So you want to train your Dobermann.
We welcome all Dobes; of any age & any ability to our informal classes and look forward to working with you to help you achieve your ambitions & goals, whatever they may be.
Of the volunteer committee members who take the training classes: some of us show, some of us do obedience, some of us do working & agility, some of us occasionally breed; between us, we have many years of experience of not only training with our dobes but living with them & looking after them as well. We share our great love of this noble breed and appreciate the qualities which make them so ‘special’, we also appreciate that at times, they can be a trying breed and are most definitely not for the faint hearted!
As a Club, each year we stage 2 Open Shows with Obedience and a Championship Show, however, the club began in the 1970’s as a training club and this is where our roots are firmly placed; promoting responsible Dobermann ownership and helping you and your Dobe get the best out of each other.
We firmly believe that a well trained & socialised dog makes for a much happier dog than an untrained one; and therefore cannot recommend enough that you do at least basic obedience with your dog ~ Obedience rather than Disobedience! Dogs are pack animals and every pack has a leader; to be without a leader can be confusing for a dog (this is where most ‘behavioural’ problems have their roots…..the dog has no idea who his leader is and often unwittingly assumes the role and begins to dominate his ‘pack’….that’s you ~ his family!) Through your basic training, learning to communicate, praise & reward your dog, you will establish your role as ‘pack leader’, a role your dog will willingly accept you in provided the training is based upon mutual respect & trust.
THINK DOG!!!! Your dog WANTS to please you but sometimes, it gets confusing...do you remember doing Mirror ~Signal ~ Manoeuvre when learning to drive a CAR?? Well, in simple & relative terms…..
C = COMMAND ~ TELL your dog WHAT you want him to do
A = ACTION ~ the dog should comply….INSTANTLY ~ if he doesn’t, repeat the command and correct him ~ enforce it using your hands to guide him
R = REWARD ~ PRAISE your dog...TELL him he did good!!
We will encourage you talk to your dog...we will encourage you to reward your dog...dogs learn by associating cause & effect. If your dog does something & as a result experiences praise and/or reward (treat/toy) he will associate that action with pleasure and want to repeat it!
Similarly, if an action results in no reward, the experience was not pleasurable and
the dog is unlikely to willingly want to repeat it.
Both correction & reward MUST be IMMEDIATE in order to be associated with the
cause (command) by the dog….remember, think dog!
We are here to help with all & any aspect of being ‘owned by’ a Dobermann, please do not hesitate to ask any of us questions you may have regarding anything to do with your Dobe.
Our training nights consist of 3 basic elements:
This can be a ‘difficult’ class as we often have a great range in both dogs’ ages & ability come into this class, however, even the more experienced dogs benefit from working in a group environment and it acts as a useful warm up routine.
In the basic obedience class, we will guide you through the process of communicating your commands to your dog; although we consider our training to be ‘informal’, you will be taught ‘correctly’ i.e. as if training for obedience competition; you will always ’work’ with the dog on your left hand side and use your voice, body & lead to give guidance, correction and most importantly, praise & reward.
After completing your basic obedience, you & your dog should sail through our Stage 1 Diploma; an informal ‘test’ run by your trainers.
Remember, your dog doesn’t understand English although he will learn to associate the ‘sound’ of a particular word with an action which in turn will be associated with reward. Your commands must therefore be given to your dog precisely...each command must SOUND different to the dog; using a different tone in your voice for each command is a simple and very effective way of differentiating them, you should therefore always remember to use a different command for each action; SIT & DOWN are two different commands, never tell your dog to sit down!
After you have given a clear command to your dog he should respond instantly and IT IS VITAL that your correction or reward should be just as instantaneous. At the end of each ‘exercise’ you will be told that it is over, or to ‘break & play’ with your dog….learning MUST be fun...be prepared to have to make silly noises and jump around making a huge fuss of him; not only does this make the whole learning process enjoyable, it renews your dogs interest & vigour in preparation for the next exercise.
These are the basic exercises & objectives of them that we will take you through:
You and your dog are in the ‘Heel position’ when the dog is at your left hand side, facing the same direction as you are facing. Whether the dog is sitting, standing, lying down or moving next to you; he is in the proper heel position when the area from his head to his shoulders is in line with your left hip.
To have the dog walk approximately level to and close to the handlers
left leg on aloose lead without any undue pulling.
