Doberman’s bark, it’s in their genetics. They were originally bred to be guard dogs and any good guard dog will alert their owners when they sense something is off. The problem comes when you leave for work, someone comes to the door, or your neighbor walks by your back fence and your Dobie is barking their head off. Luckily this is a common problem with Dobermans and there is at least one common way to approach the issue that seems to work great for this breed.
6 Basic Steps to Stop Your Doberman from Barking:
- Determine why they’re barking.
- Reduce or eliminate the motivation to bark.
- Put your dog in tempting barking situations.
- Give correction.
- Reward when not barking.
- Repeat as necessary.
These steps are the down and dirty basics. This technique worked wonders for my Dobie when we started getting calls from our neighbors saying he was barking all day after we left for work. But this will work for most barking situations.
There are also additional techniques to stop barking in certain situations such as when your neighbor walks by the fence, someone comes to the door, or you leave for work. I help you out with these situations specifically too.
It’s important to learn what other Doberman owners do to stop barking because many traditional methods used to stop barking (such as ignoring your dog) just don’t seem to work well with Dobermans.
Before we jump into the details on how you can prevent Doberman barking, check out my article Do Dobermans Bark a Lot and How Loud Is It here if you want a better understanding of why and how much Dobermans bark.
Step 1: Determine Why They’re Barking
You likely won’t be able to correct the barking issue if you don’t first determine the cause. Dobermans bark for many reasons, but here are a few of the most common:
- Hungry or thirsty
- Need to go to the bathroom
- Separation anxiety
For Dobermans, boredom is a huge issue for them. They’re a working breed and thrive when they have a fun and interesting task to perform. If they are left alone while you go to work for 8 hours, you very well may have a bored Doberman. You can usually spot this because they’ll often start barking part way through the day and generally won’t bark much in the first few hours after you leave.
Another major issue is separation anxiety. This is especially true for young Dobies under a year old. These dogs are called “velcro dogs” for a reason, they love to stick right by your side. The tell-tale sign of separation anxiety is barking combined with howling. Especially a long, wailing type of howl.
Sometimes, it’s simply your dog being overally needy—something that’s common in Dobermans. If you think that might be the case, take a look at my article How to Handle a Needy Doberman: A Simple Guide.
Step 2: Reduce or Eliminate the Motivation to Bark
Now that you’ve figured out why your loyal defender is barking, it’s time to make the environment less likely to trigger them to bark.
Take some common sense steps to reduce the urge for your dog to bark. Is your Dobie barking at your neighbor on the other side of the fence? How about you putting a screen of some sort over the fence so they can’t see the neighbor as easily. Are they barking at people passing by your front window? How about some thick curtains that they can’t see the street? Is there a hole in the fence where they’re able to see people walk past with their dogs? Patch it!
Take some extra steps to reduce the barking triggers for your dog as much as is reasonable (it doesn’t have to be perfect) and I promise it’ll make the training much easier.
Step 3: Put Your Dog in Tempting Barking Situations
Ok, now that you have done your best to remove the motivation to bark, let’s do the reverse during the training. This is what I call the “Anti-Barking Sting Operation.” This can actually be a lot of fun.
The way this works is you purposely re-create the situations where your dog normally barks so that you’ll be able to immediately correct the bad behavior or reward the good behavior.
Whatever the situation is that get’s your dog to bark, you need to recreate it as authentically as possible so you have a chance to correct the behavior.
My Doberman would bark when my wife and I were at work and he was home alone.
So we did our sting operations on the weekends. We would start by acting exactly like we normally do when we leave for work. We did all the same morning routines, got dressed, grabbed our car keys, my wife grabbed her purse, and we walked out the door like it was a normal workday. Then we’d go around to the front of our house and sit, wait, and listen.
Whatever the situation is that causes your dog to bark, recreate it. So if your dog barks at your neighbor on the other side of the fence, see if you can get your neighbor to walk back and forth by the fence while you are hiding nearby. If your dog barks when people come to the front door, have someone come to the front door when you’re ready to work on training.
Step 4: Correction
When you successfully get your dog to bark with your “sting operation” it’s time to give correction. You have to do it quickly after they bark so that your Dobie is sure to associate the correction with the barking. Some people will use a spray bottle of water for correction, but I have found another method that seems to work much better with Dobermans.
