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Buster is a lively little canine. Walk in on him in the morning and he's probably tearing around the house chasing the kids as they get ready for school. Walk in on him during dinner and he's probably looking angelic with their head on a lap begging for food. Go and see your puppy in the evening and you will see he's mastered the graceful position of lying on his back with legs outstretched in the air. But while you love the appetite for life, you brought your Rottweiler home because you had a job for him. You want to train your Rottweiler puppy to guard.
With a house full of valuable possessions and a family you want to keep safe, a well-trained Rottweiler seems like the ideal guard. Rottweilers are naturally strong, tough and built for business anyway. Plus, you may find they respond to other training much better as a result of the techniques you will use!
The command ‘bark’ will be an important instruction your Rottweiler will need to learn. A controlled bark can help keep intruders away. Fortunately, it’s also pretty easy to teach. But you will also need to look at other ways to train them to be a guard dog. You will need to go through boundary training with your Rottweiler puppy. Once they have a sense of what falls within their territory, they will naturally want to defend anything within it.
Rottweilers are normally pretty easy to train. This is particularly true of puppies, whose brains are like a sponge, soaking up everything around them. So you could see results in just a month or so. You will need a little more time and patience, however, if your Rottweiler puppy isn’t such a great listener. Be prepared to invest up to three months into training if they are hard to keep on task.
Effective dog training centers around the right incentives. So you will need a decent amount of their favorite treats. Having said that, a toy your dog loves may also work as a good motivator. Make sure you also have a leash and time to commit to training each day. You'll need access to the space you want to train them to guard too.
A friend will also come in handy to test your dog's new guarding capabilities. You may also want to consider using a clicker when you train. They may speed up the learning process.
So now you have all that, let’s give it a try!
The Territory Method
Each morning you need to clip your Rottweiler puppy to a leash and walk them around the perimeter of the area you want them to protect, such as your yard. This will drill into them where their territory is.
They will understand their boundaries best if you also do the same walk again in the evening. Try and stay quiet as you walk, you want them to concentrate and take in their surroundings.
Secure your pup to a long tether in the area you want them to guard. If they spend all day in this space, they will assume everything within it is theirs to protect. You can also put their bed, water bowl and toys there. This will make it feel even more like their space.
To develop an effective guard dog, you need to start rewarding them for certain behaviors from an early age. So give them a treat when they take an interest in strangers or bark at them.
Don’t use punishment
Some owners think being aggressive towards their Rottweiler puppies is the best way to make them a defensive guard dog. This is simply not true. Positive reinforcements are far more effective. You don’t want to risk turning your puppy into a dangerous, uncontrollable dog.
The ‘Bark’ Method
Watch your Rottweiler puppy closely for things that make them bark. This could be when they’re excited or nervous. You’re going to use these situations to train them to bark on command and then at strangers.
So once you have found the right situation, put your pup in it. Then give a ‘bark’ instruction just before or as they start to bark. Make sure you give it in a high-pitched voice to make it feel like a game.
Once they do follow your lead and bark, you need to reward them. Give them a treat or play around with a toy for a minute. If you use a clicker when you train, now is the time to click.
Spend a few days practicing the ‘bark’ command at home. Then have a friend approach the house or area you want the dog to protect. Stand next to the pup, point at the stranger and instruct them to bark. Once they do, give your canine chum another reward.
Lose the rewards
Now you just need to practice this regularly. Try and use people that your dog doesn’t already know too well. It will soon become habit to bark at any strangers whenever they approach. When your Rottweiler puppy gets to this stage, you can slowly stop giving them treats.
The Early Start Method
You need to make sure your dog behaves around pets and people they do know. You don’t want them being defensive towards everyone. So introduce your Rottweiler puppy to lots of new people early on.
You also need to make sure you have control over your dog. To help you with that, teach them basic commands, such as 'sit' and 'wait'. Taking them to group obedience classes will probably help too.
Once they know the basics and you have some control, you need to teach them to bark at strangers. So have someone approach your dog. Then point, whisper and draw their attention to the potential intruder until they bark.
Once they do bark, you can give them a delicious reward. A yummy treat or a toy to play around with should do the job. You may also want to introduce a verbal cue at this point. Simply say ‘speak’ or something similar whenever they bark and they will soon respond to it.
Now your Rottweiler puppy has all the basic components of a guard dog, so it’s time to test their skills. Have people knock on windows and doors over the next few weeks, and instruct the pup to bark each time. Make sure you give them a reward each time they follow your command. Before you know it they will be barking at any stranger that approaches. Then your work is done!
By Olivia Draper
Published: 04/17/2018, edited: 01/08/2021