My Gentle Monster... pulling on the leash and barking

by Monica

I've had Charlie since he was 6 months old. Walking has never been easy because of his pulling so we changed to putting a harness on him and this has helped a lot but still hasn't made our walks perfect.

My biggest concern right now is that when we walk, he wants to go after any other dog sharing the street with us. He pulls so hard that grounding myself on my heels is very difficult. He also barks loudly and incessantly, and growls, making him scary. It takes a few minutes to calm him down. And he usually stops and resumes his walk when there's a distance between the other dog and him. Usually they're not even on the same side of the street.

When he's in our yard or in the house he is a very pleasant and playful dog.

How can I stop this behavior and start enjoying our walks again?

Hi Monica
This is actually a pretty common problem with many dogs, not just Rottweilers, and it certainly can take the enjoyment out of the daily walks.

First of all I'd recommend replacing the harness with a prong collar and see if this makes him more manageable. Rottweilers are extremely strong and even a harness isn't usually enough to slow them down. Contrary to what many people believe, a prong collar is actually a very humane, safe and effective way of controlling any large, strong breed.

You need very little pressure (just the standard short, sharp 'pop' on the collar) to get your dog's attention and it's much better than dragging or yanking on a standard 'choke' chain or harness. I'd suggest taking a look at my Big Dog Collars and Dog Training Tools pages to learn more about these collars and see some examples of the best ones on the market.

I'd also recommend getting your dog enrolled in a formal obedience class so that you can learn how to communicate with, and control, him better. If you are confident in how you handle him he will be less likely to over-react in the situations you mention. These dogs are naturally defensive and have a strong desire to protect their owners, if he feels that you are nervous (and this may simply be because you're anticipating that he will 'act up') it will increase the likelihood of him over-reacting. It's a vicious circle and a professional trainer will be able to help you break it.

This isn't aggressive behavior, it's actually more defensive, and is pretty common in adolescent and young adults as they're not really sure how to handle their emerging guardian instincts. You need to learn how to help Charlie channel these properly.

Hope this helps and I wish you lots of luck with your dog.

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