The words "guard dog" elicit in some people images of a dog growling and barking at innocent strangers, threatening them to keep them at a distance. That’s not how a confident guard dog behaves. Rottweilers are naturally protective of their families, and if they are properly socialized and trained, their attitude toward strangers who don't pose a threat is one of indifference. You don’t need to go to great lengths to mold your Rottweiler puppy into a dog who will protect you and your family, but it is essential to thoroughly socialize and obedience train this powerful dog.
Socialization is an essential part of raising any dog, including one intended to be a confident guard dog. Socialization means taking your Rottweiler puppy with you to a variety of places, and letting the puppy meet people and other dogs and animals, indoors and out. These should be happy, positive, rewarding experiences for your Rottie. Socialization familiarizes your puppy with the world and lets the puppy learn how to get along in it. A Rottweiler who lacks this socialization is apt to be fearful and to display fear-based aggression. From puppy on, take your Rottweiler for daily walks where you will encounter other people and dogs. Take your puppy with you to parks and on trips in the car. Joining a dog-training club is a good way to combine obedience training with socialization of your young Rottweiler.
At the heart of every good guard dog is an obedient dog. Your Rottweiler must know that you are in control. A Rottweiler who doesn't accept your leadership can be a danger to you and others. Basic obedience instills confidence in you and your dog, and establishes a solid foundation for additional training. Basic obedience consists of simple commands, such as “Sit,” “Down,” and “Stay.” Rottweilers are intelligent dogs, and can be expected to learn these commands easily.
You can easily teach your Rottweiler puppy basic obedience commands through the use of positive rewards. To teach your puppy to sit on command, allow the pup to focus on the scent of a favorite treat held in your hand. Hold the treat above the puppy's eyes and head, and speak the command, "Sit." Focused on wanting the out-of-reach treat, the pup will soon sit to puzzle things out. Immediately give the treat. With repetition, your Rottweiler will quickly learn to connect the command word, the sit, and getting the treat. Over time, you can go on to use this training method to teach your Rottweiler pup commands such as "Down," "Come," and "Stay," and to perfect the way the growing Rottie executes each command.
The key to a well-behaved dog is consistency. Integrate obedience into your dog's daily life. Always have your Rottie perform an obedience command in exchange for anything the dog wants, whether it's to go through a door, get a tummy rub, receive a meal, or have the leash attached to the collar for a walk.
Stopping Bad Behaviors
All dogs have certain behaviors unique to their breed. Used as a herding dog in Roman times long before they were bred in Germany to be guard dogs, Rottweilers occasionally will try to herd people. This may seem like an insignificant annoyance, but it is actually a dominance behavior. Put an immediate stop to all herding behavior by giving a ‘Stop’ command and moving into the dog’s space if your dog starts to herd. Push the dog back, and prevent the dog from moving toward you.
Guard Dog Traits
Properly trained and socialized Rottweilers will naturally protect you and your family. They should bark at anyone who knocks on the door, but immediately stop once they realize the person is harmless. They should not demonstrate unpredictable behavior, such as lunging for no reason toward random people. On walks, they should appear alert, but neutral toward dogs and other people around you. If your Rottie is constantly snapping, barking or acting out, the behavior derives from fear, not from protection.
Bite training is the practice of teaching a dog to bite on command and to hold that grip. It's often used to train police dogs. Do not attempt this type of training yourself, as you could seriously harm yourself or others. Bite training should be done only by a specialized police or military trainer. Done properly, bite training does not increase a dog's aggression. If done improperly, it can lead to serious aggression problems as well as serious liability issues for you.