You own a Rottweiler, now what?
Family introductions
House training and obedience
Crate training
Health and nutrition
Your responsibilities
Beyond the basics
Your rescue and AKC
Rottweilers and fun
History of the Rottweiler

You own a Rottweiler, now what?

Welcome to ownership of a Rottweiler! You are about to embark on an enjoyable, demanding adventure: Integration of an adult Rottweiler or Rottweiler puppy into your family.  We encourage you to contact Gulstream Guardian Angels Rottweiler Rescue if you have questions or concerns about your Rottweiler. We are happy to help.

GGARR places dogs into homes we believe will uphold the standards that are imperative to owning a Rottweiler. If you are reading this document, it is likely you have been deemed a qualified, responsible owner. It is your job to live up to that title. It is our job to show you how.

GGARR evaluates all dogs in our program for placeability, temperament, and ability to be rehomed. GGARR does not take dogs into our program with aggression/bite histories--to either people or other animals--or dogs that have been used for purposes of guarding or fighting.  All our dogs have been selected because of their social and training abilities and because of their behavior with animals, people, and ability to handle stressful situations.

Your new Rottweiler will be happiest when included as a member of the family, engaged in daily activities with people the dog loves. Remember that Rottweilers are working dogs and are happiest when their minds and bodies are occupied. An untrained, poorly socialized Rottweiler left to its own devices can become a menace. Your Rottie must always be closely supervised. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous breeders have capitalized on the popularity of the breed (13th most popular breed in 2002, based on AKC registrations) and have released Rottweilers to people who do not understand responsible ownership. As a result, Rottweilers have gained a poor reputation with both the press and general public. You are likely to hear remarks about the breed's viciousness and gruesome stories.

In foster care, the dogs learn or relearn basic house manners, begin basic obedience, get crate trained, and receive basic training to make them good house pets. Foster care is also the time we address other situations that will determine what type of family is appropriate for the dog.

You, the adoptive family, must continue with what the dog has learned in foster care. No dog will walk into your home and immediately identify it as his or her home. Chances are your dog has lived in a home, been in an animal shelter or a boarding kennel, and then lived in a foster home prior to being in your home. With all this change, you need to set the ground rules on how you expect your dog to live in your home. Remember, you are the one in charge, and the dog is the dog.

Refrain from viewing your dog as a poor homeless creature and do not attempt to compensate for what the dog may have experienced before becoming your dog. Dogs don't feel self-pity. Set the rules. If you don't want your dog on the sofa in the future, don't let your dog on the sofa now. If you don't want your dog to beg at the table in the future, don't let your dog do it now. If you don't want your dog to jump up on people in the future, don't let your dog do it toady. Now is the time to make sure you set up the situation for the future.

Pack order is especially important to Rottweilers. A pack needs a leader, and YOU are the pack leader. It is up to you to ensure your dog remains in its DOG status-dogs don't consider themselves humans in fur coats. Humans have privileges that dogs do not, such as sitting on furniture, eating first, and walking through doors and down stairs first. Dogs expect a human, as the leader, to do these things first. If you show your dog that these things are not important to you, your dog will assume the leadership role in these cases. Since your dog is not clear on which leadership roles ARE important to you, your dog will likely to investigate and possibly challenge other leadership options-such as marking your bed.

We strongly recommend  crate your dog when you are not home. Crating is not cruel; it is not inhumane. Dogs don't consider a crate "jail." Canines are denning animals, and a crate to your family dog is similar to a den. As long as you use the crate in a positive manner, your dog's crate is your dog's safe place. The first few weeks are critical in defining appropriate behavior. Allowing your dog free run of your home when you are not there sets your dog up for failure because your dog will make up his or her own rules. These can include soiling in the house, sleeping on furniture, and destructive behavior. A crate is especially useful in housetraining, or helping to remove confusion as to where elimination is appropriate. Dogs are tidy animals and generally will not soil their crates unless they are ill or unable to wait.

Confining your dog to one room is the next best thing; however, it is a poor substitute for a crate because the dog has too much room to explore and opportunities to take advantage of the space. A small bathroom, for instance, has rolls of toilet paper to shred, toothpaste to eat, a door to scratch and gouge, a window sill to chew, a shower curtain to pull down, and towels to destroy.

Give your dog privileges as the dog earns them. With some dogs, this can take months. It is critical you don't immediately give your dog too much freedom because you want to avoid an overly confident dog with habits and expectations that may be difficult to overcome in the future.

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The Rottweiler's nature makes it agreeable and trainable, suitable for livestock herding, search and rescue, assistance and therapy, and performance and conformation rings. The Rottweiler's inherent ability makes the powerful, intelligent dog suitable for work in army and police forces. The breed's calmness makes the Rottweiler an outstanding family companion.

Family Introductions

No doubt, all immediate family members have met the new dog and everyone agrees you have chosen the best dog in the program. What will you do when you get home? How will you introduce your pets?

The safest way to make introductions is to place both dogs in a down stay position near to each other. This is not always possible, so controlled upright introductions may be in order. Don't let the dogs charge each other. The key here is you maintain control: You are the pack leader. Only the pack leader allows disputes to be settled, and typically the pack leader settles disputes him- or herself. Assert your authority--do not tolerate arguing.

Many dogs will hackle up (puffing up their fur, noticeable first on the dog's back) when meeting dogs they don't know. Since hackling makes a dog appear larger, some dogs do this when they feel threatened or powerless. Dogs will go through ritual posturing when meeting for the first time and often upon reintroduction. This posturing is a means of sizing each other up and deciding which dog will be dominant. Issues arise when the posturing is not enough to decide which will be top dog.

Dogs will first meet head on with heads held high and limbs stiff. They will check each other out, front on. Then one dog will present its side, or the more dominant dog may insist on moving up so the dogs are side to side sizing each other up. They will check flanks and genitalia. This may culminate in a quick spin from the less dominant dog and a play bow--an invitation to play. This is the usual progression of events with dogs that can easily determine their status.

