As a kid, my family had two Dobermans named Ike and Addy. Ike slept in my bed every night and was my faithful companion during the day. I took care of his ears when they were posted and cleaned up after him when he had accidents outside. Ike was absolutely my best friend for many years.
Later, as an adult, I wondered: was Ike normal for his scary-looking breed? Many see the strong profile of a Dobie and can be intimidated – they have such a strong and distinct profile and are commonly used as guard dogs. In many movies, they’re shown as barking and snarling protectors of junkyards or the elite. So, are Dobermans good with children?
Now, as a dog trainer, I have encountered many Doberman Pinschers in a variety of different settings. After all, according to AKC.org, they’re the 17th most popular breed. I’ve trained puppies, fostered rescues, and helped new owners of Dobermans to acclimate to their newest family members. From my experience, most Dobermans – when trained and raised well – are wonderful pets for families with children. I would consider the Doberman Pinscher to be one of the best dog breeds for kids.
Why are Dobermans good with kids?
Doberman Pinschers simply have an ideal temperament for a family dog. Their loyal and protective nature ensures they are happy to be by your child’s side and keep them safe from harm. The high trainability of a Dobie can easily be utilized to make them easier to have alongside more fragile small kids. This breed is generally not considered shy or skittish; this reduces the likelihood that a Doberman will be afraid of the antics of children. Finally, this obedient breed can be depended on to listen when ordered about by imperious little masters.
Linda M. says “When my cousins were small and my BFF’s son was little, the Dobie I had back then was their babysitter! She would not let them get anything they shouldn’t have or go anywhere they shouldn’t go! She would push them away from our gate so they didn’t leave the yard.”
Bringing your Doberman Pinscher home
How do you set yourself and your future Dobie up for success before you bring them home? Your best options are purchasing from a responsible breeder or adopting from a foster-based rescue. A responsible breeder will ensure that your puppy’s parents have stable temperaments that are appropriate for the Doberman breed. They will also raise their puppies with socialization and lifetime behavioral success in mind. Often puppies of responsible breeders have already had positive experiences with several children of different ages before they go home. Meanwhile, a foster-based rescue can ensure that an adoptable adult dog is suited for your home and family. The foster can tell future Doberman parents how their foster dog has reacted to kids.
Preparing your kids for a Doberman
Whether you purchase or adopt, there are some things that you can do at home to get ready to introduce your Doberman and kids. To begin, educate yourself and your children about canine body language. Too many dog-on-child bites have happened because of missed warning signs like pinned ears or panting. Make sure you have researched and understood the stress signals of a dog.
Once you feel confident that you can read your Doberman’s mood, teach your children appropriate dog handling. Do not allow them to ride, sit, or lay on your Doberman. If your child is disappointed that you got them a Doberman instead of a pony, consider learning about dog carting and tell them that no one makes Doberman saddles. Teach your kids that, no, dogs do not appreciate it when you hit, pull, bite, or chew on them. Don’t allow your infant to use your Doberman’s ear as a teething ring; that would be gross and probably unsanitary.
Why doesn’t my Doberman like kids?
If you already own a Doberman that doesn’t like children, this is likely something that needs to be addressed. Ideally, you should hire a trainer or behaviorist to guide you. However, sometimes this isn’t immediately feasible so I will detail a few steps you can take at home.
First, try to ascertain what it is about children that makes your dog uncomfortable. Is it simply the sight of a child, or is it when they run and play with each other? Have children been allowed to climb all over your Doberman in the past? Once you have figured out where the root problem lies, you can begin troubleshooting and damage control.
If the sight of a child causes your Doberman to react, create a positive association with children. Feed or play with your dog while children are just far enough away that your Doberman doesn’t react. Repeat this while moving slowly closer to the children. This process can take weeks or months depending on how big the dog’s “bubble” of reaction is and how deep-rooted the negative association is.
Children running and playing commonly engage a protective response from Dobermans. They are guard dogs and may mistake rough or fast play for children in danger. Teach your dog a solid “place” and/or “stay” to make this more manageable.
Is a Doberman Pinscher the right dog for my family?
The Doberman is best for families that are active and looking for a “Velcro” dog. Dobermans require a lot of exercises and always want to be by your side. A future Dobie family should also be committed to lifelong training, as the Doberman’s intelligence does best with a good amount of mental stimulation. If you find that this describes you and your family well, a Doberman Pinscher will very likely make a perfect companion for yourself and your children.
- AKC.org – This website provides information about dog breeds, breeders, and events. They have a page dedicated to the Doberman Pinscher breed. (https://www.akc.org/)
- Doberman Pinscher Club of America – This is the official website of the DPCA, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the Doberman breed. They provide information about breeders, rescue organizations, and events. (https://dpca.org/)
- American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) – The AVMA provides information about pet care, including how to choose the right pet for your family, how to prepare your home for a new pet, and how to keep your pet healthy. (https://www.avma.org/)
- The Humane Society of the United States – This organization advocates for animal welfare and provides resources for pet owners. They have a page dedicated to dog care, including information about how to choose the right dog for your family and how to care for your dog. (https://www.humanesociety.org/)
- ASPCA – The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provides resources for pet owners, including information about dog breeds, training, and care. (https://www.aspca.org/)
- American Kennel Club (AKC) – The AKC provides information about dog breeds, breeders, and events. They have a page dedicated to the Doberman Pinscher breed. (https://www.akc.org/)
- The Dog Whisperer – Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisperer, is a well-known dog trainer and behaviorist. His website provides information about dog behavior, training, and care. (https://www.cesarsway.com/)
- The Whole Dog Journal – This is a monthly publication that provides information about dog care, training, and nutrition. They have an online version of their magazine and a blog that provides additional resources for dog owners. (https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/)
- Positive Reinforcement Training – This website provides resources for dog owners who want to use positive reinforcement training methods. They offer articles, videos, and courses to help owners train their dogs using positive methods. (https://positively.com/)
- The Association of Professional Dog Trainers – The APDT is a professional organization for dog trainers. Their website provides information about dog training, including how to find a qualified dog trainer. (https://apdt.com/)
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