HELP! MY ROTTWEILER IS ACTING LIKE A CHIHUAHUA!
Everyone has that neighbor. The old lady with the Chihuahua that barks non-stop, acting like he needs to defend her against the world. Other dogs? Let’s bark at them. Children? They need to be barked at, there’s no doubt. A plastic bag? Barking is mandatory. The list is endless… If you’re the proud owner of a Rottweiler, you probably don’t want your dog to act in an unruly, embarrassing way. In fact, Rottweilers can be extraordinary dogs, if educated properly; they are intelligent, obedient, self-confident and loyal.
How can you make sure your Rottweiler becomes a good canine citizen? If he’s still a puppy, don’t waste time! Rottweiler puppies need to be thoroughly socialized, if we wish them to reach their full potential. The socialization period occurs when the puppy is 3 to 12 weeks old; during this phase, you need to expose your Rottweiler to a variety of stimuli and situations: young children, bearded men, people wearing sunglasses or umbrellas, people riding bikes, cars, skateboards, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, doorbells, other dogs, cats and horses. Remember, this should be done in a gradual, controlled, positive way! Add a few treats to the equation; make sure your Rottweiler learns to enjoy these stimuli.
By creating positive associations beforehand, you’re preventing the onset of aggressive behavior. Did you know aggression is mainly caused by fear?
Basic obedience can also be a phenomenal tool. Your Rottweiler should be taught to sit and lie down on cue, come when called and walk politely on leash. Make sure you use positive, reward-based methods only! Aversive training methods are known to increase fear and aggression; they can also damage the human-animal bond. Your Rottweiler should trust you, not fear you! Make sure you provide him with enough exercise and mental stimulation. You can’t take your dog for a fifteen-minute walk, twice a day, and expect him to behave. Also, throw his food bowl away. Seriously! Use food dispensing toys, instead; don’t waste such a valuable resource when you can use it as a training tool.
You can use food to reward appropriate behaviors throughout the day, as well; reward him for acting calm around visitors, for not pulling on the leash and for eliminating where he’s supposed to.
Rottweilers can act aggressively when they feel threatened and visiting the veterinarian can be a scary situation for most dogs. As soon as you step into the waiting room, your dog should be rewarded for being calm. If he looks at other dogs and doesn’t react, reward him! Offer him a couple of treats; when the physical examination begins, keep rewarding him as well. However, if your Rottweiler doesn’t accept the treats, his stress levels may be excessively high. Don’t wait until he’s actively trying to bite the veterinary technician; you should ask for professional help. A positive dog trainer or certified animal behaviorist can help your dog feel more relaxed during stressful events and, henceforth, present a more controlled behavior.