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How to Train Rottweiler Puppy 

How to Train Rottweiler Puppy 

Rottweilers are beautiful dogs known for their loyalty, intelligence, and protective instincts. Originating in Germany, they were developed to herd livestock and pull carts. Today, Rottweilers are commonly used as police, search-and-rescue, and guard dogs. Due to their protective instincts and active personalities, training and socialization from an early age is important for this breed. Rottweilers do well with learning new behaviors and are happiest when they have a job to do. Keeping your dog’s mind sharp with training and enrichment will give them an appropriate outlet for their energy and their intelligence. By setting a solid foundation from the beginning, you can shape your Rottweiler into an exceptional companion dog who is a well-behaved member of your family and wonderful ambassador for this lovely breed.

Bringing your Rottweiler Home

When first bringing home your Rottweiler, you will want to establish where your dog will be eating, sleeping, drinking, staying alone (when needed), going to the bathroom, playing, and hanging out. Set your space up in a way that will encourage your dog to practice good habits. Setting up your space ahead of time will save you stress when your new dog arrives. For example:

  • Use gates to block off any plants or furniture that may be tempting for your puppy to chew on. 
  • Keep a light leash on your dog when they first come home to have a way to better manage them in the space. You can hold the leash, tether it to a stable piece of furniture, or allow it to dangle behind the dog. Never leave the dog alone with the leash on. Leash management can be very useful when potty training and working on puppy teething.

Crate Training

Begin to establish a positive relationship with the crate from the first day your Rottweiler comes home. Start with the crate being nearby you and feed meals in the crate to make it a space your dog will look forward to being in. Try to also encourage your dog to take a few naps during the day in the crate. 

Building up your dog’s confidence to be in their crate may take time. You can begin to practice very short periods of crate time (10-30 seconds) where they are in the space without hitting the point of being stressed.  If they enjoy food stuffed toys, try to give them a toy to work on while they practice being in their confinement space. 

Rottweiler Socialization 

Expose your Rottweiler puppy to various people, animals, and environments from a young age. This helps prevent fearfulness and aggression towards strangers or other dogs later in life. As Rottweilers can have a protective nature, it is especially important  to socialize them well. Socialization should consist of gradually exposing the dog to the things they will experience in their environment as adults. Build confidence around people of all ages, dogs, other pets in the home (such as cats), sounds, surfaces, transportation, and environments. 

Rottweiler Development  

  • 0-8 weeks – Rottweiler puppies learn from the moment they are born. Prior to going home with you,  your breeder should be spending time on socialization with the newborn pup. By exposing puppies to touch, sound, and textures, breeders can help to build positive associations early on. Your breeder will also learn a lot of information about your puppy’s personality at this age. Be sure to check with the breeder to see how the puppy is responding to people, kids, and dogs. It can also be helpful to know about the puppy’s responses to sounds and new objects such as a vacuum or a stroller. 
  • 8-12 weeks – During your dog’s first month at home, focus on setting up their environment, establishing a routine for exercise, sleep, and potty training. Socialization should also be priority at this age. You can begin to work on basic training at this time as well. Rottweilers puppies will need constant supervision, so be sure to have a crate or pen to keep them confined when you cannot be with them. This is a great time to start setting the foundation for manners skills like sit, down, stand, stay, impulse control, come when called, and leash manners.
  • 12-24 weeks – Your Rottweiler puppy will be rapidly developing during this time will start losing their puppy teeth. They will likely be quite nippy at this age so it is vital that you provide the puppy with plenty of outlets for their mouth in the form of durable toys. This is a great time to join a group puppy training class so you can practice around controlled distractions. And gradual socialization should remain a priority.
  • 20 weeks – 1 year – Adolescence is a time when your puppy is likely to have a lot of energy and will need plenty of exercise and enrichment. These weeks can be compared to our teenage years and dogs can be quite hormonal, energetic, and impulsive. Practicing training and getting your pup outdoors to walk and run can be particularly helpful during this stage of development.
  • 1.5-2 years – at this age, your Rottweiler puppy will have reached full physical maturity and all of the great work you did during their puppyhood will have really paid off. Your well-mannered and well-socialized adult Rottweiler will benefit from you helping maintain all of these great skills with ongoing practice and reinforcement.

