Whether you have adopted an adult Rottweiler or have discovered a few 'gaps' in your Rottweiler's training, you are probably wondering whether it is too late to train him/her. Getting everything perfect as a puppy is not easy, and almost every Rottweiler will need further correction as they grow. In this article, I will show you why it is never too late to train a Rottweiler.
It is never too late to train a Rottweiler. Their intelligence and loyalty make them easier to train than other dogs and training techniques work with all ages. Persistence, consistency, authority and the development of a strong bond is key to successful retraining.
You can find more about training your adult Rottweiler below. Keep in mind that training is not always about reward, but also about things like dominance and bond, which I have also included.
It is Never Too Late to Train a Rottweiler
Your Rottweiler could be 1-year old, 5-years old or in their senior years. They could be a rescue dog or a dog you've had since they were a young pup. Regardless of age or background, it is never too late to train a Rottweiler.
Below you will find 7 steps to training a Rottweiler at any age. Just keep in mind that older Rottweilers require more patience and dedication to training.
1. Identify Bad Habits
Old habits are very easy to fall into. You might not even know your dog has a bad habit until they are much older and are put in a new situation. Below is a list of bad habits you should watch out for in your Rottweiler.
- Destructive behaviour
- Toileting inside
- Pulling on the leash
- Running away
- Jumping up
As a puppy, these behaviours have not been established as good or bad. They will always try each of these and wait for the consequences. Although you might not actively encourage these behaviours, being passive is still a form of reward.
You may even add your own 'bad habits' to this list that are unique to your family and household. If you don't want your Rottweiler going in a certain room, add it to the list.
It is important to establish these rules Rottweiler so you can be consistent when training your Rottweiler. This leads me to my next point.
2. Be Consistent and Persistent
Persistence is relatively self-explanatory. Don't give up. All behaviours can be retrained, provided you are dedicated to the training and have the time to do it.
This lead me to my next point of consistency. Initially, training is not effective if you do not discourage bad behaviour and reward good behaviour every single time. If you know the rules by heart and enforce those rules all the time, your Rottweiler will soon catch on.
The only time you can start to relax is when your Rottie is behaving themselves consistently. From there, you can reward them sporadically, known as 'intermittent reinforcement'. This will be less taxing on you, but still remind your Rottweiler what behaviour you approve of.
3. Use Effective Training Techniques
Every dog-owner has their own method of training and disciplining their Rottweiler. However, evidence-based psychological principles (such as in this study) are the way to go when you want the training to be effective (and therefore quicker).
Positive Reinforcement is Most Effective
Positive reinforcement, both in humans and dogs, has shown to be the most effective method of training the brain. This involves rewarding your Rottweiler for their good behaviour. Rewards can include treats, a pat on the head or simply some verbal praise.
Punishment and negative reinforcement, on the other hand, has shown to be less effective in discouraging behaviour. In fact, punishment may have a negative imapact on the bond between you and your Rottweiler and may even impact their mental health.
For this reason, it is best to avoid punishment or use it in much smaller proportions to positive reinforcement. This does not include telling your dog 'No', which is essential in communicating when you are not happy with a behaviour.
To use an example, a dog may see a scrap of food lying on the table. She knows she'll get yelled at with a bop on the nose if she jumps up to grab the food. But eating that food is a great reward. When the dog considers the consequences of punishment or no reward, she chooses to jump up and grab the food. The reward far outweighed the punishment for grabbing the scraps.
The bottom line is that a reward will always influence your Rottie's behaviour more than punishment or negative reinforcement.
4. Explore New Situations
Once you have established set boundaries and rules in your house and have become consistent with your training, you need to put your Rottweiler in different situations. They need to learn that the rules apply everywhere and with everyone.
This is known as socialising your Rottie. Socialisation covers a wide range of new experiences, which can include the following examples.
- Walking next to other dogs and people
- Playing with smaller dog breeds and puppies
- Being with a variety of ages; children, adults and the elderly
- Meeting males and females, both dogs and humans
- Going to different places; the car, the beach, the forrest, the city, around the neighbourhood, someone else's house, etc.
This gives your Rottweiler the opportunity to learn. In a way, it is setting them up for failure. However, because you are using positive reinforcement, it is teaching them how to behave in a way that keeps them happy and makes them feel safe.
5. Establish Authority
Establishing authority is not something that comes naturally to people. This is a dog instinct that comes from their heritage as pack animals. Within the pack, there is always an Alpha Dog.
The Alpha dog is respected by the other dogs because they provide food, shelter, guidance and protection to the whole pack. As a dog-owner, it is your responsibility to fill this role as pack-leader.
You do not need to think too hard about being the Alpha in the home, but the way you go about day-to-day activities sends signals to your Rottweiler. Below are some examples of Alpha behaviour.
- Be the first to eat your food
- Be the first to walk in and out of the house
- Ensure your Rottie doesn't walk in front of you on the leash
- Enforce the rules of the home
Keep in mind that simply being the provider of food, water and shelter is enough to gain initial respect as pack leader. You will probably find that this connection comes quicker than your bond, which I will explain next.
6. Establish a Bond
The reason I have listed authority before establishing a bond is that bonding with your Rottie comes with time. Rottweilers are incredibly affectionate dogs and are very loyal to their family. As their adopted parent, you become your Rottweiler's family.
Bonding comes from spending time with your Rottie, whether it's sitting next to each other on the couch, playing games in the backyard or giving them lots of love and attention. Rottweilers are very intelligent and will pick up on how you speak to them, so speaking with affection increases this bond.
Once you have established a bond, your Rottweiler will want to be obedient to you. Rotties are well known for being people-pleasers when it comes to their owners. If they know that you will be pleased by good behaviour, they will want to be good to please you.
7. Be Mindful of Previous Traumas
Finally, you need to be mindful of your dog's history. This is not so much of an issue if you have had your Rottie since they were a puppy. But if you have rescued or adopted an adult Rottweiler, or even an older puppy, there may be trauma that affects how he or she responds to training.
This is another big reason why you should try to use positive reinforcement wherever possible in the training of your Rottweiler. Punishments, such as smacking or yelling may elicit an uncharacteristic response due to fear (aggression, antisocial behaviour, etc).
Previous abandonment or mistreatment may also make a Rottweiler less trusting of humans. In this scenario, it may take longer to build your bond together and you may need to take things slower.
What is the Best Age to Train a Rottweiler?
Even though it is possible to train a Rottweiler at any age, it is still best to do so when they are young. Rottweilers should start training as soon as they can leave their mother (usually around six weeks old).
The main reason that this time is best is that a young Rottweiler puppy does not have any bad habits. They will try naughty things for the first time as they grow, but teaching them the rules from this age means the learn quicker. Quicker learning means a less stressful training experience for you.