7 week old male pup growls when being held or hugged


by Robin

Our male pup is starting to “grumble” when he is on our lap and is being shown affection in the shape of a hug. He actually growled and snapped at my daughter’s face (13 year old) one time. We do not “rough house” with him.

Is this aggression? Or is he playing and doesn’t know that it is not a desirable behavior yet?

How do we react to correct this potential problem?


Hi Robin
Your puppy is still a tiny baby, and aggression in a pup at this age is extremely rare. I think what you’re seeing is simply this little guy trying to let you know how he feels – which is probably a little overwhelmed and over-stimulated at this point.

However, growling and snapping is most definitely NOT okay, at this age or any other.

The first few days or week, is usually pretty stressful for a young puppy and it’s an adjustment period for everyone. If possible allow your pup to have as much ‘alone-time’ as he wants because many puppies react to stress by withdrawing a bit and ‘sleeping it off’. It’s important to let him adjust at his own pace.

However, if he growls or snaps at anyone, an instant, firm (but loving) correction is a must. Tell him “No” immediately in a low, firm voice and continue with whatever you (or anyone else) was doing for at least 10 seconds more. Do not allow him to control your behavior with his. If he growls again or snaps, repeat the correction but also wrap your hand around his muzzle gently and hold his mouth closed for a few seconds while telling him “no”.

Puppies are creatures of habit and you will need to be very consistent with him, correct him the same way every single time. Also, be patient he’s a tiny baby and it will take him some time to understand what is acceptable and what isn’t.

I’d recommend that you read my Free Puppy Training Tips page as it’s important to start with very basic ‘manners’ etc. early on. Also check out my Stop Puppy Biting page as I think it will help you.

Rottie puppies are simply puppies, just like any other breed, and they misbehave at times. Because of the undeservedly harsh criticism they often get, sometimes new owners over-react to normal puppy behavior and read into it more than is necessary. Rottweilers are not an aggressive breed, and nipping, growling etc. is a normal part of puppy play (as you rightly guessed above). It’s up to the puppy’s ‘parents’ to show him/her what is okay and what isn’t and to discipline him in a fair and loving way so that he can grow up to fulfill his potential.

I hope this has helped, and I wish you the very best of luck with your pup.

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hi, i have an american rottie who is the best natured dog i could ever ask for and very obedient as well! family raised 3 children in the home with her at all times all under the age of 7 non aggressive.

but anyways today i had taken her on a walk around our neighborhood that she knows very well and we came across 2 lil girls that wanted to pet her so i said yes, so they did and everything was fine until 1 of the lil girls bent down to hug her goodbye she had growled a lil, i couldn’t tell if it was her normal talking growl she has or aggressive one? should i be worried or not??

the only time she growls is if she doesn’t want to be bothered and that is hardly ever she absolutely loves kids and people!!!!! i’m kinda confused?

thanks krystle

p.s. she’s the kids nanny! lol

Hi Krystle
It’s difficult to say for sure, but personally I wouldn’t worry about this too much at this point. It sounds as though she has a wonderful temperament and you’re not even sure whether she was talking or growling.

This is one of the things about breeds such as Rottweilers, because of their size, strength and breed characteristics, it’s very easy for people (even loving owners who adore and understand their dogs) to over-react when there is even a hint of aggression. This isn’t a criticism just an observation and it’s not something I’ve never done either :o)

Anyway, it could have been that she was simply talking or grumbling, but it could have been that she was gently telling this little girl that she was ‘going too far’. Leaning in towards a dog is threatening to them and dogs, like people, have a certain amount of ‘personal space’, this little girl had good intentions but it may just have been too much, too soon, for your dog. Especially from a stranger. It’s also possible that she had a ‘sore spot’, or the little girl pulled on her hair by mistake etc. etc.

For now, I would suggest that you don’t allow children or other people to hug your dog, or get in her face. Instead encourage them to scratch or pet under her chin (a hand moving under the chin is much less threatening than one moving over the head), or on her back. I doubt you’ll have any problems with that.

Your girl looks beautiful and she’s obviously a cherished part of your family, just as it should be. I’d take this occurrence with a ‘pinch of salt’, everyone has an ‘off day’ sometimes! However, if you have any problems of this type again, have a word with your vet or a professional trainer and they should be able to advise you.

Best of luck!

