How to Train Rottweilers as Guard Dogs using Common Sense

By Cuteness Contributor

Many families purchase Rottweilers or other large guard-type breeds with the thought that the dog will "protect the house" and family.

This is usually true - a guard-type breed has a natural territorial and pack-protection instinct to motivate him.

However, without some common-sense training and reasonable expectations, ownership of a guard-type breed can easily become a liability, both emotionally and financially.

Research the Rottweiler as a breed and know what you're getting into.

Rottweilers are a wonderful breed - they are intelligent, loyal, and eager to learn.

Rottweilers are also naturally protective of both people and property. Their size makes their bite worse than their bark, and their bark is pretty impressive.

Be sure you are purchasing a stable Rottweiler from a reputable breeder. For a family protection dog, you are not looking for an extremely "sharp" dog such as might be desirable for police work or competition. You are looking for a calm, eager to please, and people-oriented puppy who is somewhat "softer" in temperament than his very keen littermates.

Train your puppy from day one.

The moment you pick your puppy up from the breeder, his training begins - or, more accurately, it continues, since any good breeder will begin training the puppies from the time they open their eyes.

Young puppies should learn all basic obedience commands and exercises, such as walking calmly on leash at heel, coming when they're called, and staying where they are told.

Beyond basic puppy training, the family protection dog should be very well socialized with people of all ages. Sometimes owners mistakenly think their protection dog should "hate everyone" except the family, and nothing is further from the truth. A dog who is indiscriminately aggressive is not a stable dog, and is a liability to your family, friends, and neighborhood.

Encourage the Rottweiler's protective instincts, provided they are sensible.

A dog who growls or barks when someone approaches your property, or becomes alert and watchful when he notices something strange, is exhibiting common guard-dog sense.

As you train your Rottweiler you'll want to praise him for this type of awareness, but you will also want to teach him to accept your leadership in coping with whatever it is that he's alerting on.

So, a puppy who barks when he sees the UPS man approaching the front door should be calmly praised for letting you know of the event, but then firmly told to step back from the door or stay on his bed once you have determined that there is no threat.

A guard dog who overrides your decisions and questions your judgment by continuing to bark or behave aggressively once you have told him there is no threat is on the fast track to becoming a curse instead of a blessing.

As your Rottweiler matures, he will go through different stages in maturity of temperament as well as maturity of physical growth. Some days, it will seem that your dog has forgotten all his training, other days he will look like an all-star.

Be patient with the dog during these phases. It is always a good idea to back up a step or three or ten in the dog's training if needed until he once again matures through a growth stage.