14 month old neutered male rottweiler agressive to other dogs.
(Cape Town South Africa)
Rocky is an absoulte delight and a complete gentle giant with our family and friends - he is really part of the family and even has his own bed in our room and is extremely well liked and loved by all.
The problem we are facing at the moment seems to be socialisation - we walk him everyday on lead but he has a bit of a problem with other dogs and is constantly trying to chase them - pulling me off my feet at times, however if we walk past a person he does not even seem to notice them unless they come too close and he can feel my hesitation - which is normal.
I am not sure if he is just trying to play with these other dogs or is going to have a go at them ?
We took him to Newlands forest and allowed him off lead with his german shephard friend Tyson. Tyson approached another dog to which this dog reacted and tried to bite Tyson at which point Rocky decided to jump in - we managed to get them apart but the owner of the other dog had the cheek to say my dog is aggressive when his dog started it.
I however do not feel that Rocky is socialised enough and we need to make an effort in getting him around other dogs which is proving to be a bit difficult as other dog owners take one look at him and walk around or avoid us completely.
Due to the bad reputation that Rotweilers have at the moment I feel that even if another dog started a fight Rocky would be to blame by society. My question to you is would muzzling Rocky whilst allowing him off lead be a preventive measure in ensuring safety for all (including Rocky) whilst trying to socialise him more and maybe the sight of the muzzle would let other owners bring their dogs closer so that Rocky can learn better socialisation skills.
I do not want muzzle him if it is going to negatively affect him in anyway, i would then rather not take him off lead. I also don't want to give the impression that he is vicious becasue he really is not - he is just very protective and still a pup at heart learning about the world around him. My other concern around the muzzle is that he would be unable to protect himself against an attack from another dog.
Obviously the muzzle will only be used when he is off lead and we will remove it when he is back on the lead as we will have more control.
Thank you in advance and I hope you will be able to shed some light on this for me as Rocky loves to just run and play and we want him to be able to do this off lead whilst keeping everyone safe.
You raise some good questions and points, and you've obviously thought things through quite comprehensively and want to do what's best for Rocky. He's a lucky boy to have parents who love him so much and also understand the complications that can surround owning a breed like this.
It doesn't sound to me as though Rocky is aggressive at all, but unfortunately the majority of people (who have never owned a Rottie) have the completely wrong impression of the breed and will always think the worst. And you're right that in a conflict breeds such as Rottweilers and Pitbulls inevitably get the blame, and rarely get a second chance. So, protecting him from getting into this type of situation is very important.
As you say, he's still just a baby, he's a teenager right now and his protective and sexual instincts are growing and these confuse puppies. They know that they feel that they should be doing something but they've no real idea what it is! He will be looking to you for guidance so it's important to stay calm and in control. If you're anxious or anticipate trouble as people/dogs approach, Rocky will feel that and assume that whoever is coming is a danger or threat, and will then react accordingly. So, try your best to stay calm and relaxed.
Using a muzzle is one possibility, but at this point I think it might be over-kill and cause more problems than it solves. I'd concentrate on getting your pup a lot more socialization experiences within more controlled settings than an off-leash dog park/area for now, and leave the off-leash play in public areas until he's older, more mature, and more confident.
He could still play off-leash with his doggie friends at your home, or theirs, but not in public for now.
I would also recommend finding a good dog obedience training school and enrolling him in a basic obedience class. This will help with his confidence, socialization and also give you some hands-on help to deal with any problems that come up... including getting professional input on how to handle him on walks and when you're around other people/dogs. It's really something I'd recommend that every pup gets involved in.
As Rocky matures he will become less reactive and more calm, the teenage years are always a bit challenging for everyone! Make sure that you keep calm and patient, that the house-rules stay the same and that he continues to be trained and socialized regularly... and then he will pass through this phase without too many issues and grow into the friendly, confident, social dog that he's meant to be.
Hope this helps. I wish you all the very best of luck.