I am "owned" by a marvelous rottie myself. His name is Gage, and he's my best friend in the whole world!
Are Rottweilers Aggressive?
Rottweilers are great pets to have, particularly for families—but unfortunately, they are often highly misunderstood. Most people think of this breed as being vicious or intimidating, and this stigma has caused discrimination against these dogs for years.
The truth is that any dog can be vicious if not raised properly. Rottweilers are large dogs with powerful jaws, giving them the physical potential to harm people or other dogs. This doesn’t mean that all of them will do so. Just because they can doesn’t mean it is their nature. Their nature is to be protective of their territory, and they do not welcome strangers until properly introduced.
Their instinct is to guard their house and family, which goes way back into their history. Because of this, obedience training and socialization are musts, and the key to raising a lovable, good-natured dog. The comforting thing about rotts is that they are sweet dogs who are extremely loyal and loving to their families, but they have the ability to protect if a situation calls for them to do so.
Rottweilers are known to love their people and have a clownish manner toward family and friends. Oftentimes they behave like little kids—and will do anything for love and affection. They are extremely smart and powerful, and they are happiest when given a job to perform. Classified as “working dogs” by the American Kennel Club, rotts’ intelligence, endurance, and willingness to work make them suitable as police dogs, herders, service dogs, therapy dogs, obedience competitors, and always-devoted companions.
“I just brought home my new Rottweiler puppy! What now?”
Rottweiler puppies should receive proper obedience training, so they grow into controllable, well-trained dogs that listen and obey. A large dog that won’t come can be frustrating for a pet owner, and can further discredit the breed in the eyes of neighbors and friends. You must train your dog to know he is not the leader of your household, and that YOU are in charge.
The first thing to do with your puppy is to put them into an obedience class. Your local Petsmart or Petco should have information on classes offered in your community, and most large pet shops even hold their own. Another resource is the AKC website. Here you can find local obedience classes in your area.
Using Positive Reinforcement Training
Rottweilers love training. They feel secure and confident when they know what is expected of them, and what they are and aren’t allowed to do in the house. It is important to stay consistent and to reward good behavior with treats and praise. Positive reinforcement is one of the best tools you can give your new puppy.
They will catch on quickly. Remember that training any dog takes time, and remember to stay positive. Your rott is extremely in tune with your emotions and can sense frustration or anger, which may put a wrench in his training. Keeping a good attitude will just help your dog learn faster and help him to enjoy and respect it. Being too hard on your dog will only teach him to fear you and others, and can cause aggression.
Using Clicker Training
“Clicker training” is an effective method to get your dog to stop doing something. This requires using a clicker (you can buy at your local pet store) or a homemade device (an empty soup can with gravel inside, taped shut) constantly.
You keep the clicker close by you at all times (until your dog is trained), and the second you see him or her do something wrong- ie: chew on something, use the bathroom in the house, bark, growl, etc- you click the clicker, or shake your shaker, accompanied by saying “NO.” Using this method consistently will show your dog what he can and can’t do, and pretty soon, you can quit using the clicker or shaker altogether.
Socialization and Preventing Aggression
Socialization is a major must in training your Rottweiler. Rotts that are secluded in the house, and that never see anyone besides their family members will automatically feel threatened by all strangers. This causes aggression and bad behavior. As soon as your puppy has all the proper vaccines, start taking him to the park, and to the pet store. Take him on walks and let neighbors pet him. In fact, encourage others to pet your dog. This is especially important if you don’t have a lot of visitors coming to your house.
You must take your dog outside the house and socialize him. Don’t allow your dog to growl at anyone. No matter if it's someone coming into your house, a neighbor outside, or a stranger at the dog park. Yank their chain and tell them NO when this happens. You will notice your puppy’s “guard” instinct start to appear as they get older and used to their new life with you.
Sitting in the car, you’ll see him start to growl as people walk by or growl or bark while sitting at the window inside your house. You’ll notice that your dog only seems to be protective while in his “territory” ie: his house or car. Walking around outside and seeing other dogs and neighbors shouldn’t invite guarding. If it does, you have a problem.
Introduce Them to New People
When people enter your house, make sure your dog understands that you welcome them, and are ok with them. Introduce the person/people to your rott right away. Don’t ever hold your dog back from someone—it will just cause them to feel threatened. Allow your rott to sniff hands and greet the visitors. Do not allow jumping up—use clicker training if your dog is a jumper. Using commands like “down” and “sit" will help when visitors come over.
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Puppies can be especially excited to meet new people, and teaching your dog to stay on the ground early will just benefit you when he is a 100+ pound grown dog. Always tell your visitors your dog is nice, so they do not seem fearful. Rotts can sense fear in people, and this will just cause him to feel fear as well, which prompts aggression.
Provide Love and Affection
Rottweilers live for love and affection from their owners. They will be much better behaved dogs if they get it. Feeling like they are a part of the family, while knowing their place in the pack (that they aren’t in charge), will help you to sustain a nice family environment with your dog. These things are important in raising a Rottweiler puppy.
Neglected, or unloved rotts can turn into aggressive, intimidating dogs, which is where the breed gets its harsh reputation. It is not the breed that is to blame, it is the people that aren’t responsible when training their Rottweilers.
You will see that with the proper training, love, affection, and socialization, your Rottweiler will be your biggest companion, and can be one of the best dogs you’ll ever have.
- Rottweilers American Rottweiler Club
Rottweilers. American Rottweiler Club parent breed club for rottweilers in the US. American Rottweiler Club member of the American Kennel Club. Rottweilers and the American Rottweiler Club.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 Ashley Gray
Did you find this article useful? Don't forget to leave a comment!