With dogs that are more nearly equals, additional posturing and vocalizations occur. The dogs will circle one another repeatedly. Be alert, as sometimes these sessions are accompanied by snapping and, if the dogs don't back down, fighting. Watch for increased stiffness in the limbs, hackling, escalated growling, direct eye contact, and lifted lips (snarl) or bared teeth, as these are all preludes to fighting. Separate the dogs and keep them separated for a time at home. Let them see each other through a barrier, establishing your own pack order if they cannot establish it without fighting. Feed the higher dog first and pet the higher dog first. The higher dog may sleep near you in your room. Take the higher dog with you and the leave the other at home. Keep in mind that the dog you chose as the lower dog may not agree with you in cases where both dogs are very dominant.

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House Training and Obedience

Ten Rules of Potty Training

  1. Set a routine and stick to it. Feed, exercise, play, and sleep at exactly the same time everyday. Dogs respond to routines and set schedules.

  2. Feed a single diet during house training and don't vary your dog's diet until your dog is reliable in the house. Digestive upsets can lengthen the training process.

  3. Take your dog or puppy out periodically throughout the day and as soon as your dog has finished a meal, ten minutes after drinking, after each play session, as soon as the dog wakes up from a nap.

  4. Take the dog or puppy to the exact potty area. Praise for good potties in appropriate places.

  5. Never discipline for an accident unless you catch the dog or pup in the act. Pick puppies up, taking them straight outside to the potty area where you put them down. Take adult dogs by the collar and rush them out to the potty area. Praise the dog for even standing in the potty area.

  6. Never return a dog to the scene of the accident. No matter how much you scold, yell, or act upset, your dog will NOT understand why you're angry. Their guilty looks are only a response to your demeanor.

  7. Never let a dog see you clean up messes. Crate the dog or place it in a different room and then clean up.

  8. Always use or white vinegar and water with baking soda or products made to remove urine to clean up messes. Using other products leaves scent behind and may encourage the dog to use the same spot again.

  9. Remember that any accident is your fault. Your dog cannot open the door and may not have learned to ask. Be on your toes to prevent accidents.

  10. PRAISE and REWARD good behavior. Ignore accidents unless caught in the act.

The first step is to determine if there is a problem-is the behavior really undesirable? For example, some Rottweilers are vocal, expressive dogs. Though not inclined to nuisance barking, some do vocalize and this trait often surprises novice owners. Is the dog really growling or is the dog vocalizing pleasure at a vigorous scratch of an itchy spot? Many people are unaware that Rottweilers often rumble in pleasure or play. While these rumbles tend not to be intense or high pitched, they can intimidate novice owners. On the other hand, a dog that deep rumbles with increasing intensity while eating is probably serious about guarding his or her meal.

There are annoying behaviors; there are dangerous behaviors. We cover a few of each to give you a starting point; however, you will learn more about behavior when you enroll yourself and your Rottweiler in an educational program with a professional trainer, preferably one using motivational methods and having experience with working dogs. We cannot stress this point enough: You will need help at some point in your retraining.

Motivational retraining redirects the dog's attention from an undesirable task to a desirable one. For instance, pica is the ingestion of material of no nutritional value (i.e. grass, rocks, feces, remote controls, lingerie etc). The object is to distract the dog with a favorable object (toy or acceptable chewy), remove the undesirable object, and say "Mine." The dog is not punished for the behavior because it is not the behavior that is unacceptable - it is the article. The dog, after a period of time, will learn certain things are "mine" and are not to be chewed.

This redirection technique can be used in many situations and works well with dogs having a history of abuse or harsh treatment. Abused dogs don't respond well to physical punishment-they shut down-and anyway, abuse has no place in a home. Motivational and redirection techniques are the way to train a dog that will trust you and respect your authority. Consistency and attention are your keys.

If a dog is on lead and barking at a passerby, redirect the focus of the dog's attention to you and away from the passerby. Do this by saying the dog's name, showing your dog a treat or toy, or giving a quick tug and release on your dog's collar. Once the dog's attention is on you and you become the focus, reward the dog. Give your dog the treat or toy or praise and pet your dog. Do not give your dog the treat or praise your dog until the behavior has completely stopped; otherwise, you reinforce the bad behavior. Timing is critical in motivational training. It is harder work than compulsory methods and is one reason why many people don't use it and even shun it. Don't be a lazy trainer. Use motivational methods and you will end up with a dog that is more dependable and trustworthy than a dog that responds only because it fears painful stimulus.

There are cases where a swift, hard correction is necessary. These are situations where the dog is in danger or the dog is putting someone else in danger. It is then your responsibility to use whatever means necessary to prevent a problem. Similar to breaking up a fight, there is no right or wrong way to issue a serious correction over a serious issue, such as a dog in drive, or one chasing a child. Use whatever is at hand to accomplish what needs accomplishing.

When the episode is over, however, remember that the episode was your fault. You put your dog in the situation in the first place. As the human and the one in charge, you must always be responsible for thinking ahead of your dog and anticipating what may happen. Rottweilers are extremely intelligent and will keep you on your toes. Don't let your dog down.

There are several types of aggression in dogs. None are acceptable but some are more understandable than others, including aggression related to dominance, irritation, predatory, resource, and territory.

· Dominance aggression is not something you encounter if you have done your bonding and training exercises. If your dog respects your position as head of the pack-sees you as alpha dog-your dog will never challenge your right to lead. Aggression related to dominance is behavior you may see if you adopted a dog that is aggressive to other dogs. Such dogs do not want to relinquish status to another dog. These dogs can be either male or female. Common dominance behaviors are mounting a dog or person or placing a paw in your lap to gain attention. While the paw in the lap can also be a submissive posture, your dog should not progress to placing both paws in your lap, and should certainly not get into a position where the dog is standing over you in a truly dominant position.

