Rottweiler and aggression

Published on Sunday, January 3, 2010 by admin


While NERR&R does not take dogs into its program that are aggressive to humans, there are several types of aggression in dogs. None are acceptable but some are more understandable than others, including aggression related to dominance, irritation, predatory, resource, and territory.

· Dominance aggression is not something you encounter if you have done your bonding and training exercises. If your dog respects your position as head of the pack-sees you as alpha dog-your dog will never challenge your right to lead. Aggression related to dominance is behavior you may see if you adopted a dog that is aggressive to other dogs. Such dogs do not want to relinquish status to another dog. These dogs can be either male or female. Common dominance behaviors are mounting a dog or person or placing a paw in your lap to gain attention. While the paw in the lap can also be a submissive posture, your dog should not progress to placing both paws in your lap, and should certainly not get into a position where the dog is standing over you in a truly dominant position.

Nudging or pushing for attention are both dominant gestures, since alphas demand attention from pack members whenever they wish. Failure to obey a known command on the first request, yawning, or grooming under these same circumstances indicate an unwillingness to submit. The dog should immediately be gently and firmly placed in the appropriate position. Reinforce and reward submissive posture from dominant dogs as often as you can.

Dominant dogs often resist being petted on their necks or heads, as this is reminiscent of another dog asserting dominance over him or her. Reward submissive behavior, doing so only after the grumbling has stopped and the dog is truly submissive. Make dominant dogs earn rewards of petting and feeding by having the dog work for them, by sitting or doing a simple trick.

If confronted by an aggravated dominant dog, avoid making eye contact and back slowly away. Call your local animal control officer and report the dog.

· Irritable aggression usually has roots in a health-related problem. If your dog suddenly becomes growly or obstinate, and these behaviors occur regularly under the same conditions, suspect an illness as being the source of the aggression. Make a veterinary appointment to determine the cause.

· Predatory aggression (prey drive) can be a serious behavioral problem if not redirected. The dog could injure itself (chasing cars) or someone else (chasing bikes or people). Fast moving objects seem to trigger this instinct in most dogs. It is your responsibility to recognize this behavior in your dog and prevent its expression by confining the dog in such a way as it cannot be harmed or do harm. If your dog chases cars, a fence will keep your away from the road. If your dog is inclined to chase running children or animals, the dog must be kept on lead or crated when small children are present. It is also wise to teach children to use “walking feet” when moving near dogs so not to elicit the dog’s prey drive. “Freeze tag”-standing motionless when a dog runs towards you and not looking at the dog-is something even small children understand.

· Resource aggression, the guarding of prized possessions, toys, or food, should not be confused with dominance aggression, because even submissive dogs will guard resources. Prevention is the best way to deal with guarding behavior: Remove favorite hiding places or make them inaccessible. Don’t give the dog items it may guard. Teach the dog that giving up a possession is rewarded with a game, a treat, or a different possession. To take a guarded object from your Rottweiler, don’t bend over the dog and reach for it; instead, call your dog to you and distract your dog with something equally wonderful–a game, petting, or a yummy food treat. After the dog is distracted and has forgotten about the object, pick it up and resolve to not let your dog have the item again. Continue to retrain the behavior out of your dog with fun relinquishing games like fetch.

One solution to food aggression is to approach your dog’s bowl while your dog is eating with something really tasty. Call your dog by name to get your dog’s attention, then give your dog a bit by hand, eventually adding the yummy treat to your dog’s food bowl. Soon your dog will be delighted to see someone approaching his or her food bowl.

· Territorial aggression usually manifests itself in a mature dog. Don’t encourage territorial behavior in a Rottweiler-your Rottie will guard when the need arises. Encouraging your dog will likely make your dog a nuisance at best, a danger at worst.

In all cases, aggression needs to be addressed by a professional trainer. Consult your veterinarian for a behaviorist in your area or call NERR&R for help. Following are 10 rules for dealing with aggression (K-9 Motivations, 1997):

  1. Train your dog on a regular basis to establish your rank as alpha.
  2. Give no freebies because NILIF (nothing in life is free). Make your dog win every reward or good thing by working for it. Your dog must complete a task before he or she gets any attention, treats, or food.
  3. Limit petting to 15-second intervals that your dog must work to earn. Do not pet your dog mindlessly at his or her insistence.
  4. Don’t let your dog walk ahead of you or anyone else. You go through all doors and upstairs ahead of your dog.
  5. Only allow your dog one single toy. All others are yours and your dog may only play with them if you wish to share them, and then only after he or she earns the right.
  6. Fetch is the only game you play with your dog. Don’t engage your dog in any contest of strength such as tug of war or wrestling.
  7. Make your dog practice five long downs a week for the rest of his or her life. Start with three minutes and work up to 15.
  8. Give your dog daily grooming sessions during which the dog must stand, sit, or lie still. Make the initial session short and lengthen them to 10 minutes. Remember, praise lavishly when your dog behaves.
  9. Never walk around or step over your dog. Always make your dog move out of the way whenever he or she blocks your path.
  10. Take things slowly and have patience. Never engage your dog in a battle of wills, and always end all lessons on a winning note.

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