question on behavior?

by Cheryl
(DHS, CA)

I have had other rottie's in the past but never had friends that came to visit and would bring their dogs.

When my last rottie passed I adopted a 7 month old rottie pup from a rescue and friends that came to visit would always bring their dogs to play, Max just loved it, well Max is now 2 yrs 3 months old and just is not as welcoming as in the past.

I noticed the other day when our neighbor's dog jumped the fence while they were gone we went and got her as we have done several times in the past and Max and her would just play until they were exhusted, but not this time, I could feel he just hated the idea she was here.

He would not play, he would just follow her around making sure she didn't touch anything, when she got near the food bowl or came to me for a pet he would just glare and I could feel his body tense, I tried to distract him but nothing worked and I was getting stressed and anxious hoping they would get home soon before something happened.

I have always taken Max with me everywhere possible and has been very social, but after the last few events he has gotten this attitude when other dogs have come near us, and I so want to take him but I am becoming afraid of what may happen. We live in the desert where for months the heat is extreme, so they as well as myself become home bodies, when it is still over 100 at 11pm you do not go too many places, but I need to get this problem in check.

Please help!



Hi Cheryl,
The type of behavior Max is displaying is fairly normal for an adult male who is feeling territorial and a bit alpha. However, you're right to be concerned because if he's allowed to continue to feel/act this way then a conflict could well occur at some point.

I live in Oklahoma and last year we had months of 110+ weather, where it was still in the triple digits at 2am, so I understand the difficulties associated with extreme heat, big black dogs who don't tolerate it too well, and the discomfort factor for we humans!

BUT, regardless of the weather extremes or anything else, Max needs ongoing and regular socialization and training sessions that are preferably held in a formal setting with an experienced instructor.

He definitely needs to understand that this territorial behavior (although natural and instinctive) isn't acceptable and that YOU, not he, make the decisions as to who is allowed in your home/yard and around or with you and other family members.

If you feel nervous or anxious in certain situations he will pick up on this, but won't understand why you feel that way. His interpretation will most likely be that the person or situation is making you anxious and he will feel more threatened by them/it and even more likely to want to 'defend' you. So it's very important to stay as calm and in control as possible.

This is where training with a professional who can help you learn how to handle Max's behavior and reactions can really help.

He's obviously got a good grounding in social behavior and up until this point has been friendly and accepting, so it's not that he has a 'bad' temperament or is 'aggressive'. He's simply an adult dog of a guardian breed who is trying to figure out what to do with his instincts and where the boundaries are. It's up to you to help him.

If he hasn't been neutered yet then I would recommend doing so as that can help reduce the tendency to be territorial among other things. But it doesn't eliminate it.

Hope this helps. Best of luck to you both. ~ Sue

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Mar 07, 2014
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starting over NEW
by: Cheryl & Max

were are back in class again!Max is my service dog for severe anxiety but after having some issues with his behavior it was causing more anxiety on me to take him out in public not knowing what his reaction would be if another dog would be around, just recently I was introduced to a new friend that just adopted a 1 1/2 rottie and we thought it would be great if we could do things together with the dogs but I didn't think that was a wise idea, she had just started her dog in class so I decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to start Max again,get him around others and dogs, and meet her dog on neutral grounds with a trainer,the 1st class Max growled at her dog,snapped at another causing me alot of stress,but my friend encouraged me to keep coming and now 3 weeks into the class he is doing great and we can actually walk them a foot apart and not having any issues and Max is back to old self again with other dogs,I actually had a friend come and stay for a week and brought her dog and she just let her dog in without thinking Max, I was in a complete panic mode that I didn't pick up the food bowl or his toys,next thing I see is them playing in the back yard and eating out of the same bowl I left the toys where they were and they got along just fine,even sleeping in the same bed together,so we just take each moment as they come and realize that he was reacting to my anxiety but I still don't want to be so relaxed that I don't notice a potional problem,so putting him back in class was just where he needed to be

Jul 30, 2013
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Thank you NEW
by: Cheryl

