If your Rottweiler has been attacking small dogs, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
In this post, I will show you a number of reasons why your Rottweiler might be doing it and what you can do to stop it.
So, why does my Rottweiler attack small dogs? The most likely reason is that Rottweilers are known for having a strong prey drive. Other possible reasons are that it hasn’t had much exposure to other dogs, its being dominating or that you have inadvertently rewarded the behavior.
Your Rottweiler might be doing it for many different reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main reason and there are some things you can do about it.
Why your Rottweiler attacks small dogs
Below are some common reasons why Rottweilers attack small dogs and what would make them more likely to be the main reason why yours has been doing it.
It has a strong prey drive
The reason why your Rottweiler has a habit of attacking small dogs is likely to be partly due to the fact that Rottweiler are known for having a strong prey drive. The reason for this is likely to be because their ancestors needed to hunt small animals to survive.
Rottweiler have actually been known to kill small animals so, until you are sure that it can be trusted, it would be best to separate your Rottweiler from small pets whenever possible and for it to have a muzzle on around them.
A lack of exposure to other dogs
If your Rottweiler did not socialize with other dogs much as a puppy then it won’t have learned to consider them as friendly. This combined with a strong prey drive could be why your Rottweiler tends to get aggressive towards small dogs.
In this case, it would help to socialize your Rottweiler with friendly dogs in a controlled environment whenever possible. It would also help to follow the tips in the section below.
The cause could also that it has a habit of being dominating. This would be more likely if it does not listen to your command a lot and it tries to position itself to be higher than you.
If it does tend to be dominating then it would be important to give it lots of training so that it sees you as the leader and so that it knows how it is meant to behave.
It might be the case that it does it because it is being protective. This would be more likely if it is aggressive to small dogs that tend to be aggressive as well and if it also does it around larger dogs. In this case, it would help to follow the tips mentioned below.
Inadvertently encouraging the behavior
It could also be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as treats when it attacks other dogs, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and to avoid rewarding it when it is not.
How to get your Rottweiler to stop attacking small dogs
Below, are a number of options that you have when trying to get your Rottweiler to stop attacking small dogs.
Train it to listen to you while on the leash
In order to be able to control your Rottweiler when it becomes aggressive, it would be very important to train it to listen to you when on the leash.
One way to get it to listen to you would be to train it to sit when on the leash. You can do this by getting some treats that it likes, saying “sit” and then waiting for it to sit and then giving it the treat. If it does not sit then you can encourage it to sit by raising the treat above its head. Then you would stop showing it the treat and reward it when it sits when you just say “sit”
Once you can get your Rottweiler to listen to you when alone with you, it would be necessary to get it used to listening to you when other dogs are around such as is done in the video below.
If your Rottweiler lives with small dogs
If your Rottweiler does not live with small dogs then the easiest thing to do would be to try to keep it away from small dogs whenever possible.
If your Rottweiler lives with small dogs then it would still help to separate them whenever possible. However, it would also help to train it to be well behaved when they are around.
To do this you would:
- Get the small dog and your Rottweiler, on a leash, in the same room
- Get your Rottweiler to keep its focus on you by telling it to do things such as to sit
- Reward it for keeping its focus on you
- Slowly allow the small dog to get closer to your Rottweiler while continuing to reward it for keeping its focus on you
- Repeat the above until you are able to get it to keep its focus on you while the small dog is freely roaming around
You can watch the video below to see how it is done.
Redirect its attention
In order to get your Rottweiler out of the habit of immediately becoming aggressive when small dogs are around, it would help to learn to recognize when it is about to start doing it.
When you are able to recognize when it is about to become aggressive you would redirect its focus on to you when it is about to be aggressive. By doing so you will be able to get it to be better behaved around small dogs. One way to get it to focus on you would be to train it to sit when you tell it to.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If you are not able to get it to be better behaved around them, the best option would be to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it has been doing it and how to train it safely.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider about your Rottweiler attacking small dogs.
How old your Rottweiler is
It would help to consider the age of your Rottweiler.
If it is still young then it would be very helpful to take the time now to socialize it with other dogs as much as possible so that it learns to be well behaved around them.
If it is older, then it would help to implement the tips mentioned above, to give it lots of training so that it follows your command and to try to separate it from small dogs when possible.
If you own other small dogs
If you own small dogs then it would help to separate your Rottweiler from them when you can. In particular, it would be important to feed them separately. It is very common for dogs to become aggressive when they are eating and the chances of your Rottweiler lashing out at a small dog will be much higher when it is being fed.