Dogs use play as a way of exploring their world, burning off energy, and learning how to interact and socialize with other animals and humans appropriately.
Dogs play more roughly than humans do; this is normal. However, there comes a point where dogs can become too excited and play too boisterously.
You don’t want to stop playing with your Rottweiler; playtime is an excellent way to bond with your dog. So, what can you do?
When playing with your Rottweiler, learn to recognize when things are about to escalate and prevent it. Teach Rottweiler puppies not to jump or play with hands and feet. If your Rottweiler is already playing too rough, stop engaging and ignore them, try redirecting their energy, or providing an alternative behavior.
When your dog weighs over 100 pounds, and most of that is muscle, roughhousing with other animals and humans is not just unacceptable dog manners; it becomes dangerous.
Your Rottweiler is not naughty or aggressive. However, it needs to be told that rough play is unacceptable, especially because it raises the dog’s arousal levels, which can end up triggering aggressive behavior.
What Is Normal Play Behavior?
Mouthing, biting, bouncing, and vocalization are all part of normal play behavior. But how do you know when these behaviors get out of hand? Let’s start with what normal play looks like.
Rottweiler mouthing, biting, bouncing, and vocalization will be inhibited (not intense or unstoppable) in appropriate play, and there will be other meta-signals.
Mouthing and biting will be gentle, and your Rottweiler will know when to stop, even rolling onto its tummy to give you a chance to play in return.
Your Rottweiler will probably play bow, move both to and away from you, and display a tongue-out, relaxed mouth.
Stopping Rough Play In Rottweilers: Preventing The Behavior
Puppies naturally start playing by mouthing, biting, bouncing, and vocalizing.
It is tempting to encourage this cute behavior in a small puppy—giving them a hand or foot to chase or laughing when they bounce against your legs.
Even if you don’t encourage the behavior in your Rottweiler puppy, ignoring it or not correcting it can have the same outcome as promoting it.
You always have to remember that your Rottweiler puppy is going to grow up into a 100-pound dog. Do you really want them to play with your hand and foot in their mouth or jump against you?
Instead, you should play with them using a toy and take them for obedience training to stop jumping, etc.
Even when your Rottweiler is older, stick to playing with toys and make sure you continue to reiterate their training of commands like ‘stop’ and ‘drop it’.
Another prevention trick is to put your own boundaries in place. So, you should say, as soon as I see ‘this’ behavior, I’m going to switch from playing to calm petting or stop the game in a way that won’t make them feel punished.
You can also give them an alternative. You don’t have to stop playing altogether; you don’t want your Rottweiler to feel like it is being punished for something.
Instead of tug of war, try playing fetch instead. It involves less contact with you, and the extra running can help them to burn off excess energy. Make sure to use a dog safe ball.
This is very important, as a regular tennis ball may split half and become lodged in your Rottweiler’s throat. This in turn may block the airway and can even be fatal.
Additionally, when a large and powerful dog such as a Rottweiler chews on a regular tennis ball, microscopic pieces will break off and will in turn be ingested by your dog.
One good example of a dog safe tennis ball is the Outward Hound Squeaker Ballz Fetch Dog Toy.
These balls are super durable, but remember, no dog toy is indestructible, so always supervise your Rottie when playing with these.
Also remember that ever play session is an opportunity for a training session.Go through your ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘lie-down’ etc., commands and then reward them with throwing the ball for them to fetch.
Sterilizing your Rottweiler will also minimize the likelihood of play turning into inappropriate roughhousing.
Stopping Rough Play In Rottweilers: Knowing When To Stop
Knowing when to stop roughhousing is just as important as knowing how to stop it.
Just as dogs cannot understand our human language, we are often a bit slow in reading our dog’s body language. This means that we can end up encouraging the behavior for a while before putting a stop to it.
Not all of these signals will be displayed, but any of them are good indications for you that it’s time to calm down.
- You might notice your Rottweiler’s body stiffens.
- If your Rottweiler’s eyes widen, and they try to make more eye contact, this could indicate that their excitement is turning more aggressive.
- Pay close attention to any growling or snapping.
- Excessive mouthing, i.e., your Rottweiler does not leave your hands or arms alone until you reprimand it, and sometimes it takes a few commands to get it to stop.
- Does your Rottweiler start invading your space without backing away? A Rottweiler who is too excited may bounce against you over and over again, throwing you off your balance and not allowing you to recover before the next approach.
- Watch for a switch to always being the chaser. If your Rottweiler is playing, they want to chase and then be chased. If it starts becoming one-sided, then it’s time to stop.
- Alternatively, your Rottweiler might try to walk away because they have become uncomfortable with the level of excitement. If your Rottweiler is showing signs of wanting to prevent the behavior themselves, you need to learn not to keep trying to play with it.
These points are well illustrated in the video below.
It highlights the importance of establishing to proper relationship between you and your Rottweiler, and the trainer also gives great insight on knowing how much rough play is too much.
Stopping Rough Play In Rottweilers: Knowing How To Stop
When you notice things are getting out of hand, you should stop moving and vocalizing (laughing, shouting, squealing, etc.).
You may have to turn around or even walk away. You can cross your arms but stay relaxed so as not to seem aggressive.
For this to work best, you need to be the leader of your home pack. Your Rottweiler should know to take its cues from you.
Rottweilers are known to push the limits of what is allowed and what is not, so training for the dog and confidence for the owner are essential.
Another method to try is to redirect your Rottweiler’s attention with a toy. Try not to distract your Rottweiler with a treat, as this can be misconstrued as a reward for the behavior.
This technique is best used if you have missed the point at which you could have prevented the rough play from starting or if your Rottweiler is too excited to be ignored.
You can try providing your Rottweiler with an alternative to the behavior. When they are jumping, you can ask them to lie down.
This is just one of the reasons why obedience training is essential with Rottweilers. When your Rottweiler lies down, then reward this behavior with a treat.
Dog trainer and behavioral consultant Erin Jones uses this alternative behavior method with her own dog. Now, when her dog becomes too excited, she lies down of her own accord—self-calming.
Stopping Rough Play In Rottweilers: Be Consistent
Consistency is essential to stopping rough play permanently as opposed to just in the moment.
You need to make sure that every play session is governed by the same rules, even if you are feeling strong enough to handle their boisterousness.
Eventually, your Rottweiler will learn what is acceptable and what is not, and you two can play together happily, knowing that when things get too exciting, you both know what to do.
It is normal for dogs to play rougher than humans, and they also play by mouthing, biting, bouncing, and barking.
However, playtimes cause excitement levels to increase, so it is best to know how to prevent or stop play from becoming too rough, especially with a dog the size of a Rottweiler.
Prevention is the best choice. It involves proper training when the Rottweiler is young.
Teach them to play with toys, not with hands or feet. Teach them not to jump. These things can be cute in a puppy, but in a 100-pound Rottweiler, they can be intimidating.
When your Rottweiler grows up, you can still prevent roughhousing situations by learning to recognize signs of imminent escalation and not allowing things to get too rough.
There are some general signs to look out for, but you will learn to recognize your own dog’s body language.
If you miss this prevention window, you can stop the behavior by stopping yourself, ignoring your dog, redirecting their attention, or by providing them with an alternative to the undesirable behavior.
Never punish your Rottweiler for rough play; teach them that it is not acceptable.