The intelligence and natural athletic ability of the Rottweiler breed makes them ideal for many different types of competitions and events, provided that the dog is properly trained and socialized. With their large size they are not a good breed to have around other dogs if they are not properly socialized or in any way hostile or aggressive. This is because both their large size as well as the unfortunate reputation that the Rottweiler breed has unjustly earned can work against them. Poor ownership and people that have no idea on how to train a Rottweiler can find themselves with a 140 pound out of control dog, which is never a good idea no matter where you live.
The natural tendency of a well bred Rottweiler is to want to please. They are not aggressive or highly territorial, but they are naturally protective and will definitely be alert and ready to act should the need arise. This natural temperament makes them ideal at obedience work as well as the demanding Schutzhund competitions. The first step in any type of training with the Rottweiler is to get the basic obedience down.
Since the breed can be dominant and they need to have a firmly established human leader, puppy obedience classes are highly recommended for this breed. They can start as soon as the Rottweiler has completed the final set of puppy vaccinations, typically right at or about the twelve week mark. Waiting longer than this can lead to increasing issues with socialization problems as the puppy matures into a juvenile dog. The combination of puppy obedience as well as the socialization aspects of the class will help your Rottweiler get started on the road to becoming a friendly, calm tempered dog that is accepting of other people and pets, but still naturally protective of their own family and space.
Most Rottweilers will learn new commands in less than 5 repetitive training sessions, making them among the top 10 most intelligent breeds as ranked by professional dog trainers. However, this also means that the Rottweiler can easily learn the wrong tricks and commands very quickly as well. Being consistent and firm with training and never encouraging disruptive or potentially dangerous types of behavior is key with this breed. This is especially true as what starts out cute with a Rottweiler puppy is often not at all cute with a mature dog. Jumping up in greeting or leaning against people are two very common habits that Rottweilers can develop that need to be corrected immediately before they become an issue. Teaching an alternative behavior such as sitting or lying down is a positive way to prevent these behaviors from becoming established.
Advanced levels of obedience as well as the American Kennel Club's Canine Citizenship training are a great idea for Rottweilers. These dogs are often trained as assistance dogs for people with physical impairments that need a bit of help in daily activities. The calm temperament, high intelligence and strength of the Rottweiler makes them a great match for this type of service dog work. Many Rottweilers are also trained as therapy dogs, visiting people that are confined to hospitals, long term care facilities and nursing homes as part of ongoing therapy.
Rottweilers can, of course, also be trained in many types of protection work. Typically the average Rottweiler won't need any special training to be an outstanding watch dog, however it is important to teach a stop command for barking. In addition if the dog is going to be used for any type of guard dog work it is always recommended to work with a professional trainer. This will ensure that both the owner and the dog approach training in the correct format and don't encourage any aggressive behavior in the dog. Guard dogs need to be protective but they should not be vicious or hostile, rather they should be trained to do a job with minimum aggression. A mature Rottweiler is intimidating enough to most people that they rarely if ever have to become aggressive in defending their property or family.
Another great event for a Rottweiler is agility training. These dogs love a challenge both physically and mentally, and the agility course is a place for the dogs to really shine. In addition their natural tendency to follow verbal commands and to stay moderately close to their owners and handlers is a great combination in these types of events and competitions. Combining scent discrimination with obedience, agility and protection work is the highly competitive event known as Schutzhund. Originally developed to test police dogs in Germany, specifically the German Shepherds, it is now open to many different breeds. Rottweilers excel at this event that is really tailor made to their natural abilities and temperament.
Most Schutzhund events are run by Schutzhund Clubs. Finding a club and getting involved with training is the first step, which means that the dog has to be fully obedience trained. In addition each dog has to pass a temperament or behavior test, ensuring that overly aggressive dogs or timid dogs are removed from any types of competitions.
Many of the Rottweilers used in police work, military work, search and rescue and detection work are all trained to compete in Schutzhund. Dogs that are part of police and military forces are actually officers, able to promote and move up through the ranks. Rottweiler are often used a patrol dogs as well, either on their own or with their human counterparts.
The number of events that Rottweilers can compete in is really almost limitless. Some are natural droving or herding dogs that can also be used on farms or in livestock management roles. They can also be trained to pull carts, which was a traditional use of these dogs within Germany before World War l.
Finally, a great many Rottweilers are never used on competitions but become beloved family pets. They are good with children, and unlike some of the breeds they do respond well to kids within the family. This is sometimes a great match for older children to get involved in showing and caring for the Rottweiler, providing exercise and something to do for both the dog and the child.