Nudging or pushing for attention are both dominant gestures, since alphas demand attention from pack members whenever they wish. Failure to obey a known command on the first request, yawning, or grooming under these same circumstances indicate an unwillingness to submit. The dog should immediately be gently and firmly placed in the appropriate position. Reinforce and reward submissive posture from dominant dogs as often as you can.

Dominant dogs often resist being petted on their necks or heads, as this is reminiscent of another dog asserting dominance over him or her. Reward submissive behavior, doing so only after the grumbling has stopped and the dog is truly submissive. Make dominant dogs earn rewards of petting and feeding by having the dog work for them, by sitting or doing a simple trick.

If confronted by an aggravated dominant dog, avoid making eye contact and back slowly away. Call your local animal control officer and report the dog.

· Irritable aggression usually has roots in a health-related problem. If your dog suddenly becomes growly or obstinate, and these behaviors occur regularly under the same conditions, suspect an illness as being the source of the aggression. Make a veterinary appointment to determine the cause.

· Predatory aggression (prey drive) can be a serious behavioral problem if not redirected. The dog could injure itself (chasing cars) or someone else (chasing bikes or people). Fast moving objects seem to trigger this instinct in most dogs. It is your responsibility to recognize this behavior in your dog and prevent its expression by confining the dog in such a way as it cannot be harmed or do harm. If your dog chases cars, a fence will keep your away from the road. If your dog is inclined to chase running children or animals, the dog must be kept on lead or crated when small children are present. It is also wise to teach children to use "walking feet" when moving near dogs so not to elicit the dog's prey drive. "Freeze tag"-standing motionless when a dog runs towards you and not looking at the dog-is something even small children understand.

· Resource aggression, the guarding of prized possessions, toys, or food, should not be confused with dominance aggression, because even submissive dogs will guard resources. Prevention is the best way to deal with guarding behavior: Remove favorite hiding places or make them inaccessible. Don't give the dog items it may guard. Teach the dog that giving up a possession is rewarded with a game, a treat, or a different possession. To take a guarded object from your Rottweiler, don't bend over the dog and reach for it; instead, call your dog to you and distract your dog with something equally wonderful--a game, petting, or a yummy food treat. After the dog is distracted and has forgotten about the object, pick it up and resolve to not let your dog have the item again. Continue to retrain the behavior out of your dog with fun relinquishing games like fetch.

One solution to food aggression is to approach your dog's bowl while your dog is eating with something really tasty. Call your dog by name to get your dog's attention, then give your dog a bit by hand, eventually adding the yummy treat to your dog's food bowl. Soon your dog will be delighted to see someone approaching his or her food bowl.

· Territorial aggression usually manifests itself in a mature dog. Don't encourage territorial behavior in a Rottweiler-your Rottie will guard when the need arises. Encouraging your dog will likely make your dog a nuisance at best, a danger at worst.

  10 rules for dealing with aggression (K-9 Motivations, 1997):

  1. Train your dog on a regular basis to establish your rank as alpha.

  2. Give no freebies because NILIF (nothing in life is free). Make your dog win every reward or good thing by working for it. Your dog must complete a task before he or she gets any attention, treats, or food.

  3. Limit petting to 15-second intervals that your dog must work to earn. Do not pet your dog mindlessly at his or her insistence.

  4. Don't let your dog walk ahead of you or anyone else. You go through all doors and upstairs ahead of your dog.

  5. Only allow your dog one single toy. All others are yours and your dog may only play with them if you wish to share them, and then only after he or she earns the right.

  6. Fetch is the only game you play with your dog. Don't engage your dog in any contest of strength such as tug of war or wrestling.

  7. Make your dog practice five long downs a week for the rest of his or her life. Start with three minutes and work up to 15.

  8. Give your dog daily grooming sessions during which the dog must stand, sit, or lie still. Make the initial session short and lengthen them to 10 minutes. Remember, praise lavishly when your dog behaves.

  9. Never walk around or step over your dog. Always make your dog move out of the way whenever he or she blocks your path.

  10. Take things slowly and have patience. Never engage your dog in a battle of wills, and always end all lessons on a winning note.

This is a most undesirable habit, annoying to both your family and neighbors. A barking dog is reacting to a stressful stimulus, and excessive barking can jeopardize your dog's health. This habit can be one of the most difficult to retrain. In order to curb barking behaviors, it is important to determine when they occur and what initiates barking.

Dogs bark for various reasons: territoriality, to signal to other dogs, barrier frustration, fear, separation anxiety, inactivity, boredom, or paranoia. You'll need to determine which is the cause of your dog's barking and work from there to curb the habit. There are several devices you can buy for the purpose of teaching your dog not to bark; some use an electrical stimulus, a noise stimulus, or a citronella spray to discourage barking and are activated by barking. A big problem with these devices is that they cannot distinguish between acceptable (e.g. alarm bark) and unacceptable barking.

The best way to discourage barking behavior in your dog is to prevent the situation that causes your dog to bark in the first place.

Keep bored dogs active, retrain separation anxiety (this will be discussed), or eliminate that which causes fear and stress in your dog. Eliminate barrier frustration by not chaining your dog or leaving your dog in a fenced yard for extended periods of time. Don't leave territorial dogs outside to disturb neighbors. Since some dogs bark at a fence if they believe the fence is theirs to protect, keep these dogs away from visual stimulus by preventing them seeing or hearing other people, animals, or objects on the other side of the fence. Consider crating your dog inside your house where your dog's barking won't disturb neighbors. Tying your dog is only acceptable if you are within eyeshot of your dog and a fence is not available. Many dogs strangle to death each year because they are left tied without supervision. Rottweilers are strong dogs and can break away when straining at the tether and barking in a protective manner. Without a barrier or some sort--a fence or hedge, for instance--many dogs cannot distinguish where their territory ends. Once loose, they can viciously defend what they believe to be their territory--small children can be mauled and killed by dogs. And focused on pursuing the perceived invader, your dog may run into traffic and be killed.

