15 wk old male rottie growls at daughter!

by GatorBait

Okay, so let me start off by saying we got our rottie, Gator, from a lady who was re-homing him for her boss. My husband and I have always wanted one! I’ve always loved the breed and thought they were beautiful and almost gladiator-like.

I’ve always had a thing for bulky/bully breeds… I guess there’s something about taking something most people are terrified of and turning it into a family member and living teddy bear, has always intrigued me.

Gator had a really bad resource guarding problem with his food and bones. He even bit me twice! Drew blood and all! It didn’t go over well… I wasn’t happy about it at all… obviously.

I didn’t back down, even after he bit me. You could say that I’m a pretty dominant person (as in- “Oh I’ll just let him be and chew his bone/eat his food. No, I bought that food and I’ll take the bowl if I want.) and I have been the main one training him. He’s done a lot better, but to be honest… at first I didn’t know what to do in that situation. I had no idea how to handle it! I’ve never had a dog or puppy do that before (I’ve dealt with dog on dog aggression with our pit mix but never any human aggression. Neither with any other pup I’ve ever had)… so after some research and regroup I basically combined 3 different training methods:

Making him sit and wait for his food before I gave it to him.

Petting, touching him and touching his bowl and food and immediately taking it away, or forcing myself between him and his food, if he showed any aggression.

And lastly I gave a stern ‘out!’ And when he lifted his head with no sass he got a treat as a reward and a ‘GOOD BOY!’)

All these have helped tremendously!! His food aggression and bone aggression with me is basically non existent!

HOWEVER, my 7 year old -he still growls at! This makes me nervous… again, for obvious reasons. I’ve noticed he obeys her when I am present, but will growl at her when they are alone. I encourage her to help with his training (after he knows the command) and they do well. She is very hesitant around him and I believe she is afraid of him because he’s growled at everyone in the family that comes near his food or bones. I know her being afraid and anxious doesn’t help at all and she will back down from him immediately if he growls at her.

I do have to give her credit that she has put a stop to him nipping at her heels and jumping! At first she would just squall and jump around because it hurt… i just basically told her that he thinks you’re playing when you do that and my – “he’s a puppy. Not a rattlesnake!” metaphor and with a quick jerk of her knee and a stern ‘no’ he got the jist and backed off)

Let me add that he has quickly become MY dog. When we first got him he would sit (like a person) with his back against my chest and nap in the crook of my arm. He follows me everywhere ( I mean he would follow me to hell if I took him there! And there’s not much that scares him… he had 2, separate encounters with a possum recently… nope… no fear)

He’s completely OBSESSED with food!! He’s doing very well with all of his other training (sit, lay, wait, shake, and potty). I can’t let him just run in the house because he goes straight for the trash or the food bags!(garbage is a new discovery… lawd hep meh) I mean he makes a bee-line for it and he could have just had breakfast/dinner (and yes I feed him plenty! He still looks so thin to me though! I read that rotties reach their full height before weight?)

We also have another dog who we adopted and adore! He pretty much roams the yard and has free rein (we have an underground fence) and is the best dog I’ve ever owned in my life! I mean he is smart as a tack and an all around wonderful dog!

We’ve also socialized Gator as well! We take him to family get togethers and he gets a long with all the other animals! Even my mom’s tiny maltese who is a JERK, by the way.

I love my Gator, but I have some fear of him with my young daughter… and he is more attached to me than anyone else… don’t get me wrong he greets my daughter at the school bus and is excited to see my husband, too! But he obeys me better and I’m afraid he’s going to turn into a ‘one person dog’ as far as obeying me and recognizing me as his only true authority figure…

I know with a lot of small dogs this is common and a lot of owners think it’s cute… but with a rottie… not so much.

We want Gator to be a part of the family! I’m just terrified this behavior with my daughter will be something he carries even when he’s 100+ lbs.
(Im really not as worried about my husband because he isn’t afraid of him- just hasn’t worked with him as much as I have)
And he does well with guests and friends (fluffy and fleshy) but I think he’s confused about the pecking order in our home and idk how else to handle it? I can’t force my daughter to not be timid around him…

I did A LOT of research on rotties as this is my first one! I’ve read they’re aloof and very self assured, confident and stubborn (not dumb-stubborn) I’ve read both sides that they make wonderful family dogs and are amazing with children and I’ve read some rather scary stories as well.

