Signs of Aggression in Rottweilers and How to Deal with It

Last Updated: January 21, 2024

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The Rottweiler is a breed with a bit of a sordid reputation. These dogs are one of the best guard dogs in the world. Thus, the only real experience many have with them is on the other side of an unhappy meeting! Rotties can be scary when they are angry, so it's not hard to see why people fear them.

Originally, Rottweilers were bred to herd cattle. They are a courageous and confident dog, which results in behaviors that many people aren't comfortable with. The truth is:

Rotties can be lovable dogs who are fiercely loyal to family members. But, they can also be aggressive.

Rottweiler in training for signs of aggression

There's no getting around the fact that Rotties do have aggressive tendencies. It's practically written in their DNA!

If you own a Rottweiler or plan on adopting one, you must learn to understand the signs of aggression and how to deal with the behavior. These breeds can do some damage without proper training.

As an owner, it's your responsibility to condition your dog so he or she can become a loving member of your family and not a source of fear for everyone around you.

Common Signs of Aggression in Rottweilers

Canine emotions are complex. It's not a simple on and off switch like some people think. Dogs will react differently based on the environment and reason for their aggression.

aggressive angry rottweiler cartoon

Rotties, in particular, can be a bit trickier to read. They're the silent type that likes to observe the situation before taking action. That's why it's more important than ever to be able to identify signs of aggression.

You might not get as much warning with a Rottweiler, so you need to know when to address the problem.

The most common signs of aggression are going to be things growling or snarling. Those are usually the first warning signs. The behavior may be accompanied by a low body position, exposure of the teeth, and set back ears.

If the trigger continues to agitate them, it may escalate to nipping or full-on biting.

Reasons for Rottweiler Aggression Towards Owner

It can be heartbreaking to witness your dog showing you aggression. Unfortunately, it's all too common with inexperienced Rottweiler owners. Here are some reasons why aggression can occur.


This is, by far, the most common cause of aggression. Mishandling refers to any negative treatment. Rotties often attack out of fear. When an owner frequently hits, kicks, or yells at the dog, it will show aggression towards them.

You should never use punishment-based techniques with Rottweilers. It'll only cause fear. Instead, positive reinforcement is the way to go.

Resource Guarding

Have you or anyone else in your family taken away something your dog loves? Maybe you took away a toy or food. When you do this, you're teaching your dog that it needs to guard the items it loves at all costs!

This is a very common form of aggression for Rotties. They get aggressive because they feel that they need to protect their food or toys. So when you try to grab those items, they lash out by nipping at your hand.

This is a distinct behavior problem that will require careful training to overcome.

Dominance Issues

Canines are pack animals. In most dog/owner relationships, you are the pack leader. But some breeds, such as the Rottweiler, like it the other way around.

If you give in at any point, your dog will automatically start thinking that they are the pack leader. You must assert your dominance at all times. That doesn't mean hitting or punishing the dog. It means setting boundaries and rules.

Reasons for Rottweiler Aggression Towards Strangers

Aggression against strangers is quite common with Rottweilers as well. The breed makes great guard dogs. But when you're walking down the sidewalk or visiting a dog park, it can become a real problem. Here are some of the most common causes of aggression towards strangers.


Rotties are built to protect. It's in their instinct. So when a stranger comes along, your pooch wants nothing more than to keep you safe.

While endearing, there's no reason why your dog should be lashing out at strangers on your daily walk.

Anxiety and Fear

Your dog could be experiencing anxiety. Oftentimes, aggressive behaviors are a byproduct of fear. When they're presented with people or animals they don't know, they will instantly think it's a threat. So, they turn to aggression.

They do this to prepare for a fight and to look scarier than they truly are.

A Lack of Training

Finally, aggression could be caused by a lack of training. Rotties need a lot of discipline to become loving and affectionate dogs. When you don't instill the right traits, problems will pop up.

Related: How Dogs Try to Communicate with us Through Their Tail Positions

How to Address Aggression in Rottweilers?

The first thing you should do when you spot aggressive behavior is to neutralize the situation. Take them away from the trigger. There's no need to punish your dog or do anything drastic. Simply walk away and give your dog some space.

Once the situation is squashed, you need to think about a more permanent approach to improve your dog's behavior.


One of the best things you can do is socialize your dog. Socialization is the process of exposing them to new people, dogs, and experiences.

Early socialization is key to raising a well-rounded dog. When they are exposed to new things at a young age, dogs are less likely to develop anxiety or aggressive behaviors as an adult.

If your dog is still young, take them to the dog park regularly. Let them interact with others and have fun!

Socializing an adult Rottie can be a bit more challenging. You have to keep your dog contained at all times to ensure that you have control if they lash out. We recommend working with a behavioral trainer.

They will be able to overcome any socialization issues your dog might be facing.


This is a big one! Start your training early and stick with it! Establish boundaries and adopt a wide range of commands. This serves a couple of purposes.

First, good training will help you stay in control of your dog. If they ever do lash out, you can easily put a stop to it with the right commands.

Secondly, training helps to assert your dominance and teach your dog what they can and can't do. Rottweilers are courageous and have no qualms with getting into a fight.

You must use the right training to teach them right and wrong so that they can be a well-behaved dog in any situation.


Don't let the reputation of Rottweilers scare you away from the breed! They are wonderful dogs with a lot to offer. But, they do require the patience of an experienced dog owner.

Aggression is a very real thing you might have to deal with. The trick is to learn how to identify signs of aggression. Take some training classes! Your Rottie will be much better off with some discipline!

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.