While this is not a dangerous habit in and of itself, it is an annoying one. Unchecked, begging can escalate to the habit of grabbing-and this is a dangerous habit if your dog grabs from children. Begging can be dangerous to both people and your dog if he or she is underfoot while meals are being cooked. Don't run the risk of having your dog seriously burned in your kitchen or suffering serious internal burns by eating hot, spilled food. Teach your dog boundaries when people are eating and preparing food: People always eat first and dogs wait unobtrusively and patiently to be fed.

It is useful to train your dog in practice sessions instead of waiting until you sit down to enjoy a hot meal to begin training your dog. Until your dog is trained, confine him or her in a crate or separate room at meal times or while cooking. Show your dog an acceptable place or position to wait in until you are finished. A down stay is a good position or your dog can wait just outside the room. Reward your dog for good behavior and place your dog back in the appropriate position if he or she breaks. And, never, ever feed your dog snacks from the table.

Car Chasing
The best way to retrain car chasing is to PREVENT it. What is your dog doing near the road, anyway? If your dog doesn't have a PERFECT, 100% recall, your dog has no business being off lead and unconfined by a fence. If your dog decides to give chase while it is on lead, you can easily deliver a correction and praise your dog when the behavior is stopped.

Counter Surfing
Again, prevention is the best method. Keep food and other appealing items away when adults can't supervise your dog. Another option is to crate or confine your dog in an area where it can't make mistakes.

Chewing is a natural behavior in dogs. It is a natural means of removing debris from the dog's teeth, it helps alleviate boredom, and is calming to dogs. Your Rottweiler is a powerful chewer and can be destructive if his or her behavior is not modified. Correct the dog for chewing undesirable objects by first reprimanding the dog verbally, taking the object away, saying "MINE," then replacing the object with an acceptable object to chew. Remember to praise your dog when he or she chews on acceptable objects.

Digging is another natural habit that can occasionally be undesirable. Dogs dig to relieve boredom, make a comfortable sleeping area (newly turned earth is much cooler than surface dirt), and leave scent. Give your dog a good place where digging is acceptable. Fill in undesired holes with his or her own feces; doing so usually cures your dog from inappropriate digging.

Jumping Up
A dog who jumps up on people is one that is out of control. This dog is a threat to people's safety, particularly where children and the elderly are concerned. Dogs jump for a couple of reasons. The first is a joyful greeting jump. The focus of the jump is to gain access to the person's face. Dogs learn to identify people by their breath as well as their body odor. Dogs also associate human communication with our faces, thus dogs jump up to be near our faces for greetings.

When your dog greets a stranger, have him sit for attention, then ask the stranger to bend down to interact with your dog. Your dog receives no attention until he or she is sitting quietly--no vocal greeting, no eye contact, no petting, no acknowledgement of his or her dog's presence. The stranger rewards your dog by greeting him or her when your dog is sitting quietly and calmly.

If your dog is a chronic jumper and will not sit appropriately, then other measures to ensure people's safety are needed while you work on your dog's sit stay. Until the behavior is under control, introduce your dog to people on lead wearing his or her training collar. Your dog is allowed to approach for the greeting and is asked to sit. If your dog jumps, give a strong correction and say "OFF!" at the same time. Place the dog in a sit and reward for the sit, even if the sit is only a couple of seconds long. If you consistently only reward for the sit, your dog will eventually get the idea.

If your Rottweiler is jumping on you in greeting, an extended arm with the palm out in the traditional "stop" position accompanied by a good firm "stop" command usually halts even totally untrained dogs in their tracks. Follow that by a "goooood dog" and then walk past your dog. After your dog settles down, then you can greet your dog. If your dog persists and refuses to OFF or SIT, you may need to use more forceful means to prevent an injury. At the same time your dog launches him or herself for the jump, raise your knee to a height where it will catch your dog hard in the chest and say "NO! OFF!!" Ask for the sit and instantly praise a good sit. This method means you may have to stop what you are doing and praise or correct, but that's what owning Rottweilers is all about. This method works; the intelligence of your Rottie probably only requires you to do this several times before your dog begins to mind his or her manners.

Many dogs entering our program have come from uncertain or abusive situations and, consequently, have some shyness issues. Under-socialized dogs are often shy. The key to overcoming shyness is socialization--exposure to a variety of people and situations-in a positive fashion. It is important though, not to over stimulate a shy dog as often it can lead to severe behavioral problems and fear biting. Below are a few hints you and the people your dog meets can use to help your dog overcome shyness:

  • avoid use of force.

  • initially, eliminate stressful stimulus.

  • avoid face to face confrontations.

  • If your dog does trust someone, use that person to build the dog's trust in other people; if the object of the dog's trust trusts some other person, then the dog may also place its trust in this person. Have the person your dog trusts shake the new person's hand and smile and chat with the new person while neither person focuses on the dog at all.

  • If you need to take the leash of an untrusting dog, always have the trusted person put the leash on the dog and hand the leash to you. The dog will recognize that transfer and it will help build trust.

If you're thinking there's an awful lot of training needed and you're wondering how you'll find the time, you're right: There is an awful lot of training required and you're going to have to find the time and spend the time. Well-trained Rottweilers aren't born, they become that way because of the time their owners spend on them and with them.

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Crate Training

When people hear the term "house training," they automatically assume potty training is being discussed. House training is actually training for the behaviors you find acceptable in your house and includes potty training.

