremely important because it prepares the Doberman to deal with these new things confidently and with sureness. Socialization is vitally important in caring for the Doberman’s mental health and well-being.
Socialization will not make a Doberman less protective. In protection training, a Doberman is expected to be confident and sure around new things. If they are not, they will be more difficult to command under pressure and are more susceptible to stress. The Doberman's Master must continue this socialization throughout the Doberman’s life, particularly in the first few months of age by providing consistent positive experiences. Simple exposure is not enough; it needs to be positive exposure or situation.
A good place to start is by taking a Doberman puppy along when visiting friends and family, and allowing the Doberman puppy to interact with guests. The interaction with guests is important. A Doberman puppy should not be locked away when guests come by. This will produce the opposite of socialization, isolation.
Once your Doberman puppy is fully vaccinated, you can begin positive exposure to other animals. A good way to do this is with puppy play dates and visits to the local pet and feed store. Pet and feed stores are great, because they are full of wonderful smells and friendly dog-loving people. They also have strange sounding birds, weird looking dogs, and weird looking people.
The best place to start socialization and basic training is at a puppy obedience class, and they are not as expensive as you would think. These classes require the puppies to be vaccinated beforehand and provide an environment with numerous friendly people and dogs. They also provide the ideal challenge for teaching a Doberman to maintain obedience, despite distraction, and to look to their owner for proper behavior.
Socialization should be made a priority in the care regiment of a Doberman Pinscher. A well trained and socialized Doberman will create a pleasant experience for everyone who meets them, and is a testament to the wonderful breed that is the Doberman Pinscher.
An important attribute bred out of the Doberman is fear. Fear can be dangerous in a powerful working dog because they are scared and do not know how to react in an unfamiliar situation. This is also why socialization is important; to allow the dog to be familiar with many situations, instills confidence within them. With that confidence, they will perform as commanded under pressure.
Along with the suspicion that a Doberman Pinscher always has, they also have an incredible sense of observation. They are in tune with everything around them, and often they will notice any unusual sound/smell or potential threat far before their master will. For this reason, owning a Doberman Pinscher can be a safety and security feature for protecting your family and property. A doberman Pinscher will not allow trespassers to enter their home without alerting their masters of an unwanted presence, and just the sight of a Doberman Pinscher will make an intruder think twice before entering a home protected by this breed. A Doberman is always watchful and aware of their surroundings, and will often sleep with their ears in the alert position.
A Doberman Pinscher is a curious breed and will often be caught staring out the windows to identify any new threats. One thing that is quite amazing about this particular breed is that they conduct perimeter checks often around the property to ensure that the location is secure, and they are timely about their routine.
Intelligence in dogs is often misunderstood. A common assumption is that an intelligent dog needs less training, this is far from the truth. An intelligent dog learns quicker, and should be trained as soon as possible to prevent boredom. Boredom in intellectual dogs often causes them to be destructive, because they need to be entertained or they are very curious. Doberman Pinschers need to be broken of a few bad habits by simple training. These habits include but are not limited to: chewing, nipping, jumping, running in the house, and potty training. These are easy habits to break a Doberman Pinscher of within the first 3 months of ownership, but consistent training is a must. They love to learn and to please their master, so do not disappoint them. Remember that it is vital to let them know that bad behavior is not acceptable. Others in the household may help train a Doberman Pinscher, but it is truly up to the Master to enforce those rules. Puppy training class is highly encouraged at the 12 week mark, after they received their 12 week shots, to harness their intellectual capabilities.
A doberman Pinscher shares an intense emotional bond with their Master. They simply adore their Master, and will do anything to get your attention and show their love. They need affection, and in return they will give it. If you are sitting on the couch and they want to be loved, they will jump on the couch next to you and will lean their body into yours to let you know that is what they want. They will lick you like crazy once you recognize them, and want to be recognized with belly rubs, vocal recognition, or scratching behind the ears. Furthermore, most Doberman Pinschers have a couple sweet spots that they love scratched or rubbed. They love to have the inside of their ears massaged, where the fold is, and they will close their eyes because they love it. They love to have an area on the their back scratched where the back ends and the tail begins, and they will move their tale side-to-side so you can scratch the other side.