So when my wife and I are performing our sting operation, this is what we do as soon as we hear our Dobie bark:
- Quickly get to the dog. Immediately upon hearing the bark, we will walk to the front door of the house, unlock it, and go inside to find our dog waiting.
- Immediately tell the dog “Stop” in a firm voice. This is our “quiet command” that we choose, you can pick any command to stop barking that you want such as “hush”, “quiet” or something else.
- Have him get into punishment position. I don’t get physical with my dog, in fact, I make him get into position for punishment himself. I tell him “sit” and then “down” so that he lays down in front of me. Your dog needs to be able to perform these basic commands for this to work.
- Kneel next to him with your hand on his back with light, but firm, pressure. I apply firm pressure to the back shoulder blade area (just below the neck) with my hand. This makes him feel as though he doesn’t have the choice and needs to stay in his laying down position. The idea here is not to pin your dog down, just to provide light to firm pressure to remind them you’re in charge.
- Wait. This is like “time out” is for a child. I wait in this position for about 15 to 20 seconds and then release.
Why this works: In the dog world, alpha dogs will pin down other dogs to show dominance. Also, a mother dog will pin down a pup to give correction. Also, if a dog is “submitting” to another dog, they look down to the ground. This method works so well because they instinctively know what it means. It seems to work especially well with Dobermans.
It’s important to note that you should never be rough and all pressure you apply should be light pressure (but still firm). You should never yell at or hit your dog. This can have very serious consequences down the road.
In fact, yelling out of pure frustration will show that you are not a calm “alpha dog” and may lead to more disobedience down the road. Dobermans are very in tune with humans and will be able to tell if you are “calm and in charge” or “panicked and frustrated.”
Step 5: Reward When Not Barking
This is where the rubber meets the road. Your goal is for your dog not to bark for longer and longer lengths of time during this sting operation. So while you are doing this, if your dog doesn’t bark for a few minutes, go in and give him a treat, followed by lots of praise.
Then do this after 10 minutes of no barking, then 15, then 30 minutes. Keep increasing the time your dog will have to go without barking before you go in and give a treat. This may seem like a long process but Dobermans are incredibly fast learners.
Step 6: Repeat as Necessary
You’ll probably only have to do this exercise a few times (at most) in order for your dog to figure out what you expect of him. It took me two weekends of doing this process for my Doberman to understand that he was not to bark while we were gone.
This process solved most of our problems and we are very glad we did this process. In the end, though, we had to use an electronic bark collar to assist in the process. My Dobie was a little more stubborn than most. We will discuss more of these alternate options below.
Even if you eventually need an electronic bark collar, it’s important to do this method of training a few times first. Your dog needs to understand what is expected of him.
Staying the Alpha in the House
One of the most important things when training a Doberman is to make sure that you are always the “alpha” in the house. In the wild, the alpha dog is the leader of the pack. This dog is strong, confident, and in control of themselves and the pack.
You need to portray this to your dog. If you don’t, your Doberman will naturally start to fill the alpha position. Yes, that means you may find your dog trying to correct you!
Here are some ways to stay “the alpha” in the house:
- When correcting your dog, be firm, confident, and in control.
- Never yell, scream, or hit your dog.
- Practice basic commands like “sit” and “down” often. These are submission actions.
- Make your Dobie work for his food at every meal. Before feeding, have your dog perform some basic tricks or commands for you before giving him his meal.
Basically, just make sure you run the household and don’t let your dog train you. That’s all there is to it. That brings me to that fun classic game of tug-a-war.
Tug-a-war is a really fun game but you need to be careful. Your Doberman may see this game as a “struggle for power” and if you aren’t careful, it could lead your Dobie to think they are the alpha. In the wild, the biggest and strongest dogs who consistently win at tug-a-war games will likely become the leaders of the pack. So if you play, make sure you win the game often and definitely don’t constantly let your dog win. If you do, he might start to think he’s in charge.
Stopping Barking When You Leave for Work
We’d all love to hang around and play with our Dobermans all day long (at least I would), but going to work is a necessary fact of life. Unfortunately, this is where most Doberman owners have the most problems with barking. Here are some ways you can help prevent barking while you’re at work.