There are only 2 places a dog should ever be taught to ‘Sit’ ~ they are directly in front of you and at your left hand side; both ‘Sits’ should be straight and upon being given the command, the dog should obey quickly & remain in the position until told otherwise (ie a ‘release’ command or a further command ‘down’ or ‘heel’ etc)
The ‘Down’ command has similar objectives to the ‘Sit’ command; the dog should obey smartly and remain in the position until told otherwise ~ the ‘down’ is usually executed with the dog on your left hand side but in more advanced obedience, this is combined with the ‘send away’ where the dog is sent away from the handler to a marked area and then has to go ‘down’ within the specified area.
Upon receiving the ‘Stay’ command the dog should do just that...remain where he is, in whatever position he was in, when given the command until you give him a ‘release’ command. The ‘Stay’ command is usually combined with either the ‘Sit’ or ‘Down’ command in obedience competition; the more advanced dogs having to do a 10 minute ‘down stay’ with their handlers out of sight! At this stage, we are looking at completing a ‘sit stay’ & ‘down stay’ of 1 minute with the dog on the lead & the handler well in sight!
Novice handlers often wrongly confuse this command with the ‘Stay’ command. Wait means ‘wait...I’m going to give you another command’ Often used in conjunction with the ‘Sit’ command in order to leave the dog to do a ‘recall’, or ‘fetch’ command in a retrieve.
As it sounds, the objective of this exercise is to get the dog to return to the handler immediately when called; this is probably the single most important command to teach your dog and one that is more easily taught at a very early age when your puppy is still heavily dependant upon you for security. However, if you’ve missed the ’puppy’ stage, don’t despair, with practice & patience you will get a recall! To begin with, this exercise is taught on the lead advancing to ‘off lead’ recalls; in competition, the handler leaves the dog in a sitting position and walks off, turning to face the dog. The ‘Come’ command is given and the dog should return smartly to the handler, sitting directly in front of them. In all but very basic classes, once the dog is sitting, a ‘finish’ command will be given and the dog has to return to the ‘heel’ position.
During ‘heelwork’ which forms the basis of all obedience, there are 3 commands given by the instructor to get you to change direction:
1. Right Turn 2. Left Turn 3. About Turn
Turns should be ‘smart’ i.e. your direction should change at sharp angles as opposed to making a ‘curve’. The ‘about turn’ is a complete change of direction on the spot. You should aim to keep your dog reasonably close to and level with your left leg when turning; left turns are the hardest to perfect as the dog needs to move slightly backwards to keep the correct position.
We will get you to do some exercises on your own and some as part of a group. Group exercises are not only excellent socialisation but they can help to build up your own dogs’ confidence and de-sensitise them to other dogs’ invading their ‘personal’ space. They also make you, the handler, work harder to gain & keep your dogs’ attention.
Dogs, especially young ones, are learning every day; whether they learn ‘good’ things or ‘bad’ things is entirely up to you. At class, we can teach you how to train your dog, but only practice at home will bring success, “homework” is back in fashion! Set some time aside each day to practice an exercise; through repetition & association of command & reward, your dog will learn the lessons. Work on one exercise at a time until you achieve the specified goal; the amount of time & effort required will vary upon the individual dog and the exercise being taught, however, practice makes perfect and remember, patience is a virtue!
A word of wisdom...there may come a time, with dogs’ embarking on their training, usually around the sixth week, when your dog will seemingly have forgotten everything you have taught him for the past five weeks; THIS IS NORMAL!! It usually only lasts a few days, be patient and continue with your homework and exercises and you will find it will soon pass!
RING CRAFT TRAINING
The second part of our evening is dedicated to ring craft or ‘show’ training. This class is open to all abilities of handler; if you are a ‘novice’ don’t worry...we all were once! Obviously at a ‘proper’ show, the judge is judging your dog against their interpretation of the breed standard; the judge will place the dogs in order of their merit, dependant upon how closely the judge feels the dog fits the standard. (The breed standard is a written description published by The Kennel Club which describes the qualities of the ‘ideal’ Dobermann) The judge will be looking for correct angulation, dentition & movement amongst other more ‘personal’ interpretations i.e. some judges like dogs’ with really dark rust markings, some prefer dogs with lighter more prominent markings, some prefer a free moving dog, others want an alert expression, tight elbows etc. etc.
