Female Rottweiler becoming more 'aggressive' with other dogs

by Anne-Marie

First of all i would like to thank you for this amazing site! So much great information and i just love looking at all the pictures of everyone's pups!

I'm writing to you because about 2 months ago we adopted a female rottie. Shes great and very loving toward people. We really have no problems with her until we take her out with other dogs. At first she had no aggression and it seems the more we socialize her the worse she is getting. She will be a year old next month, and i'm not sure how she was raised before we had her.

As soon a other dog approaches her she start to growl and it sometimes escalates from there, i tell her i firm no have her sit or lay on her side in a submissive state but nothing seems to work, it only seems to be getting worse. We have another rottie the same age male, and they have never had any problems from the first day they met. Now that she is becoming aggressive toward other dogs, our male will get in on it seeming like he is trying to protect her.

I love taking my dogs to the beach and on off leash walks when possible. I have full confidence in them before but now i find myself always on the look out for other dogs. I am looking for advice to make this situation better before it gets worse! thank you so much!

Hi Anne-Marie
I think there may be a lot of factors at work here, and as you've only had this female for a couple of months and don't know too much about her history, it may take a bit of 'trial and error' before you find what works in order to help her overcome her behavior issues.

At this age, a Rottweiler is an adolescent, and their guarding instincts are becoming more pronounced, plus they have all the sexual and developmental changes going on inside. Many times they really don't know what to do with all these emotions and over-react in situations (think of the way human teenagers act and you'll get the idea!).

Add to that the fact that she may not have had a stable or suitable upbringing before coming to you, it could even have been unkind or neglectful, and the scars of that will begin to show as she becomes more comfortable in her new home. This is normal, and she'll take some time to adjust.

Her over-reaction to other dogs is probably partly to her increasing and instinctive desire to 'guard' and partly due to anxiety or nervousness. Telling her 'no' is important, and getting her attention by asking her to 'sit' is fine, but making her lie down in a submissive position will likely make this worse as you are increasing her feelings of vulnerability around a dog she is already anxious about. The fact that she does lie down shows that she respects your authority, which is good, but in my opinion it's not the right approach.

Ask her to 'sit' and get her to focus on you, or just get eye-contact and attention from her and then give her a small treat so that she subliminally creates a pleasant experience with the approach of other dogs, rather than an unpleasant one (simply being reprimanded, or being asked to allow herself to be vulnerable (to her mind this will feel like she's 'at risk'.).

Dogs who are on a leash, or crated, are more likely to act defensively/aggressively when approached by others because they feel 'tethered' or trapped and therefore vulnerable.

I strongly suggest that you get her enrolled in some training classes with a professional, experienced dog trainer who understands large guardian breeds. This will help you both learn to understand each other better and to improve communication, plus the socialization in a controlled and 'safe' setting should help her feel more comfortable around other dogs. You will be able to get some hands-on help too which is hugely beneficial.

For now I wouldn't allow her to run around un-leashed as you can't predict how she may react if she feels threatened. Your other dog joining in is very natural too, as there's a 'pack mentality' when dogs get into a conflict situation. If they both gang-up on another dog the results could be very bad, and this breed rarely gets a second chance. I personally wouldn't advise risking this type of situation until you've got a better handle on her behavior.

None of this makes her a 'dangerous or aggressive' dog, I think she is most likely a bit anxious and insecure and that's why she's acting this way. It sounds as though overall she has a sound temperament, but given her history she just needs time, patience, training and a stable loving environment to continue to grow up in. Given time and effort I think you'll be able to overcome this problem. BUT don't take chances with her outside or with others until you know you can control her and understand her better, it's not worth the risk to anyone.

I hope this helps some and wish you the very best of luck with your dogs. I'm happy that you're enjoying my website and hope you keep coming back to visit :)

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May 21, 2011
by: Anonymous

thank you so much for your advice!! it calms my worries a bit because I really do believe it is just nervousness and anxiety.:)

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