- Provide plenty of exercise before leaving. Yeah, this is tough. It’s early and you just want to sleep as much as possible before work. But getting up a little early and going for an early walk or playing some active games (click here for some ideas) in the backyard together or 15 to 30 minutes or so can work wonders for calming your dog while you’re gone. A tired dog is a happy dog. Also, it’s healthy for you too!
- Provide lots of chew toys. Your dog should have no shortage of chew toys while you’re gone. Dobermans will often either chew a toy to release stress while you are gone, or bark like crazy. Which one would you prefer? So give them lots of chew options. I’ve compiled a list of the toys that seem to work the best here.
- Calm time 10-15 minutes before leaving for work. Taking some basic steps about 10 to 15 minutes prior to leaving for work to calm and relax your dog can really help. If you are using a crate, put them in 10 to 15 minutes before you leave. The crate should be a positive, comfortable, and relaxing place for your Dobie.
- Check-in halfway through the day. This is especially important for young Dobermans who may not be used to being alone for so long. Come home on a lunch break and walk or play with your dog. This is required if they’re in a crate while you’re gone in my opinion. If you have a job where this isn’t possible, find a neighbor kid who can come by and play a round of fetch with your pup partway through the day.
You need to get as many cards stacked in your favor as possible. So even if you are using other methods to train your dog not to bark like a bark collar. It’s important to do these things as well. Barking is just a symptom of stress or anxiety. You don’t want your Dobie feeling either of those things.
Stopping Barking at the Neighbors
Dobermans are very protective of their domain and they will often bark at neighbors walking past the fence to their yard. This can be horribly annoying. The best way I have found to correct this is a combination of taking away the temptation, familiarizing your dog with your neighbor, and with prompt, consistent correction.
- Take away the temptation. You can take away the temptation by erecting an extra barrier to keep your dog back a few feet from the fence, or by putting an additional screen across the inside of your fence so it’s harder to see someone on the other side. If it’s possible in your yard to block off the portion of the yard near that neighbor, that’s even better.
- Familiarize your Dobie with your neighbor. That way it’s not just a stranger on the other side of the fence. Ask your neighbor if you can bring your dog over to meet him or her and play in their backyard for a bit. This can really help to prevent the barking at the fence later on.
- Consistent correction. Lastly, you need to correct your dog when he barks at your neighbor. Yes, you may just be sitting down to eat when this happens, but you just can’t let it go. If you are consistent, your dog will understand quickly and you’ll have to correct him much less often.
This combination seems to work the best. Of these three, the most important (and hardest to do) is to be consistent with your correction. It’s a pain in the rear to get up from dinner and correct your dog, but if you stay consistent you’ll save yourself many more interrupted dinners in the future, I promise you.
Stopping Barking When Someone Comes to the Door
This is another very common issue with Dobermans since they are hard-wired to protect their domain. The best way to stop barking when someone knocks or rings the doorbell is to practice over and over.
Have someone be your “actor” and repeatedly come to the door. When your pup barks, provide firm correction such as that mentioned in step 4. When your dog does a good job of not barking (whining is ok for now, while you practice, just as long as it isn’t barking) give a treat and plenty of praise.
It is very possible to stop your Doberman from barking when someone comes to the door, you just need to be consistent with your corrections and practice often.
Preventing Barking at Night
You are all warm and cozy in bed in the middle of the night and suddenly you hear your Doberman going crazy, barking incredibly loudly. This is probably the worst, and most annoying problem to have with a Doberman since getting out of bed and correcting your dog in the middle of the night is not very fun at all.
It’s first important to note that Doberman’s really should be indoor dogs. Their coat is not designed to handle temperature swings very well and they have a strong desire to be inside the home with their owners. Don’t be a jerk and just bring your Dobie inside with the family, this is where they naturally want to be.
If your Doberman has a dog door and can come and go from the backyard but still barks at night, that’s where you will need to put a little effort into training. It may be tempting to go straight to an anti-bark collar to solve the issue but don’t. Like I mentioned before, you need to first make sure your dog understands what you expect of them.
When you decide you need to start focused training to get your Doberman to stop barking at night, you need to provide correction for the first two weeks or so first. Yes, I know, this means getting out of bed when you hear the barking. Not on the second, third, or 10th bark, but on the first bark you hear. It’s hard, but you need to do it.
