Growling while play
Hi sorry to bother you but could you help.
I have a 7 month old rottie x german shepherd puppy (although he looks all rottie) which i rescued.
He is a lovely dog except when he gets excited i.e play time walks etc, when he starts jumping up growling and trying to nip (which in the case of my 10yr hurts). How do we train this out of my dog? At present we are stopping play or cutting walks short if this happens, have said firmly no etc but not much helping.
Please help. I have heard my neighbours have been talking about my potentially dangerous dog and this worries me as my puppy is otherwise very friendly and loving and i do not want him to be given a reputation for just acting as a puppy and not knowing any better.
Firstly, congratulations on your beautiful dog - he sure does look like all Rottweiler, he's very handsome!
As for your problem, this is perfectly normal puppy behavior, and although he's 7 1/2 months old that's exactly what your boy is - a puppy. Rottweilers are notoriously slow to mature, and especially large males may not be adult until 2 years or more.
He's not a tiny puppy though, you can compare him more to a 'pre-teen' than a small child.
This kind of puppy biting is so common that pretty much all puppies do it, but it's important to stop it as early on as possible or you're faced with your dilemma - a BIG puppy who's strong and bites hard.
But, don't worry, he's still young and Rotties and German Shepherds are both very smart dogs so he will learn what you expect pretty quickly.
First, get some Bitter Apple spray (you should be able to find it, or something similar in most pet stores). It tastes very nasty to dogs and if you spray your hands and arms with it, your pup will be less inclined to chew on you.
Next, EVERY TIME your pup nips and bites say "NO. OUCH" very loudly. Then continue to do as you're doing, withdraw all attention from him and ignore him for a few minutes. Cross your arms, avoid eye contact, walk away or leave the room if necessary. Part of the biting is an attention-getting behavior and if he realizes that he's losing your attention when he acts this way it will start to diminish.
However, bear in mind that your pup's being doing this for a long time now. Puppies are creatures of habit, and you're going to have to be patient while he relearns the new 'no biting' habit.
Rotties are very smart, but they can also tend to be a bit stubborn at times. If you find that after several weeks of continually enforcing the above, you're still having problems there are a couple of other things you can try.
As well as hating the taste of Bitter Apple spray, dogs also usually dislike the taste of those tiny breath sprays. You can use these as a deterrent, by carrying one at all times and whenever your pup starts to nip, give a quick spray onto his tongue.
You have to be fast and accurate as he needs to immediately associate the taste with his biting you. Get everyone to carry a spray, and use it EVERY time your pup bites or nips.
This is usually very effective if you use it consistently. You can also check out my Puppy Biting Page for more tips and advice on dealing with behavior.
If you haven't already started your pup in formal obedience classes, I'd really suggest that you do. Your pup is going to grow a lot more, and being a male he will probably try to 'flex his muscles' at some point. He needs to respect and obey you (and all other members of your family) and realize that he is at the 'bottom of the heap' when it comes to being in charge.
Rottweilers are wonderful dogs, and my 120lb males are the biggest lap dogs in the world, they truly wouldn't hurt a fly (unless of course the fly was trying to hurt one of their family!). But, like the unfortunate Pitbull and other breeds, media hysteria and inaccurate and sensational stories by the press has warped many peoples perceptions of these great dogs.
As owners of a breed that is subject to BSL, it's important to make sure that our dogs are very good representatives and ambassadors for their breed. It's not the dogs that are the problem, it's their irresponsible and ignorant owners a lot of the time.
Your pup looks like a wonderful dog and you obviously love and care for him very much. If you can show people (especially neighbors who may be relying on hearsay for their opinion on Rottweilers) that he's a well behaved, friendly and even tempered dog it's a step in the right direction and may even help to change someones judgemental opinion.
Best of luck with him, if you have any other questions please feel free to ask, I'm always happy to help.