by Lisa Black
(St. Albans, wv)
My name is Lisa and I have a 9 yr old female rottweiler- her name is Eve. I raised her and she is my big baby. Over all she is very well behaved and obedient.
However, when she approaches my husband, she lowers her head and lifts her lip showing her teeth for a min. She has never been aggressive but my husband is concerned this is a bad sign. She only does it when he is around, but to nobody else. Need some advise as to how to address this correctly correctly and put my husbands worries at ease.
If your husband has been in your life since your Rottweiler was young, it’s unusual that her behavior should change towards him suddenly.
I’d start by recommending that you try to figure out if there is something that he’s doing that is either frightening her or making her feel that she needs to protect herself, or you.
Dogs don’t think the way we do, but they are very perceptive when it comes to emotions. This can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings and behavior that seems strange or mystifying until you try to see it from her point of view.
All families have emotional conflicts and go through changes in environment, interaction and so on. If there’s been tension or stress in your home for any reason (ie a new baby, a house move, a death, divorce, home remodeling, a new pet, house guests etc. etc.), that could have triggered some anxiety in your Rottie and she’s expressing it. Why she’s only expressing it towards your husband is something you need to think about though, and it could be simply that she sees you as ‘the boss’ and then herself as ‘second in command’ and your husband at the bottom of the heap!
If this is the case(and if he’s a new addition to your life/home) or came into your life after she did, then it’s quite possible) then you need to gently, patiently and lovingly show her that he is also ‘head of the pack’ and that she needs to respect him. This won’t be achieved by him being harsh with her or trying to dominate through strength. It requires an investment of time and effort and patience (from you both), but will be worth the effort.
Start off by involving your husband in all aspects of your dog’s care, ie feeding, grooming, walking, training etc. Dogs respect whoever is in charge of the necessities (and luxuries) of life and by being in control of her food your husband will move up in her estimation of his importance!
If he’s never been involved in her care before, start out gradually and make sure you supervise their interactions to begin with, and until you’re sure she understands what you’re trying to teach her. Plenty of fun times (games, walks, training with treats etc.) between them are important, and the three of you also need to get into these sorts of activities together.
Make sure your husband is never loud, harsh or physical with your dog, Rottweilers are generally very calm and responsive dogs, but if they feel threatened they will react with stubbornness, defiance and even potentially some ‘defensive aggression’. You definitely don’t want that.
As your Rottie is a mature adult it will take time to reshape her behavior, but if you’re patient and loving it can be done. If you do find that you continue to have difficulties though I’d recommend talking to a professional trainer or dog behaviorist who is local to you and can give you some ‘hands-on’ help, often that is more beneficial than just reading about how to do something.
I hope this helps and that the three of you are able to work through the situation and find a happy and harmonious balance. Good luck.
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