The first step in house training a dog is to determine what is acceptable in your house and what isn't. You need to develop one set of rules for the household and everyone must stick to them--dogs are not adept at discriminating between the rules of one person and another. Among the many questions that need answering are:

  • Is it okay for the dog to sleep on the furniture? Dogs with dominance problems have no business in prime sleeping spots but other dogs are fine with this arrangement.
  • Is it okay for the dog to be in the same room in which meals are being eaten?
  • Is there any room in the house that is off limits to the dog?
  • Will the dog be allowed messy chew toys in the house? On the carpet?
  • Is it okay for the dog to roughhouse in the house?

Discuss these questions with family members BEFORE you bring the dog home and enforce your rules from the instant your dog walks through the door. Because dogs live in a hierarchy, they are fine with different sets of rules for different dogs. You just need to be consistent and spend the time needed to make them clear.

The single most useful tool in the house training (and potty training) of your Rottweiler is a crate. The crate serves as the dog's own quiet room, a place where your dog can go to get away from the hubbub of daily life. Children must be taught not to disturb a dog in its crate. Some dogs become possessive of their crates so have a crate for each dog and don't expect them to share.

Crating a dog is not cruel or unjust, and is not a punishment to the dog. The crate is a safe haven for a dog because crates appeal to a dog's its most basic denning instinct. Dogs den in close quarters to provide themselves with ability to meet a challenge from a single direction and to conserve heat (Meyer, 1986). Chose a crate in which your dog can stand comfortably without lowering his or her head. Your dog should also be able to turn around without bumping its nose or butt on the sides and should be able to lie full out without being cramped.

The crate provides you with a safe place to confine your dog when you can't supervise properly. It gives you peace of mind to leave your dog at home while you shop or work because your crated dog will not injure him or herself or destroy your possessions. It gives you peace of mind during potty training since dogs rarely soil its den. Remember to potty a dog immediately after uncrating. Carry puppies directly to the potty area.

Put a blanket in your dog's crate for comfort and put the crate in a quiet area in the busiest room in the house. Dogs do not want to feel isolated from their families even when they want quiet time for themselves. Crating will help your new dog adjust more quickly to your household. Any initial complaining on the part of your new dog doesn't not likely result from the crate but of the actual adjustment. Don't let a complaining dog out of a crate. Wait until the dog settles before releasing him or her. Rottweilers are so smart they'll quickly learn that if they complain loudly and long enough you'll relent and let it out. Don't use the crate as punishment. Never put your dog in the crate when you are angry or directly after a scolding. Ask the dog to do something you know it can do, (e.g. sit) praise him for doing it and then crate the dog after the praising (even if you are angry).

Health and Nutrition

Along with the mental well being of your Rottweiler, you are also responsible for your dog's physical well being. It is your responsibility to your Rottweiler and to NERR&R to keep your dog in the best physical condition you can. This includes regular veterinary care, grooming, and feeding your dog the best food you can.

The Raw Edge - Proponents of BARF (bones and raw foods or biologically appropriate raw foods) say it's the best diet for your dog. There are several maxims to keep in mind in addition to the old proverb KISS (keep it simple stupid)

  • The dog's digestive system is short. Therefore, if you want your dog to access the nutrients of a particular plant food, break it down--process it or blend it.
  • Variety is good because it ensures a wide and varied range of nutrients, just as if the dog were feeding in the wild.
  • Fresh animal protein and fat is still the centerpiece of the dog's diet.
  • Fresh is superior to frozen which is superior to canned which is superior to powder (e.g., garlic).
  • Fresh water, good nutrition, exercise, herbs to promote healing from the inside out, and patience are valuable.


  • aids digestion,
  • is a potent immune system stimulant,
  • is a potent anti-microbial (parasites),
  • contains an amino acid derivative, allium. When garlic is consumed, an allinase enzyme that converts allium to allicin is released. Allicin has an antibiotic effect; its antibacterial action is equivalent to one percent that of penicillin.
  • is also an anti-fungal agent effective against candidiasis, vaginal yeast infections, and most pathogenic fungi,
  • is good for the heart and colon,
  • is effective in the treatment of arthritis and circulation problems.

You might make a teaspoon of garlic-roughly a clove--a regular component of your dog's daily diet. While fresh food-processed garlic is best, minced from a jar works well, too. Some people add yogurt to their dog's diets to counterbalance the garlic's anti-microbial effects on the digestive system's good bacteria.

Many commercially prepared dog foods are not acceptable foodstuffs for Rottweilers-or any dog, for that matter. Often pet foods are made from waste and byproducts from the human food industry. Because the pet food industry is under regulated and uses by products of human food, pet food often contains contaminants having little or no nutritional value and may be harmful to your dog.

Read the ingredient listing on the bag. A good kibble contains as its first ingredient a named meat, such as "lamb" or "chicken." "Meat by-products" or "poultry by-products" aren't equivalents. You want the named meat to be listed as "meal" (as in "lamb meal") because meal has no water. Since ingredients are listed in order of their abundance, you don't want to feed a food in which water is the most abundant ingredient, post processing.

The next ingredient of importance is the carbohydrate source. Corn, wheat, and rice are the major ones. Rice is preferable because it is easily digested and rarely allergenic. Corn is very difficult for dogs to digest because of their short digestive systems. Many dogs suffer from wheat allergies. Good kibble will not contain chemical preservative such a BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin; vitamin E or C, both natural preservatives, will be listed instead.

You can perform a simple test to determine the quality of the ingredients in the food you feed: Soak a cup of the food in two cups of water and cover the bowl. Check the food after six hours. If it has swollen more than half its dry size, it contains too much fiber and bulk (indigestible matter of no nutritional value) and may cause your dog to bloat.

