Aggression towards strangers, even children

Posted by Mary-Buis
May 3, 2008
Bear is a year and 8 month old Rottwieler. He is very loving to me. Although he is good with my grandchildren for the most part, he has bit a them when there is food around. He is very aggressive with strangers even children. He must be muzzled to go to the vet. I want him to be protective but be gentle when he is commanded. Please help!
Posted by Todd
May 14, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the question

Sorry for the delay in replying. As you may well know Rottweilers can be on the aggressive side if not delt with properly when young. They are great family animals and can be very protective.

First things first i think we need to go over some alpha training issues. Dogs are pack animals in the wild...and should be in the home. Dogs are happy when they know there place, and don't challenge. So for both his and your sake i think it is important to get him knowing he is at the BOTTOM of the pack. This may seem mean but trust me he will thank you for it

1) When he is sleeping in a hallway or doorway make sure to move him out of the way. Stepping over or around him will only lead her to think he is higher in the pack.

2) You should always walk through doorways first. Make your dog sit and wait. You can even walk around the house with him on the lead to reinforce this.

3) He should always eat after everyone else in the household and never get food from the table.

4) When you get back from work or being out leave him alone for 15 minutes. Wait until he is calm and relaxed and then go see him.

The next major thing to go over is obedience. Your boy must be very well behaved so you can trust him whenever where ever. Work with him for 10 minutes a couple of times a day on the commands of sit, stay and come. Keep up the training and you will notice it does help. It is also a good idea to get the kids into training him but only when you are there to make sure things go well.

Next it is very important that you tell him off when he is acting innappropriately. This may be anything from snarling, nipping, growling or biting. No matter how minor or major it is he needs to learn that aggression is not ok.

So when he misbehaves tell him off straight away. Use a loud GRRRR or AHHHH as well as a squirt with a water pistol or throw a blanket over him to stop him. This will give him a fright and make sure he knows he is misbehaving.

I think more socialising and controlled interactions with children will help control things.
I still think the muzzle will be best in these circumstances.

First we will start with people and children and then later move to dogs.
Now we need to introduce him to as many people as possible in your home. He does need to be on a lead and muzzled.

1) Have the person sitting on a couch

2) Have him sitting 5 metres back. When he behaves and sits he gets praise....when he is aggressive he gets told off just like before

3) He can advance a half metre at a time once he is sitting and relaxed. If he growls reprimand him and wait. Keep waiting and reprimanding until he is calm then proceed.

4) Make sure your friend has some treats in there hand that he can take. Avoid sudden movements and loud voices.

You will need to repeat this over and over, with different people etc
With children make sure that you are in control. Avoid telling your children off in front of the dog and make sure they play gentle as many dogs will snap if they are being teased, poked or pulled.

Now you can do the same with dogs in the backyard. Don't let the dogs meet on the first occassion but they can later. Only allow gentle play and no rough housing.

AVoid walking him until this stage. Muzzle when walking. When you see someone coming make him sit. Again he is rewarded for being relaxed and reprimanded for growling etc. If he gets too much you may have to take him away.
But keep being persistent.

If he snaps reprimand her firmly. Be persistent and take things one step at a time. This will take time to fix so keep me informed okay? As long as you tell him off and socialise him i am sure the problems will slowly subside

Posted by Tarnador
May 15, 2008
Hi Mary,

I agree with everything Todd says - it's good sound advice.
I would like to tell you how I handle my rottweiler/pitbull, named Bobbi. She is 9 months old and I have three other dogs. She is by far the most dominant, and I have to come down harder on her than the others every single day because she is so dominant. This means that she has to obey every command, no matter how small, I can't let her get away with anything. She used to jump up at the kids and nip them but I squirted her with water every time and she no longer does this.

I have also taught the children how to act around her, which I think is important with your grandchildren. They must never get on the floor and play with her as she will treat them as being lower status and they could get bitten. Children can also learn to be alpha dog, my 12 year old daughter is a natural and can handle both our big dogs, however my son is not as assertive and I have to keep an eye on him, as he projects weaker energy.

Regarding feeding - I like to mix dry food with my hands so that it has my scent, she has to wait patiently. In the beginning I used to have a biscuit in my hand and pretend I was taking it from her bowl, she would have to sit and wait while I ate the biscuit first. In this way I am Alpha dog and eat first. I put her food in front of her but don't allow her to eat - at first this was difficult as she used to lunge for it - so I had to remove it and start over. Now she won't touch the food until I give her permission. My kids now feed all the dogs.

It's important that you have control over your dog's food in this way and that you are able to take it away at any time. another method is to give your dog just a little food and whilst she is eating, keep adding little handfuls of dry food to her bowl. Please be careful with the grandkids around. Good luck
Posted by STEVEPHS
Aug 5, 2008
Hi there, I hope the advice which Todd and Mary has given helped. We had a Collie pup with a food agression problem. He would never growl at me or my wife, but always did with our children. We moved his bowl from the hallway and placed it in the centre of the kitchen. We started with getting the older child to feed the dog and she then walked slowly around the dog the whole time the collie was eating, walking in large circles to start with and getting closer and closer until she could pet the dog. Once the collie stopped growling at our eldest, we started with the middle child doing the same thing over a period of 10 days or so. In addition, each child not only took it in turns to feed the dog, they also made the dog sit and 'no touch' until he was told he could take the food, reinforcing the alpha position.

It took approximately three weeks to accomplish but we never had any problems afterwards.

Let us know how you are getting on