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Your Rottweiler is one smart cookie. They already mastered all the basic commands. Sitting, staying, and lying down was just too easy for your pup. Now you want to teach her something fun. You've seen the dogs who fall onto their sides the instant their owners say "bang" and you know your Rottweiler is up to the challenge. Once they know 'sit', 'down', and 'stay', training a Rottweiler to play dead is no big deal.
Rottweilers are known for being smart, obedient, and loyal. With some patience and positive reinforcement, your pup can easily add playing dead to their repertoire. Playing dead is good for more than showing off to your friends. It can also help nervous dogs feel more relaxed about laying on their sides. In addition, any training session is a good opportunity to bond with your pup. If you recently adopted a dog, learning fun tricks you can practice together is a way to foster a positive relationship.
For this trick, you will need a quiet area to practice. Ideally, you should choose an area where the floor is comfortable for your Rottweiler. They are less likely to want to lay down on cold, hard surfaces. You will also need some good training treats. This command is well-suited for using the clicker. If you haven't already used a clicker with your pup, get them accustomed to the idea by clicking the device and giving them a treat. Your Rottweiler will quickly understand that the clicker marks something good happening.
The Lure Method
Start with down
Before starting to work on playing dead, make sure your Rottweiler is comfortable with 'down' and can stay in that position for a good period of time. Start your training session by asking your dog to lie down.
Use a treat to lure your pup into position
With your Rottweiler in the 'down' position, hold a treat close to your pup's nose and slowly pull it over so they have to lie on their side to get at it. Once they are lying fully on their side, click the clicker or say "good". Then give your pup a treat.
Add in the command word
Use the lure with your pup several times and give them big rewards. When your Rottweiler is consistently following the treat without too much prompting, start saying a command as you lead. Most often, owners choose "bang" as the command. You can also use "dead" or "sleep."
Teach a hand signal to go along with the command
Your pup will quickly associate the command with the action. You can also add in a hand signal so your Rottweiler can perform the command without needing a verbal cue. You can point your fingers at your Rottweiler like a gun and say the command, then lure them into position.
Phase out the treat
Keep practicing with your pup until they respond readily to the verbal and visual command. You can still reward them with the treat for a little while longer, but the goal is for your Rottweiler to play dead with only love from you as a reward.
The Roll, Interrupted Method
Start with rolling over
For this method, your pup will need to know 'down' and 'roll over'. You can teach your Rottweiler to roll over using a treat as a lure and giving plenty of reinforcement. Once your confident of their rolling over skills, you can move on to teaching play dead.
Ask for a down
Give the command "down" and then point to the ground with your right hand. You can give your Rottweiler a treat at this point if you want, as it lets them know you have some yummy rewards.
Encourage your pup to lie on their back
Sit or kneel in front of your dog and then give them the command or lure them to roll over. Interrupt their roll halfway through with a nice belly scratch, so they are laying on their back.
Guide your pup into position
Place a treat near your Rottweiler's nose and then use it to lure them back onto their side. At the same time, move your hand from their belly to behind their head. The first few times, your pup may resist laying on their side so be gentle as you guide them into the proper position.
Hold the position
With your dog in the "dead" position, give the command you've chosen, such as "bang" or "dead." Continue to scratch their belly and hold their attention with the treat.
Resurrect your pup
After your dog lays on their side for a few seconds, give a release word such as "okay" and let your pup up. Then give them a yummy reward for playing dead so well. Keep practicing until your dog responds easily to the verbal command without needing you to guide them.
The Show and Treat Method
Have your dog lie down
Give your Rottweiler the command to lay down and pay attention what side they lean towards as they do. Most dogs favor one side or the other and it will be easier to guide them onto their side in that direction.
Guide your pup onto their side
Using both hands, gently push your Rottweiler onto their side from the 'down 'position. Your pup may resist at first so it doesn't hurt to add a treat into the mix to convince them to cooperate. Once they are lying down, give them some positive reinforcement, such as a belly rub or a treat.
Practice until they don't need your help
Keep guiding your pup into the "dead" position until it is a fluid transition. Reward them each time for lying on their side until you feel your dog is confident with the action. Your dog may start lying on their side when you bring out a treat. Make sure you give them an extra big reward when they lie on their side without you guiding them.
Add a verbal cue
Choose a verbal cue that you will use every time you want your pup to play dead. You can use "bang" or "play dead." If you are still guiding your Rottweiler into position, say the verbal cue when they are on their side and give them a reward.
Practice in different locations around the house. You can add in a visual cue, like pointing at your pup, along with the verbal command. Be patient with your Rottweiler and in no time, you can show off your pup's new skills to your friends.
By Christina Gunning
Published: 03/28/2018, edited: 01/08/2021