On a further note, to create a stronger bond of trust with your Doberman Pinscher, when they are puppies, run your fingers through their paw pads. Start by doing this when they are half asleep, initially they will pull their paw away, but eventually you will be able to do so freely. When you are able to do so freely, that means that they trust you, because this is an extremely vulnerable area for them it might take a while. When they completely trust you, they will fall asleep on their backs like little babies, as they will not be afraid to be vulnerable next to you. This is one of the strongest levels of trust you can achieve with your Doberman Pinscher, but usually if someone else walks in the room they snap to the alert position again.
Need for Attention
The Doberman Pinscher is needy; they need affection, training, socialization, and stimulation. This is not a dog to spend time alone in the back yard, kennel, or basement. The Doberman Pinscher is bred to be at your side literally at all times and this is exactly what they will do. They will even sit outside of the bathroom while you conduct your business, anything to make sure that you are okay. Nothing makes them happier, than making you happy. They are your dog,and you are their human. How they want to be around you all of the time, is how you should want to be around them all of the time. They love car rides, and even a walk to the mailbox will make them happy. If they are trained right, you will not even know that they are next to you, but it should be assumed because that is their favorite place to be.
Cropped Ears and After Care
Cropped ears are at the discretion of the owner, puppies with uncropped ears may still compete in shows with no penalty. There are a few different cuts available for cropped ears, but there may be hundreds of styles and depend on the technique of the veterinarian. First of all, do not look for the cheapest veterinarian because you will get what you pay for. A puppy should not have to suffer because their owner wanted to save a buck. Look for a licensed veterinarian in your area and find reviews online, and then visit their office to view their portfolio. A veterinarian that specializes in this procedure will usually cost about $350 - $500, and this will include the appointment, anesthesia, procedure, cold laser treatment (optional), stitches, soft cone, antibiotics, pain medication, and removal of stitches. The puppy will be put under anesthesia during the surgery, so that they will not feel the pain. Puppies usually should have this procedure done, if chosen by their Master, at an age range of 10-12 weeks (generally). Puppies that are older may be a bit more expensive, because the veterinarian needs to use more anesthetic, depending on the puppies weight.
There are three different lengths of ear crops to choose from: Long crop (aka show crop), Medium crop (normal), or Short crop (military crop). The average Doberman Pinscher will be seen with a Medium crop, as it is much easier to maintain and takes much less time than the Show crop to get the ears to stand erect. The different styles (size and shape of the bell of the ear) that are seen with the cuts depend on the veterinarian. Some veterinarians have a tremendous amount of talent, and will ask you to bring a picture of the exact crop you desire.
A long crop may require roughly 6-12 months of posting, changing the wraps every 2-4 days, to get the ears to stand perfectly straight. This can be very frustrating when you see that your Doberman's ears are slanting/tilting or folding over during the process. Do not let this discourage you, keep posting until they stand straight. A Medium crop will generally take about 3-4 months of posting to get the ears to stand erect. and a Short crop will require far less time. The wraps are changed on a basis of how dirty they get, or if the Doberman puppy knocks them out of position. From my personal experience, I needed to change the wraps every 2-3 days, and kept the Medium crop posted for 4 months. Each puppy will be different in the amount of time needed to post the ears for them to stand erect. This is because the Doberman puppy is teething, which uses up their calcium for dental growth, and that same calcium is needed for the cartlidge to stiffen on their ears. Do not administer additional calcium supplements, as this may be harmful to your puppies health.
There are many different ways to make your own posts and several techniques to place them in position, and many of them are successful. I will share my personal technique a bit later, and eventually post do-it-yourself photos. A few things to be aware of are: make sure that there is no infection, do not wrap the medical tape too tight, and do not leave the posts off for a prolonged period of time if they are not finished.
