The Rottweiler, commonly known as the Rotti, is a large, powerful, and energetic dog. They have also a very smart and intelligent dog. The Rottweiler is a working breed that was originally bred to herd sheep and pull carts laden with meat to the market.
Exercise is important for Rottweilers to keep them healthy, prevent obesity, burn off pent up energy, and to maintain their powerful bodies. Failure to provide sufficiently for your Rottweiler can result in poor health, injuries, and boredom.
Boredom is one of the main causes of behavior problems in dogs such as destructive behavior, nuisance barking, and even escaping. For a full guide to exercise for a Rottweiler see here.
Benefits of muscle building and strength exercise for Rottweilers
One of the major benefits of incorporating muscle building and strengthening activities into your dog’s daily exercise is that it assists to prevent injury. This is achieved by building muscle to support and give stability to the joints and tendons and increase bone density.
From a fitness point of view strengthening exercises increase the cardiovascular system and reduces fat preventing obesity and helps maintain a healthy weight. For overall health, it improves gastrointestinal regularity, strengthens the immune system and improves sleeping and eating patterns.
The psychological benefits to your dog are that it provides mental stimulation and enrichment and prevents behavior issues like jumping up, digging, chewing and nuisance barking. For more on this read “Mental enrichment and Mental Stimulation“. It can even help dogs that are timid or anxious to build their confidence. Muscle building and strengthening is also an important part of conditioning and training for dogs that compete in dog sports such as agility.
The keys to building muscle for Rottweilers
In addition to performing the physical exercises required to build and strengthen muscle, there are two more crucial components. Rest and recovery and quality nutrition.
Diet is also of utmost importance, especially quality proteins. Protein has the role of repairing muscle and other tissue in addition to building lean muscle. It also is needed to form new skin cells and grow a healthy coat.
It also assists in creating body chemicals such as hormones and enzymes needed for normal function and to provide energy and maintain a strong immune system.
Rest is also absolutely crucial in building muscle on your Rottweiler. This gives the body and muscles time to recover from the workouts and grow. When a muscle is put under stress it creates small tears in the muscle fiber. With rest, the cells in these muscles repair the muscle fiber and grow.
For your Rottweilers muscles to grow it is crucial that the muscles are given sufficient recovery time. This gives the muscles the opportunity to rebuild. Without proper rest, your dog will not gain additional muscle mass.
Rest also helps prevent injury and the other issues associated with over exercise. Read “Over exercised dog symptoms” for more.
For more on the three components of building muscle in dogs see here.
Muscle building exercises for Rottweilers
Here is a list of some suggested exercises and activities that will build muscle and develop strength for your dog. Some are focused on developing particular muscles or muscle groups such as the hind legs.
How often do you see a dog that is thick through the chest and shoulders and has a skinny rear end? This causes an imbalance and often leads to back-related problems.
Others are more of a compound exercise and will develop overall strength, power, and core stability. With all these exercises start with a low number of repetitions and over time, as your dog becomes more conditioned to the activity increase the repetition or resistance. It is very important to do a warm up with your dog before starting these exercises.
A warm-up can consist of five or so minutes of walking starting slowly and then increasing speed after a few minutes and game of fetch or similar. This will increase the heart rate and get the blood flowing to the muscles to prevent doing injury to a cold muscle.
A Flirt pole is like a giant cat tickler for dogs. It has a long handle with a bungy type rope with a lure or toy attached to the end. You simply move the lure along the ground around in circles or in different directions as your dog chases it.
This activity is ideal for a Rottweiler as it works the whole body and strengthens their muscles. Be sure they have a good “leave it” command and don’t allow them to destroy the toy. It is important that this be a controlled exercise. For a full guide to flirt pole exercise for dogs see here.
View Flirt Poles on Amazon.
Tug of War
A firm favorite of all Rottweilers. Make them crouch and pull back to use extra energy. Ensure that this is a controlled game and they release when you want them to.
A spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your dog to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. Popular with a lot of dogs and particularly power-type breeds like the Rottweiler that love a good game of tug of war.
This is probably one of the best all-around exercises you can give your dog. A 10-minute swim is equivalent to an hour of walking.
In addition, it works and provides resistance to the whole body especially the front end which doesn’t get as much work from just walking. As your dog’s body is supported by the water it takes the weight off of their joints and bones and is low impact making it suitable for older dogs and dogs with an injury.
However, Rottweilers are not natural swimmers and many are not keen on the water. Due to their large muscles mass they generally don’t float that well. It is best to put a lifejacket on them if you do take them swimming.
For more on swimming exercise for dogs see here.
Walking or running on sand or shallow water.
Walking your Rotti on sand or in knee-high water provides another type of resistance not achieved by normal walking and again is a low impact activity. As with swimming, just 10 minutes of this is more than sufficient to give your dog a good workout. Running uphill also provides added resistance and is great for building strength in the hind legs.
Walking up and down stairs is a good exercise in that it provides two complementary actions. Going up the stairs makes them use their muscles to propel forward. Coming down the stairs requires balance and controlled core stability. Stair climbing as an exercise may not be suitable for all dogs especially if they have any back related problems.
For more on stair exercise for dogs see here.
The Rottweiler was originally called the Butchers Dog as they were used to pull the cart of meat for the butcher. Weight pulling is an actual dog sport but you can incorporate this type of exercise into your dog’s muscle building and strength program.
The most important thing is that you use a proper weight pulling harness. These are designed to distribute the weight evenly over your dog’s body.
Start with a light amount of weight and have your dog drag the weight 10 to 20 metres. Give them a rest for 2 minutes and repeat. As with conditioning your dog to run, start off easy and gradually increase the amount of weight and number of repetitions over time.
Jumping on to a bench and off
Have your Rotti jump up on to a park bench or similar platform and then jump off again. This is great for using their power to jump up and use their control and agility to dismount. Jumping off the bench is a little more high impact they some of the other exercises so it would not be suitable for a dog with an injury, especially one that relates to the front legs.
Play a game of fetch using an object with some weight relative to your dog’s size. You could use a small tire from a wheelbarrow, or a plastic dumbbell or even a water bottle filled with water or sand. A liter of water weighs 1kg.
2 Leg Walking
Lift your Rottweilers front legs off the ground and walk a short distance. Then lift their rear end up and have them walk on their front legs like a wheelbarrow.
Keep it to a short distance and no longer than 30 seconds a repetition. If your dog isn’t keen on being held up by the front legs or rear end, don’t force them as you don’t want to cause an injury if they are struggling.
This is similar to human squats. Have your dog sit and then stand. You can use treats to make this easier. If they don’t stand when you say just step back and offer the treat. After a week or two, you can increase the resistance of the exercise by putting a backpack on your dog and add weight, but not more than 10% of their body weight.
Have your dog walk backward for a short distance. This focuses on strengthening the hip extensor muscle. Walking backward is not a natural movement for dogs so to teach this walk them into a narrow enclosed area and have them back out.
Attach light weights to your Rottweiler’s ankles. You can use human wrist weights or make something yourself with some socks and sand for weight. Walk for a short amount of time like 5 minutes to 10 minutes.
Train your Rottweiler to carry an old tire. This exercise is not only a good workout. It helps to develop the muscles of the neck and shoulder areas.
Summary – Rottweiler Exercises to Build Muscle
Muscle gains for your Rottweiler are dependant on three factors. Diet, exercise and rest and recovery. For the best results, it is important to have a balance of all three components. Start by selecting just a few of the above-recommended exercises and build up the resistance or intensity slowly to avoid injury.