Dobermans are meant to bark, so determining excessive levels depends on the individual and their purpose.
How stop a Doberman from barking usually involves a multifaceted approach that walks a fine line between suppressing unwanted behavior and maintaining the breed’s protective and communicative functions.
Like for other training categories, positive reinforcement using rewards with occasional corrections is the most effective way to stop unwanted, or nuisance, barking.
In this vein, conditioning and education are vital in encouraging social behavior: exercise and mental stimulation support training. Negative reinforcement can range from sprays to anti-bark collars. Drastic measures involve surgery.
What constitutes too much barking in Dobermans?
In this age of bustling communities stacked on each other or neighborhoods nestled against farmland, excessive barking has narrower parameters than ever.
What once passed as scattered barking that went unnoticed in the darkness has become a strictly scrutinized and offensive clamoring that might cause your neighbors to complain.
With neighborhood watches and homeowners’ associations, you can be subject to threats of removal if someone deems your dog barks too much.
It could even be a personal issue, and you or one of your family members is disturbed by your dog’s incessant barking. Barking can transform into howling and high-pitched whining.
Some of the possible reasons for your Doberman’s barking are below:
- Watchdog instincts – sometimes excessive barking can stem from a natural protective instinct when you have a high volume of visitors (i.e., construction) or your dog becomes hypervigilant; barking is a normal part of the Doberman breed’s routine of guarding and protection because an attack is a last resort measure
- Boredom or lack of mental enrichment – one of the most common causes of excessive barking
- Lack of exercise – can link to boredom
- Anxiety or fear – lack of socialization is a significant cause of fearfulness in Dobermans which should be bold dogs; separation is the primary cause of anxiety in many Dobermans
- Fun – habitual barking can relieve stress and release endorphins, which are soothing to the dog.
- Learned behavior – Dobermans learn quickly and may mimic obnoxious barking behavior from a housemate or a neighbor’s dog.
- Expression – some dogs are vocal about their emotions, expressing joy, playfulness, surprise, or hunger through barking (more typical of Huskies, but some Dobermans are more expressive than others)
- Physical exertion – such as during play or work
A Doberman Pinscher barks a lot because of its background. Knowing that before considering adding Dobie to your flock will save a lot of heartache and angst.
The Doberman Pinscher breed originally came from the Thuringian region of Germany. In the 1880s, Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann sought to create an ultimate security dog to accompany him on his tax collection missions.
According to Tackleberry Solutions, specializing in breeding guard and tracking dogs, the Doberman is the only dog bred for personal protection.
No one knows for sure the breeds that Dobermann used as the foundation for the original Dobie, but several of the following are probable contributors:
- Old German Shepherd – not to be confused with the highly popular GSD, the Old German Shepherd is exceedingly rare or even extinct according to a few sources; it was believed to be a significant contributor to the Doberman along with the Rottweiler; the primary influence was rugged strength, intelligence, and guarding; herding dog and protective watchdog, so barks a lot.
- German Pinscher – also a forebear of the Rottweiler and Weimaraner; a terrier that makes a good watchdog with its alarmist bark
- Rottweiler – power, courage, boldness, and watchfulness; guarding ability with a formidable bark
- Weimaraner – tracking ability and agility; as high-energy enthusiastic hunting dogs and potential watchdogs, they bark a lot.
- Black and Tan Terrier – color points and tenaciousness; terriers tend to bark a lot, with Pit Bulls being the notable exception.
- Beauceron – contributed intelligence, trainability, self-assuredness, and stamina; energetic herding dog that may be pretty vocal.
Although the above breeds represent the educated guesswork of experts, two dogs were documented contributors to the Doberman.
The Greyhound added refinement and speed, and the Manchester Terrier cemented the Doberman’s color pattern and effortlessly smooth gait. These two breeds were utilized to cross with the Dobie in the early 1900s.
The Greyhound is quiet, but Manchester is vocal and among the oldest terriers.
Not only do Dobermans come from an extensive line of barkers, but their development as protection and later guard dogs necessitated that they were loud and forceful.
Although early Dobermans were ferocious, they were still known for giving plenty of warning before an attack.
American breeders were responsible for creating the companion dog of the 2000s that you are familiar with.
These Dobermans are less reactive, not as aggressive, and have a diminished hostility to strangers than their ancestors. However, their intimidating bark remains, making even the most agreeable pets effective watchdogs.