In ring craft training we are NOT there to judge your dog, just help you get the best out of him in the ring for others to judge! Whilst you may not have any great ambition to ‘show’ your dog, getting your dog used to this type of training can have many advantages in ‘every day life’ for example being examined by a vet, having their nails done, getting used to strangers touching them etc.
It is easier to teach your dog to ‘stand’ for show examination using ‘bait’. This can be mild cheese, chicken, liver or some other tasty morsel that will help keep your dogs’ attention whilst the ‘judge’ is going over him. As you & your dog become more experienced, less ‘bait’ is used and you can change from kneeling behind your dog to stack him (this is known as ‘top & tail’) to standing in front of him if you wish...as long as he stands still and looks at his best, it’s up to you how you feel more comfortable.
When you enter the class, all of the dogs will be ‘stood up’ for the instructor to look at. The instructor will usually walk along the line of dogs and take a good look at them. They will be looking to see if you have got your dog in a ‘good’ pose; i.e. the front legs should be straight with the elbows tight against the chest wall, the back legs should be slightly backwards; hock to heel perpendicular, his back should be firm & straight and his head held correctly, showing a clean, well arched neck.
After looking at all the dogs together, each dog is then ‘gone over’ by the instructor.
Each dog moves out of the line in turn and is ‘stood up’ for the instructor who will again look for all of the presentation skills previously mentioned. The instructor will then ‘go over’ the dog. This entails looking in the dogs mouth, both at the front to check for ‘bite’ and at the sides, checking for correct number of teeth. The instructor will then look at the dogs head, checking his ‘stop’, eye colour & shape and move over the dog using their hands. They will feel under his forechest, around his ribcage, along his loins, down his legs & over his stifles. If your dog is male, the instructor will also check to make sure that he has 2 fully descended testicles (a bit rude...but necessary as it’s something the ‘real’ judge will do!)
Once the instructor has finished ‘going over’ the dog, they will usually step back to have
another look at the dogs’ profile (side on view); they may move to look again at the dogs’ head, checking for expression or they may ask you to move off straight away.
The instructor will ask you to ‘move’ your dog. In showing the ‘gait’ for moving is a steady ‘trot’. The trot is a diagonal gait where the front left leg and the hind right leg move at the same time and vice versa. Incorrect gaits are ‘galloping’ and ‘pacing’. Galloping speaks for itself; the dog is galloping away! Pacing is a lateral gait; both the front & hind left legs move together and vice versa; it gives the impression that the dog is rocking from side to side ~ dogs often move using a ‘pacing’ gait as it is a very economical gait to use; it takes very little effort to move at a pace!!
The instructor will usually ask you to move your dog in a ‘triangle’ and then ‘straight up & down’. This sequence of movement gives them the opportunity to view the dog moving from all angles; from behind the dog, a profile view of the dog and from in front of the dog. Some judges will also ask you to move your dog around in a circle; concentrating only on the profile movement of the dog; checking for ‘rotation’ in the hind movement. Once you have finished moving your dog, you should do a ‘free stand’ directly in front of the judge or instructor, you should try to ‘walk’ your dog into a good square ‘show pose’ and get the dog’s attention using your bait or toy to maximise it’s alert expression. The instructor will then ‘thank you’ and you return to the end of the line. (It’s also customary to ‘thank’ your instructor, as you would a ‘real’ judge...part of show etiquette!)
The instructor will do this with every dog and then once every dog has been ‘seen’, every one in the line ‘stacks’ their dogs up again so the instructor can have a final look and choose their placings. Where you are placed might not necessarily be a true reflection of your handling capabilities, the instructor may choose to put a less experienced handler who has shown good improvement in front of you. The instructor will place the handlers in their chosen order and these placings are noted in our weekly book ~ we award 5 points for 1st place down to 1 point for 5th place. Every 9 weeks we award the ringcraft trophy to the handler with the most points over the previous 8 weeks.
Like all training, you need to practice at ring craft when either you or your dog are learning this new ‘skill’. In the first instance; your dog will be quite bemused as to why you are moving his legs around and just what are you doing kneeling next to him?? Again, practice is a must! Just 5 minutes each & every day will soon get your dog used to what is expected of him, remember to talk to your dog and tell him exactly what you want him to do; ’stand’ ‘teeth’ ‘wait’ ‘trot’ ‘watch’ ’good boy!’ Try to use your ’bait’ wisely, only giving the ’reward’ when your dog is doing what you want them to do; don’t continue to feed them bait if they are fidgeting around; if you’ve asked him to ‘stand’...make them ‘stand’.
