We adopted a Rott!
December 12, 2009 12:46 PM   Subscribe

We just adopted a rescue Rottweiler and we couldn't be happier. When we bring her home on Monday, I want to be completely prepared. Please help! Details inside.

Our new girl is a three(ish) year old who was abandoned about a month ago. She is about sixty pounds and has already had a litter. She was just neutered on Thursday, so we are going to wait until Monday to bring her home, to make sure that she heals properly.
Her behavioral checks and our personal (albeit) short experience demonstrates that she is a sweet and docile girl, and has evidently already been crate and leash trained. She knows basic commands, so it appears at one time she was someone's beloved pet.
I already joined a rottweiler forum, but I'd like to know from owners of larger pets, what do you prefer to feed them? How much and how often should they eat? Do you leave food in their bowl all the time, or do they eat at set intervals? I work from home, and we have a huge yard, so walking and exercising her won't be a problem. She doesn't seem terribly energetic, is a two mile walk a day too much? She seemed like her skin was a little dry, is that common? What can I do about that? Can anyone suggest a good brush?
Do Rotties like to chew on things? What sort of toys should I get her?
Would she like a bed (she will not be sleeping in mine), or would a blanket suffice? Do we get a crate for her to sleep in, even if we leave the door open?
Lastly, just any advice to a new dog owner. I had shepherds as a child, but have not owned a dog my entire adult life. We want to do this right, because we have already fallen in love with our new girl.
Thanks in advance.
posted by msali to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Owner of a greyhound here, no experience with Rotties in particular, but here's how we work:
I feed Solid Gold. It sounds expensive, but isn't too bad for a high-quality food. You'll have to figure out which food works well for your dog (firm stool, no gas, nice coat). I feed twice a day, for a total of about 4.5-5 cups. The Rottie forum members will be better able to answer that question though, as they most likely have different metabolism. My hound eats at scheduled intervals, but that's because he will eat all his food in one go.

Dry skin can be an indicator of a lot of things; she might be blowing her summer coat, or stressed out, or it could be dry because her diet's been messed up. I use a rubber shedding glove, and my dog loves it.

I would get a crate, even if you never close it. It's nice for the dog to have a place to go where nobody can bother her. Mine prefers to sleep in his crate anyway.

General advice: Don't panic. Get a TON of sleep before the dog comes home. Ask a ton of questions on the Rottie forums; pet owners are good people, and breed groups are great sources of advice.
posted by specialagentwebb at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2009

Best answer: I imagine the Rottie forum or your vet might be the best bet for some of these questions (and may already be answered there.)

That being said - my understanding is that dogs are not good "free-range" eaters and will overeat if you let them. Scheduled feeding times (and an amount calibrated to your dogs weight - likely on the food bag, or ask your vet) also gives you a better idea of when the dog needs to go outside.

Calibrate the length of the walks to your dog's energy level. Maybe start with two half-mile walks (morning and evening) and see how she reacts. Is she still buzzing with energy? Extend them. Is she comatose? Ease back.

Get her a dog bed, definitely - much more comfortable than sleeping on the floor, especially in the winter. If she's crate trained, having one is definitely a worth-while investment if you ever need to have her confined (while renovations are going on, many visitors are over, etc).. and even if you just leave the door open, it's her safe space.

Buy a ball, a squeakie toy and a rawhide. See what interests her.
posted by canine epigram at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2009

It's said often, but can't be overemphasized: a tired dog is a good dog. As she recuperates and adjusts, be sure to have a plan in place for regular exercise. My 65 lb lab loves 2 miles, 2x a day when she can get it!
posted by mozhet at 1:05 PM on December 12, 2009

Best answer: good for you for getting a rescue dog..

A few comments..

Try a bed, but be prepared for it not working...my Husky wants to eat every bed we give her...
Be careful with rawhides, they can cause a bowel obstruction if the pup eats large pieces...we've started supervising rawhide time to make sure she isn't biting off dangerous size pieces.. a great substitute are Nylabones, the hardest ones.. Husky has been chewing one for months now and has hardly made a dent in it.. also Kongs are great (fill it with peanut butter, freeze it)

A tired dog is a good Dog.. Exercise her as much as she wants... two miles doesn't sound like much, but my Husky could do 10 a day and not feel it, not sure about a Rotti...

