7 Month old Rottweiler recently has started growling...
(Sault Ste Marie, ON, CA)
Hi, I purchased my 7 month old rottweiler at the age of 12 weeks from a girl a while back. She's been an amazing, loving dog the whole time I've had her and we're in it for the long haul. I had her fixed and mirco chipped a little over a month ago and recently I've noticed a slight change in her behaviour. She's been growling and stand offish to certain people (not everyone and not at any other animals ever).
For example, I brought her by a friends place the other day and she would not go anywhere near them, she pulled away and growled for about 10 minutes but afterwards she was fine and playful with them as if nothing had ever happened.
My main concern is that I have a 2 year old daughter (who my dog China loves very much and has never growled at) and I also live in a neighbourhood with many other children. I don't know if it's going to become a bigger problem or if I'll really have to start worrying about it or if it's just the age she's at.
Any information or suggestions would be really appreciated.
From what you describe, it sounds as though China has a sound temperament and I'd guess that her age is a big factor in this sudden change of behavior.
It's a classic pattern and one that many owners of adolescent Rottweilers (and other breeds too!) will recognize.
Right now China is a teenager and she's experiencing all the ups and downs that human teenagers do and acting out in a similar way. Puppies go through a lot of phases and stages and this is just one of them, albeit it can be a bit more unsettling for first-time owners than some of the other phases.
At this age she's maturing sexually, and her guarding instincts are also starting to emerge, so she has all these feelings that she doesn't understand and they make her feel anxious and unsettled. It's normal.
As a teen, she's trying to figure out where she fits in the both the family hierarchy and the world in general. She's also inclined to test the limits and boundaries that you've given her and challenge authority to some extent. Again, this is all normal and if you handle it correctly it will diminish as she matures and feels more self-confident.
A big mistake owners of this type of breed can make is to over-react, and assume that their pup is 'aggressive' or inherently 'bad'... this is rarely true! Instead, focus on being very consistent with your training and socialization and correct her misbehaviors with loving yet firm discipline. Don't allow her to 'call the shots' or disobey house rules. She needs to know that you are in charge in order for her to feel secure, she just doesn't realize that.
Definitely don't use any harsh punishments or raise your voice or over-react, that will make any behavior problem worse. And try to always maintain a calm and confident manner, she will pick up on any emotions you are feeling but will not understand why you're feeling them.
For example, if you're nervous or anxious about how she's going to act when you pass someone in the street, or visit a friends house, she will pick up on those feelings right away. BUT she won't understand why you are worried... so she's likely to assume that the person approaching, or the environment that you're in is somehow to blame and that can cause her to act out and be defensive or anxious.... I hope this makes sense to you!
Don't allow her to growl at anyone, correct her with a firm 'no' and a 'pop' with the collar if necessary. Do continue to socialize her with lots of new people, places, animals etc. so that she learns to be confident and comfortable in new environments.
If you find that you're not progressing in the way that you want and aren't comfortable with the way she behaves, get some professional help by taking her to a formal dog obedience school or having an instructor work with you and her individually. Sometimes it takes a little outside, hands-on help to learn how to overcome a particular problem and there's nothing wrong with that.
She will grow to be a confident, happy adult as long as you help shape her behavior during this stage appropriately. Good luck.
I hope this has helped and that you and China weather her teenage years successfully.