Why Does My Rottweiler Growl at Me? (6 Reasons Why)

why does my rottweiler growl at me

When your dog suddenly growls at you without you knowing why, it can be quite worrying. It’s far more unsettling when you own a powerful dog like a Rottweiler. In this guide I want to explain the various reasons why your Rottweiler is growling at you, including how they can do this even if when they are happy.

Here’s the short answer first, followed by each possible reason in more depth and tips on how you should react to the growling.

Why does my Rottweiler growl at me? Rottweiler growl for different reasons. Understand that growling is just a way of communicating. It could mean they are in pain, fearful, in play, or even happy. Pay attention to your Rottweiler’s body language and the situation you are in when they growl.

Why is my rottweiler growling at me?

Originally bred as guard dogs, Rottweilers have strong protective instincts, which makes them more partial to growling to anything they deem a threat. Having said that, they can also growl when happy or in pain. 

Although the sound of your dog growling may seem alarming, it is important not to jump to conclusions right away. I will explore more about Rottweilers growling and how to deal with it in this article.

There are countless reasons Rottweilers may growl, not all of them negative. I will break down some of the most common reasons why your Rottweiler is growling at you below in more detail below.

1. Growling because they are having fun

If you’re just about to take your Rottweiler out for a walk or are playing a game of tug of war, don’t be surprised if they start growling at you! It doesn’t have to mean their mood has suddenly dampened.

Sometimes growling is just a Rottweilers way of showing you they are happy or their way of communicating that they’re excited.

2. Growling to say hello you

If you’ve been away at work all day or on a long vacation, don’t be surprised if your Rottweiler starts growling and barking at your reunion.

This doesn’t mean that they’re unhappy to see you. Instead your Rottweiler is growling at you due to his or her anxiousness to reunite with you.

do rottweilers growl when happy
It can sound like your Rottweiler is growling at you when they are happy (Image and header image licensed via StockUnlimited.com).

3. Growling to be dominant

If your Rottweiler comes across another dog in the street or a new pet in the home (even a cat!), they will feel threatened in case this unfamiliar being upsets the current status quo: infringing on their territory or potentially disrupting the current pecking order.

So, in order to assert their dominance to this unfamiliar being or protect what they see to be ‘their’ turf, they will growl at the other animal they’ve encountered in order to scare them off and make it clear that around here, they’re in charge!

4. Growling because they are in pain

If your dog is in pain for whatever reason – it could be an internal injury or related to an underlying health condition – then don’t be surprised if they begin to growl as a response to the pain – for example, if you pick them up.

They do this for two main reasons; firstly, as a direct response to the pain (especially if you appear to be getting near to the site of the injury or pain), and secondly, to alert you to the fact that they’re in pain.

If you believe this to be the case, it is important to take your dog to the vets for treatment.

5. Growling because they are scared

If your dog comes across something they deem to be a threat – such as a person, other animal or a sudden frightening noise like fireworks – they will growl not only to try and ‘defend’ themselves from what they deem to be a threat, but also to alert you to the fact that, in their eyes, there is a ‘threat’ present.

This reason for growling is especially common in Rottweilers who have experienced some psychological trauma, whether that be from mistreatment from a previous home or from being attacked/mauled by other dogs in the past.

6. Growling due to food aggression

Instinctively, all dogs tend to be defensive of their food, particularly when they are puppies. Food aggression is in their DNA and harks back to their days in the wild when wolves (dogs’ descendants) would have to protect their meals from other wolves outside their own pack.

Their food supply was dependent on being able to hunt, with catches not always guaranteed, meaning sometimes food could be in short supply. The stakes were a lot higher!

Whilst Rottweilers are markedly different from their ancestors, this defensive nature of their food remains, so if they encounter what they deem to be a threat to their food, they will growl at your or other dogs.

Food aggression is common in all dogs, but if your dog was previously a stray, you might find that this reaction will be heightened due to the fact that coming across food was a bigger struggle on the streets.

