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View Full Version : Rotties/rottie crosses as farm dogs.



CatOnLap
Jul. 29, 2010, 06:37 PM
Well, as some of you know, I ended up with two puppies of indeterminate breeding for my farm, and as it turns out they look a lot like rottweilers, or maybe small mastiffs.

I am having the devil's own time keeping them down on the farm though.

I mean, rabbits make them absolutely into slow, fat greyhounds. In that they can't run as fast as a rabbit, but they sure try, and they are a LOT faster than me. They don't go far, but even 20 feet off the farm boundary ( which is about how far they go) is to much for me. They do eventually come back to me when b'rer rabbit goes to ground.


Any advice on how to get them to ignore this particular problem would be welcome. Or am I just crazy expecting that someday they will be happy with laying about the farm like my Lab used to? Is this a Rottweiler thing?

My lab happily chased balls and sticks, but could've cared less about rabbits. These rottie crosses watch balls and sticks with interest and will even run over to them, but generally forget to bring them back...

katie+tru
Jul. 29, 2010, 09:30 PM
Try teaching them a command like "leave it". Walk them along (on leashes) where/when the find the rabbits. Each time they lunge at, or so much as stare at a rabbit say "leave it" and divert their attention. Give a tug on the leash and when they face you give them a treat. Eventually you want to be able to shout "leave it" from a distance and have them stop in their tracks and return to you.

Otherwise an electric fence, just temporarily should teach them physical boundaries. But I'd try training first as that can be applied in most any situation.

chancy deal
Jul. 29, 2010, 09:38 PM
Sounds just like my rottie mix! We ended up having to install an in-ground dog fence. Works great. She stays home now.

vacation1
Jul. 29, 2010, 11:06 PM
Someday, yeah, you'll probably be able to trust them 95% of the time. But it takes years of training and reinforcing and keeping them confined/leashed so they don't establish bad habits. Particularly when there's more than one. One dog, particularly one of a breed/mix that was created to work with people rather than alone or with other dogs, will have a huge motivation to remain near the person or the home for company. Two dogs are almost always going off to the races without a thought.

DandyMatiz
Jul. 29, 2010, 11:47 PM
and unlike labs, who are a sporting dog.. Rotties are a working dog. Like most working dogs, they do a lot better with a job, be it search and rescue, therapy, agility, herding, carting, or shutzhund.

Being a large breed dog, especially one that is usually not passive, obedience training is ofcourse paramount to domestic harmony.

Pocket Pony
Jul. 29, 2010, 11:57 PM
I have two rottie cross siblings. We volunteer at the animal shelter and took them in to foster when they were dropped off at the shelter last fall. Turned out they had parvo so after they went to the vet for treatment they came back to us so they wouldn't spread parvo around the shelter and since our place already had it they wouldn't take it anywhere else. Well lo and behold they are now our puppers.

We have the invisible fence and went through invisible fence training with them and it works very well. They do love to be farm dogs and would much prefer to be outside watching their herd and guarding the property all day long (and night, if we let them). We've started obedience training with them and the one who is more "rottie-like" is taking to it really well. I think she likes the interactiveness, the challenge, the "job" of paying attention and having something to do.

Training is key, though. Especially for a big breed that is on the "most-wanted" (or bad-dog) list.

kdow
Jul. 30, 2010, 12:30 AM
I think a lot of it is just training. Not necessarily 'omg, it's a ROTTWEILER, YOU MUST ALWAYS BE ALPHA!!!!' training, just calm persistence in 'this is what is acceptable, that is what is not' - I call it manners rather than obedience training. :) ('cause it's how I want a dog to behave all the time, not just if I'm giving a specific command. Like a little kid needs to learn what's socially acceptable and what isn't.)

Plus, in my experience it depends as much on the individual dog as on the breed - even within purebreds you get a lot of personality variation, and when you introduce other breeds to that, well. You never know quite what you're going to get. :) My dog now is probably a rotti/lab cross, and he's VERY VERY people oriented, but at the same time would probably love living on a farm where he could lie around and watch the world and occasionally run around like an idiot. He just always comes back to his person. (He doesn't understand playing with toys at ALL, but I don't know if that's because of his breeding, or because of his previous experiences - I got him when he was 5.)