Our instructors will be only too happy to spend extra time with a dog or handler who needs a little more help or guidance; please be patient during ring craft if this is necessary. Waiting around is again good practice...at some Championship Shows there can be as many as 20-30 dogs in a class ~ use this time to practice your skills and at keeping your dogs attention...teaching them to ‘catch’ bait soon whiles away the time & keeps your dog interested and looking alert.
The last part of our evening is given over to handlers & dogs wishing to do more advanced obedience; working towards our Stage 2 Diploma.
All of the basic obedience elements are included but elaborated on:
Heelwork will increasingly be off the lead and have changes in pace Fast, slow & normal paces will be introduced; each change of pace will be from the halt position.
Sit & Down Stay times will increase and will be off lead‘Sit Stay’ time will be 1 minute with the handler in sight but not facing the dog. ‘Down Stay’ time will be 2 minutes, conditions as per Sit Stay. A Retrieve of any article will be introduced The dog must wait whilst the handler throws their article (this can be anything you choose but it’s usually easier to teach this exercise with a dumbbell from the beginning; saves having to re-teach it later with a dumbbell). The dog must then, upon command, retrieve the article and present it to the handler ~ sitting in front of the handler holding the article until given the command to give it to the handler. The dog must then ‘finish’ and return to the heel position.
The Recall will be off lead and a ‘finish’ to heel position introduced. The distance of the recall will increase and once the dog has been called back & is sitting in front of the handler; the dog must then ‘finish’ and return to the heel position. A ‘Send Away’ will be introduced. The dog is sent to a marked position which will be a minimum of 10 paces and not more than 20 paces away from the start position. On command, the dog should go to the designated area and wait; handler returns to the dogs side.
Whilst you may have no great desire to be the next Crufts Obedience Champion, working with your dog, week on week building stronger bonds and understanding of each other can be extremely rewarding. Dobes are highly intelligent dogs (honest!) and they enjoy a good challenge...do you?
During the summer months (weather permitting!), we hope to be able to introduce some outdoor fun & training into our schedule by running some classes outdoors; both obedience and ring craft.
We also hope to be able to run the Kennel Clubs’ Good Citizen Schemes alongside our own Obedience Diplomas; for these, an ‘outside’ examiner comes along to ‘test’ you on responsible dog ownership & control. Don’t worry, everything you have to do for the Bronze & Silver schemes you will have already been doing whilst achieving your Stage 1 & 2 Diplomas so you should sail through these and join the thousands of other ‘Good Citizen’ dogs across the country.
Finally, please be a responsible owner ~ if your dog has an accident in the training hall; don’t worry...he’s not the first & he most certainly won’t be the last. Please let one of the instructors know (if they didn’t see it happen!) and little puddles can soon be taken care of. Poops however, they may not be so willing to clean up! Please bring nappy sacks or plastic bags with you and, as there is no outside bin at this venue, we would be most grateful if you would take any poops back home with you ~ thanks! Training venues are not easy to find but very easy to loose; one irresponsible person who doesn’t clean up after their dog can easily loose us this venue...please don’t let this happen.
The following advice is relevant to all breeds of dog, not just Dobes and is based upon the
world through your dogs eyes ... remember ...think dog!
Always precede your dog through all doorways & gateways; never allow him to go first.
Never step over your dog or walk around him; MOVE HIM then walk where he lay.
Do not allow your dog to beg for or ask for food. NEVER give up your food for the dog.
Do not allow him to lie at the top of the stairs.
Call your dog to you when you want to fuss him; do not let him dictate when he is
fussed and do not approach him & fuss him ~ he must always come to you.
Repossess all the toys that belong to your dog ~ they are now YOUR toys and you will let
the dog play with them & YOU when you decide the time is right.
If you ask the dog to do something; i.e. ‘Sit’, make sure you are in a position to reinforce
the command otherwise there is little point giving it; having given a command you must
ensure that the dog complies.
If you are prepared to repeat a command WITHOUT the
dog obeying, you are training him to IGNORE you...having done this, are you surprised
when he doesn’t come back when you call him at the park?