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Please help with the following if possible.

We have a 5 year old rottie. We have had him from being 10 weeks old. He is perfect in every way, apart from one and that is, over the last year he has started growling at my partner (his master). He is obedient in every way and has never shown one sign of aggression and in turn we have never shown him any aggression, for him to understand it. Understanding the breed that he is we have always been very alert to his training needs and been strict, he understand his place in our household / family. He has not been castrated as he as always been so intelligent, loving and in a word – soft. Anyone could enter our home and he would lick them to death in the hope of a stroke rather than see them out. We mated him with a bitch around 2 and a half years ago. I understand that from that he will have felt his feet, but he only seems to challenge his master.

Please note this growling doesn???t happen all the time. The usual scenario is if my partner is out walking him and there???s another dog, he wants to go play. If my partner holds him back by his collar he starts growling and looks as though he is getting ready to bite him ??? although he HAS NEVER gone for him, he makes threats. Another scenario is if we are on the decking out back and want to put in the garden off the decking he will growl if you pull him out by his collar.
He is very intelligent and wants to be around us all the time. 5 minutes stroking is no good, after this time and you want to stop he gets overpowering.

We now have a 5 month old baby and Diesel has accepted him better then i could have ever had hoped. He doesn???t touch his toys/teddys and if he walks past the baby the worse he does is lick him.

Because we have a 5 month old baby, the growling on occasions is getting concerning. We spoke to someone who trains rotties, and he advised to smack him the instant that he growls but personally i think this is going infuse the situation and i obviously have a fear of him turning and biting my partner. There must be an alternative, or an answer why he has started growling at the man who feeds, walks and loves him every day.

I suspect your answer will to be get him castrated, any advise you have would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Layla
It sounds as though overall Desiel is good tempered and not aggressive, so it’s vital to figure out what he’s thinking when he growls in this way.

Neutering him will probably help to some extent, as it reduces the hormonal influences that can trigger some types of aggressive/defensive behavior, but it’s definitely not a ‘cure-all’.

I most definitely don’t agree with the advice to smack Desiel when he growls, as you rightly assume that will only escalate the situation and may indeed provoke a snap, bite or at least more growling. Unfortunately because Rottweilers are big, powerful dogs some people (and even trainers and professionals) feel that it’s necessary to be very tough or even physical when disciplining them. In my personal opinion, and experience, this is not the case! A very firm verbal correction (not shouted, but in a low firm voice) is important, but hitting or physical corrections shouldn’t be used.

Rottweilers are very intelligent, and an adult Rottie – a male in particular – can feel that they are more ‘qualified’ to be in charge (or just plain ‘should be’ in charge). You obviously love Desiel and have raised him in the right way, but at this point I think you need to be more firm with him and remind him that you, and your partner are the alphas in the house.

Dogs naturally respect those who are in charge of the resources in life, and food is their number one priority. I’d recommend that your partner start hand-feeding Desiel at least one meal a day. When I say ‘hand-feed’ that’s what I mean, literally. Just feed him his dry dog food by hand, either one piece at a time, or a handful of pieces held in the palm. Also, insist that he ‘sit’ before being fed (whether by hand or in the bowl), before he gets his leash clipped on, gets a belly rub etc. etc. This sends him a clear signal that the humans are in charge.

Things that he shouldn’t be allowed to do…

jump up on sofas, furniture or beds

lie in doorways or obstruct your path through the house

go through a door before you or your partner

instigate a session of play or petting, or extend one through his insistence

All of these things lead him to believe he is your equal, and he isn’t. He’s a loved member of your family, but isn’t in charge.

At this stage I wouldn’t worry too much about his showing aggression towards your baby, as he has a basically sound temperament and has accepted the him/her – but obviously you don’t ever want to leave them alone unattended.

As your child grows be sure that you always show Desiel clearly that the human child/children are higher up in the ‘pecking order’ than he is. Involve them in his care as soon as possible and make sure he obeys them as well.

If you continue to have problems with him even after following this advice for a period of time, I’d recommend looking for a professional trainer or dog behavioral specialist to help you understand Desiel better, and to help improve your communications. However, don’t accept someone who isn’t familiar with the breed and who doesn’t have the same attitudes or expectations as you do.

I hope this helps some and wish you the very best with that very handsome Rottweiler of yours.

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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