Our previous rotti mix (we think he was rotti/gsd) was less interested in watching the world go by and more interested in doing things - not running off, but he'd always be sniffing things or investigating something or finding something to play with, rather than just hanging out. But he was still highly social in that he liked to be with people and for all his wandering around, would always circle back within a certain distance.

Some of it will just be age, too - puppies/young dogs always have times when something New and Exciting distracts them from paying attention. So they might settle down some naturally as they get older.

Anyway, I'd also make sure to include lots of things that help bond you and the individual dogs. Taking them places with you is good, but also just stuff like grooming, petting, spending time interacting with them together and individually when your attention is on THEM. That kind of thing. (If they don't play with toys you can probably still find something they enjoy as 'play' - Pirate likes it if you pretend like you're going to chase him and run up to him. He'll take off and run around you a bit like a nut and then come back in with a big grin on his face, like 'try to catch me again!')

CatOnLap
Jul. 30, 2010, 01:17 AM
well, lots of good thoughts. We went through a year with the invisible fence and it never worked, even after weeks of training them with the leash to the boundaries, eventually, the wire started rotting and we had so many failures we gave it up. perhaps they were too young at the time, or maybe its that abundance of loose skin around their necks, but they never seemed impressed with the shock collars at all, and then there's those darn bunnies...

They are just 2 yrs now and I think, because we were always a one dog family, we were not prepared for the (t)error that is two dogs. If either one is with me alone, they are very obedient, especially when away from home- I take them lots of places and they are always noted for how well they behave- away from home and one at a time. Even at the beach we can call them off chasing other dogs, seagulls, etc. And they do return from chasing rabbits...in their own time. They've never actually wandered more than a couple hundred feet away from the farm, even when together and never been gone more than a few minutes, but who said something about the "most wanted" dog list? We've had a couple of visits from the local police even though the dogs have never been aggressive- but people walking do not enjoy a large dog racing towards them even if it is chasing a rabbit down our driveway.

I hope you are right- just tincture of time and consistency.
The female seems much more tractable/trainable than the male- who's a big goofy guy who sproings to his own drummer.
They are way more difficult to train than our lab was- and he wasn't that bright, but he was very human oriented. These guys love us humans, but much prefer to play with each other, unless a pocketful of treats is involved. Did I mention they are not skinny? :lol:

kdow
Jul. 30, 2010, 02:45 AM
I hope you are right- just tincture of time and consistency.
The female seems much more tractable/trainable than the male- who's a big goofy guy who sproings to his own drummer.
They are way more difficult to train than our lab was- and he wasn't that bright, but he was very human oriented. These guys love us humans, but much prefer to play with each other, unless a pocketful of treats is involved. Did I mention they are not skinny? :lol:

Which one of them is more 'in charge'? I live with two dogs right now (my guy, Pirate, and my mom's cocker spaniel, Foxy) and Foxy is clearly Ruler of the Roost. So if you're walking them together and she's behaving herself, Pirate tends to take the lead from her. Likewise, if she spots a rabbit and wants to give chase, and you tell her no, Pirate won't go charging away when she's been stopped. (Probably because he'd never hear the end of it from her for chasing HER RABBIT. :) ) (They're the same age, btw, but my parents got Foxy as a puppy and I rescued Pirate a couple years ago at 5. He was supposedly 10. He is not 10.)

Not that you can ignore Pirate, but if you get Foxy behaving in line, then you need to put much less effort into judging every single second of what they're both up to. So maybe see if that makes any difference, focusing on the 'leader' to try to head things off before they both get wound up?