I love dogs on May 16, 2020:
I used to have a dog me and my siblings used to take great care of it play with it but we never knew it was rottweiler it never seemed aggresive it thinks its because we had established a good connection with the dog btw his name was Willy and unfortunately he dissapeared one day
Anil KAPURUBANDARA on April 22, 2020:
It is very encouraging to have a rotthwiller i have one puppy please send me a book about rotthwiller for training
PrincessT on November 17, 2018:
Marley is my first rottie and i instantly fell in love with this breed. Theyre so smart. At 8 months he already masteres basic commands as well as tricks. Im already thinking if getting a second one.
Patsy on October 28, 2017:
That is not how you use a clicker. A loud, distracting sound can deter bad behavior. But don't use the word clicker to describe this.
Randy on November 23, 2016:
You are totally wrong about clicker training. Stopped reading at that point.
Jamie W. on December 26, 2015:
We have been blessed and have been rescued by 4 Rottys. We have had newborns, toddlers on up and have never had an problem. Our home is the neighborhood hangout with kids/teenagers in and out and again, never a problem. We always have cats who love and are loved by our Rotts, no problems. We regularly have our grandkids and granddogs overnight and longer, no problems. These are sweet loving family dogs for the right guardians. Caesar has a wealth of information on how to be a responsible pack leader for any dog
Marion on October 16, 2015:
Hi, I have been looking after our sons Rottie for over 4 months, she is a sweetie, she is 2 and abit all the children love her and the people say to me now there is Sophie, I say back, they say when is she coming back we miss her so much on our walks, we all love her, she will be back soon when they go away again I miss her so much she is a sweetie.
ktnptl from Atlanta, GA on May 19, 2015:
Pitbull are most dangerous among all. It is not recommended to keep children safe around these dog breed.
lucy on May 29, 2014:
im getting my rotti baby in a week learning everything i can on the breed, my little girl is Franie Shae ,my breeder has gone out of her way to get all her babies rady for their new moms and dads i cant thank her enough :)
SEO Ibiza on January 25, 2012:
Hey Ashley, great hub, I had a rottie for 10 years, best dogs in the world.
everybody loved him, like a big cuddly teddy bear, he had a waiting list of people to look after him when I went on holidays.
enjoy him, they're gone too soon.
Ashley Gray (author) from Colorado on September 12, 2011:
Aww!! Same with me - I could not imagine my life with out mine either - he brings so much joy to my life! They really are lovable and sweet if treated right! Thanks so much for reading :)
Christine P Ann from Australia on September 12, 2011:
A fantastic hub Ashley about the often misunderstood breed. My heart broke when our beautiful Husky passed away and my husband wanted our next dog to be a Rottweiler. I wasn't so sure at the time but so glad now to have one in our life. He is so amazingly sociable and has managed to win over all of our family and friends who had previously said things like "what do you want one of those aggressive dogs for?" He makes us laugh at least once a day with his silly playful antics but at the same time is a wonderful watch dog. I really can't imagine my life without him now.
Ashley Gray (author) from Colorado on September 02, 2011:
Yep, I used it with mine as well and it really does work! Aren't they just the best dogs? They really are lovers! Thanks for reading!
Shawn Scarborough from The Lone Star State on September 02, 2011:
Great hub. I used clicker training with my Rottweiler and it worked very well. Congrats on your HubNuggets nomination!
Ashley Gray (author) from Colorado on August 22, 2011:
Thank you! Pit bulls are definitely right up their with rotties in terms of bad reps. My brother in law has a pit and he wouldn't hurt a fly! It's all about the training and how you treat them :)
Ashley Gray (author) from Colorado on August 22, 2011:
Thanks for sharing!! Wow that must have been scary! They definitely can be aggressive if they or their families are threatened. Mine is like my alarm system and weapon if I should ever have a bad encounter with a robber :( they are great dogs though - great protectors and companions! I can see why you'd be scared though! They are not all mean though! I promise!
samhirata on August 22, 2011:
Great article! Other breeds can often be misunderstood, such as the German Shepard and the Pit bull. Articles like this can be useful to stop the prejudice that some still carry towards pets.
moncrieff on August 22, 2011:
Great article!! My family had a Rottweiler for 11 years. I guess, we didn't train him properly, although he was sent to a dog school, where they taught him how to attack people (i.e. to protect us). So, yes he was very aggressive to strangers... No one could pet him save for us and our relatives. A friend of mine was petting him once and 10 seconds later our Rott didn't like something about it - I noticed it by his eyes - so I grabbed him a second before he bit off my friend's hand. But he was very lovable to us. But to this day I have a fear for Rottweilers. Our Rott's parents were the most vicious violent dogs I have ever seen and I never dared to be around them.
That said, I'd love to have a Rottweiler in the future. Great advices and awesome pictures!
Ashley Gray (author) from Colorado on August 22, 2011:
I love it! I am "owned" by a marvelous rottie myself. :) His name is Gage and he's my best friend in the whole world! I hate that people automatically think the breed is aggressive, so I do all I can to promote the good in the breed! It is the owners that make them aggressive, not the breed itself! Mine LOVES children and LOVES every ounce of attention he can get. Now, if someone broke into my house to rob or hurt me, that would be a different story ;)
Thanks for reading, alexadry!!
Adrienne Farricelli on August 22, 2011:
I am owned by two marvelous Rotties and being a dog trainer/dog behavior specialist I am surprised how often people walk to the other side of the sidewalk when I walk them and then they want to come and pet the average Labrador I am treating for aggressive problems. They are surprised when the Labs start growling as they come near and I have to send them away but they do not know my Rotts are instead dying for a pat and attention!