DOG OF THE DAY - Gala the Rottweiler
C-KEL's Grand Celebration CD RAE CGC
Rottweilers have an impressive demeanor and September Morn's Rottweiler, Gala impressed me immediately when I viewed her Rally-O video. The precision of performance is September Morn's style. She is an impressive trainer and this becomes very clear in the passion she has for her dogs, her training business, her showing professionalism, her award-winning books and articles. Gala earned two of the American Rottweiler Club's annual "Top Ten" awards last year -- one for Rally Advanced and one for Rally Excellent. Gala likes it when September tells her, "You are VERY good at this game!" Here is September Morn and Gala's story.
"Each year at Thanksgiving time I reflect on the many things that make me thankful – good friends, a comfortable home, a bountiful harvest, work that both fulfills and sustains me. More than anything else, I’m thankful for my dogs – all of my dogs – past, present, and I dare believe, future.
Down the trail of the years I’ve lived, I’ve been fortunate to have walked with many wonderful dogs beside me. Each new dog I’ve brought into my heart has taught me lessons I needed to learn. Some have been patient teachers, others more demanding, but they’ve each written their own special pages in my life. I’ve shared home and heart with several different breeds and a splash of mixes, but ever since owning my first Rottweiler there’s always been at least one Rottie in my dog family.
People ask me, “Why Rottweilers?”
My answer sounds a bit like reciting the qualities of a good Boy Scout. They’re physically strong, highly intelligent, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, obedient, cheerful, brave, etcetera.
“But,” people ask, “aren’t Rottweilers willful and stubborn? Don’t you have to use really forceful methods to train them?”
Rottweilers do have a strong will, that’s true, but that will, guided properly, is one of this breed’s most sterling attributes. There’s no need for harsh methods of training because Rottweilers love to work. The Rottweiler’s strong will makes them exceptionally hard workers, always ready to help out with any job that needs doing. The key to living happily with a Rottweiler is in giving the dog a job to do, teaching him how to do it with gusto and flair, and letting him know that you think he’s doing it fabulously well. Rottweilers are brilliant and they like to show off.
Rotties are also very intelligent and they like to figure things out. This makes them excellent candidates for clicker training – the positive, no-force method that encourages dogs to think. Sometimes, rather than be strictly obedient to what they’ve been taught, Rottweilers will spontaneously put a new spin on an old trick and do the job better (or at least with more pizzazz) than the way they’d originally learned it. Rottweilers like to try out their own ideas.
My Rottweiler, Gala, for example, when learning the left finish exercise (circle into heel position from a point in front of the handler), she added a leap and twist that made it a flashy move of her own. Gala’s version was more joyful and engaged than the “ordinary” finish I’d been teaching her, so I let her know I thought her idea was great, and we did it that way from then on. Rottweilers like to do things their “own” way.
When exhibiting dogs in the competitive sports of Rally, Obedience, and Agility, the devil (or, rather, the winning point) is in the details. Little details, like straight sits, fast responses, and perfect to-hand delivery of retrieved items, mean the difference between just qualifying and being among the winners. My Rottweilers have all enjoyed learning those little details, bit by bit, as we fine-tune our teamwork and performance. Clicker training is great for this too, as it sets the dog up for repeated success, as he earns rewards for doing the job. Rottweilers like to win.
Gala is nearing four years of age, and she’s now helping me raise a young Rottie boy, Hero, who is eight months old. As skilled as I am communicating with dogs, Gala communicates far better. I get a big kick out of watching Gala help me teach Hero. When Hero just had to put his nippy puppy mouth all over me when he was excited, Gala would cruise by with a toy in her mouth, interest Hero in wanting it, then “accidentally” drop it and walk away, knowing Hero would pick it up and keep his mouthy-mouth busy in a good way. Rottweilers like to direct other animals what to do.
So, there you have it – Rottweilers like to show off, try their own ideas, do things their own way, tell other animals what to do, and they like to win. These traits might make the Rottweiler appear willful and stubborn to some people, and this might tempt some trainers to use harsh physical methods to “convince” the dog he “must” obey. But the person would be making a mistake, choosing to battle with a dog of this character. It’s much more effective, and a darn sight more enjoyable, to form a positive partnership with this highly intelligent, strong-minded, hard-working dog – a relationship of mutual respect and admiration."
September Morn is a dog behavior consultant and positive-methods trainer with more than 30 years professional experience. Dogs Love School is the name of September's training and behavior business located in Shelton, Washington. She has owned Rottweilers since 1970. She is the "Ask the Trainer" expert for the Dog Channel and an award-winning freelance writer of books and articles (mainly about dogs) with titles to include "Dogs Love To Please, We Teach Them How!" 1994 and "An Owners Guide To Housetraining" 2005. Her breed specific books on the Pug, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever and Golden Retriever are very popular.
The breeds we choose for ourselves often describe us and the traits we like in others. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for colleagues like September Morn who have enriched my life by the dedication and passion put into their work, their dogs and their dedication to positive reward-based training. September's Rottweilers are a true reflection of her character and this same dedication will leave the world of dog training a better place in and out of the show ring.