Also, I don't know what your relationship with people locally is, but we found it helped the 'omg, ROTTWEILER' thing significantly to actually introduce people in the area to them, so they knew the dogs by name. Pirate in particular is exceptionally friendly and has a cute story (he somehow got up here from Florida before we adopted him, so he's a black and gold dog named Pirate - came with the name- who ended up in a city where all the sports teams are black and gold and the baseball team is The Pirates...) so people take to him pretty quickly once they're introduced, and realize he's not scary/threatening. So that might be something to try to reduce hassle while you're working on the chasing rabbits thing? I live in the city, though, so there's not a lot of worry about dogs chasing livestock.

secretariat
Jul. 30, 2010, 08:23 AM
More a "young dog" thing than a Rottie or Lab. I've got two young labs right now, and they're driving me nuts. I've always had Rotts before (since 1986). They all must be trained as to boundaries; fences/property lines mean nothing to them.

CatOnLap
Jul. 30, 2010, 04:02 PM
Hard to say who's in charge most of the time- SHE rules the roost when it comes to food and will actively defend her pile, plus steal his if he gets distracted. But they are too darn funny- when they decide to run away, HE will give HER a look, as if nodding agreement, and off they go , damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

We have taken time to introduce them to all the immediate neighbours, who are ( unfortunately) happy to see them "visit", so when they do cross boundaries, sometimes they get a lot of attention! But we live on a public path and that's where the police calls come from- people walking 50 feet from our front door, who are scared of dogs to begin with and cannot tell a bounding happy docktailed dog from a vicious, growling one.

Oh well, we are not getting rid of them so on with the training!

The lab was a lovely boy who died at age 13, and he was so sweet and easily trained. They have hard puppy shoes to fill.

We were told they were probably bred for the illegal dog fighting, and had been rescued from a backwoods reserve, when we got them at 8 weeks. They are easily called off other dogs, livestock, cats, and deer and other wildlife except rabbits. We will work more diligently on the "leave it" command!

kdow
Jul. 30, 2010, 04:44 PM
We have taken time to introduce them to all the immediate neighbours, who are ( unfortunately) happy to see them "visit", so when they do cross boundaries, sometimes they get a lot of attention! But we live on a public path and that's where the police calls come from- people walking 50 feet from our front door, who are scared of dogs to begin with and cannot tell a bounding happy docktailed dog from a vicious, growling one.

Like I said, stupid looking bandannas. :) I suppose most people figure that no one would take the time to decorate an attack dog.

Anyway - in addition to the "leave it" command, see if you can spot the indicators for that moment when the dog has JUST made the decision to go after something, but before it takes off. It is a PITA to pick up on because you have to just watch the dog a lot, but if you know the difference between "hey, what's that?" and "hey, what's that? I am going to CHASE IT NOW!" then you can time your correction ("leave it") better, so it's actually coming AFTER the dog has decided to go, so you're not nagging him (or her) for just looking.

That's something my dad got from a trainer a long time ago - that you have to give the dog the chance to make the decision, and correct or reward after the decision has been made - and it really does seem to make a difference. I guess it's just accuracy and avoiding devaluing commands by using them all the time.

(With Pirate, I can spot his 'all systems go, time to take off!' signals - so I can just say his name in a warning 'I know what you're thinking' tone and he'll quit. And generally look all innocent like 'who, me? I wasn't going to go chase that cat. Not at ALL. Wouldn't DREAM of it.')

CatOnLap
Jul. 30, 2010, 06:49 PM
Oh yes, we are starting to spot those early warnings! And often we will tell them to wait and they watch as people pass by, so it is getting better. Rabbits, I tell you! Rabbits are the problem!

And we did tie the silly bandanna around the He-dog's neck- he looks so cute. Plus it soaks up the drool. The She-dog just ripped hers off immediately. She doesn't drool.

Waiting on those pretty beaded crystal collars too from Beautiful Browbands! His is blues and aquas, hers is pinks and purples.

Pocket Pony
Jul. 30, 2010, 07:27 PM
I was the one who mentioned Rotties being on the "most wanted" list. Many insurance companies have a list of dogs that if you have them as pets they won't insure you...that was a grammatically bad sentence, but I think it made sense! Rotties, Dobies, GSD, Akitas, Pit Bulls, Huskies, wolf hybrids, and a few others are on that list. Don't know if it is worth checking with your homeowner's insurance company or not. But it IS worth making sure that the dogs are well-trained and don't run off your property.

