Do not Overdo it: Understanding Training Burnout

As much as training is important for your Rottweiler consider that it is important to avoid arriving to the point of burn-out, since your dog may then associate training sessions with the burn-out episode. This can put a dent on your future training sessions, since your Rott most likely ended on a negative note and may start resenting training. This is why dog trainers like to end their training sessions with the dog eager to do more: this makes the training session end on a positive note with the dog asking for more. Next time, the dog will very likely look forward to training since it was so much fun!

 

Ignoring Your Commands

This is the most obvious sign that your dog may have had enough of training. You catch your Rottweiler looking elsewhere with a blank stare or he may have been heeling beautifully until he starts insistently sniffing a spot. If your dog is ignoring your commands, don’t presume right away he is being stubborn; rather consider he may be suffering from burn-out. Trainers are pretty good in catching signs of burnout and will generally give the dog a few moments to cool off and then resume a bit later asking a simple command the dog knows well to end the training session on a positive note. This form of burn-out if often seen in the initial stages of learning when the dog is ”absorbing” too much at once (this is why dog trainers who ”split” an exercise in small steps are better than dog trainers who ”lump” asking too much, too fast).

 

Displacement Behaviors

These are complete out of context behaviors that cause dog owners to often wonder what is up with their canine companions. For instance, you may be asking your Rottweiler a command when he suddenly has a terrible itch and starts scratching, and scratching and scratching. Or you may be heeling when your Rottweiler has a sudden onset of unexplainable sneezing or a sudden urge to sniff a spot on the ground. These are not casual behaviors; rather they are often early signs of stress.

 

Calming Signals

If your Rottweiler is starting to feel a bit intimidated by your requests, he may start sending you calming signals. These signals were studied in depth by Norwegian dog trainer and dog body language expert Turid Rugaas, author of the book On Talking Terms of Dogs: Calming Signals. Just as displacement behaviors, calming signals are out of context behaviors as well, but some may be hard to detect, as they are often casual and happen quite quickly. Common examples of calming signals are: yawning, a quick flick of the tongue, turning the head to one side, lifting a paw, sitting down, or performing a play bow.

 

Remember: when training your Rottweiler be a splitter and not a lumper! Make your initial sessions short and sweet, and always end on a positive note!

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