Any hair and foreign bodies you find are by-products of processing; these too provide no nutritional value and can be harmful. You pay for these ingredients--they are part of the food you'll be feeding your dog, yet they offer no nutritional value to your Rottweiler. Foods high in bulk with little nutritional value deprive dogs of amino acids and minerals. Your dog will have to consume more food to make up for this deprivation. Purchase quality kibble if you're not feeding a natural diet. Doing so is less expensive in the long run because you feed less and your dog will likely have fewer health problems. And since you can feed less of a quality kibble, less going in means less coming out, too. Every year Whole Dog Journal lists what it considers the top 10 dog kibble brands.

General Health Care
While a recommended health care reading list is provided at the back of this manual, we offer basics in this section.

Regular veterinary check ups are mandatory under our contract. Immunizations and de-worming schedules will depend on your geographical location and veterinarian's recommendation. Home health care should involve daily grooming and inspection for external parasites such as ticks and fleas, as well as cuts, abrasions, and lumps. Weekly ear cleaning, nail trimming, and dental inspection are also mandatory.

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Your Responsibilities

You must be prepared to make your dog part of your family-a member of your family who follows rules, and has privileges and responsibilities. You must be prepared to enforce rules in a fair, consistent manner. Each human member of your family must be aware of the rules to which the dog must adhere; it is confusing to your dog to if you have one set of rules and another family member has a completely different set. Be prepared to intervene on your dog's behalf if your dog is being mishandled, no matter how uncomfortable it may make you. Contrary to popular belief, big dogs don't enjoy having their sides pounded. Rottweilers, in general, are not happy with strangers taking liberties with them. Step in and correct the offender--or your Rottweiler may be inclined to give the correction for you. The consequences of your dog doing so can be very serious indeed.

Regular grooming, examining your dog for ticks, scratches, and unusual lumps or bumps, and nail trimming is not only essential to the well being of your dog but also to the well being of your relationship with him. This is wonderful time to bond with your dog and should not be passed up. You must feed your Rottweiler a diet that will keep your dog fit, healthy, and of good coat. This includes a diet of natural foods (http://www.b-naturals.com) or high quality kibble supplemented with some fresh meat weekly. Rottweilers in particular suffer on low quality feeds. A poor diet shows first in their coat color, then in their health. Feed naturally preserved food free of BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. These chemicals are thought to contribute to cancer, and Rottweilers are, unfortunately, susceptible to many types of cancers.

Regular veterinary and dental care are essential to the well-being of your Rottweiler and are part of your responsibility to your dog. This includes routine check-ups as recommended by your veterinarian according to your dog's age, keeping your dog up-to-date on vaccinations, periodic tests of your dog's stool to detect internal parasites, and keeping your dog on heartworm preventative.

It is also your responsibility to provide mental stimulation in the form of regular exercise and training sessions throughout your dog's entire life. Rottweilers are working dogs and they require regular work to keep them mentally sound. There are many activities you can participate in with a well-socialized Rottweiler.

Finally, your Rottweiler should not have access to potentially life-threatening substances including household chemicals and antifreeze. Onions and chocolate are also potentially lethal. Christmas tree tinsel can be ingested and not passed by your dog. Electrical cords should be high enough off the floor and out of reach of a chewing puppy. Never leave your dog alone with toys that can change consistency--even toys purchased in your pet store.

Rawhide expands when wet, and can cover the airway, suffocating your dog. Cow's hooves splinter and can get lodged on the bridge of the mouth, causing the dog to avoid food. This usually is not easily visible, and owners have spent hundreds of dollars at the vet only to learn the dog had a hoof stuck to the roof of its mouth. A good toy for your dog when you are not around is a marrowbone, a Nylabone, a Kong, or biscuit ball.

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Beyond the Basics

A general idea of some ailments with which your Rottweiler may be afflicted and how to live with these chronic conditions.

·   HD (hip dysplasia) is a painful arthritic condition caused by a deformation of the hip joint. IHD may be accidental, but is most often hereditary. Symptoms are characterized by pain and limping on one or both sides, difficulty sitting or standing from a down position, and an unsteady gait. Treatment may entail surgical removal of the femoral head, a shortening of ligaments or muscles to hold the femoral head in place, or reconstructive or replacement surgery.

·   OCD (Osteochondrosis dissecans) usually affects growing puppies between four and 12 months old (Carlson, 1980) and typically affects the shoulder joint. Stress caused by over activity and weakness causes the cartilage to separate form the long bones, sometimes chipping into the joint requiring surgical removal. Treatment involves restricting activity or confinement.

·   Ruptured cruciates involve the cruciate (cross) ligaments, which stabilize the knee joint become ruptured under great stress or over activity. Nearly always requiring surgical repair, symptoms of a ruptured cruciate include lameness in a hind limb, which is held abnormally straight with the toes pointed straight to the ground.

·   Entropion and ectropion are deformities of the eyelid. In the former, eyelids roll inward; in the latter, lower eyelids roll out from the eye's surface. Both conditions cause severe eye irritation. Corneal injuries are common in dogs with entropion and chronic conjunctivitis is a problem in dogs with ectropion. Surgery is usually recommended to remedy either condition.

·   Underactive thyroid is a problem for many Rottweilers. The thyroid gland, located in the neck, affects the dog's metabolism. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid include obesity, lethargy, thinning coat, drooping eyelids, irregular heat cycles, and mental dullness (Carlson, 1980). Fortunately, this condition is easily treated with a daily hormone tablet given for the rest of the dog's life.

·   Several types of heart conditions can affect Rottweilers and each must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian, preferably a cardiac specialist. Symptoms of heart disease include shortness of breath, retention of water (edema), coughing after exertion, and lethargy.

·   Bloat--gastric dilation--is an often-fatal disorder of the digestive system characterized by expansion of the stomach with gas or frothy material (dilation). The stomach will not empty normally and it is difficult for food to advance into the intestines, or reverse its direction as vomit.

Dilation can be followed by a rotation of the stomach, called volvulus, which closes both entry to and exit from the stomach, so that relief to the distended state is impossible. This rotation compresses one of the major veins carrying blood to the heart. Since normal blood circulation is severely affected, shock and death can quickly follow.