I would like some tips and some reassurance that this is a common occurrence and, as rottie racist as this sounds (I know how could I feel like this and own a pit bull), I haven’t brought the next cujo into my home!

One thing I can say for sure is rotties have a very unique personality! And can even be hard to read sometimes and I compare this to my experience with the other dogs I’ve had and raised.

I just want to be as comfortable taking Gator camping and to the river and playing with other dogs and being around children as I am with our other dog!

I guess what I’m looking for is ” yea, this is normal. No he’s not going to shred your family in the dead of night. Yes you can train him to be a well behaved dog and all is well in the world… just gonna take some work.

Shew that was long!

I know that’s a lot but hopefully I gave more than enough info!?

Also, I love my pup and I’m willing to work with him. But I am a first time rottie owner. Any good and sound advice would be much appreciated!


My response is in the comments below as there weren’t enough available characters to answer here 🙂

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Aug 31, 2017

by: Susan

Hi, that was a long post but all of the information in it is important, so thanks for that.

It sounds as though Gator has some pretty ingrained resource guarding behavior and as you also noted, is forming his own idea of pack structure and considers your daughter an equal and not a superior.

This attitude to children IS common, and a natural one in puppies, however it has to be overcome or there is the potential for a bite or bad situation to happen. With a dog the size and strength of a Rottweiler this is dangerous. Luckily your Gator is still very much a puppy and there is plenty of time to teach him to behave in a way that is acceptable.

The resource guarding is an issue that also NEEDS to be 100% corrected, as otherwise (again) there is the potential for getting bitten. You’ve done a great job so far and I commend your approach, you obviously have the temperament and ability to hold your own with a large, bossy, puppy and not be intimidated. That is essential in this type of situation. Teaching Gator the ‘Leave It!’ command (ie to allow you to take anything from him at any time) is another great tool in your efforts to correct this behavior. This page on another of my websites explains more (Leave It! Command

Rottweilers are super smart, very loving and loyal and one of the easiest breeds to train (in my experience). I raised 6 children in a home which always contained at least one Rottweiler, and at various times also a German Shepherd and two Cane Corsi, I do know the challenges of getting the pack structure to work and keeping kids safe. However individual personality and temperament of the dogs play their part and your Gator seems to be naturally dominant and very food motivated/oriented which can be extra difficult.

I would recommend getting some professional help with overcoming his guarding behavior. A dog trainer or behaviorist who will come into your home and work with you and your daughter (and husband too if possible) would be very beneficial. These sorts of situations usually need to be seen so that the dogs body language can be properly evaluated, as well as the behavior of the humans. It could really shortcut your way to a safer environment and reduce stress and work-load.

Rottweiler puppies are lean for a long time, and your little guy has years of growing to do so yes, he could well look ‘thin’ and that could be normal. But, if you haven’t had him checked for parasites such as worms by your own vet, I would strongly recommend doing so. An infestation (which would not necessarily have other visible signs) could cause this food obsession and thin appearance. Your vet can also tell you if your pup is within normal weight limits. Also be sure that you’re feeding a high quality premium puppy food for large breeds that supplies all the nutrients Gator needs. Pups will get what they need, and feel full, from less of a nutrient dense food than a more generic, poorer quality one.

I can’t say ‘yes, this is all normal, he will be just fine, continue as you are’… but I am not comfortable doing that because from what you describe Gator definitely needs to readjust his attitude to your daughter and be 100% reliable about letting you, your husband, daughter or any human take things (even edible ones) from him without complaint.

However he IS a puppy, and all of this is a learning curve, his attitudes are normal but need to be fully corrected. You are definitely moving in the right direction and this sort of behavior takes time to correct. Continue to include your daughter in his training and kudos to her for understanding what to do and being brave enough to do it 🙂 But, I really feel that getting some professional help to fully remedy the situation would be beneficial for everyone and ensure getting the results you want.

I hope this is helpful and wish you loads of luck with Gator. He sounds like a wonderful, smart, loving boy with a mind of his own (which isn’t a bad thing) and he obviously respects and loves you which is wonderful. Nothing like the love of a Rottie <3 You all may just need a little extra help to get to where you want to be. ~ Sue

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About The Rotty lover 2159 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone