Saturday, September 8, 2012

Will My Doberman Protect Me?

On the Doberman Talk forum, we get a lot of newer members, and have a lot of discussion, about whether one's Doberman will protect them. Also questions about when the "defensive drive" kicks in. Dobermans are companions but also designed for personal protection; it's not all that odd a question. Just odd that so many new people a week post it!


So, what do I think about Elka? Will she protect me?

Our town is pretty quiet for the summer, with two colleges on vacation. So, when we got Elka in July (at 8 weeks) the neighborhood was calm. We did still have college neighbors on the one side, which isn't always the case. When the colleges came back in September (Elka was 4 months by then), things got a bit louder, and there was more people traffic. One night, I had Elka in the driveway to potty before bed, and our neighbors came back up the driveway, fresh from the bars, a little loud and a little, um, "happy". Puppy Elka got between them and me, and barked a puppy bark at them. I praise her, but also said "It's all right, it's the neighbors!" She stopped barking and started wiggling, and that was that. 


She does that even now; not the bark while on leash, but putting herself between myself and whatever she thinks is suspicious, and staring. She did it just the other night, when I had her on the front lawn for a pee break. She does it on walks as well, though I do notice that some of the time when she stares at joggers, she seems to be wondering what it is they're running from, or perhaps where their dog is, as she looks a little bit past them as well!

In the house, she'll bark if somebody is in our driveway or the driveway next door. If the mailman is on the porch she'll bark, but not if it's one of our friends or housemates. It's typically a single bark, if we're in the room with her. If we're say, in the bathroom, or upstairs, she'll bark more. It might also be a little bit of "Hey! Why am I alone?!"


We went through the library park one day last week, and there was a cluster of ne'er do wells on one of the benches. Elka had an eye on them as we were going past, but was calm and at heel. One of the guys (who was standing on said bench) said "Beautiful dog, ma'am! She really looks like she could tear somebody up!" I kind of laughed, because really, who says that, but I also said "You never know!" I don't intend for Elka to ever "tear somebody up" or have to defend me. When it comes down to it, I never want to be in that situation, with or without her. A Doberman is a good visual deterrent, and auditory one. A personal protection or Schutzhund trained Doberman is a sight to see. Elka is not trained in that manner, and as I've mentioned before, doesn't (in my opinion) have that sharp temperament. 

But, to put it mildly, if the only reason you want a dog is to protect your house, get a security system and a gun, and know how to use both so that you're not a danger to yourself. Dobermans are not property guards, they are not machines, they are members of your family. Many of them, through training or instinct, will protect their families, but it's good to have a backup plan.






28 comments:

  1. We have similar discussions about the German Shepherds. Personally, I don't think Kuster has a mean bone in his body. He's a good old boy who has never met an enemy. Morgan is another story.

    My husband works in probation, which is one of the reasons why I don't use our names on the blog. A few months before Morgan came home with us, a man he'd sent to prison was released, and he made some very ugly threats. It was a very stressful time for me that involved having a phone code to use in case of an emergency and keeping all the doors and windows closed and locked. Fortunately, his own idiocracy got him sent back to prison in a relatively short span of time, and he wasn't living really close to us.

    I'm not certain what Morgan would do if someone broke into our house, but I am certain that she would be dead before Bunny or I got hurt. My husband doesn't see it, but when he is gone, she is a different dog. She is always on alert. Her nuttiness drives me crazy sometimes, but I can never fault her for having her heart in the right place. Just like you, I don't ever plan to be in a situation where I have to find out what would happen, but she is different from any other dog I've known. I think it's just her nature to protect what she loves.

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    1. Yes, I was thinking of your descriptions of Morgan's super alertness as I was writing this post!

      Kuster is a total sweetheart. He'd probably scare an Intruder by running to the door to see who it was, and being a Big Black Dog.

      I think Elka does different things when it's just her and I, do different things when my fiance is alone with her, and different when there are more people in the house. It's kind of funny, how complext they are!

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  2. My little dogs bark most ferociously when someone rings the doorbell, but when they come in they all do a happy dance. I'm sure they would lead a burglar to the family silver.

    The exception is my little stud muffin Poodle. He has actually bitten two people who seemed to be threatening me. They were just acting stupid, but the lesson was learned by all of us.

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    1. Hey, poodles ain't nothin' to joke with (y'know, like Wu Tang Clan).

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  3. Have you ever considered taking the ATTS Temperament Test with her? I did with my pit bull Luce. It was very interesting, and gave me insight into her temperament that I don't think I could have gotten any other way.

    The test ends with a weird stranger (in our case, it was a guy acting like a very loud stumbling drunk) entering the dog's view, and then the weird guy becomes threatening and rushes you and the dog. Luce's response was exactly what I wanted- she stepped forward, made herself big, and just watched. When the guy retreated, she immediately came back to me and was her usual goofy self.

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    1. I haven't considered taking the ATTS, but I have thought about going to a Schutzhund club on a meeting day and having her evaluated by trainers there. I don't necessarily think that she could pass the WAE (which also includes a "hostile stranger" at the end). I think I'm within a 1 hour radius of like, 3 of them. Conversely, there's also at least one working line Doberman breeder in New York State, though like, 2 1/2 hours south of me, and I've thought about seeing about email contacting him.

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    2. Ah, yes, I forget about the WAE. The ATTS is like a watered-down version.

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  4. Hi Y'all!

    Just hoppin' by to say "hi".

