It's hard to imagine two jobs a dog could perform that could be any less opposed than working as a service dog and a police dog. When we think of service dogs, we think of dogs that are helpful and friendly, and this doesn't always mesh with the popular image we have of Doberman Pinschers as fierce guard dogs! The truth is Dobermans are quite adept as both police dogs and service dogs.
Perhaps the oldest canine profession is one of protection. Since the beginning of recorded time, dogs were used as personal protection as well as fierce weapons in war. It was only natural then that dogs would go on to help maintain law and order by lending their services to police forces. Dogs began their service some time at the beginning of the 20th century, thanks in no small part to organized kennel clubs that helped police forces develop a program in which dogs could be used.
While German Shepherds are often more strongly associated with police dogs, Doberman Pinschers have been valuable additions to the ranks of K-9 forces as well. Thanks to their intelligence and courage, not to mention their intimidating figure, Dobermans have served with distinction alongside their human counterparts. While there is a wide range of duties a police dog can be trained to perform, Dobermans are naturals when it comes to chasing and holding, as well as helping public order enforcement.
In chasing and holding, a dog is trained to chase, find, or stop a subject in flight. It shouldn't be assumed that these dogs are trained to be aggressive; rather, they are taught to enjoy this work and will only pursue a suspect when given a command from their handler. While they are not trained to injure, they are trained to hold a suspect until commanded to release, and this can cause injury to the suspect if he fights or struggles against the dog. Because of this, many handlers can stop a potential fleeing subject simply by threatening to release the dog. As in public order enforcement, the sight of what a suspect may perceive to be an aggressive, fearless dog on a leash can go a long way in discouraging illegal behavior.
The other side of the coin is working as an Assistance Dog or a Service Dog. These dogs have been trained to help a person with a specific disability such as mobility assistance or seizure assistance. A mobility assistance dog may be trained to pick up objects, open and close doors, turn light switches on and off, and larger dogs, such as Dobermans, can help with pulling someone in a wheelchair. Seizure assistance dogs are trained to recognize when a seizure is happening and reacting by calling for help, either by barking or setting off an alarm, and helping their handler keep out of danger during the seizure.
In fact, many Dobermans are very well suited to these tasks. While training for service should be put off until a Doberman is an adult, in order to gage if its personality is suitable, most Dobermans today are not the aggressive, intimidating dog many of us are led to believe. They are highly intelligent, very adaptable and very loyal to their families. For those that are looking for a service dog, don't automatically dismiss the idea of taking on a Doberman, as they can be very loving and helpful if trained correctly.