I personally love Rotties and have never met one that wasn't a big sweet goofball! Have fun with the pups! :)

vacation1
Jul. 31, 2010, 03:47 PM
well, lots of good thoughts. We went through a year with the invisible fence and it never worked, even after weeks of training them with the leash to the boundaries, eventually, the wire started rotting and we had so many failures we gave it up. perhaps they were too young at the time, or maybe its that abundance of loose skin around their necks, but they never seemed impressed with the shock collars at all, and then there's those darn bunnies... We've had a couple of visits from the local police even though the dogs have never been aggressive- but people walking do not enjoy a large dog racing towards them even if it is chasing a rabbit down our driveway. I hope you are right- just tincture of time and
consistency.

Not to be squashing, but it sounds like they've gotten a lot of practice running loose, blowing you off and running at whatever strikes their fancy. You tried to do it the nice way, give them some freedom, but they didn't get it. In your position, I'd confine them 110% of the time to a pen/yard/kennel, and take them on leashed walks. Separately. Get a big long rope so they can (separately) get some running in. But I wouldn't let either of them get away with any independent decisions offleash until they completely accept that you call the shots on their freedom. Even if they are, apart, 10000% reliable offleash, I wouldn't let them off, even apart, for at least 2 years. Take each out alone, to a quiet area out of earshot of the other, attach the long lead and let him/her run free. But always able to step on that lead and reel him/her in. Right now they KNOW you're not able to enforce a command and so they do what they want when they want; teach them that no, they were wrong - you can always reach out and stop them.

Sorry to be sort of lecturey, but I see a lot of people with the 'working' breeds who overlook big holes in their dogs' behavior/training because when they choose, the dogs are perfectly, beautifully behaved. Working breeds are working dogs; they learn quickly and work in a crisp, alert way that makes people gasp. But that's just window dressing if they retain the belief that they get to decide when to respond. It can't be when they choose. To let any dog, but particularly big ones, offleash in public, you have to be able to call them off. If they blow you off to chase anything, that leash needs to go back on for another year. Again, sorry to be a little venty here, but I really have seen quite a few dogs who appear very calm and well-behaved, but are ultimately quite potentially dangerous because in reality the owner has zero control over them. I'll look from the owner's complacent face as he (often a he) claims they're totally trained, to the dog's thoughtful, considering expression, and it's very clear that the dog has no interest in the owner's opinion of the situation.

Adelita
Jul. 31, 2010, 05:48 PM
I have no advice, I just want to see pictures!!!

CatOnLap
Jul. 31, 2010, 06:56 PM
Vacation, lecture all you like- I certainly can't argue with your words of wisdom. Although you paint a picture that is far more out of control than the real situation. Today I was even able to call them back within 10 feet when they took after a rabbit. Hopefully, rinse and repeat...

Adelita-when we first got them about 8-10 weeks of age:
http://images.yuku.com/image/pjpeg/80e262613c28c623c910610f3333d907f8c45f85.jpg

at age about 6 months:
http://images.yuku.com/image/pjpeg/21716b17206acb0e0467bf0395ee4dda35d924c0.jpg

She-dog after having killed a feather pillow:
http://images.yuku.com/image/pjpeg/19a16d102b69c70e07fe4174d8a9088224e00046.jpg

kdow
Jul. 31, 2010, 09:06 PM
Vacation, lecture all you like- I certainly can't argue with your words of wisdom. Although you paint a picture that is far more out of control than the real situation. Today I was even able to call them back within 10 feet when they took after a rabbit. Hopefully, rinse and repeat...

Adelita-when we first got them about 8-10 weeks of age:
http://images.yuku.com/image/pjpeg/80e262613c28c623c910610f3333d907f8c45f85.jpg

at age about 6 months:
http://images.yuku.com/image/pjpeg/21716b17206acb0e0467bf0395ee4dda35d924c0.jpg

She-dog after having killed a feather pillow:
http://images.yuku.com/image/pjpeg/19a16d102b69c70e07fe4174d8a9088224e00046.jpg

If your dogs mysteriously vanish, don't look in Pgh for them. ;)

(In other words: AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. That pillow photo is particularly adorable. Though I imagine the clean up wasn't fun.)

