How to Train a Rottweiler to Stack

Medium
1-4 Months
Work

Introduction

Imagine being in a final lineup of dogs at a major conformation dog show event. The judge makes his way down the line of dogs and evaluates each dog's structure as he passes by him. Your pup proudly lifts up his head, lengthens his back to show off his top line, and keeps his legs in the perfect position to show off his form. After he walks down the line, the judge points to your dog and three others, indicating that he wants those dogs to take another lap around the ring. Your buddy moves beautifully. Finally, the judge is ready to choose the winner.

Your dog has just won first place! You proudly go stand at the front of the line with him at your side. You are smiling from ear to ear and proudly admiring your dog's perfect stance and form. It looks very natural and effortless. Nobody but you knows just how hard you worked to train your dog to stand that way, and your pup makes it look easy!

Defining Tasks

Stacking is an essential skill that your dog must learn in order to look his best at conformation dog showing events. The dogs who are the best at it make it look easy and quite natural looking. So much in fact, that many people do not realize that it is a skill that usually has to be taught. Most dogs do not naturally stand in the ideal stacking position while at rest. There is an art and a science to getting the movement just right.

While you are teaching your dog how to stack, be aware that the rest of your dog will tend to follow where his head goes. If his head is crooked, drooping, or too tense, then the rest of him will tend to be out of place. If your dog is having trouble understanding something and moving completely into the correct position, then you can break the steps down even further and reward him for any effort toward the correct movement. 

Getting Started

To get started, you will need a calm location and soft, easy-to-eat treats such as real chicken or freeze-dried liver treats. If you are using the 'Walking' method, then you will also need your show leash and your location will need to be spacious enough for you to walk in a large circle. With all of the methods, you will also need patience, good timing, consistency, and gentleness.

The Positioning Method

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Step
1
Get set up
To begin, grab some soft, easy-to-eat treats such as dried liver or real chicken, and go to a calm and quiet location free of distractions with your pup.
Step
2
Move his head
First, gently move his head so that he is facing forward. As soon as his head moves into the correct position or he stops resisting you moving it, then say 'Yes!' and give him a treat. Repeat this until he will allow you to move his head without resisting you.
Step
3
Increase duration
When Fido will allow you to position his head, then give him a treat every two seconds that he holds that position. As he improves and can hold it for longer, gradually increase the amount of time between treat rewards until he can hold it for one minute and only receive one treat at the end of the one minute .
Step
4
Place the front legs
Gently lift up your dog's right leg by the elbow and place it back down into the correct position. As soon as his paw touches the floor again, then tell him 'Yes!' and give him a treat. Repeat this with the left paw. Practice this until he will allow you to place his paws without resisting you. When you first begin to lift his paw up, give your dog a second to shift his weight to his other leg before you resume lifting it up.
Step
5
Increase stance duration
When Fido will allow you to place his legs, reward him every three seconds that he remains in that position. As he improves, gradually increase the amount of time that passes between treat rewards until he can hold the position without moving for one minute and only receive one treat at the end of that time.
Step
6
Place rear legs
Next, place the back legs into their correct positions, one leg at a time, just like you did with the front legs. Practice placing them until your dog is comfortable with you placing them also.
Step
7
Add time
When your pup will allow you to place his backs legs, give him a treat every three seconds that he remains in that position. As he improves, gradually increase the amount of time that passes between treat rewards until he can hold the position for one minute without moving.
Step
8
Put it all together
When your dog will allow you to place him into the correct positions and will hold those positions for one minute, then practice all of the placements together, placing his head first, then his front legs, and finally his rear legs. Work on getting him to hold the final position for longer and longer periods of time until he can hold still for one to two minutes.
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The Walking Method

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Step
1
Go to a spacious location
To begin, grab your dog's show leash and some small, easy-to-eat treats such as real chicken or dried liver. Head to a calm and spacious location with him.
Step
2
Walk in a circle
Walk in a wide circle with your dog and randomly stop walking. When you stop, show your dog a treat and lure his head into the correct position. When it does, tell him 'Yes!' and give him the treat. Continue walking and repeat all of this again until you can stop and your dog will move his head into the correct position on his own. While he is learning, if he does not move into the position on his own within four seconds, then lure him into the position again and then give him the treat.
Step
3
Position the legs
Walk in a circle and randomly stop. After you have rewarded your dog for moving his head into the correct position, reach down and lift your dog's legs up and place them into the correct positions, one leg at a time. Tell him 'Yes!' and give him a treat every time that you place a paw onto the floor in the correct position. Practice all of this until your dog will place his paws into the correct positions on his own when you stop.
Step
4
Increase duration
When Fido will move his head and legs into the correct positions on his own when you stop, increase the amount of time that he holds his position by rewarding him every third second that he remains in that position. Repeat this until he can hold the position for ten seconds. Gradually increase the amount of time between the treat rewards until he can hold the position for one or two minutes.
Step
5
Increase distance
When your pup can hold that position for one to two minutes, then add distance. To add distance, gradually back away from your dog while he is holding his position. After the minute is up, then tell him 'Yes!' and toss him a treat from where you are. Only add a couple more inches of distance at each session to keep your dog from breaking his position while you back away.
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The Luring Method

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Step
1
Get set up
To begin, grab some small, easy-to-eat treats such as liver or real chicken, and go to a calm location with your dog. Make sure distractions are minimal in this area.
Step
2
Position the head
While your dog is standing, show him the treat and then slowly move the treat in front of your dog's face until his head is in the correct position facing forward. As soon as his head is in the right position, say 'Yes!' and give him the treat.
Step
3
Increase duration
Practice luring your dog's head into the correct position with the treat until you can move your hand without a treat and your pup will follow it into the correct position. Then increase the amount of time that he can hold that position for by giving him another treat every three seconds. As he improves, gradually increase the amount of time that passes between treat rewards.
Step
4
Adjust the legs
Place a treat on the left side of your pup's nose and slowly move the treat to the left until your dog lifts his right paw slightly off of the ground and is balancing his weight on his left paw. When he does that, then tell him 'Yes!' and give him a treat. Repeat the same thing with the other paw. The goal is to get your dog to lift up his paws and then to place them back down right underneath himself to straighten his position up.
Step
5
Increase standing duration
Practice getting your dog to lift his paws up until he will follow your hand to the right and to the left without a treat in it. When he can do that, reward him every three seconds for holding the correct position. As he improves, gradually increase the amount of time that passes between treat rewards until your pup can hold the position for one minute.
Step
6
Shift the weight
Teach your pooch to shift his weight forward by placing a treat on the right side of his nose and slowly moving the treat to the right and forward. As you do this, your pup should take a small step forward with his left paw. After he takes a step, tell him 'Yes!', give him the treat, and then repeat this with his other paw. Repeat until your dog will take small steps forward while you are not holding a treat in your hand.
Step
7
Increase position duration
Next, increase how long your dog can hold that position for by giving him a treat every three seconds that he remains in that position. As he improves, then gradually increase the amount of time between treat rewards until you have reached one minute.
Step
8
Teach backing up
Place his paws into the correct position by lifting each leg up by the elbow, one at a time, and then placing it down into the correct position. Or you can lure him into moving his leg on his own. To lure him, touch a treat to his nose and then slowly move the treat down his neck until he takes a step or two backwards. When he steps back, then tell him 'Yes!' and reward him. Once his back legs are positioned, instruct him to place his front paws into the correct positions again if necessary.
Step
9
Put it together
Practice it all together until your pup can move into the correct position when you motion to him with your hand. Practice it until he can hold the correct position for at least two minutes.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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