Rottweilers have strong guarding instincts, so if they feel their home or family is threatened, they are more likely than non-guarding breeds to react aggressively. Sadly, because of their strength and power, they are sometimes attractive to irresponsible owners who encourage aggression. They require an experienced trainer to break the cycle.
Identify the Cause
Observe your dog around the house. Note down any triggers for aggression. For example, if he only becomes aggressive to visitors, he is most likely exhibiting territorial aggression. If he becomes aggressive if someone approaches his food bowl, this is most likely resource guarding aggression. Rottweilers are watchful and confident, so don’t expect him to immediately become animated. If he stares or gives a low “warning” growl, this is aggressive behavior.
Leash your dog and take him for a walk. Use a no-pull harness if your Rottweiler is particularly big. They can grow up to 110 pounds, so the no-pull harness is useful for extra control.
Observe his reaction to various stimuli. For example, if he is only aggressive to adult men, he may have developed a fear and is acting aggressive through anxiety. If he is aggressive toward dogs that approach you, he is probably trying to protect you.
Avoid Aggression Triggers
Structure your routine to avoid unnecessary exposure to aggression triggers. For example, make sure your Rottweiler is distracted with a toy when the mailman calls. Although it’s important to train out aggressive behavior, it is easier to do so when exposure to aggression triggers is controlled.
Shut the dog in if you’re expecting visitors he doesn’t know. He is more likely to be suspicious of strangers than regular visitors.
Reward your dog whenever he behaves passively while exposed to a trigger. For example, if the door bell goes and he continues playing, verbally praise him. This teaches him that passive behavior has a positive outcome.
Neutralize the Triggers
Take him for long walks to burn off as much energy as possible. Rottweilers have lots of energy but thrive when given physical challenges like jumps and tug-o-war. Use this to your advantage. Once he’s tired, he’s more likely to behave passively.
Expose him to aggression triggers, such as other dogs or people. Ensure he is on a leash or harness.
Give him verbal praise for as long as he remains passive. As soon as he becomes aggressive, walk him away from the stimulus and cease praising him. This is called negative punishment. By enriching his environment with praise to begin with, you show your Rottweiler that passive behavior has positive consequences, but aggressive behavior causes that positive consequence to disappear.
Ignore him and behave calmly. He’ll look to you for guidance. If he sees you aren’t threatened, agitated or upset by the trigger, he will follow your lead.
Reward him with a treat when he goes from aggressive to passive. This reinforces the message that passive behavior has a positive consequence. Repeat the exposure to the triggers for 10 minutes a day until he learns to cope.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.