CatOnLap
Aug. 1, 2010, 01:16 PM
I was ready to kill them after the pillow. But they were so funny trying to catch stray feathers I couldn't stop laughing long enough to find a suitable weapon. And yes, cleanup was a PITA, but a good lesson: do not give even old used up feather pillows to puppies, no matter how comfortable they look at first!

Bluey
Aug. 1, 2010, 02:13 PM
Don't focus only on the rottie half, the other half may be beagle, for what you know.:eek:
Beagle will mean rabbits are crack to them.:lol:

The good part, the rottie half ought to make them very biddable, that means willing to work with you.:cool:

Raising two puppies at the same time is about the hardest way you can find to raise puppies, unless you take the time to train separately for several months, until you have their undivided attention.
Any dog trainer can tell you that, if you have more than one very young one to train at the same time, you separate, confine and train and it takes longer and more work than raising one at the time, that practically raise themselves just by following you around.

It is very, very hard when you have two puppies to train.
One puppy, you kind of train all day long just by interacting with it.
Two puppies, they entertain themselves too much, you become less interesting and worthy in their eyes, you have to make yourself that more important, something easy to do if they are an only puppy.

Anyway, separate and train individually, consistently and well.
The best about puppies, they eventually grow up, thankfully.

CatOnLap
Aug. 1, 2010, 03:13 PM
Yes, I think that was our mistake- we'd had single dogs in the past, but never two at once. However, we did fall in love with the brindle at the adoption place, and the tan one just followed me around and wouldn't leave me be- she literally said "I AM YOUR DOG- please take me home". So I did, one puppy under each arm. Twenty pounds of joy. The adoption place thought they'd grow to be about 60 lbs. They are over 100 lbs each now. Their 8 littermates, for some reason, did not get to be nearly as big- we went to a puppy reunion and the average size of the other pups was about 75 lbs. I am told that littermates can have different fathers, maybe that's it, or maybe because I fed them a homemade diet as pups, who can tell? The brindle was the runt of the litter and he is now the largest of the sibship, at about 115 lbs.

Because of their size, I literally couldn't walk them together without being towed, and so for most of their lives they have had separate leashed daily walks. They are very obedient as single dogs, but you are so right, when they are together, they find each other fascinating and fulfill the notion of "partners in crime".

Aggie4Bar
Aug. 3, 2010, 09:23 AM
They are very obedient as single dogs, but you are so right, when they are together, they find each other fascinating and fulfill the notion of "partners in crime".Admit it: the entertainment factor does trump the frustation. :D

Turbomutt was probably the result of someone's schutzhund dogs getting loose together. I'm not sure how else a Rott/Malinois cross occurs... or what sane person would do it on purpose! On the bright side, and after journeying through one hell (literally) of a puppyhood and adolescence, she turned 4 and calmed down into an obedient and reliable dog. You too will one day get there... though maybe not in the near future. :lol:

The good thing about Rott/RottX being all majestic but slow (I think a determined turtle could eventually outpace Harley) is less committment to the chase. She will go after a squirrel, rabbit, or deer, but she rarely sprints farther than 50 feet, which takes more than enough time for them to see her coming and leave her staring after their dust. If she shows further interest, "Leave it!" puts a stop to any activity (thanks in part to that hellacious puppyhood during which we practiced "leave it" only about 3,487 times per day. ;))

wendy
Aug. 3, 2010, 11:36 AM
siblings should NEVER be raised together. That said, it's too late for you. I'd consult a hunting dog trainer who uses ecollars CORRECTLY and can instruct you in their use. Ecollars get bad reps from the hordes of people who use them wrong but if you want a dog who recalls no matter what no matter where there's no better tool.
If you want them to fetch toys that's do-able too, any dog can be taught to retrieve, see "the clicked retriever" book for advice.