How to Stop My Doberman from Barking
Determining why your Doberman is engaging in the behavior is the key to stopping barking you do not want. Some root causes will make it more difficult to stop the barking than others.
Dobermans are among the most trainable dogs. You can train them to know when barking is inappropriate and teach them to bark within limits.
Use food or a toy to reward your dog for not barking. Also, reward him when he barks appropriately. It takes a long time and a commitment to patients, but positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train your dog not to bark excessively.
The only way you can be successful is to have impeccable timing. You can quickly and inadvertently reward barking if you do not have quick reflexes. Puppies are more accessible to train than adults as many do not start to bark earnestly until six months or older.
Lack of exercise leads Dobermans to act out in many ways, including nuisance barking. Dobies require as much as two hours of training daily as working dogs.
A sizable portion of their activities must be strenuous to eliminate some pent-up energy. Up to 20% of a Doberman’s allotted activities should involve running and playing.
A bored dog will often engage in attention-seeking barking. When you exercise your dog, make sure you also use some time to engage with her. Play games and run with her. Provide puzzle games and apply advanced and basic training.
Dobermans excel at many forms of obedience, such as Shutzhund. You can also use them for tracking and agility. If you have no interest in team competitions, try to find a consistent job for your Doberman.
You have undoubtedly heard or repeatedly read that animals learn best from a reward-based positive reinforcement system. Although it does not always have to be the case, the reward is usually food. However, barking presents a unique situation for various reasons.
- Barking is the reward for many dogs.
- How do you reward not barking? – You must work hard to reward the desired behavior quickly and consistently enough
- Breeds that bark have been programmed to do so for generations – your dog thinks she is performing a vital service, especially with her strong work ethic.
- If you are away from home, you do not know how much barking occurs – you can place a video camera, but it remains problematic to make corrections or rewards.
- Your dog may begin by barking at acceptable levels and then spontaneously increase until vocalizing become habitual – a habit, once formed, is difficult to break when applied to barking.
For these reasons, owners may resort to negative reinforcement tools before they should. Accordingly, many of the propositions to deter barking rely on punishment or an attempted correction of the undesired behavior.
To be effective, a correction or deterrent should be immediate and remote. Any dog correction must be quick enough that she can connect it accurately with the offensive behavior.
The idea behind a remote correction is that your dog does not associate it with your presence.
A Dobie can quickly learn that she should only carry on barking when you are not nearby. Also, your dog may start to associate you with negative interactions.
However, there are a few ways to apply remote correction for dogs. Too often, a correction involves you using a noxious stimulus directly on your pet.
E-collars were initially the only means owners had to deter nuisance barking. Electronic collars can prove effective for many behaviors and are used extensively for training dogs.
However, they come with a great deal of controversy, and their misuse can cause severe physical and emotional damage to your dog.
If you choose to use an E-collar to dissuade barking, consult a professional trainer or behavioral specialist. Such experts can teach you how to apply electronic training correctly and safely.
They will also guide you in selecting the appropriate equipment. Sometimes, economic choices prove ineffective or dangerous.
E-collars work by emitting a weak electronic pulse when your dog barks. The vibrations from your dog’s bark cause the collar to apply an electrical correction that is unsettling or vaguely uncomfortable.
Turning the collar high enough to cause pain crosses the line from correction to abuse. However, some collars will automatically apply a more substantial correction if your dog continues to bark after the first trigger.
E-collars are not for every dog, as a few pets are too sensitive, and others are seemingly immune.
Dobermans have short fur, so you usually do not have to shave them before affixing the collar.
While many people find E-collars effective in controlling barking in their Dobermans, many humane societies and Psychology Today argue that these deterrent means do not teach acceptable behavior.
For some dogs, aversive training causes stress and anxiety, leading to distrust, unpredictable hypersensitivity, or aggression.
Some dogs will turn on you because of perceived injustices that happen repeatedly. If you cross the threshold of what they feel is fair, you can ruin your bond forever. A few working breeds, the Doberman included, seem to have an accounting system.
Similar to electronic collars, ultrasonic transmitters deter barking via remote means. However, they work externally.
You affix a lightweight collar onto your dog, which then communicates barking to the transmitter in response to vibrations from the vocal cords. In answer, the transmitter emits a high-pitched noise that proves uncomfortable for most dogs but inaudible for people.