If you hear barking at night do the following:
- Get out of bed, and go outside to your dog.
- Bring your dog inside the house and provide correction as mentioned in step 4 of the 6 steps above.
- Guide your dog to their dog bed and give them the “down” command so they lay down.
- Pet your dog and try to relax him while he’s laying on his bed.
It’s ok if your dog gets up after this process and runs into the backyard again. If they bark again though, you’ll have to repeat. I know, it’s rough, but it’s only for a short time. The point here is that you are correcting him for his barking and leading him to his bed. You are showing him what you expect of him at night, to lay down in his bed.
To help prevent parking at night, try giving your dog a little more excercise during the day. You’d be surprised how much a short session or two of a fun and interesting activity will do to prevent barking at night.
Using Humane (Non-Shocking) Anti-Bark Collars
There are many humane anti-barking collars out there that will do anything from a supersonic noise, vibration, or even squirting your dog in the nose with an unpleasant solution (like citronella). Doberman owners report mixed results with these collars.
There is one collar that seems to work very well for Doberman owners though, and I’ve listed it in the “Cool Tech Gear” category of my Recommended Products page. This collar uses a combination of annoying noise bursts (that only the dog can hear) and very strong vibrations to stop the barking. For some reason, this specific combination seems to work great for Dobermans.
I have heard mixed results about the citronella spray collars. Some Doberman owners have said that they worked for them but others say they just come home to a bark collar that needs a refill on citronella and a dog that smells horribly strong. I tried one with my Dobie years ago, and it just didn’t work for him.
Using Static Charge (Shock) Anti-Bark Collars
This is a controversial method for providing correction to Dobermans and you will need to decide if it’s right for you. If you decide to go this route, make sure it’s only after you have tried other methods consistently without success.
Jumping straight to the shock collars is not the answer and actually, is cruel in my opinion. You need your dog to have a basic understanding of what you expect of him first, before going to a shock collar.
If you do decide to use one, make sure it is the type that provides slow increases in the levels of electric static correction (starting at a very low amount and with extremely gradual increases).
I used one with my Doberman for a short time. It would give an audible tone on the first bark that it detected, then a vibration on the second, then a very low (you almost can’t feel it) static shock on the third. The strength of the shock would increase slowly if the dog continued to bark and stopped at a very safe level.
It worked very well for my Dobie and he understood how it worked very quickly. Eventually, we didn’t even need to have it charged, we would just clip the collar on him from time to time to remind him not to bark—even though the device was off.
If All Else Fails – Hire an Animal Behaviorist
If you’ve tried everything listed here without any results, there may be something else going on with your dog and you should seek professional help. An animal behaviorist (or a trainer) can help you to determine why your dog is barking and why none of your attempts to prevent it has helped.
Animal behaviorists usually charge by the hour but even just one consultation with a behaviorist can potentially answer a lot of critical questions about your dog’s specific situation. If you’ve come this far without results, they’re definitely worth the money.
Common Training Mistakes
There are a few approaches to preventing barking that can actually be counterproductive. Here are a few common training mistakes that Doberman owners have done in the past.
- Using a crate for punishment. It’s extremely important that a dog’s crate remains their “happy place.” This is even more critical if you crate your dog during the day while you’re gone. If you get in the habit of sending your dog to their crate as punishment, it will increase their anxiety when you put them in there which will make the barking situation much worse.
- Positive reinforcement that comes too quickly. If your dog barks and you give a command like “quiet” and immediately give them a treat, they’ll start to think that barking means they did good and should get a treat. So be careful not to reward them too quickly after they go quiet.
- Ignoring the barking. Although some owners have had moderate success with this method, it doesn’t often work well with Dobermans. The main problem with this technique is the dog will learn that there is a lack of boundaries and may begin to act out in other ways (besides barking). You may end up with a mischievous Dobie on your hands!
However you end up tackling this issue, just don’t give up and remember to remain consistent. If you take one thing from this article it’s that consistency is key to success in getting your Doberman to stop barking. Good luck!
Do Doberman Pinschers bark a lot? Dobermans were originally bred to be guard dogs and it’s instinctual for them to bark (or alert) when they see something out of the ordinary. However, Doberman’s are easily trainable and excessive barking can be mitigated with proper training.