Infection can be identified by the fowl smell and pussy/swollen appearance where the incision was made, the puppy needs anti-biotics and needs to go to the veterinarian. By taking the puppy to the veterinarian, they will be able to heal, and you may resume your posting in a few days. When the medical tape is wrapped too tight it will cut off the circulation going to the puppies ears and if it is bad enough the puppy may lose part of their ear. Lastly, leaving the posts off for a couple of days between posts will cause the puppies ears to slant/fall/fold, and the posting process will take even longer.
My personal technique is relatively inexpensive and the Doberman puppy will knock out the posts far less, which means less posting by you. The materials that I use in my posting technique include: medical tape (breathable), PVC pipe covering/insulation (styrofoam like material), and scissors. All of the materials for the whole posting period should only run you about $20 - $30, and can be bought at your local grocery store or Walmart. The medical tape must be adhesive and breathable, so that it may stick and at the same time allow the puppies ears to breath and heal. The PVC pipe insulation (3/4 inch) can be purchased in a 25 pack, and each post will be cut from this material.
The PVC pipe insulation is important because it is lightweight (not as annoying to the puppy) but stiff enough to guide the ears to stay straight. The flexibility of the PVC pipe insulation is what makes it the best material, it allows the puppy to still play as normal, and the post will not be easily dislodged. Each post that is cut will have a slimmer base so it can be inserted into the base of the ear comfortably, and is formed to the exact length of the ear crop.
The medical tape is first wrapped normally around the base of the post (slimmer side) for one turn, then twisted to make it a double sided tape, for the remainder of the turns all the way to the top. This allows the owner to skip the need for a glue to make sure that the post is firmly against the ear. Then the owner is to have a second person hold the puppy still as he inserts the post into the base of the ear (make sure it is well seated), ensure to align it correctly with the natural part of the ear and the backside of the inner ear (so that the tape sticks). Once the positioning is done, the outer layer of tape that goes on the outside of the ear can be applied. It is humane to put some baby powder on the furry part of the ear, as you do not want to pull the hair out when removing the tape. Next you will see there is flap of ear (on the natural edge) that needs to be folded back, this is the area where the cartlidge will eventually stiffen to make the ears stand straight. Have someone make sure that the puppy holds still and use the medical tape to start wrapping from the post (in a clockwise direction) at the base of the ear upwards. While wrapping make sure that the fold is in the correct position each turn. Do not wrap too tight, do it the same as you would put a bandaid on your own wound. Once to the top, cut the tape and repeat to the other ear. This will not hurt the puppy.
Once both ears are completed, it is time to put the center piece of tape in position. This piece of tape will hold the two ears together in an upward position, and is optional according to many breeders, but it is a great guide for the ears. I find it useful to put slack into the center piece of tape, and for the first timers it will allow the puppies ears to rest in the outward positon. As the postings continue and time passes, the slack in the middle of the ears will remain, but the puppies will begin to form that cartlidge and they will stand their ears on their own. I find it also useful to buy the puppies toys that make noise, such as squeeky toys (proportionate sized to them stuffed animal) to allow them to keep on alert and strengthen their ears. After the specified amount of time passes, they should have perfectly erect ears, but if they do not, do not worry. Just keep posting, and they will stand. Most people get frustrated that only one of their puppies ears will stand erect and the other will flop or be angled differently, keep posting and this will fix the problem (do not give up or they will stay how you left them).
Please take into consideration all of the preperation that is involved in the aftercare of cropped ears, and if you decide that it is too much work, please leave the puppies ears uncropped. They are beautiful both ways, and they will love you no differently. Keep in mind that puppy safety is always the number one issue. Veterinarians do offer postings at an additional fee if you do not trust yourself, and they will even go as far as teaching you their method for free. The method that I discussed above, once you get the hang of it, should only take 5-10 minutes.