We feed our pup Iams, large breed, her coat is great, few farts, and stool is regular... she grazes all day, I give her about 1.25 cups in the am and in the pm (husky is about 45 lbs)... once in a while some left over beef, pork, chicken in small amounts (handful) she loves it.

Crate training is a good idea, we have one, seldom use it, pup will go in once in a while and hang out.... being bad pet owners, she sleeps on our bed.

Also, enroll in some training classes...

Be prepared for the dawg to take over a large part of your life for a while, but the love and companionship in return is worth it..
posted by HuronBob at 1:09 PM on December 12, 2009

Rotweilers are extremely loyal, workhorse dogs. They seem to be happiest when given some kind of job - my ex had a rescued-rottie and she bought one of those dog backpack things. She would combine his walks with her grocery shopping and get the dog to carry most of the weight, which sounds cruel, but you could practically see the dog stand up taller and walk prouder since he felt like he was doing work. These same loyalty qualities made him a great dog to bike alongside, as he would never stray and would look over every few feet to make sure he was keeping up.
Oh, and when it comes to toys: this particular rottweiler would ignore any rawhide, squeaktoy, etc. if shown a flashlight. It was the weirdest thing but he would literally chase the light for hours without getting bored, almost like an obsession. But it was ultra-reliable for tiring him out!

More than anything, you should be happy. Rottweilers are one of the best breeds on the planet, IMHO.
posted by mannequito at 1:16 PM on December 12, 2009

Best answer: Feeding: Large breeds will eat until they (nearly) burst, they are not good at saving some for later. I was struck by advice from a training book when we got our bulldog-- feed them early in the day so they get their food anxiety out of the way. Our girl gets half her food first thing in the morning and half in late afternoon. Of course she gets fresh water all the time-- I make sure her water bowl is washed and filled at least once a day because one of our cats is a foot-washer.

Furniture: You need to decide up front what furniture (if any) she is allowed up on. Ours has free access to all the sofa/love seats in the house but not on the master bed, ever. Our friends have 4 big dogs and all four are allowed to sleep with the couple on their bed-- so whatever works for you. In addition to all the sofas, our girl has two dog beds, one in the master bedroom and one in the office.

We also have a big yard and a dog door, but our dog does not use the yard for anything except her toilet and the occasional game of chase the ball. She has to be walked every day.

Decide how you are going to transport her. Some people crate their dogs in the car or truck, some use pet seatbelts, some people use no restraints. Our dog sits or lies on the back seat.

We have recently added a new habit to our regime on advice from the vet-- once a day she gets her vulva washed. Being a bulldog she cannot lick herself and she has heavy folds so the area needs to be cleaned-- Check with your vet on ear-cleaning, brushing, tooth brushing, nail clipping, eye-wiping and other areas of grooming.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:20 PM on December 12, 2009

If she just had and nursed a litter, her dry skin and low energy could be because of that. My pup was still nursing her litter when we met her, and had crazy dandruff and low energy. As soon as they were weaned and we brought her home, her energy level started to pick up quite dramatically. (She turned out to be a less calm dog than we thought. But she was also just about a year old, so still a puppy herself.) Also after the first bath plus fish oil in her food for the first month or so, the dandruff never came back. Nursing is hard on a body.
posted by librarina at 1:32 PM on December 12, 2009

Yay for rotties! Double yay for rescues! Pictures as soon as she arrives please ;-)

First up, you're asking all the right questions.

Food - ask what they're feeding her at the rescue and continue with that (same portions) until you decide what to feed her then gradually introduce the new food to the existing diet. She may have the constitution of an ox but it's best to err on the side of caution.
Definitely set food down once or twice a year, leaving her to graze is not a good idea (tracking intake if she's sick; unable to do it while on vacation, etc.)

Bed - definitely get her a nice comfy bed but as others have said, if she's already crate trained she'll love to have that bed sitting inside a nice big crate and it will be of enormous benefit to you in the future.

Dry coat - seconding that it can be any number of things but don't worry unduly yet and consult the vet if it continues/worsens.

Chewy toy - get a couple of cheap toys and see how she gets on. You don't have to do everything at once!

Tired dog - nthing the advice above that a tired dog = good dog (mine are currently comatose on the sofa after a long walk in the hills this afternoon).

