Ask A Vet: Do Rottweilers Have Separation Anxiety?

rottie laying the floor
<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">     <span style="font-size: 21px; color: black;">Fact Checked & Reviewed By: </span>     <strong style="font-size: 20px; color: black;">Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS</strong> </a>

Dr. Patel is a Florida-based veterinarian with over half a decade of experience.

<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">     <span style="font-size: 19px; color: black;">Fact Checked & Reviewed By: </span>     <strong style="font-size: 19px; color: black;">Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS</strong> </a>
Fact Checked & Reviewed By: Dr. Nita Vasudevan Patel, DVM, MS

Dr. Patel is a Florida-based veterinarian with over half a decade of experience.

Rotties are sometimes called velcro dogs and we love them for that! But I recently had a Not A Bully reader reach out with a question:

I’ve got a Rottweiler who’s become my shadow—literally. Whenever I leave the room, he’s right there, pawing at the door until I return. It’s gotten to the point where even quick errands seem to upset him. Is separation anxiety a common issue with Rotties? Should I be worried?”

I sat down with Not A Bully’s Advising Veterinarian Dr. Nita Patel and here’s what we came up with:

While there hasn’t been a conclusive study that focuses on Rottweilers, our experience tells us that Rotties are more susceptible to separation anxiety compared to certain other breeds. Most studies suggest that 14% to 20% of dogs suffer from some form of separation anxiety and we’d estimate that Rotties are on the higher end of that range. 

Factors increasing the risk include recent adoption, changes in living environment or family structure, and significant alterations in the owner’s routine. Rotties have a strong attachment to their family so any disruption can lead to stress.

To manage separation anxiety in Rottweilers, we suggest plenty of physical and mental activities. Using positive reinforcement to make your departures a good thing can help but if your dog is hurting themselves or destructive towards items in the home, it’s time to consult your veterinarian. 

That’s the quick answer but we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know! Let’s get started!

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Before we get into the specifics of Rottweilers, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with what separation anxiety issue as I often hear this term getting thrown around pretty loosely by clients.

Separation anxiety is a behavior condition characterized by signs of distress and problematic behaviors, such as excessive barking, destructive activities, and restlessness. A little whining or restlessness can be normal, but separation anxiety becomes a big problem when dogs start to cause damage to the home or themselves in an attempt to get out or connect with their owner.

Separation anxiety is most notable in dogs that weren’t properly socialized as puppies or who had owners that reinforced bad behaviors- even if they didn’t realize it.

Sometimes, separation anxiety is also a response to owners reacting poorly toward their dog’s stress and fear. Occasionally, separation anxiety can develop later in life due to changes in a dog’s routine or some acute trauma. Dr. Nita Patel points out that “The younger months in any puppy’s life is the imprinting stage. During this time, if they experience any trauma or unpleasant experiences, it can manifest in anxiety as they age.”

Some breeds of dogs (like Rotties) are more prone to behaviors linked to separation anxiety.

And of course, there are some dog breeds with naturally low separation anxiety. No matter what, it’s important to remember that any breed of dog can develop separation anxiety of any severity.

Do Rottweilers Have Separation Anxiety?

Based on my experience as a vet tech and the experience of Dr. Patel, we feel comfortable saying that Rotties can be more prone to separation anxiety

Most studies suggest that separation anxiety occurs in around 14 to 20% of dogs and while there aren’t any studies that focus specifically on Rottweilers, it’s safe to say that they’re on the high end of that range.

While not all Rottweilers will develop separation anxiety, this breed is definitely more prone to it when compared to others like Greyhounds or Basenjis.

Factors That Can Increase Separation Anxiety In Rotties

While breed is one factor that can predispose Rotties toward separation anxiety, there are other factors that can have a big impact as well.

1. They’ve Just Joined Your Family

If you’ve recently adopted a Rottweiler and brought a new puppy into your home, they might be more prone to separation anxiety.

Puppies can have a hard time transitioning from their first home with their mothers to their new homes with their owners. Sometimes, these dogs can form an overly strong attachment to their new families, and the abrupt change in environment and routines can be stressful for them. This stress can result in separation anxiety.

Older dogs who have just joined the family are prone to separation anxiety just like a new puppy would be. Everything and everyone around them has changed, which can cause a significant level of stress.

2. You’ve Moved Into A New Home

Nobody likes moving and it’s often stressful for everyone involved. Moving to a new house is a potential cause of separation anxiety in Rottweilers.

