ObedienceTraining a Rottweiler under difficult circumstances
I have a 15 month old rottie named Delilah. She broke her hock at 5 months old and has undergone three surgeries. The last one was two weeks ago. She also one more surgery to go.
Every time she has a surgery she has to be placed on restriction for at least 12 weeks. First let me say, do you know how hard it is to restrict a 15 month 117 pound puppy. Not easy at all. She has lots of energy with no way to exert it. We invite lots of people to our house for socialization and she is in and out of the vets so she gets to see a lot of dogs.
For as much adversity as she has had in her young life, she is an amazingly sweet dog. My problem is obedience. She will sit and stay. However, you put a leash on her and she is so excited about go bye-bye that she is on high energy alert. I can only assume she gets like this because of all the restriction she is on. She can't run around like other dogs or jump or play, she never has. But, she is 117 pounds and is about ready to rip my arm out of socket when I put a leash on her.
When we go to the vet, she runs me around. Ug! As part of her restriction, she cannot be on her leg for more than 15 minutes. So this makes training especially difficult. Any suggestions on training and how to exert some energy?
Wow, this is a difficult situation and I give you tons of credit for having helped Delilah to get this far without any major issues. I can definitely imagine what hard work it's been and hopefully you will be 'out of the woods' within the next couple of months.
Rottweiler puppies are big and clumsy, and when they bounce around it's like having a baby horse in the house! It must be very difficult for her to control all that 'puppy-ness' and it sounds as though you've all done an excellent job.
For the leash walking part I'd strongly recommend that you get a pinch or 'prong' collar for Delilah. They are the best, safest and most comfortable way to control a big, bouncy dog. Many people look at them and think they're cruel or inhumane and prefer a 'choke chain'... but that's totally wrong!
Rotties are big dogs, with strong neck muscles, thick skin and coats and a high tolerance for pain.. this means that the amount of pressure you need to exert using a choke chain to control them is enough to damage the trachea/larynx and cause serious damage. It also means that owners often end up dragging and wrenching the collar in an attempt to get control. This also can cause damage.
BUT, with a prong collar you need much less strength and a quick, short 'pop' with the leash usually gets their attention right away. The prongs themselves are rounded and a short tug on the collar makes the dog aware of them because of the pressure, but doesn't hurt them. It's a much more human and safer option than a choke chain - and very effective. I really think this would help a lot.
As for letting her use up some of that excess energy... it's obviously very difficult in this type of situation, and it's inevitable that it will impact training to an extent. Chewing is a great release-valve for dogs, so make sure that she has plenty of tough chew toys with enough variety to switch them out regularly so she won't get bored. There are also a lot of interactive/puzzle-type dog toys on the market which keep your dog's brain active without her having to run around all over the place.
Training sessions are tiring mentally as well as physically, so although she can't be very mobile, perhaps teaching her simple tricks (such as balancing a treat on her nose), shaking hands, rolling over etc. would help? It depends on what sort of activity she can do without stressing her injury, but if you're creative I'm sure you can come up with lots of ideas in that area.
Also, if she can travel in the car okay, perhaps an outing to a local park (not a dog park where she'll want to run around with the others though), or the petstore or somewhere similar can be arranged. Once there she doesn't have to walk around, either sit on a bench with her or take along a beach-chair for you and sit outside the store or whatever you can think of. If she sits next to you and can take getting petted or fussed over without jumping around it would be great socialization... and tiring :)
I wish I could help more, but if you think outside-the-box I'm sure you can come up with other ideas. AND you're able to see the light at the end of the tunnel now, soon she will be all healed up and able to play again. Rotties are very smart and it sounds as though Delilah has an excellent temperament so she'll soon catch up with her training and everything else.
Best of luck, hope she's 100% healthy soon.