Are Rottweilers Hard To Train?

Hi, I’m James. I’m a blogger and a Rottweiler lover from Liverpool in the UK. I was blessed to spend 12 fantastic years with my Rottweiler, Max. I’d love to share some of the things I learned about Rottweilers with you…

The media hasn’t been kind to Rottweilers; often, they’ve been portrayed as bloodthirsty hellhounds and vicious killers.

In the news, they’re often seen as guard dogs or with security forces.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

All this negativity has somehow given most people the impression that Rottweilers are dangerous dogs and challenging to train.

Those of us who have been lucky enough to have a Rottie in our lives can tell you just how wrong that impression is.

Rottweillers are so easy to train; the PDSA actually gives them a maximum score in Easy to train.

Seriously, they’re wonderfully intelligent, loyal, and responsive dogs.

Teaching them is a doddle. They love to learn and please their owners and make incredible family dogs. 

With that said, however, Rottweilers are strong-willed dogs.

Training shouldn’t be left to chance or done half-heartedly.

So what actually goes into training a Rottweiller?  

What makes a Rottweiler easy to train?

Rotties are:

Super-intelligent

Rottweilers aren’t just clever; they’re very clever.

In fact, Rottweilers are in the top 10 most intelligent dog breeds, according to Thesmartcanine.com and Wikipedia.

They score highly on Working, Instinctive and Adaptive intelligence charts, which as a herding breed, makes perfect sense.

Very little training is needed for a Rottweiler to take on herding or guard dog roles, making them a favorite for security forces worldwide.  

Known for their loyalty

Rottweilers are incredibly loyal to their owners through both nature and nurture.

Both highly affectionate and protective, a Rottweiler is always eager to please, which makes the training process a breeze. 

Responsive and playful

During the Canine intelligence testing of TheSmartCanine.com, Rottweiler’s place first.

This means that they were able to learn a task in the fewest repetitions, often in less than five repetitions!

Bred from good stock

Descended from Molossian dog, Rottweilers come from a long, long line of herding dogs.

This natural instinct to herd makes Rottweilers naturals when it comes to obedience training.

What makes a Rottweiler challenging to train?

Rotties are:

Sometimes stubborn

The downside to having an intelligent dog is that it can be stubborn.

A Rottweiler will make its own decision if it can, so getting your Rottie trained as young as possible is a must.

Large and heavy

If you don’t get your Rottweiler as a pup, then you may have noticed they are massive dogs.

It can be hard to contain an older Rottie’s exuberance if they were not correctly trained when young.

Energetic and curious

As with all intelligent breeds, a bored dog leads to a destructive dog.

If your Rottweiler isn’t getting enough exercise time, it may become easily bored and distracted during training. 

Rottweiler HQ recommends any of these nine exercises to keep you Rottweiler healthy and stimulated.

The best methods of training Rottweilers

Now that we’ve ascertained that it’s relatively easy to train a Rottweiler, let’s have a look at some of the best methods. 

One thing that should always be at the forefront of your mind is your Rottweilers health.

The breed is known to suffer from several genetic disorders, and it may be difficult to train a Rottweiler suffering from an undiagnosed illness.

The Kennel Club has some excellent links for Rottweiler health screening.

If your Rottie has a condition such as hip dysplasia, you may need to change your training approach.

Start potty training your Rottie NOW!

Let’s get this one out of the way early.

There’s no nice way of saying this, but Rottweilers eat a lot, and that leads to only one thing, Rottie mess by the tonne.

An excellent method of teaching your Rottweiler where to go is to first choose a good spot for them to go potty, preferably (for you) outdoors.

Decide upon a verbal cue that you will use each time you want to call your Rottie outside; something simple like ‘Let’s go out” will suffice.

Watch your dog like a hawk, and each time they look as though it’s time to go hit them with the cue and attach their leash and take them to your potty.

When finished, make sure to lavish them with praise and give them a little reward.

Do this each and establish a toilet routine, making sure to follow the routine as closely as possible each time.

If you Rottie gets caught short and uses somewhere else as a potty, give them a reprimand in a firm, low tone. The word ‘No’ will suffice.   

Start training your Rottweiler immediatly

When it comes to training a Rottie, sooner is always better than later.

Rottweilers are more impressionable when young, and as they grow into themselves become more strong-willed and dominant.

The best age to begin training a Rottie is from 6 weeks to 6 months old, although that’s not always possible.

Older Rottweilers can still be taught, but it’s going to take a bit more effort.

Don’t be discouraged if it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere initially; the rewards will be more than worth it.

Take your Dog to obedience classes

It’s essential that your dog understands that you’re the boss and that you do this in a kind and affectionate manner.

A great way to do this if you’re uncertain how to proceed is to take your Rottie to obedience classes and learn from the pros. 

You can find more information on classes from The Kennel Club or the AKC websites, or take a look at some of the breeders offering training in our article here.

Remember, sometimes it’s you who needs the training.

Give your Rottweiler lots of Positive Reinforcement

Like most intelligent breeds, Rottweilers absolutely adore playing games.

We can use this to our advantage by rewarding good behavior and reinforcing it with their favorite treats.

Each time your Rottie follows a command or does something you expect of them, like using the potty, give them a small treat and shower them with praise and affection.

As we’ve already seen, a Rottweiler can pick things up in as few as five repetitions.

One small caveat is to be careful with your treat choices.

Rottweilers are large dogs to begin with, and lots of high-fat treats can quickly make them overweight.

It can lead to increased flatulence and bloating, which can eventually lead to health problems.  

Teach some basic commands

Learning basic commands goes hand-in-hand with positive reinforcement.

The best place to begin is with simple one-word commands like ‘sit.’ 

Once you can make your Rottie sit, things like washing and grooming become that little bit easier.

Using hand gestures to display what you want your dog to do can be an excellent way to help them understand.

Once your dog sits, issue the sit command immediately and give them a treat; let them know which behavior they are being rewarded for.

The good news is Rotties are fast learners and even faster eaters, so they’ll get to grips with it quickly. 

From there, move on to other commands.

Please keep it simple and remember to reward and praise every successful execution of your commands.

Socialize your Rottweiler 

If you want your Rottweiler to be a well-balanced family pet, then one of the most critical steps in their training is socializing.

Rottweilers that become isolated can become aggressive, viewing any strangers or other dogs as potential threats.

As soon as your Rottie is old enough, begin getting them accustomed to other people.

Encouraging people to pet your Rottweiler is strongly recommended.

If your Rottweiler growls at people, give them a firm ‘No’ and make sure they understand it is not acceptable behavior.

Taking them out of the house and around the neighborhood or to a local park is a good idea. 

As your Rottie matures, their guard dog instincts will begin to appear; this should only happen in your home; your Rottie will view this as protecting its territory.

If it starts happening anywhere else in public, you may have a problem, so seek professional help.

Once your Rottweiler is comfortable around people, it’s time to begin socializing with other dogs.

Always do this under supervision, and make sure there is no bullying or aggressive behavior.

As always, reward good behavior and punish bad.  

Photo by Joel Moysuh.

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