Thank you Sue and others how have responded to this problem all of which have been very helpful and I don't feel that I am the only one who has experienced this, like I had commented I did have rottie's prior to Max, my last one Bear AKA Mr Attitude as everyone called him, did not like anything but me, when I got Bear at 10months old he had already been through 5 families that did not want him I was his last chance and I didn't think I wanted him either, he scared me,but I decided one day after he attacked my other dog that I wasn't giving up so I went to the libary and checked out every book they had on rotties,I walked him,ran him,we would sit for hours on the curb watching the cars go by and me talking to him,after that he realized I was the alpha in this pack.Bear lived outside for the first 6yrs of his life because my husband at the time hated dogs in the house so I never saw any alpha issues.When I finally got rid of the husband I made a promise to Bear that never again would he be left out doors. It was kinda funny that when I met my new boyfriend he asked me if he could bring his dog over one day not realizing that when he showed up that he had a rottie named Bear,so then we had 3 males 2 rotties named Bear and a dobe named Taz and amazing how well they all did together, unfortantly we lost the 1st Bear to cancer at 8yrs old and my Bear died to cancer at 11 1/2 the pain I felt was nothing I had ever experienced before and friends thought I was crazy when I adopted Max 2 weeks later but I just had to have another rottie, he is neutered and I have had him through 3 trainers and after your sugguested on this post I am becoming more aware of little things that I did not pay much attention to prior,but signs of his pushing for perhaps that alpha spot,like with our other dog Taz who is 10yrs old likes to take a mouth full of his food and eat it elsewhere other than the bowl,I started noticing that Max would follow and take it from him and if Taz got a toy Max would bark until Taz dropped it then Max would have everything,so now with that behavior I watch where Taz is going with his food and correct Max back to the bowl for his own and if I hear him barking at Taz about a toy and Max shows up with it I quietly tell him no and give it back to Taz,I also expressed to my husband that when friends show up with their dog don't just yell "come in" you need to greet them at the door with Max and pick up all bowls and toys and close all bedroom doors because Max doesn't like them in my room. Just one more comment about my Bear, I never took him to a trainer but he new I was alpha,I never yelled him and only 2 times in the 11 1/2yrs did I need to correct him and then all I would have to do was look at him and point to the bedroom and he never came out until I said it was OK, he was such a wonderful dog and my best friend ever!!!now Max is my best friend also and now known as my shadow

Jul 30, 2013
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Behavior NEW
by: Anonymous

My rottie Roxy did the same thing around two and a half years old. She became very protective of me and was barking at anyone who looked different. Kids on bikes, anyone with a hood or backpack, someone who walked slowly or limping... Anyone who didn't fit the normal human shape or stride. My anxiety over this caused her to become even more guarded. I had to take over the alpha position so that she could relax. I changed my posture and was more assertive with her. I kept her close to me but didn't let her get in front. I discouraged barking with a firm no and pull on her choke. I worked with her daily. I used a corrector spray when she would bark at people she didn't like while we were in the car. After about four months, she was back to her lovable self. She will still be protective when behind the gate or in the car but walking or at the dog park she is fine. Your dog needs to know you are in charge then he will relax. Be guarded though during this stage. If people come up to pet him, just tell them sorry, but he is in training. You need to feel confident that he won't react. Rottie's don't get a second chance. When you feel that he is relaxing and you want to start letting him meet people, pet him yourself when the are petting him. Go close to the person with him so he knows you are not afraid. He will get through this and be fine. Good luck to you.




Jul 29, 2013
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Max's behavior NEW
by: Caesar

Hi Cheryl,

I have experienced a somewhat similar situation with two of my males, a rottie and a dobe.

I keep only one male in my household at a time and have several females along with them (all spayed and neutered). Surprisingly and I suppose luckily, my girls have never had issues among themselves. Both boys were VERY self-assured alphas and the girls just accepted that.

What my boys–Caesar, the rottie, and Max, the dobe, had was that natural instinct to be protective and territorial, which Sue speaks of, and that’s fine, but when out in public, whether it was dog school or just out and around in general, both were well behaved allowing human strangers to greet us. However, as they approached adulthood, both Caesar and Max became aloof (but not aggressive) with other dogs which I attributed to their breed. My third male, Jubal, a dobe, was fine anywhere / anytime / with anyone. Both Caesar and Max were obedience trained (Jubal and my girls as well), and had no problems in sit / down stays, etc. when next to other dogs whether they were males or females. At home though, both, and Caesar especially, was all business. If we were home, he would alert when someone was on the property and when we were away; his guarding instinct was very visible. I would not have expected either male to allow another dog to visit without my being around, and don’t know if this is correct or not, but again, as Sue says, these are guardian breeds. I did have friends visit with their dogs, but didn’t have a reason to feed the dogs together, and I don’t leave food or their empty bowls down, so not sure what would have happened. Treats were often given, and without incident. If I were in your exact situation, I would have the female over at your place both with and without her owners and would work on having Max understand that he must accept the circumstances you put before him. Also, see if you can come to some sort of agreement with your neighbors on getting the fence fixed so that the female cannot just show up on your property anytime she wants. In my opinion, this is not fair to Max. Sue’s suggestion on training with a professional should be taken to heart.

The weather here in Indiana is not as hot as in OK or CA, but we do have regular stretches of high 90 degree days, even occasional triple digits. Caesar was a coated rott and did not tolerate the heat well at all. When we went out, I took a cooler of ice with towels as well as drinking water and would keep him cool with cold, wet towels around his head and shoulders and sometimes between his legs when lying down. Since I was the one who wanted him to be with me, it was my job to plan ahead for all his needs and comfort. I must say though, both of us were sure glad when fall and winter rolled around. :-) Thankfully, my other dogs didn’t seem to have a problem with the heat.

Bless you for adopting, and I hope Max and you have a wonderful life together.

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