How to Train a Rottweiler to be Protective

How to Train a Rottweiler to be Protective
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon4-6 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Lauren is training for a marathon and she gets up early every morning to run the jogging trails through the local park. However, lately she is very apprehensive about running alone, since there have been reports of attacks on joggers in nearby parks. Since Lauren owns a Rottweiler, she has decided to take him with her on her daily run, but her Rotty, Max, seems like more of a lap dog then a protection dog. Lauren feels she may need to train Max to be protective of her, in case a situation occurs while they are out on the trails.  

Fortunately, Rottweilers are naturally protective. They were bred to herd and protect livestock, so they are naturally inclined to guard and protect their people. Even if he has no experience protecting Lauren, Max is an intimidating looking dog. With powerful muscles and jaws, Rottweilers usually intimidate anyone with malicious intent. They make great family protection dogs because they are social with people. Coming from working dog stock, they naturally bond to their handlers and are pretty laid back, even though they can be fiercely protective when required.

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Defining Tasks

A protection dog is usually a dog that can be taken out into public. He needs to learn to discern actual threats from benign situations and incidents, and to be controllable. This is a different skill set from an attack or guard dog, which is constantly restrained or contained. Training your Rottie good responses to obedience commands, including 'sit/stay' and 'down/stay' is necessary. Protection dogs, unlike many guard dogs, should also be well socialized. Lots of experiences from a young age and socialization opportunities will make your dog aware and able to sense when a situation or person is harmless or has ill intent. 


Training a protection dog relies heavily on encouraging your dog's natural guarding instincts and common sense so that he can interact with others and protect when needed. You will want to put attack behavior and barking on command and have a stand down command available to preempt errors in judgement. A professional protection dog trainer can help guide you to develop your Rottweiler's natural protective skills.

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Getting Started

You will need an assistant to play the 'bad guy'. While training your dog to bark at, and even attack a threatening assailant, you need to control the situation  An assistant may need protective clothing like padding or thick gloves. You need to make sure you have 100% control over your dog. Training your dog obedience commands and recall will require positive reinforcement like treats or toys. Be patient with your Rottweiler and work to shape and guide behaviors. Many people only train their Rottweilers to bark at strangers - not to actually attack -  as this may be a behavior that makes your dog ill-suited as a family pet. Decide before training what behaviors you will want your dog to perform and consult a professional trainer for advice.

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The Bark at Strangers Method

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1

Socialize and teach obedience

Teach your Rottweiler good obedience commands, including 'sit', 'stay', 'heal', and 'down'. Socialize your Rottweiler so he is used to people and is not afraid or aggressive in social situations.

2

Bark on command

Teach your dog to bark on command. Find something your dog naturally barks at like birds, squirrels, the doorbell, and pair it with a 'speak' command. Reward barking on command. Add a 'quiet' command so you can stop your dog from barking.

3

Prepare your assistant

Have an assistant approach you and your dog while out on a walk. Your assistant should wear protection, just in case, like padding around their arms and hands. Protective equipment can be obtained from a professional protection or guard dog trainer or supply store.

4

Command barking at 'strangers'

When the 'stranger' approaches, give your dog the command to 'speak'. When he barks and lunges at the stranger, have your assistant run away as this reinforces the behavior.

5

Practice

Practice out on walks. When your dog barks at actual well-meaning strangers, ask him to be quiet. Continue to have your assistant 'pop up' occasionally and act threatening. Let your dog bark and have the assistant retreat to reinforce the behavior.

The Leave Off Method

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Teach 'leave it'

You will need to make sure your dog has a strong, reliable response to 'leave it' and 'quiet' before proceeding with developing attack skills. Teach your dog to 'leave it', using treats held out in a closed hand. Command your dog to 'leave it' and when he gives up trying to reach the treat, reward him with an alternate treat from your other hand.

2

Practice 'leave it'

Gradually increase the reliability of this command by leaving treats out in the open and commanding your dog to leave them alone.

3

Teach 'quiet' and 'down'

Make sure you teach your dog 'quiet' when he barks and pair this command with 'sit/stay' or 'down/stay' to reinforce effective techniques.

4

Make responses reliable

Practice having an assistant approach. When your dog barks or acts aggressive, provide the 'quiet', and 'leave it' commands. Ensure that your dog responds reliably before proceeding with any attack training.

The Attack Skills Method

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Get professional resources

Once your dog responds to the commands 'bark', 'quiet', 'leave it', 'heel' and 'sit-stay' completely reliably, you should consult a professional trainer for protective equipment and advice on attack training. Using professional facilities, a controlled situation, and an assistant that has experience being 'attacked' is necessary.

2

Use an attack mit

Have an assistant put on thick dog attack gloves and tap your Rottweiler on the face until he grabs the mitt. Pair this with a command for 'attack' with biting the mitt.

3

Break off attack

Ask your dog to break off the attack with 'leave it', or a 'sit-stay' command. Reinforce your Rottweiler when he breaks off the attack and reward him for obeying.

4

Have an assistant 'threaten'

Have an experienced assistant with full safety gear and a padded dog attack suit approach you and your Rottie in a controlled environment. Have the assistant enter and act aggressively.

5

Direct attack and break off

Provide the attack command and allow your Rottweiler to grab an arm or padded area. Let him hold on for a few seconds, then provide the call off command 'leave it' or 'sit-stay'. Practice repeatedly in different scenarios, always ensuring that the dog learns to obey the command to break off the attack.

By Laurie Haggart

Published: 06/06/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Skyler

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Rottweiler

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1 Year

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Question

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Will this dog protect if she has to?

June 16, 2021

Skyler's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rodney, Many dogs will naturally protect when its called for. Things that increase the chance of that are pup's level of socialization - a well socialized dog tends to be more confident and also better and determining when something isn't normal. Pup's individual temperament - dogs with more protective instincts, stronger defense drives, confident temperaments, who tend to move toward things instead of hang back or especially retreat are often more likely to protect when called for - that dog can be super calm most of the time, but are they timid or calmly confident? Breed also makes a difference. Not all protective breeds will be protective as individuals but often the defense drive or protective drive that's inherited is stronger in that breed if parents passed that on. Without knowing your individual dog I cannot say if pup would protect you, but the above criteria can help you know, and most dogs when their owners are truly in danger will at least make an attempt at it. Having a dog who is super well trained, will bark on command, and hold their ground instead of retreat is often enough to deter an attacker even if pup never has to bite. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 17, 2021

She’s very friendly. That’s not good for home protection

June 16, 2021

Rodney G.

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Savage

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Rottweiler

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2 Years

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Question

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How do I teach dog to attack during training without a dog mitt

Aug. 29, 2020

Savage's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Besten, This absolutely should not be done without the proper equipment. I do not recommend doing any protection - bite work, training on your own period though. That is one type of training that should only be done with the help of a protection trainer - done incorrectly it can lead to fear aggression, and bites to friends and family, or a dog without enough self-control and obedience to be able to call off when needed. If you wish to do the training yourself, I suggest joining a Schlutzhund or IPA or French ring type club where you can practice bite work with other trainers and club members, with the proper equipment and safety measures and supervision. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 31, 2020


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