I also mentioned puppies; this is a common reason why your Rottweiler puppy growls at you. Puppies have to battle their siblings for food and water and are in constant state of competition when with their mother.

This aggressive competitiveness can remain with Rottweilers puppies for quite a few months after they come to live at their forever homes. So, don’t be surprised if your Rottweiler puppy growls at you when you go near them at mealtimes!

Why does my Rottweiler growl at me when I hug him?

Now I’ve covered off some of the most likely reasons why your Rottweiler is growling at you, I wanted to give my view on one time they growl which can shock you; when you hug them.

There’s a good reason why your Rottweiler growls at you when you hug him, and it’s probably not what you think; it can be the complete opposite to an aggressive growl!

Understandably, a lot of Rottweiler owners feel anxious when in the midst of showing affection or giving their dog a cuddle, they suddenly hear them growling.

However, a lot of the time this is just a case of confusing your Rottweiler’s growling with another behaviour known as ‘rumbling’.

The Rottweiler’s ‘rumbling’ is the breed’s equivalent to a cat’s purring and is a deep sound the breed produces at the back of their throat when they feel content and happy. This is why so many owners say Rottweilers growl when happy.

If you are struggling to tell the difference between a growl and ‘rumble’, it is important to pay attention to your dog’s body language.

If the sound is accompanied by your Rottweiler clenching his teeth and tensing his body, that usually means he’s growling. If his body language remains relaxed, he is probably just ‘rumbling’.

However, if your Rottweiler’s growling becomes problematic and is aggression based, or gets in the way of your day-to-day life, there are two key steps to solve the issue: training and socialisation.

Socialising your Rottweiler to not growl

If your dog is poorly socialised (i.e. they don’t come into contact with many others apart from yourself), this can make them feel more threatened easily, which then leads to them snapping and growling at other people and animals, no matter how harmless they are.

This aggressive growling happens when your Rottweiler isn’t used to other animals or people. The lack of familiarity leads to them associating others as a threat to you or themselves, and consequently act aggressively.

Training your Rottweiler to not growl

Training your Rottweiler to stop growling might seem difficult, but with the right guidance or help of a professional dog trainer, it is possible.

1. Expose them to triggers

Although it might seem cruel to expose your Rottweiler to triggers that make them want to growl, it is ultimately to their benefit. It works well because after several repeated exposures, your dog will learn to understand that nothing bad will happen to them.

This will then reduce their anxiety and by extension their desire to growl.

2. React calmly to their growling

If your Rottweiler begins to growl, it is important not to react with outward anger towards your dog. It is important to stay calm because if you react adversely to your Rottweiler growling, that will only increase their anxiety, which will then make them growl more.

It is a vicious cycle and dogs will often meet what they believe to be aggression with aggression back.

3. Use positive dominance

Positive dominance is a training method where you aim to show your dog that you are authoritative through a firm voice and hand gestures. However, it doesn’t involve any shouting or other negative reinforcement that can upset your Rottweiler.

It involves communicating with clear hand gestures and commands which, through time, they will be able to understand what you want and respond to in the way you want them to.

When trying to stop your Rottweiler from growling, it is important to incorporate positive dominance training to ensure success.

4. Praise and reinforce their good behavior

It is important to reinforce positive steps in your Rottweiler’s training, so if they stop growling when requested or don’t growl in a situation they’d usually growl in, it is important to pet them, praise them and give them lots of treats.

This helps them associate good things with not growling, which will them encourage them to continue with their progress in order to reap rewards.

Conclusion

When you think of Rottweilers, you might think of scary, intimidating police dogs. Whilst it is true that Rottweilers make brilliant police dogs, this isn’t due to their stereotypically fearsome appearance and growling.

Instead, it is due to the breed’s intelligence coupled with their sheer loyalty that they are often used in law enforcement. They are devoted and extremely protective of their owner, which also makes them a fantastic pet for families.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Rottweilers and their perceived aggression, you couldn’t get a more loyal and loving family dog. With the right level of understanding and support, you can feel confident that if they do have a growling problem, with training it could soon become a thing of the past.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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