Rottweilers are member of the working group under the American Kennel Club’s standards. What does this mean for their owners? Simply that most Rotties want a job, or at least something to do on a daily basis.
Rottweilers originated in Germany, most likely in the town of das Rote Wil (the red tile), which explains how the breed got its name. These early Rottweilers were not simply companions, as most dogs are today, but were used by their owners to move cattle, guard supplies and herds, pull carts, and protect money as it was carried back and forth to the market. Eventually, these roles were carried out by donkeys, trains, etc., and the breed fell on hard times. In the early 1900’s, however, Rottweilers made a comeback and found a new occupation primarily as police dogs.
Rottweilers are intelligent and self-confident. While these traits are as desirable now as they were when the breed was first developed, Rotties become bored when they do not receive enough mental stimulation. A frustrated dog will eventually find an outlet for his energy, but not always in a way that his owner will appreciate. Destructive activities, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other problem behaviors are much more common in dogs that have too much time on their hands (or paws, so to speak).
Let’s look at a few activities that suit Rottweilers.
- Flyball is like a relay race for dogs. Teams compete against each other by jumping over a series of hurdles, catching a tennis ball released by a spring-loaded pad, and then racing back to their owners.
- During agility trials, dogs make their way through obstacle courses guided only by their handler’s voice and body movements. Dogs are scored based on their speed and accuracy through the course.
- Carting and weight-pulling competitions are good options for individuals that have more brute strength than quickness.
- Herd dog trials can also be a lot of fun. During a herding test, dogs move sheep through a field, around fences and through gates at the command of their handlers. Most people think of herding breeds like border collies when they picture this activity, but some dog trials are open to any breed that has been trained to work sheep.
- Rottweilers can also be search and rescue dogs. If both you and your dog are willing to dedicate the time needed to become part of a search and rescue team, this might be a good option.
If you don’t have the time or desire to commit to one of the activities mentioned above, don’t despair. Simply training your dog to perform basic obedience commands (e.g. sit, down, come, heel, fetch, etc.) and then regularly running him through his paces is a good way to help a dog feel like a valuable member of the family and burn off some steam. If you want to take your training to the next level, look into earning a Canine good Citizen certificate, obedience competitions, or even Schutzhund, which is a mixture of advanced training in obedience, protection, and tracking.
If your Rottweiler is a “people person,” he might also make a good therapy dog. Therapy dogs need to be extremely well-mannered and gentle with all types of people and animals and be up to date on vaccinations, deworming, and heartworm prevention. If your dog fits this description, he could become certified to visit hospitals, nursing homes, libraries (for children’s reading programs), and the like. This is not only beneficial for the people involved but also goes a long way toward overcoming the Rottweiler’s undeserved reputation as a dangerous dog.
In conclusion, if your Rottie is a bit of a mischief maker, he might simply be bored and need a focus for his energy and intelligence.