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The Doberman's Mind

 
Doberman Pinscher Puppy Developmental studies have been conducted on dogs to determine how environment can affect intelligence. Evidence indicates that there are critical periods (also termed “sensitive periods”) during which particular kinds of information are absorbed more readily than at other times. Early studies focussed on puppies and how exposure to novel situations stimulated the brain to grow, but more recently studies have focussed on the aging canine brain and what sorts of things tend to prevent senility and rapid aging. These studies are invaluable for planning the socialization of companion Dobes and for allowing Doberman lovers to enjoy their companions to the utmost extent.
Studies on puppies have shown that being exposed to interesting new stimuli will actually cause a puppy’s brain to grow larger compared to a puppy that lives in a less stimulating environment because novel sensations and experiences challenge the developing brain and enhance its future potential. For someone who has adopted a puppy, this means that exposing your juvenile canine companion to safe interesting situations will result in a more intelligent adult companion. In addition, these novel situations can socialize a puppy so that as an adult the dog will find new and challenging situations less stressful. 
For Dobes, it is safe to take a puppy out in public after the second parvo shot; before that time, a puppy tote is a good idea for carrying a young dog. Going to a pet store, a park, or a dog event gives a puppy opportunities to meet strange dogs and people. 
 
A children’s zoo provides an opportunity for a puppy to meet other species of animals, but it’s important to keep safety and health issues in mind as well. A jungle gym designed for children may give a puppy experience on different kinds of footing; some may even enjoy a slide. 

The first couple of years of a dog’s life are most important for these activities in which novel sights, sounds, smells, and textures stimulate the young dog’s brain to develop to its full potential.

 

More recent studies on aging have indicated that, in addition to diet, mental stimulation is important in keeping a dog young. Think of the brain as a muscle, like your bicep; if you don’t exercise, the muscle shrinks and weakens. Similarly, a dog’s brain, like a human brain, atrophies from lack of use. Keep your dog mentally stimulated with activities like regular workouts, training, and trips. Hiking, agility classes, or lure coursing provide both physical and mental activity. Engaging in these activities with your dog will also help to keep you young and physically fit, and will reduce your stress level.

For those who must leave their dog alone during work hours, creating a situation in which the dog is bored as little as possible is very important. If it is safe for your dog to have the run of the house, that may be the best solution; my Dobe loves looking out windows and monitoring traffic on the sidewalk, and she is more comfortable at home than anywhere else. Some people have a separate room for their dogs where they are safe when left alone; safe toys and treats and comfortable bedding minimize stress and boredom while the dog is left alone. Dobes left outdoors are vulnerable to heat and cold, not to mention unwanted attention from passers-by; keep these factors in mind when planning a safe situation.
Red and Tan Doberman Puppy
Where diet is concerned, anti-oxidants have proven effective in slowing the aging process. This means that fruit and vegetable extracts should be added to a dog’s diet. New kinds of kibble have been developed to include these supplements, but Dobe owners usually include fresh fruit and vegetables in their dog’s diet as treats. Dogs are omnivores, unlike cats, and want to consume a variety of different foods; establishing a correct balance is important, of course. The general rule is to add no more than ten percent of the kibble intake, but possibly this rule will be adjusted in light of the recent evidence of beneficial effects from fresh foods.
Doberman Puppies Vitamin E is one source of anti-oxidants that can be found in fresh foods such as plant oils, butter, liver, egg yolk, green and leafy vegetables, wheat germ, whole grain products, milk fat, seeds, and nuts. Soybean oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil have high concentrations of the vitamin. I like to make peanut-butter biscuits and add some fresh wheat germ to the dough. Peanut butter is extremely nutritious, but the fat-reduced type has less vitamin E; however, the fat-reduced peanut butter produces a crunchier biscuit. The best source of nutritive fatty acids is refrigerated, cold-pressed oils available at health food stores and consumed within six weeks of opening the bottle; light, air, and heat tend to destroy valuable nutrients such as fatty acids and Vitamin E.

Vitamin C also is an anti-oxidant and although dogs can synthesize this vitamin, it doesn’t hurt to supplement the diet with small amounts of asparagus, apples, strawberries, oranges, or potatoes, for example, when convenient. Sharing a little at the dinner table can be a good socialization experience for dogs as long as the rules of dominance are reasonably adhered to; in other words, make sure you don’t serve your dog first: you have a bite, then she/he has a smaller bite.

The Doberman is one of the more interactive breeds and requires a lot of human companionship. Keeping a Dobe mentally stimulated can be a challenge but one which is well worth the effort, considering the enjoyment and companionship a Dobe gives the people in her social circle. Diet, exercise, and mental activity can enhance a long active life for your dog, and allow you to reap the full benefits of your relationship with your Doberman.

 
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