Rottweilers are territorial and love to claim objects (or people) as their own. Moving to a new environment is a significant change for these dogs. Since Rottweilers are territorial by nature, it might take them longer to adjust to a new environment, which increases their chances of developing separation anxiety. The new environment is scary, and as a protective breed, your dog will be on high alert.

3. Your Schedule Has Changed

Like any other dog, Rottweilers thrive on routine.

If your work schedule has suddenly changed your Rottweiler may struggle to adapt to it. Or if you’re suddenly spending less time at home, your pet is going to notice and may start to feel uneasy.

Changes in routine can cause anxiety for dogs because it’s hard for them to understand what’s going on. Keeping a regular schedule allows your dog to anticipate when you’ll be home and when you’ll be gone and can help lessen the chance of separation anxiety occurring.

4. There’s A Change In Your Family

Change in the family unit can be a potential cause of stress or anxiety for a Rottweiler.

Rottweilers are family dogs.  They love, care for, and protect the people and animals around them. When a change occurs, it can cause them serious distress. Events such as the birth of a child, the departure of a family member, or the addition of another pet can seriously disrupt your Rottweiler’s sense of security. They’ll need some time to reevaluate their priorities.

These changes in the family can definitely trigger separation anxiety in your furry friend as they wonder if you’re going to be the one to disappear next.

5. They’re Still A Puppy

Puppies, including Rottweiler puppies, are more likely to experience separation anxiety or separation discomfort.

This has more to do with them just being in a new home like we talked about above. Puppies are more dependent on human companionship in their immature emotional development can make them vulnerable to anxiety. Even though it’s natural for your puppy to feel separation discomfort when you leave, separation anxiety can be debilitating for them.

It’s important to remember that not all Rottweilers will develop social anxiety, even if they do experience these changes. Each dog is an individual and their susceptibility to this condition varies.

How To Manage Separation Anxiety In Rottweilers

If you suspect that your Rottweiler is suffering from separation anxiety, there are several strategies you can employ to help manage their condition and improve their well-being.

Make Sure To Provide Plenty Of Mental And Physical Stimulation

One of the most effective ways to alleviate anxiety is to ensure your Rottweiler gets enough mental and physical stimulation every day.

Adult Rottweilers need a minimum of 45 minutes of exercise every day. In addition to this, it’s important to provide them with mentally stimulating activities. Regular walks, short runs, hikes, playtime, and new toys can help keep them entertained.

Ensuring your dog is well-exercised can be an effective way to reduce the severity of separation anxiety.

Leave Them With A Special Treat

For moderate separation anxiety, providing your dog with a special treat, when you leave can go a long way.

Giving your dog a treat as you leave creates a positive association with your departure. Ideally, this makes your leaving less stressful overall. Some of the best treats you can give to Rottweilers are large kongs filled with something yummy. These toys are safe for them to chew on unsupervised and should keep them busy for a while.

Try Over The Counter Calming Treats

There are various over-the-counter calming treats and supplements available for dogs that may help to reduce anxiety. If you’re thinking about trying out some of these calming aids, make sure to check with your veterinarian before giving them to your pet. It’s possible that something as simple as an herbal remedy could help your Rottweiler better deal with anxiety.

Practice Desensitization And Counterconditioning

Desensitization and counterconditioning are both training techniques that can help your Rottweiler become more comfortable with your departure.

Desensitization and counter-conditioning are often used in conjunction when addressing separation anxiety. They both involve putting the negative stimulus of your leaving against a positive stimulus (like a treat). The goal of these training techniques is to either make your dog neutral or maybe even excited about your departure.

Explaining desensitization and counter-conditioning would take an entire article itself, but the video below is a quick demonstration of how you can use counter-conditioning to help your dog’s anxiety.

Never Scold Or Punish Them

If your dog is already anxious when you leave, never scold or punish them for behaviors they can’t control. Scolding them might actually make your dogs, separation anxiety worse and increase the frequency of undesirable behaviors.

Consult A Veterinarian And/Or A Professional Trainer

Finally, if your Rottweiler separation anxiety is severe or persistent, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. Your veterinarian can provide guidance and potentially recommend medications to help manage anxiety. Additionally, working with a professional dog trainer might be beneficial and addressing specific behavior issues.

Final Thoughts

Because Rottweilers are natural-born protectors, this can make them feel a seriously deep bond with their families. When they’re left alone, they can become distressed and experience separation anxiety. Not all Rottweilers will experience this condition, but owners need to be aware of the signs and symptoms, and the potential causes of separation anxiety.

With patience, appropriate training, and the right strategies, separation anxiety in Rottweilers can be managed effectively, allowing both you and your furry friend to have a happy and stress-free life together.

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