Many great dog breeds get a bad reputation, including the Rottweiler. These dogs are loving, loyal, and make excellent guard dogs and family pets, but there are still those that think of Rottweilers as dangerous, in spite of their proven track record as loving companions.
For some reason, Rottweilers are also commonly believed to be hard to train and difficult to work with. They’re known to have a stubborn side, but as many families with Rottweiler members will tell you, they can be incredibly gentle and loving dogs with a penchant for learning and an eagerness to please their people.
So, are Rottweilers easy to train?
Rottweilers are some of the smartest canines around, and they’re commonly used as working and service dogs because of their high levels of intelligence and trainability. They’re easy to train compared to most breeds, even though many Rottweilers do have a slightly stubborn streak.
Need some proof that Rottweilers are easy to train? Check out this video showing what a well-trained Rottweiler is capable of.
How Smart Are Rottweilers?
When it comes to canine training, intelligence isn’t the only factor at play, but it certainly does have a major impact on a dog’s trainability. The smarter your dog is, the easier it will generally be to train.
Granted, some intelligent dogs are very stubborn, and even if they’re intelligent, stubborn dogs can be quite difficult. Even so, having the necessary intelligence to understand what is being asked can make the difference between a dog that’s easy to train and one that causes training to be frustrating and time-consuming.
Rottweiler owners are in luck, at least when it comes to the intelligence department. If you have a Rottie best buddy, then you probably already know that this breed is extremely smart, but here’s some more proof.
According to Dr. Stanley Coren, after careful deliberation with top obedience judges from both the Canadian Kennel Club and the AKC, Rottweilers ranked ninth in a list of the 79 most intelligent dog breeds in the world. This list was published in his book The Intelligence of Dogs, and a lot of work went into determining the relative intelligence of these breeds.
The Rottie’s ranking is pretty impressive on its own, but it’s not the only time that Rottweilers have been named as a highly intelligent breed.
If you ask the American Kennel Club (AKC), the most prominent canine registry in North America, which breeds are the smartest of all, the Rottweiler once again makes the list. Unfortunately, they don’t rank these breeds in order of intelligence as Dr. Coren did, but the inclusion of the Rottweiler on yet another smartest breeds list bodes well for the breed’s overall intelligence.
Why Rottweilers Are Easy to Train?
Now that we’ve established just how intelligent the Rottweiler breed is, let’s talk about the specific traits that make them easier to train than other breeds.
Remember, each individual will have a unique personality, but the following traits are considered to be common to Rottweilers since most members of the breed exhibit these characteristics.
They’re Highly Intelligent
As we’ve already mentioned, Rottweilers are some of the most intelligent of all domestic dog breeds. While this isn’t the end of the road when it comes to trainability, high levels of intelligence certainly can make a dog easier to train, though that’s not always the case.
In order for your dog to learn the commands you’re trying to teach them, they must first be able to understand what it is you’re asking of them. The smarter your dog is, the easier it will be for them to comprehend your commands. Whether they choose to act out your wishes is another matter entirely.
Rotties Are Very Loyal
Even if a dog understands what its trainer is trying to get it to do, it may choose not to do what’s being requested. Dogs that wish to please their trainer are far more likely to do what’s being asked.
This is why smarter dogs aren’t always easier to train. Sometimes, the dog that’s more loyal takes less effort to train, simply because they wish to please their trainer.
Granted, Rottweilers can be a stubborn bunch, so the effect that loyalty can have in overcoming that stubbornness can’t be understated.
Rottweilers Love Positive Encouragement
Some breeds don’t really care about receiving praise. Rottweilers are not one of those breeds.
Rottweilers love to receive positive encouragement and praise. This makes them much easier to train since praise, petting, and a positive tone of voice can all serve as motivating rewards for a Rottweiler in training.
That means negative reinforcement or serious discipline usually isn’t need for Rotties and instead owner can focus on positive reinforcement for success. While this is true of most breeds, it’s especially true for the Rottie.
