The Perfect Dog (Don Sullivan) training system okay with Rotties?

by Ronnie

Have you heard of Don Sullivan’s The Perfect Dog training system?

It utilizes a prong collar…basically if your dog fails a command, you jerk the dog to submission. i.e. If he doesn’t lie down, upon the down command, you do a slight jerk on the collar to get the dog in the down position. If you issue a stay command, and the dog gets up, you bring the dog back to the original area where you issued the command and jerk the collar…you get the picture.

Is that conducive to the Rottweiler breed? We used it on our unruly lab and it worked wonders, but I know that the Rottie is a totally different breed with a different temperament!

Hi Ronnie
This training system isn’t one I’ve ever used or am personally familiar with so I did some online research in order to answer this question. My opinion is based on this research and not on any hands-on use of the system, so bear that in mind.

Personally I’m not a fan of the approach that uses coercion to achieve results…. be that a prong collar, alpha roll, physical reprimand etc. Positive rewards-based training methods are much more effective in my experience, and from what I understand Don Sullivan system doesn’t use treats as rewards. This in itself isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but I’ve always found that puppies respond much more quickly and enjoy their training sessions much more when food is involved :o)

Of course there are pros and cons to every system, and you need to use rewards wisely, gradually switching from a guaranteed reward, to an intermittent reward and eventually to an occasional reward, as the pup grows and matures. However overall I find this method much superior – some puppies or dogs aren’t food motivated though, and in that case you can substitute an alternative such as a favorite toy or simply praise.

Rottweilers are very intelligent dogs, and I’ve found that they’re one of the easiest breeds to train, with even young puppies being focused and eager to please. Using force of any kind or being too heavy-handed in the corrections doesn’t work with Rotties. It tends to trigger their stubborn streak and training can become a battle instead of a co-operative effort.

The use of a prong collar isn’t necessary in my opinion to teach commands such as sit, down, stay etc. and I think it’s like ‘taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut’ with most dogs. There may well be the occasional dog (particularly if it’s an untrained adolescent or adult) who needs and responds well to this, but I would imagine that’s the exception. For your average pup it’s overkill.

Having said that, there is definitely a place for a prong collar when it comes to leash training adolescent or older dogs. Rottweilers are extremely strong and have a high pain threshold, a regular ‘choke chain’ collar will have little effect in terms of control but can do damage to the trachea if not used properly, or used excessively. I’d recommend taking a look at my Leash Training A Puppy and Big Dog Collars to learn more about prong collars, leash training a Rottie pup etc.

A prong collar only requires a little pressure to be felt by the dog and is therefore much more effective and a lot safer. The plastic prong collar used in this system may work with a Rottie, but knowing my adult dogs I’m skeptical about it’s strength or effectiveness.

Now as I said, I’ve not used this system, so this is just a few preliminary thoughts based on the reviews and info. I saw online. As you’ve actually used the system effectively, you obviously have a better understanding of it’s potential. However, as you rightly assume, a Labrador and a Rottweiler are totally different breeds, and just because it works on one doesn’t necessarily mean it will work on the other.

I hope this helps in some way, and wish you the best of luck with your Rottie

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