All the very best of luck!
posted by ceri richard at 1:32 PM on December 12, 2009

Oh crap, "set food down once or twice a year" should be "set food down once or twice a DAY". Obviously.

Was too excited at the thought of a rottie getting a lovely new home ;-)
posted by ceri richard at 1:34 PM on December 12, 2009

Bravo on adopting a rescue, especially a young adult instead of a puppy.
There are many good answers here, but few on the food aspect.
On the advice of a "famous" trainer* we used, I would suggest dry food only, particularly Canadie brand. It is a little harder to find than the most popular brands, but I think it is worth the stretch.

* He trained dogs for the Russian border guards and some sports figures. I know this SLYT looks funny, but he's the real thing.
posted by Drasher at 1:36 PM on December 12, 2009

I'm a believer in grain free dog food and especially recommendInstinct, which my dog loves.

You may want to take a look at this post which overlaps with yours some. Yay for Mefis who rescue dogs!!
posted by bearwife at 1:44 PM on December 12, 2009

I have a dog that is half rottie.

He eats Canidae. He only eats once a day, in the afternoon/evening. The brand of food you buy will dictate the amount she needs.

In my experience rotties aren't serious "chewers" like labs. My dog likes to have a toy to carry around but he doesn't destroy them... with the exception of those stuffed toys with the squeakers inside, which he is not allowed to have because he eviscerates them in about 10 seconds flat. But he doesn't chew his bed or anything like that. We have a bed from Duluth Trading with a blanket on top for softness. He does love having his own place and spends a lot of time there (he is not crate trained, it never seemed necessary given his personality).

I'd let her dictate the length of walks to start off with, but 2 miles seems quite reasonable to me.

posted by miss tea at 1:52 PM on December 12, 2009

Response by poster: One more quick question concerning food: I just saw that Eukanuba has a new Rottweiler formulated mix. Is that just a marketing ploy, or could this be just what we need? I will check with the shelter to see what she is currently fed before I switch her to anything else. Thanks so much for all of your great suggestions and input so far. I love you guys.
posted by msali at 1:57 PM on December 12, 2009

msali, Eukanuba is also a good brand. They make many of the vet-approved special diet foods.
One of our dogs gets the Canadie, the other gets the Eukanuba "Low Residue" diet.
posted by Drasher at 2:10 PM on December 12, 2009

Lastly, just any advice to a new dog owner.

Consider this an anecdote with just two examples, so take it with a grain of salt. But I've completely, utterly housetrained two dogs in 15 minutes via a trick a guy at a shelter taught me.

Leash the dog through this entire process, and do not offer praise until the very end.

Upon coming home for the very first time, have the dog sit at the door, ensure you enter the house first, and then bring the dog in. Have the dog sit for several seconds just inside the door.

Walk the dog to every corner of every room in the house. Have the dog sit for several seconds at each corner. Then go outside and do the same thing -- extended sits while on leash in every corner of the yard.

Then, keeping the dog leashed while you walk around the yard randomly, wait for it to pee or defecate. Praise the dog profusely, provide a treat, and then walk back into the house (you going first). Then remove the leash.

Voila. Dog is housetrained.

I think it's largely pack leader psychology at work, establishing that you are the alpha dog in this new relationship, and the house and the environs belong to you.

Like I said, worked perfectly for both dogs that I've tried this on.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:23 PM on December 12, 2009 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I have 2 rescued dobermans that I got when I was young and kinda clueless about dog ownership. Let me try to take your questions 1 at a time.

1) I tried a number of different foods with my guys before I found one that worked. The ones that didn't work caused gas, dull coat, and their rust markings faded. I have settled on Purina One Lamb and Rice, but there are a lot of good brands out there. I suggest trying one and just seeing how she reacts to it. If it's not the right food, you'll know.

2) On feeding - I recommend feeding a set amount (there are guidelines on the bag, and you can make adjustments if she gains/loses too much weight) either once or twice a day. Leaving food in the bowl all the time will likely lead to a fat dog - the large breeds don't need to eat all day like some of the toy breeds may. Also, having a routine of "feeding time" is always a good thing.

3) As far as walks/exercise, your dog will likely let you know what is too much. My male doberman hates being outside, and only enjoys very short walks. My female will run for hours and never tire.

