Attitude Change in 3 1/2 year old

by clgrande

Hi! We have had our 3 1/2 year old male, Rocco, since he was a puppy. We socialized him a lot at dog parks up until he was about a 1 1/2 yrs old when we moved to an area where there were no dog parks. He house-trained amazingly quick as a pup…and never goes in the house (unless he gets sick). He has never showed any destructive behavior either with the exception of chewing one of those “egg-crate” mattresses we had given him to sleep on and a comforter once…but he was still young, less than 1 yr old, and never since. He is neutered. He is loving to the point of almost annoying, lol.

However, there have been some odd behavior changes lately with him. First off, our 12 yr-old son bent down to pet him about 6 months ago and he snapped at his face and actually caused a mark. Around the same time he started developing an attitude problem where he has become stubborn, ignores us, totally disregards our commands. I had lost my job so I am at home all day with him but I dread if anyone comes to the door. He nearly takes the door off the hinges and rips my feet up with his claws trying to get at the person knocking. Me telling him to “sit or stay or it’s ok Rocco” does nothing. He definitely outweighs me. He is more obedient with my husband by far. But I don’t understand because as a pup, I was the one who for the most part trained him with shake, sit, stay, etc.

When we have company he totally does his own thing, jumping up, bouncing around, knocking things over even after being told otherwise after giving the visitor the chance to pet, etc. He just won’t calm down that’s it gotten to the point where we need to remove him from the room which I hate doing because I want him to be involved and part of the family. I used to always take him with me in the car when I would go to the store but anymore I am scared to because at red lights if someone pulls up next to us he goes nuts at the window (i’m afraid he will bust it)and even though i park all the way in an isolated part of the parking lot i can hear him going crazy in the car when I come out of the store (very quick errands..less than 5 mins). he never used to do this.

We never feed him scraps and buy him special rottie food by iams, but sometimes he will go on a hunger strike and not eat for 2 or more days.
everyone loves him so much but we are all getting to our wits end because of the way he has been behaving. i dont want to say he is a hassle but he’s being a hand full. i gave you a few specific examples but basically the only way i can sum it up is blatant disregard and attitude. can u please give me some insight?

thank you so much. i want to do whatever we can to help him.

Hi Lisa
I’m sorry to hear that you’re having so much trouble with Rocco right now, and I know how difficult this must be for you to deal with. A full-grown Rottweiler is a handful if he decides to be challenging!

Your Rocco is now fully mature, and an attitude change during late adolescence through maturity is very common. He is asserting his independence and authority and trying to move himself further up the ‘chain of command’. This is natural and doesn’t make him a bad dog, or aggressive etc., but it definitely does need to be dealt with, quickly and effectively.

I strongly recommend that you get Rocco signed up for some obedience training with a qualified dog trainer asap. I’d suggest starting out with an evaluation from the trainer so that he/she can decide whether or not Rocco needs private lessons to begin with. Different schools have different rules and procedures so you may want to call around some of the obedience classes close to you. Do choose a trainer who is familiar with large, guardian breeds and who understands that they benefit from positive, rewards-based training and do NOT need a ‘heavy handed’ approach.

Rocco is challenging you for authority and although he is doing this to a lesser degree with your husband, you both need to attend classes with him and learn how to control him and to communicate your authority in a way he understands and accepts. It’s dangerous to have a dog who is as big as this but out of control in certain situations. Rotties are very intelligent and strong willed but they’re also very loyal and eager to please, I honestly think that with a bit of professional ‘hands on’ help, you will be able to overcome this difficult behavior and everyone will be much happier.

I know professional training costs money, but in this situation I personally feel that it’s the best approach to take and you need someone to show you how to get Rocco back under control. He will be happier that way, and so will everyone else!

I wish you lots of luck and hope you can find the help you need.

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