They Have a History of Work Obedience
Today, Rottweilers perform work as therapy dogs, guide dogs, service dogs, and customs inspectors. They pull carts, compete in obedience competitions, and act as guard dogs for families in which they double as loving and affectionate companions.
Some Rottweilers have even found success in the agility arena which is usually dominated by smaller pups!
Overall, Rottweilers have a long history of working alongside humans, even being used for police and military work in the past. The breed has shown excellent obedience and capabilities for many generations, and you could say that at this point, such traits are in their genes.
Difficulties of Training a Rottweiler
For the most part, training a Rottweiler should prove to be easier than performing the same training with most other breeds. We’ve already discussed the reasons why that is, but as we all know, nothing is ever as easy as it seems on the surface.
Even breeds like Rottweilers that are considered to be highly trainable will have some obstacles to overcome. It’s not all smooth sailing, and the following traits can make Rottweilers a bit more difficult to train than they should be for how smart and loyal they are.
Size and Weight
No matter how gentle and sweet your Rottweiler is, their large size can make things much harder when it comes to training.
Even a Rottweiler on the smaller side is likely to weigh upwards of 80 pounds and stand nearly two feet tall at the shoulders. If you happen to have one of the larger males, then your Rottweiler could feasibly stand 27 inches tall and weigh over 130 pounds.
That’s a lot of dog to hold onto.
In fact, it’s entirely possible that your Rottweiler outweighs you! After all, many people choose a dog like a Rottweiler partially for the protection that such a large and loyal animal can offer.
If your Rottweiler is your size or close to it, then it could potentially be even stronger than you, making it much harder to force your dog to listen when you need it to.
Larger people might not have as much of an issue when it comes to controlling such a big dog during training. But no matter who you are, a giant and incredibly strong canine is going to be harder to control than a small dog that weighs a fraction of what you do.
They Do Have a Stubborn Side
Rottweilers definitely tend to be stubborn, and it’s well known about the breed. Most owners will tell you that their Rottweiler is a great dog but has a will of its own; a trait common to many highly intelligent breeds.
To some degree, your dog’s loyalty can mitigate its stubborn side. The more your Rottweiler wants to please you, the higher likelihood that they will listen to your commands during training.
Even if your Rottweiler is loyal to the bone, it might still decide there are things it would rather do during training than listen to your commands.
The Good Outweighs the Bad
If you’re looking for a breed that’s easy to train, then Rottweilers are worth considering. Despite their impressive size and their tendency to be a bit stubborn, these dogs have enough traits aiding their trainability to make them very trainable altogether.
Thanks to their above-average intelligence, deep-rooted loyalty to their family and leader, and their history of work obedience, Rottweilers are some of the easiest dogs to train and tend to reward their trainers for the efforts they put in.
Tips for Training Your Rottweiler
Though training your Rottweiler should be relatively easy, there are still a few challenges to overcome.
To help you prepare for these challenges before you encounter them, we’ve gathered a few vital tips to keep in mind when training your Rottweiler.
Unfortunately, you won’t always get the opportunity to start training your Rottweiler at a young age. If you adopted your Rottweiler as an adult, for example, then that chance has long since passed.
However, you can still get started with training as soon as possible. The sooner you start training your Rottweiler, the sooner you can establish a bond together and become the leader in your dog’s eyes.
If you do get your Rottweiler when they’re still young, then it’s in the best interest of your dog and family to start training right away.
According to one AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and certified dog trainer, an emotional foundation must be formed through training within the first three to four months of a dog’s life for it to be an easily trainable dog later in life.
Additionally, your Rottweiler is much smaller when it’s still a puppy. Soon, it will be a gigantic dog with about a hundred pounds of body weight to throw around. While your Rottweiler is still small, it’s going to be much easier to keep some control and make training an easier process overall.
Use Only Positive Reinforcement
Rottweilers, like most breeds, don’t respond well to harsh punishments or being yelled at. Rather, they tend to do best with positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is where you offer praise and rewards when your dog does the behaviors you want, but you don’t punish it for failing to perform as hoped. With enough attempts, the dog should begin to associate the positive reward with the desired behavior.
When this happens, they should start to perform the command with more and more accuracy until they have fully associated the command with the action and they’re able to perform it when requested.
If instead you punish your Rottweiler or yell at it when they fail to do what you wanted, you’ll create a dog that’s shy, anxious, and afraid to do anything.
Moreover, due to their already stubborn nature, you’ll probably turn your Rottweiler away from you, making it even less likely to behave as you hope.
Join an Obedience Class or Get a Trainer
Unless you’re already an expert dog trainer, there’s almost certainly a ton that you don’t know about training dogs.
So, what do you do when you need to learn something you don’t currently know much about?
You hire an expert.
Here, you’ve got two viable options. First, you could join an obedience class. Second, you could hire a trainer to work with just you and your dog.
Obedience classes are affordably priced and take place in a group setting. Your dog will have to overcome the desire to pay attention to the other dogs and focus on your training.
A trainer will be there to help with each step of the class. When you encounter problems, they’ll help you get through them with your Rottweiler together.
Obedience classes usually take place one or several nights per week for a period of several weeks. By the end, your dog should understand all of the basic obedience commands and be able to perform them correctly, even when there are other dogs present.
If you choose to hire a trainer to work with you and your dog alone, you’ll get more concentrated attention, which could result in even faster progress.
You’ll also be able to pick and choose what you want your Rottweiler to learn so if you want to teach a more uncommon Rottweiler skill like how to retrieve or even general farm work a trainer is the way to go.
That said, hiring a trainer this way will be far pricier and you’ll be missing out on the socialization aspect that the other dogs in an obedience class will provide.
Are Rottweilers Easy to House Train?
When it comes to house training or housebreaking a Rottweiler puppy, a lot of factors will affect how easy of a time you have. Rottweilers have all the traits necessary to make housebreaking an easy affair, but differences between individuals could mean that your experience is quite different from the norm.
Rottweilers are very smart dogs. If you start housebreaking your Rottweiler as a young puppy, they should learn quite quickly, so long as you’re using positive reinforcement to aid in training rather than attempting to punish the pup when they have an accident.
Punishing your Rottweiler during housebreaking can make your puppy more fearful and even anxious. In the end, this could have the opposite effect of what you desire, making the process of housebreaking take much longer.
If you start house training your Rottweiler while it’s still young and you stick to positive reinforcement by rewarding your puppy when it goes outside, you should find that housebreaking a Rottweiler is a rather easy process.
How Do You Punish a Rottweiler?
Rottweilers are not dogs that respond well to negativity. If you chastise your Rottweiler by yelling or hitting them, then you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice.
In order for your Rottweiler to listen to you, it must respect you as a leader and trust you deeply. Whenever you punish your Rottweiler in such ways, you’re eroding that respect and trust. Instead of teaching your Rottweiler to trust you, you’re teaching it to fear you.
Rather than punishing your Rottweiler for its mistakes, consider offering ample praise, love, and possibly even reward treats whenever your Rottie displays the behaviors you’re looking for.
This positive reinforcement will help your Rottweiler to understand what you want from it and offer an incentive for doing what is requested. Once your Rottie associates the reward, behavior, and command, they should begin performing the behavior on command, even if the reward is only praise.
Your best buddy could be one of several hundred domestic dog breeds, but if it’s a Rottweiler, then it will be easier to train than most.
Rottweilers are one of the top ten smartest breeds according to researchers so it’s no surprise they’re so popular across the world and even showing up in their fair share of celebrity homes. They’re also fiercely loyal, respond well to positive encouragement, and they’re incredibly loyal. All of this adds up to a highly trainable pooch.
Still, temperamental differences between individuals mean that you could have a different experience than most. But in general, Rottweilers tend to respond well to training and learn quickly, making the breed easy to train overall.