socialization for my Rottweiler
by Jamie Ranft
I have a 3yr old rottie Enzo. At this time he is the only dog we have. He is so very wonderful. He sleeps in the house but spends the day in the back yard. (We let him in during the hot afternoon). We are a family with 2 boys 12 and 17.
Of course true to his breed he is loving and wants to be in the middle of whatever is going on. We took him to the vet today for his yearly shots. He has always gone to this vet. The dr. said he was worried that Enzo was too afraid. That he was uneasy. That we should muzzle him and take him around people to let them touch him and around other dogs. I am wondering what your suggestion is. We live in a small town in Texas. There are no dog parks. I want you to know that we play with him, he totally thinks he is human. And I have been faulty of talking baby talk to him and probably have contributed to the high opinion he has of himself.
So I am puzzled that he is uneasy or not self-assured. I very much want a balanced dog. Also one final note. My husband is a strong figure and I can tell that Enzo sees him as the dominate one. However he probably doesn't exactly feel that way about me. (this has been my mistake). Any time you have would be very appreciated. This is our 3rd rottie, you can never get enough rottie love.
Enzo is a gorgeous boy, and it sounds as though he has a good, sound temperament and that you've done a great job of raising him overall.
However, Rottweilers are a guardian breed and they're naturally a little suspicious of strangers. If they're not socialized properly this can translate into being fearful or aggressive when they encounter someone, or a situation, that they're unfamiliar with.
Luckily, they're very intelligent dogs and if their temperament and personality is sound, they can learn to accept (or at the very least to tolerate) strange people, places and experiences calmly and without showing anxiety or aggression.
As your dog is now three years old it will take more effort, time and patience to socialize him than it would with a puppy - but it can most definitely be done! If he's never had any formal obedience training then I'd suggest enrolling him in a beginners class as soon as you can. This would be a great way for him to get some socialization experience within a controlled setting and you will be able to get hands-on tips and advice from a professional dog trainer.
Also, check out this webpage which has tons of tips and advice (and links to other related pages) on socializing a puppy... Socialize Your Puppy. Although it talks about puppy socialization you can apply it equally to socializing an older pup or dog.
Your vet recommending a muzzle suggests to me that he fears your dog may snap or bite out of fear if he feels threatened. You know your dog best, and if you feel that Enzo MAY react this way then a soft nylon muzzle may be a good idea, at least for the first few times you take him out in public. However, it can make the process a bit trickier as making socialization a pleasant experience for the pup/dog involves giving treats and praise, and it can be awkward treating a dog who is muzzled. Also, if he's not familiar with the muzzle beforehand (and comfortable with it), then wearing it can add to his fear which is counter-productive.
It's something you'll need to consider yourselves as you know your dog better than anyone else. Learning to obey commands and being rewarded for success will help to build up Enzos' self-confidence. So will being out in public and being rewarded for letting someone give him a treat, or even for not shying away or retreating from someone or something that he's a little nervous about. It may be a slow process but if you're patient, consistent, positive and loving, the end result will be a happier, more confident dog. And that's worth the effort.
I hope this helps some, best of luck with Enzo.