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Categories: Protection Training - Pups 8 Weeks to 1 Year

Q. I'd like to train my male Doberman but he does not seem to have a lot of confidence or a strong defensive drive. Anything we can do?
I have a male doberman that is about 10 months old. I would like to train him to perform schutzhund work. He has a fairly strong prey drive and is extremely attentive to me, always trying to please me. However, my one concern is that he does not seem to have a lot of confidence or a strong defensive drive. I tested him by having a neighbor creep into the yard while I held the dog's leash. The dog was very interested and watched him, but he did not bark. When the neighbor got within striking distance of the dog, the dog backed up and stood next to me hoping that I would get involved. Is there anything I can do to improve my dog's confidence and defensive drive?

A. Your dog isn’t ready for defensive work. You can actually crush a dog’s confidence permanently if you do the wrong type of thing when he’s not ready. Many dogs aren’t ready for defense before 18 months, and it can be late as 30 months. I compare it to a teenager who is pretty good at boxing with his dad being expected to fight in a dark alley against strangers.

The best thing you can do is build his prey drive and teach him the mechanics of the work he’ll need yourself. Don’t push defense on the dog, he’ll let you know when he’s ready.

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