Bloat primarily affects deep-chested, mature members of large breeds, but it also has been reported in smaller dogs. More cases are reported between April and August, when dogs are likely to be more active. Immediate veterinary care is necessary if you notice your dog's abdomen swelling, or if he has abnormal pain in this area. Suggested precautions to decrease chances of bloat are:

  • Keep your dog's weigh under control-don't allow your dog to become overweight.

  • Feed several small meals throughout the day instead of one large meal

  • If you have more than one dog, feed the dogs individually in a quiet place to help calm eager eaters who may swallow quantities of air as they eat their food.

  • Do not feed your dog immediately before or after vigorous exercise.

  • Do not vigorously exercise your dog after he or she has eaten a meal.

  • Since sudden diet changes can trigger gastric upsets, change your dog's diet gradually over a period of seven to 0 days. Begin with a small amount of the new food, gradually increasing the amount each day.

  • Be alert to symptoms such as abdominal swelling and unproductive vomiting.

  • Immediately consult your regular veterinarian if you suspect bloat.
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Your Rescue and the AKC

Did you know you can register your rescue with AKC?  Most people do not know.

A purebred Rottweiler RESCUE can be registered with the American Kennel Club and enjoy the many AKC events available. 

If you have a purebred rescue Rottweiler with no registration papers, you can visit the American Kennel Club website at  http://www.akc.org/reg/ilpex.cfm and to learn more about what the ILP is visit http://www.akc.org/reg/ilpex.cfm and read the requirements to obtain a INDEFINITE LISTING PRIVILEGE - ILP number for your dog.

Having an ILP number will allow you and your dog to compete in many of the AKC events available, except Conformation.  You and your dog can enjoy OBEDIENCE, AGILITY, & HERDING TRIALS.  YES! you can obtain an AKC TITLE on your dog.

Please, go visit ... and download an application and register your rescue dog. We encourage you to work with your dog and "show" your dog.  You will enjoy the competition and the excitment of working with your dog.

Join Gulfstream Rottweiler Club - www.gulfstreamrottweilerclub.org   Learn how you too can participate in the club events.   We urge you to train your rescue in OBEDIENCE and join GRC Obedience team.  GRC sends an obedience team to DOCOF - Dog Obedience Clubs of Florida - every year.  You can become part of the DOCOF team!! 

We are sure that this great news will make many of you very happy. We welcome you in our club, Gulfstream Rottweiler Club.

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Rottweilers and fun

What can you do with your well-socialized Rottweiler? If you have Internet access check out this web site: http://www.dog-play.com/index.html.

Fun at Home
Teaching your dog to accompany you when you bike, to fetch, or carry the newspaper; swimming with your dog; becoming your walking companion; and playing hide and seek are among activities you and your dog can enjoy at home. Teach your dog some tricks-they are great icebreakers, give the dog a sense of accomplishment, and charm the wary. Activities are great bonding exercises offering you and your Rottweiler hours of entertainment.

Fun on the Go
Camping, hiking, swimming, and skiijoring are fun ways you and our dog can enjoy the outdoors together. Many parks and campgrounds allow dogs on lead. Remember to keep your Rottweiler under control at all times and clean up after your dog. Below are stories from several owners of rescued Rotties spend time with their dogs:

The Competitive Edge
There are many activities in which you and your dog can compete and earn titles.

·   Canine Good Citizen - Started in 1989, CGC is a certification program sponsored by the American Kennel Club that is designed to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in their community. The Canine Good Citizen Program (www.akc.org/love/cgc/index.cfm) is a two-part program stressing responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs. All dogs who pass the CGC test receive a certificate from the AKC. As of January 1, 1999, they are automatically recorded in the AKC's Canine Good Citizen Archive.

·   Obedience - Dog and handler must complete a series of exercises both on and off lead. Each exercise is worth a set number of points. Judges may take deductions for mishandling or dog faults. Under three different judges, dog and handler must receive a score of 170 points or more (perfect score is 200) and earn at least 50 percent of each exercise's points to earn a leg. The first title the American Kennel Club grants is the CD (companion dog), followed by CDX (companion dog excellent), and UD (utility dog). There are also obedience titles beyond these. Your local kennel club can help you get started in obedience and many of the sports described in this section, and the AKC's site (www.akc.org) provides booklets detailing regulations of different activities and lists events and how to register for them.

·   Agility - Agility is an increasingly popular dog sport in which dog and handler complete a course containing different obstacles in a set amount of time. Off leash, the dog must negotiate the obstacles without faulting (refusing, missing a contact, or going over time). Obstacles include different jumps, an A-frame, a dog walk, seesaw, pause table, open and closed tunnels, and weave poles. The AKC is among the groups holding agility trials.

·   Flyball - Flyball is a fast, exciting sport for handlers, spectators, and dogs alike. A Flyball team consists of four dogs, their handlers, a box loader, two alternate dogs and handlers, and a pail of tennis balls. The goal is to be the first team over a set of four jumps, with the dog stepping on a pedal that tosses a tennis ball into the air. After catching ball, the dog returns to his or her handler who remains behind the start/finish line.

Two teams compete against each other in a timed race. If a dog misses a jump, drops a ball, or is aided in some way, the dog must re-run that race. The next dog may not cross the starting line until the preceding dog has crossed the finish line. There may be as many as 50 teams competing in a tournament with the fastest racing times being between 18.4 to 32.0 seconds. Teams are assigned to one of three divisions, according to their speed. Winners are declared in each of the three divisions. Flyball is a unique sport because it's open to all dogs, with purebreds and mixed breeds competing on equal footing. The only prerequisite is that you and your dog love to play ball.