Like E-collars, ultrasonic transmitters are ineffective for every dog and work as negative reinforcement by causing discomfort to your pet.
Although some transmitters emit pleasant noises for good behavior, it may be difficult for your dog to connect the noises and her barking. Moreover, all corrective collars are indiscriminate, punishing any form of barking.
In rare cases, this might prove necessary to stay in your residence. However, eliminating barking, no matter the cause, is impractical, unfair, and undesirable for most dogs.
Also, be aware that electronic transmission and even spraying anti-bark collars are illegal in some places.
Citronella Bark Collars
Citronella anti-bark collars are the most humane of their class. When your dog barks, they release a mist of citronella droplets instead of electronic shocks.
While the spray is noxious, it does not harm your dog. It is still an unpleasant experience for your dog, and punishment is applied to correct unwanted behavior.
As mentioned, manual sprays may teach your dog to avoid barking when a person is in the vicinity. This counters any benefit you would achieve from having a watchdog like a Doberman.
Sprays can be helpful to nip nuisance barking in the bud. They are most effective if used sparingly. Like anti-bark collars, they only employ negative reinforcement training methods.
Another severe disadvantage to sprays is that you frequently must apply them to your dog’s mouth. There are a few compounds commonly utilized in bark deterrent sprays.
- Water and lemon
- Water and vinegar
Another spray that shows promise is using a can that only has air. It makes a loud hissing sound when you push the trigger.
Purported to be more humane than sprays with noxious substances, the air containers still deal out punishment. The sound frightens some dogs, making the air dispenser inappropriate for puppies. Also, you can cause injury if you point the can at your dog’s face or eyes.
Even more controversial than anti-bark collars is debarking surgery. Devocalization involves the removal of part or most of the vocal cords. The vocal cords in dogs are comprised of muscular tissue, ligaments, and mucosa.
Initially, a veterinarian usually approaches the vocal cords through the mouth. Since the surgery often does not work or is fraught with complications (scar tissue and regrowth), a second operation is usually performed via an incision through the larynx.
Surgery can lead to permanent respiratory problems because of the proximity of the vocal cords to the trachea, pharynx, and larynx.
Complications are expected, including invasive scarring and aberrant regrowth of the vocal cords. Finally, dogs can usually still bark, albeit in a very changed voice.
Some proposed laws ban devocalization procedures except when medically necessary (e.g., cancer). Still, proponents claim it can be the difference between keeping a beloved pet and giving it up.
A conditioned response allows a dog to learn a set behavior based on a specific stimulus. Conditioning repeatedly exposes a dog to stimuli, so the pet becomes less reactive.
Conditioning is helpful for Dobermans who bark from anxiety or hyperactivity. Like training, it requires time and patience.
People who have received warnings for a barking dog often feel like they do not have time.
Why not stop your Doberman from barking
Sometimes it is best to avoid certain breeds rather than risk disturbing your neighbors. Many dog lovers argue with validity that taking away a dog’s voice through a collar or surgical means is paramount to abuse.
The significant aspect of Dobermans is that they were bred for exceptional intelligence and trainability. It is one working dog that you can train to bark only under the right circumstances. It is also a breed in which you do not want to eliminate its desire to bark. Here are the reasons why:
- Watchdog – warn you of the presence of a person or another dog and put an intruder on notice of its presence
- Guard dog – a guard dog that does not warn someone before attacking is extremely dangerous; Dobermans have an elaborate warning system to prevent most attacks despite their label as vicious dogs.
- Trouble – you want your dog to vocalize certain emotional states such as pain, hunger, joy, or the need to go outside.
- Psychological well-being – dogs that cannot bark, such as with an E-collar or post-surgery, may experience the detrimental effects (neurotic impulse, cramps, and other destructive behaviors) of not expressing themselves vocally.
- Communication – you learn what your dog tells you through various yips; you can judge discomfort, playfulness, or aggression.
This Doberman does not seem particularly aggressive despite its teeth show. It may be happily greeting a familiar person.
Although not moving forward (it could be she knows the length of her chain), the second dog is displaying aggression by snarling and wrinkling her muzzle.
It is unclear whether fear or an imminent attack is behind her aggression, but she also appears like a young dog. A stranger is not likely to approach either dog.
Both dogs would probably respond to a learned command by the owner to stop. Note how such a loud and penetrating bark would be bothersome in an apartment or other close-knit community.