Shy, Skittish, Fearful, 9 month old Rottie Bitch whats going on?

by K Majestic

We purchased our rottweiler Nora at 11 weeks old she was the last pup the breeder had and all her litter mates had been sold the week prior. She was kept in a kennel near her parents. She seemed timid at first but within a minute she was licking our hands and what i would consider a normal playful pup. I met both the bitch and the dog both eager and friendly.
The bitch was imported from Germany with impeccable lines including Holzmicheal and Benno. She is extremely Well bred.

She was very skittish of loud noises and not warm with strangers as a pup. we enrolled in puppy classes which she did well in. she is crate training very smart and eager to work.

I own a business and i would bring her with me once a week. she was never comfortable around people and customers but she did start to come around as long as i kept her on leash and engaged performing sit and paw and receiving a treat from strangers. but as soon as people went to pet she would slink or run away. Also if a stranger does a sudden movement she runs off. she growls if people continue to approach. or will growl if she feels cornered. i have since stopped bringing her in to the store.

Out in public she is happy and fine as long as she is ignored by everyone. same in the store. but as soon as a person goes oh look a puppy and approaches she gets on the defense.

She is an amazing family dog and an absolute mush who loves all children. she has a low prey drive and enjoys the company of cats. very bidding and obedient everything a rotti should be minus the stranger danger.

We had hopes of Breeding Nora but this has put a glitch in the plans. Any advise?

She is now 9 months old. She is calm and playful with dogs and gentle with children. An amazing girl really.

All of her lineage is Schutzund dogs so wondering if the leary of strangers aspect of her personality is how she has been breed. unfortunately i did not see her brothers she was the only female in the liter so no point of reference. but it was her Bitches 5th Litter with the same Dog.

Any advise or training tips?

Hi there. I’m so sorry that somehow this submission slid in under my radar, so this is very late response on my part 🙁

By now you have another couple of months under your belt with Nora, and as she’s an adolescent I wonder if this has been positive or negative in terms of her behavior.

It definitely sounds as though Nora has great temperament in general, just the fearful behavior as the kink in the works. She is a beautiful girl and it seems to be well bred, however I would guess that her fearfulness is a genetic trait as it doesn’t sound as though there have been situations in her short life which would produce this type of generalized anxiety.

Even though her parents seemed friendly and outgoing, it’s possible for them to pass on a tendency for anxiety which ‘skipped’ them as individuals. Shutzhund requires strength of character, courage and the willingness to be very ‘mouthy’. Lines bred for these qualities are generally bold and often have a tendency to be nippy. However, there’s always a flip-side to emotions and fearful or anxious behavior can occur.

Ongoing positive socialization is vital for pups and dogs like Nora. If she doesn’t get this then she will become more scared and anxious, and eventually more defensive around unfamiliar people and situations. It’s obviously not as easy to socialize a fearful dog as it is to socialize an outgoing one, but it’s even more important. You have done a great job so far of giving her what she needs and continuing with the obedience training would be a positive move. With her intelligence and breeding she will likely excel, probably all the way up to competition level.. and this will also help her socialization and give you some hands-on help and advice on dealing with issues or behavior.

Have you talked to Nora’s breeder about this at all? Good breeders (and if her bloodlines are excellent and her parents were properly health-tested, then they should be) know their dogs very well and are usually more than happy to give any amount of help, advice and suggestions to owners of their puppies. I would suggest that as a place to start.

Adolescence is a challenging time for pups, and Nora may show enhanced anxiety or defensiveness during this time. Especially as the guarding instinct starts to surface somewhere in this period. Most puppies are unsure what to do with those feelings at first.

You may also want to bring in the help of a dog trainer/behaviorist on a one-on-one basis to evaluate her and give suggestions or practical help that will boost her self-confidence.

She is overall a wonderful family member and her breeding, and your care and upbringing of her, are top notch. This nervousness is something that will need to be worked on and managed, so that you can all be happier and more relaxed. She may never be outgoing or super-confident but I’m sure that with time, patience, love and training Nora will grow up to be comfortable enough in her own skin.

Hope this helps. Best of luck to you all.. and again, my apologies for being so late to reply.
~ Sue

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Mar 03, 2017

Thanks! NEW
by: Kat

Hey Sue,
Thanks! Nora is now 11 months and is getting better. We go for structured walks on the rail trail. I have started using the gentle leader head halter as it serves as a great tool in instantly redirecting any nervous behaviors. We have trained her to target with nose and paw so we paw touch or paw command near strangers who would like to give a treat. I think its just more advocating for her in public people see a dog and want to pet. We have started using a dog in training vest to deter most people.
We did a lot of bite inhibition work with her so we have trained the nipping out of her. The breeder claimed she needed more confidence and did have her two year old full sister which she kept due to being fearful/ aggressive towards men. IMO she did not properly socialize the puppies. Nora would have prob ended up like her sister had we not taken her.

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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