A set of lights indicates the start of the race. Judges and linesmen ensure all rules are enforced. Teams are timed, earning points towards their titles. The North American Flyball Association (www.flyball.org/home.htm) keeps track of all points and issues certificates.

·   Herding - Despite no breeding toward maintaining the Rottweiler's herding skills--once so prized by the Romans--many Rottweilers display talent for herding. Instinct tests sanctioned by the American Herding Breed Association (www.ahba-herding.org/) and put on by local clubs give you an opportunity to see if your Rottie has the instinct to herd. Once your dog earns his or her Herding Instinct Certificate (HIC) and is trained in herding, the AKC sponsors trials where your dog can compete for titles.

·   Tracking - Tracking is a sport in which a dog demonstrates ability to recognize and follow a human scent. In AKC tracking, as the dog moves from earning a TD (tracking dog), to a TDX (tracking dog excellent) and Variable Surface Tracking (VST), the level of difficulty increases--tracks become longer, are aged longer, the dog must find more articles, and the terrain becomes increasingly difficult. How the dog indicates articles is unimportant, just as long as the dog "tells" his or her handler an article has been found. The dog can nose articles, stop and look back at the handler, sit or down at the article, or retrieve it. The handler tells the judge at the beginning of the trial how the dog indicates article, and the indications must be the same for each article.

There are two ways in which a dog may follow scent, and different certifying agencies require different methods. In the sport of Schutzhund, the dog must find each individual footprint, keep his or her nose deep in the ground, and follow the track exactly and methodically. In AKC tracking, the dog is allowed to use air scent where the nose does not have to be to the ground, and the dog may veer off the track to some degree.

Tracking uses a dog's natural abilities to follow scent and is a wonderful way to bond with your dog. It tests the dog's endurance both mentally and physically. Unlike advanced obedience, agility, flyball, and other physically grueling sports, dogs with mild joint problems can safely and enjoyably compete.

·   Carting and Weight Pulling - Carting is an activity our breed was historically bred to accomplish. Once "the poor man's horse," draft dogs were bred the world over to help move produce and supplies when horses either wouldn't serve the purpose or the farmer couldn't afford to maintain a horse. The typical draft dog has a calm, steady nature and a strong heart and build. Draft dogs are devoted to their owners. Today, training Rottweilers for carting and draft work or competition showcases their historical use and ensures the breed retains its calm nature, strong body and heart, and willingness to work with a handler. Carting demonstrates Rotties are true to their heritage, that form follows function, and that the Rottie is more than a dog with a pretty face.

Carting with your dogs offers opportunities for exercise, socialization, and cooperation between you and your dog. Carting can strengthen your dog's body as he or she carts over different surfaces or carts different weight. Carting with your Rottweiler helps the public see our breed in the positive light of cooperative partner. Whether you and your dog cart in parades, demonstrations, or cart wood or mulch, carting can be a unique way for you and your dog to work together as a team while having fun. There are many carting Websites, including http://www.erols.com/gr8rswis/IntroCarting.htm, http://www.erols.com/gr8rswis/cartingsupplies.htm, and http://www.cartingwithyourdog.com/.

DogWorks (800-787-2788) will send you a catalog of supplies, books, harnesses, carts, and instruction. You can also email Sharyl Mayhew of Precious Dog Training (gr8rswis@erols.com) for information.

·   Therapy - Research shows that close contact with animals is therapeutic for people and people in hospitals and nursing homes enjoy visits by people and their dogs.

Therapy Dogs International, Inc. (www.tdi-dog.org) and Therapy Dogs Inc. (therapydogs.com/) are among the organizations certifying your dog for therapy work. The organizations have clubs that run classes for people interested in using their dog this way. Once graduated, you and your dog can visit hospitals and nursing homes that will appreciate your visit. Generally, the local club that ran the certifying classes knows of places that would welcome a visit from you and your dog. These are generally weekly visits.

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History of the Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is an old breed. Historians trace the Rottweiler's origins back to Roman times when descendants of Molossian Mastiffs accompanied the Roman legions as they marched across Europe. The robust dogs were used to herd cattle and sheep that fed the armies. Records indicate that in Germany 2000 B.C., the Romans occupied a town in southern Germany that became both militarily and politically important. The important administration Centers had red-tiled roofs for easy identification and the town eventually became known as Rottweil or "red villa." Descendents of the dogs that settled in the area with the Romans eventually became known as butchers' dogs. They herded cattle to market in the morning, pulled the butchers' carts as they delivered meat to their customers, and carried the day's profits around their necks on the return journey to ensure protection against thieves.


You are the pack leader and, as such, decide if a fight continues or not. A grown Rottweiler can inflict considerable damage with its bite. Most fights are not serious-often 90 percent sound and 10 percent fury--and can be broken up with a loud yell or by banging on some noisy object. The noise will distract the offenders long enough to gain control of one or both. NEVER, EVER REACH INTO A FIGHT-you could get bitten by mistake! If the fight is more serious, you will be able to tell. Serious fights are quieter and less haphazard; the biting is more directed and less random. The dogs bite and hold until they can get in a more damaging bite. No amount of noise or distraction will break up this type of fight. This is where you need to get serious. There are no fixed, tried-and-true methods for breaking up a serious fight. While we hope you will never witness such a nasty spectacle, a few suggestions are listed below.

If you have a serious fight, do what it takes to separate the dogs. Don't let them see one another after you've separated them.  Serious dogfights are an extreme case and most likely will not happen; however, it is wise to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised when introductions go well.

Suggestions for Breaking Up Serious Dog Fights

  • Hose down the offenders. If this does not work, you may have to resort to drowning to get them to stop. Hose down their faces and fill their noses and mouths with water.

  • You lift up the hind feet of one dog, another adult lifts the other dog by its hind feet. Since there is a possibility of being bitten, be careful.

  • Pick up whatever big, hard object is handy and make lots of noise. Again, be careful as you may be bitten.

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