Rottweiler Training 

When beginning to train with your Rottweiler puppy, it will be important to learn about your puppy in terms of what is motivating to them. Play around with using food, toys, play, pets and praise as rewards for your dog during training to see what is most exciting for them. By discovering what rewards you can use to reinforce your dog’s behavior, you will be able to train and reinforce behavior effectively.

Focus on training behaviors that will help set your puppy up for success. Of great importance is teaching your pup how to remain calm when necessary, and polite behaviors like sit or down vs pushy puppy behaviors like nipping or barking. By reinforcing the behaviors you like, your puppy will offer those behaviors more frequently. 

When training these behaviors, you will use a marker word to capture behaviors you are looking to reinforce. A marker word is a short sound like “good” or “yes”. The moment your dog offers the behavior you are looking for, mark as correct by saying the marker word, and deliver the reward to reinforce the behavior. 

The first three behaviors that are best to start training with your Rottweiler puppy are:

  1. Sit
  2. Name Recognition
  3. Drop It


Teaching sit using a food lure

The first step will be using a piece of food to guide the dog into the sit position. This will help them understand what we are looking for them to offer again in the future.

1. Hold a treat to your dog’s nose and let them gently lick or nibble or the treat.

2.  Slowly lift the treat up and back between their ears. This will get their head to look up and in turn their rear to go down.

3.  The moment their rear hits the ground in the sit position, mark as correct.  

4. Reward.

5. Repeat for several sessions until your dog will reliably follow the treat into the sit for at least five repetitions in a row. 

6. Move on to adding a visual cue (see below)

Sit: Adding a Visual Cue

The next step is to teach your pup how to respond to a visual cue without food in your hand. This will ensure that they will respond to you even when you don’t have food. The goal is for the dog to learn that after they respond to the cue, the reward will come out. Always say the word one time rather than repeating the word. This will teach your dog to respond faster to you over time. 

1. Pretend to have the food and guide your dog into the sit.

2. The moment your dog sits, mark as correct and reward from the other hand.

3. Now shape the visual cue. Show your dog a palm facing up and moving up.

4. The moment they sit, mark as correct and then reward.

Move on to adding a verbal cue (see below).

Sit: Adding a Verbal Cue 

Now that your Rottweiler is responding to the visual cue of your hand movement, you are ready to add the verbal cue, “sit”.

  1. Say the verbal cue “sit” one time.
  2. Show the visual cue of a palm facing up and moving up.
  3. The moment your dog sits, mark as correct.
  4. Reward. 
  5. Repeat many times in very brief training sessions.

Name Recognition

Step One: Getting Eye Contact 

The first step here is to reinforce your dog for looking up towards your eyes. 

1.       Hold a treat close to your pup’s nose so that they know you have something     yummy.

2. Bring the treat up towards your collarbone to lift your dog’s gaze up to yours.

3. The moment your dog makes eye contact with you, mark the behavior as correct.

4. Reward with a treat 

Step Two: Adding the name

Now we will begin to pair the sound of the dog’s name with looking up at your eyes. 

1. Hold a treat close to your pup’s nose so that they know you have something yummy.

2. Bring the treat up towards your collarbone to lift your dog’ s gaze up to yours.

3. When you pup makes eye contact, say their name one time. 

4. Mark the behavior as correct.

5. Reward with a treat.

Step Three: Adding distraction

1. Hold a treat close to your pup’s nose so that they know you have something yummy.

2. Bring the treat up near your collarbone and then out about a foot away from your  face. 

3. Once your pup is looking at the hand with the treat, say their name one time.

4. The moment your pup makes eye contact, mark the behavior as correct.

5. Reward with a treat. 

Drop (release an item from mouth) 

Teach your Rottweiler that dropping items out of their mouth is an action that is desirable and that will pay off highly. Always reward with something of high value!! 

1. Say the verbal cue, “drop” one time

2. Keep your hands relaxed by your side. Wait for your dog to release the item. For a few repetitions it is okay to drop a piece of food or present a toy to encourage your dog to drop, but try to fade this quickly to prevent a habit of being bribed. 

3. The moment the release the item of their mouth, mark as correct. 

4. Reward with play or food.

Raising a well-mannered dog takes a concerted effort to make the time for training and socialization. Using a positive approach means this will be fun for you and your dog. Think of the time spent on your pup’s education as an investment in them that will reap many years of benefits for you both.

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