There are really two aspects of training rottweilers. The first, and most crucial, is your relationship with the dog. It needs to be based on mutual respect. If the dog doesn’t see you as his or her pack leader, the sit-stay you teach him won’t stick when you need it most.

Teaching a rottie to respect you isn’t difficult, but it does take consistency. You need to set rules, boundaries and limitations. If you let the dog do as he pleases (get on the couch without being invited, rush through the door ahead of you, etc.), he won’t respect your authority when you give him a command. Being authoritative does NOT mean being abusive. You never need to hit your dog to earn his respect — in fact, hitting a dog will undermine his trust in you.

I heartily endorse the methods used by Jean Donaldson. I recommend her book The Culture Clash which you can get at some local bookstores and at Check out a tiny (but powerful) book called How to be the Leader of the Pack…And have Your Dog Love You For It by Patricia McConnell. Also, try to catch as many episodes as you can of The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel. Cesar helps owners every day to become better pack leaders!

Social Butterfly

If your dog doesn’t get along with other dogs (or cats or kids, etc), you should seek the help of a behaviorist to help him learn the social skills that will make him a better companion and neighbor. For those dogs who DO like other dogs, there are some terrific places to take them so that they can keep their social skills finely tuned. If you live in the USA or Canada, visit for a list of dog parks where you can take your dog to play OFF LEASH! Many have separate areas for smaller dogs so they don’t feel quite so overwhelmed by the gargantuans of the dog world.

Serious Problems

If you have serious behavior issues with your dog, find a behaviorist who can help you correct them through positive reinforcement. Beware of trainers who use force — they can (and often do) make things worse. I know someone who refused to listen to this advice and took his aggressive lhasa apso to a choke-n-jerk trainer to be “fixed.” The dog became even more aggressive and was put to sleep. A qualified canine behaviorist could have worked out the aggression issues and the dog would be alive and living peacefully with his family now. Visit THE ASSOCIATION of PET DOG TRAINERS web site to find a behaviorist in your area.