    A very excellent article. My Humans have alarm systems which are turned on even when I'm home. My Humans have always let me know that they are in control of any situation. In the state where my breed originated, Chessies are known for their protective nature. Evidently my Humans want me to keep my sweet temperment.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

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    1. Thanks for reading! I've heard that Chessies can be protective. Thanks for confirming that, Hank.

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  5. Wel put! I got this question ALL THE TIME when I was placing my Mastiff puppies.
    Oddly enough, the Dachshunds have been my most protective breed I've had and I'm by no means a novice dog owner. Nola in particular is very bonded and protective of me, always putting herself between me and strangers and always watches me when she's off leash
    Nola's MOm

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    1. Oh boy, I'm sure you got people who wanted Mastiffs in order to guard their tremendous estates, and/or pull armored knights off of horseback.

      Interesting that the Dachshunds are your protective ones!

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    1. I'm not sure if a burglar would give you guys treats ;)

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  7. To your last comment , hear hear. We like that you consider Elka a member of the family not a guard dog, but yes a back up helps. Have a lovely Sunday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. Yes, Elka is definitely family! I wouldn't have it any other way.

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  8. Hi Jen, I'd like to share our culture and belief in dog ownership... or at least the general assumption of how people condition their dogs to protect their house.

    For us, the most immediate reaction of people who see a dog in the house is a sense of hesitancy to enter since our dogs can be more or less primitive and instinctive. What I mean is, they are chained or caged all day without socialization. Of course, this isn't the case of all dogs but it is an accepted (and typical) part of how we were taught to raise dogs. That is how my mom brought me up, as well.

    Since they lack those skills, their behavior towards strangers is generally aggressive. People who normally visit the house, neighbors and family members get wags but that's it. And although it is unfortunate, that is how they become our home protectors.

    Huggies and Cheese,
    Haopee

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    1. I think I read somewhere that there is even material back in Ancient Rome that the way to make a good guard dog is to tie/chain it up all or most of the time.

      With a dog like a Doberman, keeping him or her kenneled or chained all or most of the time has the potential to make an unstable dog who makes poor decisions and develops neuroses. They are dogs meant to be with their people, companions and for personal protection, as opposed to property or estate guarding.

      I do think that there are a lot of people who get dogs for this purpose and train them in this manor. I'm sure some kinds of dog are more okay with it than others.

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  9. It's an interesting thought and I've often wondered the same about Frankie. Not knowing his genetic make-up means I will probably have to wait til I need him to protect me to find out ... and, like you, I'm hoping that occasion never arises! I'm 99% sure Beryl wouldn't but her size should be enough to make anyone think twice.

    Oh, and Elka would look fantastic wearing a collar with tassels:) They're not just for Sighthounds!

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    1. Yes, the "visual deterrent" factor is the main one that I think about! On one hand, it amuses (and slightly insults) me when people cross the road when we come and shield their children from us...on the other, if it means my personal safety, I guess I don't mind.

      I think she probably would look pretty good in tassels ;) Doberman necks are a bit like sighthound ones....they look pretty good in martingales and tapered collars as well!

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  10. Hey Elka,

    I don't often get anyone imagining that I would be a good Guard Dog - it's the fluffiness!!

    But I do try my best at home, I bark when I think anyone is approaching our house, I've got great hearing :)

    Big Wags to all,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

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    1. Hey, even an alert is doing your part (if that's what your mom wants)! I'm sure your hearing is absolutely fantastic!

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  11. My doberman is almost 18 months and am sure of his protective ways because of one thing and one thing only...training. It's all about knowing what YOU want out of the "dog/doberman experience". My Dobie "Dirk" is with me 24/7, sleeps in my bed, travels via car and plane (he's also my city licensed service dog), is the most well behaved dog let alone puppy I've ever met and overall is just more than I could ever have asked for. However, like I tell people who meet him...he didn't just become this way on his own, I had to lead (train) him here. I tell people when asked if he is friendly, "he's only a threat to those who threathen him or his pack/property", so if you are good the experience will be too. As a 9 year vet of the US Marine Corps I learned something imperative... discipline. Remember if your dog/doberman eats up your furniture, barks when told to stop or behaves any way other than what you desire it's because your leadership hasn't been accepted fully. I'm trying my best to convey to all dog owners that having this experience can change your whole outlook on life and we can all pass the word that regardless of breed having a dog can be overwhelmingly enjoyable without the stress a lot of owners endure due to lack of training/understanding of dogs.

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    1. Isn't it amazing how quickly they learn, and how very quickly (with training!) they become the dogs that you want them to be?

      Glad to read about Dirk, thanks for stopping by!

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  12. We discourage our dogs from protecting. I tell them that is the human's job, not yours. I do not need my dog to mistake a situation and put itself in jeopardy trying to protect me. Still walking a large dog like Thunder would probably make a person think twice about messing with me.

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    1. Yup, "visual deterrent" is number one! It's a shame to have to even think about it, really.

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  13. I loved this topic! My three dogs all react differently. The miniature pinscher (all seven pounds) scans the street constantly when I'm outside and keeps himself between me and any potential threat (the old Korean grandma who walks down the street is one of the worst in his opinion). He has bitten, but his jaw is so small he doesn't break skin.

    The beagle howls at anyone he doesn't know. If they go outside to get a tool, it starts all over again. He doesn't want to be friends.

    The Vizsla is a big puppy, but when I'm on the road with him, he gets very protective and can really puff himself up. I'm not sure if he'd bite, but I love the image he conveys when strangers are around. I think I told you this before - when he was with me in Atlanta and my daughter had customers looking at mastiff puppies, my Vizsla was the one that got locked up for menacing customers, not her mastiffs.

    Nancy

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