Although most people don't think of the rottweiler as being a herding dog, the rottie can trace his roots back to the drover dogs in Germany. The rottie still has the instincts to herd animals, even though it might look a little odd seeing a big, powerful dog herding ducks, sheep, or cattle.
Once you start looking, you'll probably find plenty of trainers who specialize in working with Border collies, but training rottweilers to herd is a vastly different job. Find a trainer who has trained rottweilers to herd to teach you.
Herding is quite popular, and there are four major sanctioning organizations for herding: the American Kennel Club (AKC); Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA), which allows all herding dogs, not just Australian shepherds; International Stock Dog Society (ISDS); and the American Herding Breed Association (AHBA). We'll be focusing primarily on the AKC trials.
Training for Herding
Training for herding isn't easy if you live in a city or suburbs — it is tough to find a herd of cattle or sheep nearby, and your neighbors would probably complain about the noisy ducks! Still, there are places to train your rottie to herd. Most of these are out in the country, and the trainers keep sheep, ducks, or cattle so people can train their dogs on them.
As part of advanced training, rottweilers can be used for herding animals.
Herding is partially instinct, but it is also training. Your rottie needs to know right and left and also how to go toward the herd and away from the herd. You also have to be able to call your rottweiler off the herd. These are the basic herding commands:
Away to me: Run counterclockwise around the herd.
Come (or go) to me: Run clockwise around the herd.
Lie down: Stop or lie down.
That will do: Stop herding.
Walk up: Go behind the herd and drive them.
Contact one of the national organizations for information on clubs and trainers in your area. Once you find some prospective trainers, ask if the trainers have experience in training rottweilers. Not all breeds herd in the same way, and training techniques for one breed may not work with another.
There are several different herding titles your dog may acquire. For the Instinct Tested certificate, the dog must show sustained interest in herding livestock. This means he either moves them ahead of the handler to drive them or goes around them, gathering them and moving them toward the handler — the dogs may also perform a combination of those methods. To obtain a Herding Tested (HT) title, the dog must pass the herding test under two different judges. This is not a prerequisite for participation in herding trials.
Warm up your rottweiler before any athletic endeavor. Start with a slow walk and progress to a trot for about ten minutes. Then help your rottie stretch by moving his legs in the entire range of his natural motion. Don't force or push on his joints, and don't have your rottie bend in any unnatural position.
To obtain a Pretrial Tested (PT) title, the dog must pass the pretrial test under two different judges. This is not a prerequisite for participation in herding trials. To obtain a Herding Started (HS) title, the dog must receive three qualifying scores under three different judges for the same course and livestock in started trials. The title will specify the course and livestock type after the HS designation.
To obtain a Herding Intermediate (HI) title, the dog must receive three qualifying scores under three different judges for the same course and livestock in intermediate trials. The title will specify the course and livestock type after the HI designation. The dog must have an HS before he can compete for an HI.
To obtain a Herding Excellent (HX) title, the dog must receive three qualifying scores under three different judges for the same course and livestock in advanced trials. The title will specify the course and livestock type after the HX designation. The dog must have an HI before he can compete for an HX. To obtain a Herding Trial Champion (HCh) title, the dog must have earned his Herding Excellent title and must have subsequently acquired fifteen championship points according to placement in the advanced class.