Two Rottweilers - when does what looks like play become serious?
by Paul Jones
(Walsall, West Midlands, England)
I have a 4 year old Rottweiler called Elvis and his 5 month old son called Watson. They get on great, but I am concerned about the level of acceptable play.
For example, Elvis might grab Watson by his neck and parade him around the house and garden without letting go. Watson doesn't seem worried by this, but I'm hoping this will not escalate to something much worse when Watson gets older.
I also don't feel that I should be correcting or putting Elvis in his place too often and in front of his son. Or should I?
Over all though, at this time. They are just the best and so much fun. I'm laughing every day, but would hate to have to part the pair of them if it became serious.
Having two adult dogs of the same sex is the most likely combination for conflict, and it's possible that this behavior could escalate as Watson matures.
Generally two females are more likely to get very serious about this, and males tend to 'posture' more, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't turn ugly I'm afraid. It's also important to neuter both dogs and unaltered dogs are MUCH more likely to be combative with each other - and other dogs - especially if there's a female dog around.
Elvis' behavior is his attempts to show Watson that he's the 'boss' and a lot will depend on Watson's temperament. If he's fairly laid-back and submissive by nature (and some Rotties are, just as with every other breed), then they may work it out between them.
But if they're both fairly opinionated and dominant then conflict is more likely.
Personally I would correct Elvis if the gets too 'bossy' or physical with Watson, but only if Watson is being hurt or scared and you feel you need to step in. You can help bolster the 'pecking order' by treating Elvis as the senior dog and feeding, greeting and petting him before Watson. Sometimes this helps.
There are many households where two (or more) adult dogs of the same sex live together harmoniously, but you definitely need to be prepared for some conflict, especially as Watson passes through the adolescent stage (anywhere from 5 months to 2 years).
If problems arise that you can't handle or are concerned about I'd strongly recommend getting some hands-on professional help from a qualified dog trainer too. That can make all the difference.
Hope this helps, best of luck with both your Rotties.