4) If her skin is dry, see #1. Also, a can of tuna in oil 1-2 times a month is great for dogs' coats. Don't bathe her too often unless she really gets stinky. Once a month seems to suffice for my guys.

5) Toys - again, your dog will let you know what she likes. For larger breeds, I suggest Kongs, large rope toys, and maybe stuffed animals. Of these, my male doberman ignores everything but cute fuzzy stuffed animals. Go figure.

6) I suggest both a bed and crate. My dogs have their own beds (one each in my office and one by my bed) and they love them. Crates (and a dog that doesn't mind getting in it) can be very handy. Some dogs love them so much they will go sleep in them if you leave the door open. Also, if you ever have a party or any other event where it might be good to get the dog out from underfoot, crates can be a lifesaver. Get her used to it gradually if she's not already crate trained so that she doesn't freak out if you ever have to use it.

My only other advice would be to get a schedule going with her. Dogs respond well to structure, and I suggest having outside/potty time and feeding time roughly around the same time every day if possible.

Good luck with your new girl, and thanks for giving a rescue a home!
posted by tryniti at 3:47 PM on December 12, 2009

We could leave food out for our Rottie if need be, but be mindful of her gaining weight. It's best to just set a schedule. She liked fresh water, if possible changed several times a day - especially in the summer (if leaving her outdoors, a couple ice cubes in the water every now and then were greatly enjoyed).
She was never into small toys, but loved those eatable chewing toys. She LOVED playing tug with ropes!
Yours is still young so two miles doesn't sound excessive at all, but she might slow down with age (granted, ours lasted to the ripe old age of 14). She WILL let you know when the walks are getting too long for her.
Rotties are extremely intelligent. However, you should read up on alpha dogs and pack leaders. Once a rottie figures out that someone is afraid of him/her, they will not obey that person so always be assertive. When meeting new people, they like to test people to see who is in charge. Ours would have lots of fun scaring adult males. But she rarely did that to women and never to children.

Mad props on the rescue!

Good luck with your doggie. Hopefully you'll get as much love from her and I did from mine.
posted by Neekee at 8:45 PM on December 12, 2009

Ask the rescue group if they can recommend a training class or club that you can join.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:52 PM on December 13, 2009

Response by poster: Update! Everyone please meet Rayna, the newest member of our family.
We have hit the dog jackpot. She is a sixty-seven pound bundle of pure love. She is really well-behaved, and obviously knows certain commands. She doesn't pull on the lead when I walk her. She's adorable and really affectionate, and seems like she has lived with us forever. We are already completely in love with her, and cannot understand why anyone would have ever given up such a sweet dog. Did I mention she is awesome?

Thanks to everyone for all of their great advice. We found food, I got a glove brush (which she already loves), toys, treats and a bed that she already recognizes as her own. Y'all have been super, and I might just have to favorite every comment:)
posted by msali at 1:24 PM on December 14, 2009

Beautiful girl! Congrats.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:06 PM on December 14, 2009

Response by poster: Updates for anyone checking back through the forums.
In the end, we have discovered that Canidae is the best for our girl. We went through a few other brands before arriving at the right kind. Now she doesn't have loose stools, she is really healthy and her coat looks great.
She blew her coat in the springtime, and I got a generic Furminator (in addition to the glove brush) and that took care of that quick like.
Additionally, I got a Dremel grinding drill to take care of her nails, it is not her favorite activity, but she tolerates it pretty well.
I am my girl's personal cow. She herds me anywhere she can, her devotion to both me and cheese is at times astonishing.
She walks with me and my husband twice a day, about 1 1/2 miles each time. She additionally chases squirrels (we walk in a park where she can be off leash), so her walks probably amount to closer to 2 1/2 miles each time. She always conks out for about an hour after each walk.
Her dark coat means that she heats up quickly, so I am actually cutting back on the length of our walks during daytime hours. She has a pool in the backyard that she LOVES. It's funny - she likes water, but can't stand the ocean. The waves seem to freak her out.
I don't care what anyone says about Rotties, I am sold on the breed for life. My dog is honestly and completely the sweetest, most loyal, docile, loving, faithful, safe and gentle pooch I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She is truly an excellent ambassador for her breed.
posted by msali at 3:07 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

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