Tips for Rehabilitating an Abused or Neglected Rottweiler

When you look at a full-grown adult Rottweiler, what do you see? Does the massive size and muscular build look intimidating to you? Does it conjure up images of vicious guard dogs or attack dogs? Unfortunately, the Rottweiler has a bad reputation for being an aggressive and dangerous breed. What many people fail to realize, however, is that any dog can become aggressive when mistreated or abused – when properly cared for, the Rottweiler is one of the gentlest breeds out there.

Because Rottweilers have such a negative reputation, they often get overlooked in shelters. Adopting a Rottweiler that has been abused or neglected is a noble thing, but it also comes with some pretty serious challenges – it is not something you should undergo on a whim. It is possible to rehabilitate a dog that has been treated poorly, but it will take time and effort because there are a number of obstacles you’ll need to overcome. The first thing you’ll need to do is establish a trusting relationship with the dog – he may have been taught to fear humans, so that’s the first obstacle you’ll need to overcome. Here are some tips for getting an abused dog to trust you:

  • When you approach the dog, keep your body as small as you can by crouching down – it will be less threatening than if you are standing up, towering over the dog.
  • Speak to the dog in a calm, gentle tone that will help him feel at ease – dogs pick up on cues from people, so do your best to stay calm.
  • Move slowly, especially when approaching the dog or trying to touch him – body language is very important to dogs, so make sure yours communicates trust.
  • Reward the dog for positive behavior such as remaining calm when you approach, allowing you to touch him, and coming to you of his own volition.
  • If the dog isn’t ready for contact yet, just spend some time sitting quietly as close to the dog as he will let you – he will approach you when he is ready.

Once you’ve established a level of trust with your adopted Rottweiler, your next goal is to socialize him. Many dogs who have been abused or neglected are woefully lacking in socialization. Once their aggression and fear is under control, you’ll need to work with the dog to condition him to new people, places, and situations so he doesn’t revert back to his aggressive or fearful tendencies when he finds himself in a new or unfamiliar place. Here are some tips for socializing an adult dog:

  • Take things one day at a time – don’t try to do too much at once.
  • Praise and reward the dog for positive behavior – you want him to form a positive association with new things.
  • Don’t force the dog to do more than he is comfortable with – you’ll need to push his boundaries a little bit to make progress, but don’t push so hard that he becomes frightened.
  • Be patient and consistent – socialization should be part of your daily training sessions and you’ll need to continue throughout the dog’s life.

Rehabilitating an abused or neglected Rottweiler is by no means an easy task and it certainly isn’t something you can accomplish overnight. All dogs deserve to have a loving home, however, so it is well worth the effort. By following some of the tips provided above you can help an abused Rottweiler learn to trust people again and you can socialize him so that he can become the loving family pet he was always meant to be.