Everyone wants to know about Dobermans with Children. Can they get along? Can they be trusted? It also correlates with keeping your Doberman around other pets such as cats, birds or other small dogs.
We have to begin the discussion with an understanding that dogs are predators by nature. Predators have hard wired into their brains that they should chase catch and kill prey. This is something that all predators have, even Golden Retrievers. The difference it the motivation level they have to do such, and the stimulus. Break it down into basics first and realize what causes predators to go catch and kill prey (this also relates to protection training your Doberman but that is a longer discussion)? There are two different brain circuits responsible for this response. First is the hard wired "instinct" a set of patterns and behaviors that are hard coded into the DNA of Predators. The precursor for these behaviors to manifest is a prey object moves quickly and erratically. Just like children, cats, birds etc. They create a trigger response. The good news is that although those behaviors are hard coded into all predators, with domestic dogs (wolves and wolf hybrids are different), they also have a social component of predator/prey response. They have to be taught through social behavior what prey is worth catching. For example it is rare that predators chase catch and kill prey that are dangerous in the wild, unless it is out of territorial aggression or they are some psycho predator like a Honey Badger :-) Wolves teach their cubs that rabbits are good, but mountain lions are bad for example.
This is why it is so important to raise Dobermans around children, and the reason we start that from the moment they are born. Even if you don't have children you need your Doberman to interact with children as they develop so they are not set off by the behaviors that children normally do. I am allergic to cats so we don't have cats around the puppies and dogs to teach them cats are friends not food, that is something you will have to do. If you want your Doberman puppy to get along with cats, a few things are important. First don't ever let the cat run away from your Doberman. This fires the predator/prey circuit, especially if the Doberman is allowed to chase the cat and does not receive a negative consequence. I recommend locking the cat in the bathroom with the young Doberman puppy, because cats when they can not flee, will fight. This creates the negative response for the Doberman at the primal level. If you teach the Doberman puppy through social behavior that it should tolerate cats or birds or what have you, then we control the predator response throughout the dogs life. So even though the dog is wired to chase and kill cats, we will never see it manifest the natural behavior through socialization and behavior modification.
Dobermans can get along great with kids, here are some youtube videos that demonstrate it:
My kids were age 4 and three in these videos and the dog was a 95 pound male:
This is the same dog:
This is a long clip but it will be worth watching:
And this one:
Hopefully this helps you see a clear picture about what Dobermans really are like to live with. There are many more if you care to look on our youtube channel.
Whatever your end goal with your Doberman, you have a community responsibility to make them safe with children and the behaviors children can present. You have a responsibility to teach the children proper behavior around dogs as well. Click thumbnail for interaction does and don'ts.
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