trinityhill
Aug. 4, 2010, 02:32 AM
I have a full blood Schutzhund purpose bred Rott as our farm dog. I love him to pieces but he has to have a job and it has to be done everyday. His is as simple as helping "feed the horses" (he collects all the rubber feed buckets and brings them to the feed room as I hay), than "checks the horses" (which is running his big little rear up the big hill to the big field to check on the geldings), than he has to "fly-mask" or "crop" (which is to find and bring me any lost flymasks from the day before or any crops dropped by any of the lesson kids during the day) and at night he has to "check the trails" where I send him in and he books his tookas around the 4 outside trails than immediately returns to me (takes him between 30-34 seconds at a full gallop), all before he is given his "reward" of his breakfast or dinner. Days he is without his job he is the biggest pushy "You can't make me" bull-headed brat. Days he does his jobs he is a saint.

Also, the 2 most vital commands with dealing with him is "Aus!" which is german for out/leave it, and "Fuss!" which is return to me and heel in german. Those 2 commands are never ever optional.

As your two are getting older than the puppy stage, I recommend both working with them both separately to solidify the leave it and come here and to give them each "jobs". Than when it is time to work with them together, try first getting which ever is the better most consistent one to be the one responsible for responding. It is going to take a whole lot of time and consistent work. If you are having trouble still, I do strongly suggest getting help from a reliable professional dog trainer. Best of luck, they are both cuties.

awaywego
Aug. 4, 2010, 09:45 AM
To the people who replied that have labs: they eventually learn to stay home? I got one from a rescue who is younger than I thought he was (I was told 4-5, more like 2-3) and if you are not paying 110% attention to him, he is gone - from the fully fenced yard. I keep hoping he'll grow out of this. Tell me he will!

Timex
Aug. 4, 2010, 05:55 PM
She-dog after having killed a feather pillow:
http://images.yuku.com/image/pjpeg/19a16d102b69c70e07fe4174d8a9088224e00046.jpg


*snort* killer rottie dog! lol they are rather cute. will look even cuter in thier blingy collars. :lol:

CatOnLap
Aug. 5, 2010, 01:06 AM
awaywego- our lab grew out of his wandering stage before he was 2. He was happy for the remaining 11 years of his life to stay on our property without fencing or leashing. he was the best dog on the planet.


Aggie- UNCLE- I admit it-they are so entertaining we gave up our TV channels a year ago. Anyway, as someone else said, its already too late for us.

Trinity, you must have the smartest dog on earth.

Bluey
Aug. 5, 2010, 08:13 AM
Labs are dogs and they will wander if the situation is right, like let outside on their own.

There are several here with labs and they will swear "they don't go anywhere", but I have seen their lab several miles away in someone else's yards and cattle pens.
Once I told a neighbor and he said it was not his dog, it was too old and fat to go that far, but in a few days, he said that he was coming home early one day and sure, he saw it himself, his dog was there.;)
The sad part, that dog is crippled from getting run over before.:(

As we say in dog circles, a loose dog is a free dog indeed, free to get hurt and killed.
To let a dog run loose is like letting a four year old run loose, not a very good idea, not many will survive to an old age like that.
People tell me their loose dogs live to get older and name some, but I remind them of all the ones they forgot about that didn't.:no:
Dogs don't really have good enough sense to know better.

awaywego
Aug. 5, 2010, 11:32 AM
Dogs don't really have good enough sense to know better.

That's basically what I've read in doing some research into how to break a dog out of the habit of roaming - since they don't know better about the dangers of the road, they see running off as only being postively reinforced - lots of new things, smells, etc. When you retrieve them from wherever they're found, you can only tell them how happy you are to see them (when I really want to yell for running away to begin with!)

This is my first experience with a lab - previously was all german shepherds and corgis, none of whom had any desire to leave home (well, both shepherds went through a phase that they seemed to outgrow).

It's frustrating because life does not allow me to watch him ALL the time, and I hate having to keep him tied in a fenced yard! Just keep hoping he'll eventually learn his boundaries.... I guess pigs might fly one day as well. ;)