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The Rottweiler is a powerful, majestic dog who is probably descended from the drover dogs of ancient Rome. Your Rottweiler is incredibly sweet and loving with your family, even cuddling her huge body into your lap if she can get away with it. She is endlessly patient and tolerant with children and respectful with your smaller dogs and cats.
Rottweilers are intelligent enough to have done a number of jobs throughout their history. They originally served as livestock herders and guardians, as well as pulling the carts laden with meat. When this job was made largely obsolete, rottweilers became popular as police dogs, search and rescue dogs, and personal guard dogs.
The same devoted nature that makes your Rottweiler adoring and patient with your family makes her protective of them. Your Rottie has a natural instinct to guard you, your family, and your property, so training your Rottweiler for protection is about teaching her the right times and circumstances for guarding, and how you want her to guard.
To train your Rrottweiler for protection you should first assess how she already behaves. Does she bark and growl at the mailman or when guests arrive? Does she put herself between you and strangers on walks? If your Rottweiler is already expressing guarding behavior then it will be easier for you to direct that behavior appropriately.
If, however, your Rottweiler is overly aggressive in the wrong situations, like continuing to growl when you have greeted and invited in guests, you will need to curb your Rottweiler's instincts and give her outlets for excessive energy.
Rottweilers who are happy and friendly with strangers, even at the house, can still learn to protect. Young dogs, especially, may not have the instinct firmly developed yet but will develop it with time and training.
While your Rottweiler will learn that protection work is very important, this doesn't mean that training shouldn't be fun for you and your pooch. Your best friend must trust you to tell her when to guard and when not to.
If she thinks that she must decide what to do to protect you she will have an anxiety-laden life and may guard inappropriately, resulting in a bite to a friend or service person. Instead, teach your Rottie what situations are appropriate for guarding behavior, and what you want her to do to guard you, your family, and your property.
The Encourage Instinct Method
Friendly or oblivious pup
If your Rottweiler couldn't care less about strangers unless they have a cheeseburger, you can prompt your pup's guarding instincts by fun, unexpected training sessions.
Get the sleeve
Teach your rottweiler to go after the sleeve. If she doesn't care about it or playing tug, teach her to bring it to you for a treat.
Challenge the return
Make it more difficult for your Rottweiler to bring the sleeve to you, either by lodging it so she has to pull it out, hiding it, etc. Keep practicing until your Rottie will work hard to bring the sleeve back from wherever it is for intermittent rewards.
Introduce person with sleeve
Have an accomplice wear the sleeve and tell your dog to get it as before. At first, have your accomplice make it very easy for your Rottweiler to get the sleeve.
Build challenge and hide sleeve
Practice until your Rottweiler is accustomed to biting and shaking vigorously to get the sleeve from the person, then have the person hide the sleeve under a thick jacket. Reward your rottweiler well for going after the sleeve even when hidden.
The Model Dog Method
Doesn't get it
If your Rottweiler just doesn't seem to get the point of protection, no matter how hard you try to train her, she may get the idea from another trained dog.
Let her watch
Let your Rottweiler watch dogs engaged in protection work. Encourage her to watch one dog and one person as a person "attacks" the two of them and the dog protects.
Wait for excitement
Eventually, your Rottweiler will stop looking so confused and start looking excited.
Introduce the exercise with your dog in the same way as the exercises she just watched. Encourage her to take the sleeve, and give it to her without her having to exhaust much effort.
Now that you have the motivation and instinct kicked in, work with your Rottweiler until she will hold onto and shake even a concealed sleeve on command.
The When to Protect Method
If your Rottweiler is protection-minded, already showing guarding instincts when strangers visit and out on walks, you can teach your dog when guarding behavior is appropriate.
Teach your Rottweiler to watch you by giving her a command for this behavior and rewarding with a desirable treat or toy when she looks at you. Train until she has a consistent response every time you say the command.
Teach 'get it'
Teach your Rottweiler a command for going after a toy or tug. You can hold it just out of reach, then slowly lower it and tell her to 'get it'. Play a game of tug as reward. Practice until she can wait several minutes while you move the toy around before releasing her to get it.
Introduce a bite sleeve and use it just as you had been using the tug toy. Have your Rottweiler wait, then reward her by letting her get the sleeve and play a game of tug.
Target wears sleeve
Have a dog savvy target person wear the sleeve and enter with it. Go through the same routine, having your dog wait some time before allowing her to get the sleeve. Practice some occurrences in which she is never released, then work up to usually not releasing her, but sometimes having a friend wear the sleeve to practice.
By Coral Drake
Published: 03/09/2018, edited: 01/08/2021