You may have heard that Rottweilers are working dogs, and you’ve heard right. According to the American Kennel Club, Rottweilers are naturally protective and a very trainable breed that loves to be given a job to do. They make great guard, police, herding, and service dogs. But not everyone realizes that Rottweilers can also be brought up to be sweet, loyal, and playful family dogs, driving them up the list to being the eighth most popular breed in the AKC’s rankings.
So, if you’ve taken the plunge and adopted a Rottweiler puppy, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got the basics covered on how to train your new furry friend to be a loving friend and companion. Here are the five most important steps for how to train a Rottweiler puppy:
- Start Early and Stay Firm on Obedience Issues
- Focus on Positive Reinforcement
- Choose Your Housebreaking Method (And Stick to It)
- Socialize, Socialize, Socialize
- Set Them Up for Success with the Right Care and Exercise
1. Start Early and Stay Firm on Obedience Issues
Rottweilers are whip-smart, love to learn, and as a result are easy to train. In fact, if they weren’t so trainable, they would be hard to manage, due to their size and strength. A male can grow to be as big as 130 pounds, in fact, and a lot of that is muscle. Can you imagine dealing with an adult male Rottweiler that hasn’t been housebroken or taught not to jump up on guests?
Do yourself and your doggy a favor by starting to train your Rottweiler puppy as soon as you bring it home. Rottweiler puppies as young as six weeks old can start learning the core basics of obedience, like who is the leader of the pack (you are), and what is and isn’t appropriate physical contact, like jumping up or play-biting with kids. If your puppy won’t stop biting, making sure to take the time to teach your pup to not bite. The simple sit, no, stay, and lie down commands, as well as proper manners in the house, can come next. In addition to teaching good behaviors, starting early means puppies have fewer bad habits to unlearn since you can stop them from ever developing bad ones that work so well in your household, like peeing inside or nipping little fingers when playing.
2. Focus on Positive Reinforcement
The Humane Society strongly recommends training any dog with positive reinforcement. Making them feel rewarded with treats and “atta boys” when they do something well is usually very effective since dogs are naturally rewards-driven. Never punish a Rottweiler physically, or with any other method if it’s been too long since they “did the deed.” Their short-term memories are around five minutes or less, so they likely wouldn’t even know why they were being punished!
Always use short, simple commands (“sit,” rather than “okay, I want you to sit down now”) and swiftly offering praise or a small food treat when the command is obeyed. You’ll want to avoid going too far with the high-fat food treats, however, since Rottweilers are notorious for gaining a bit of extra weight. When puppies are young, sticking to training sessions of around 15 minutes will keep the dog from getting overwhelmed. You can increase training sessions as they get older if you feel the need.
3. Choose Your Housebreaking Method (And Stick to It)
Many Rottweiler organizations think crate training is the best way to get your puppy into perfect potty shape in no time. There are several good books on the topic, including Crate Training Puppies, by Cesar Lopez. But, the quick and dirty definition of crate training starts with:
- Showing the dog the spot outside you want it to use.
- Repeatedly taking the dog there when you think it may need to eliminate.
- Rewarding it when it uses the spot.
- Keeping the dog secured in a cozy crate (with a toy and blanket) when you’re not there.
- Teaching the dog to get your attention when it needs to go out.
For this method, you’ll need to buy a crate with a latching door where your dog can feel safe and relax. We also suggest this ingenious hanging bell system your dog can use to alert you when it needs to go out.
4. Socialize, Socialize, Socialize
Start letting your Rottweiler puppy have positive interactions with people and other dogs early on. Socializing your pup when it’s young can keep it from developing difficult tendencies common in untrained Rottweilers, like going too far with alarm barking, or acting aggressively with strangers. Make sure your pup has all the required vaccines before you set up play dates, and then watch to make sure interactions stay fun. You want playtime with other dogs, kids, and adults to be nurturing for your dog, and help it feel comfortable being handled by others, like groomers and vets.
5. Set Them Up for Success with the Right Care and Exercise
Not every dog breed is alike. And though we may love all dogs equally, treating them all the same can backfire. The AKC, for instance, warns that Rottweilers do best when they are getting tons of exercise every day, which will help them control their behavior when they need to be inside. So, rather than say a Chihuahua, which might do well with one quick walk per day, the AKC says, “the Rottweiler needs at least two solid workouts daily; he would appreciate it if these always included you!”