"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Aggressive Cane Corso Risk Assessment

– Posted in: Aggression, Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff), Columns
risk assessment

Dear John,

In advance, english is not my first language so please bare with me if there are mistakes in my grammar! (There weren’t that many errors. I’ve corrected what I noticed but I’m no Grammar King either.)

After a long couple of weeks, maybe months I found your site and collected the courage to email you.

My name is Iris, i’m 24 years old and I live in The Netherlands with my boyfriend. He and I are together for a year now, and he is the proud owner of two beautiful purebred Cane Corso dogs with two completely different characters.

Sosa and Money are their names to make it easier for the rest of this email. Both are with my boyfriend since birth/a couple weeks old precisely [sic I’ve left this as is but I’m thinking it’s a translation error and where it says weeks it should say months] and both are not the first Cane Corso dogs my boyfriend had.

Money is a lovely dog, very friendly to people and children, always affectionate but loud to other dogs. She is currently with a family member of my boyfriend.

Sosa on the other hand is a whole different story, so this is going to be a long one.

From what I’ve heard, there were never any problems with Sosa until the age of 4, before that he was just as friendly as Money just kind of in a different way.

He is now 6 years old and we have a problem. Sosa is very attached to my boyfriend and he is now also used to me. I can cuddle with him, play with him, go for long walks with him everyday and so on. But he can be very aggressive and has bitten a lot of people, including my boyfriend multiple times.

He also bit me twice. Most of the time we notice a change in him throughout the day so we know that we have to be careful and that is mostly when Sosa has been to my boyfriend’s moms house, or when my boyfriend have had friends over.

Besides my boyfriend, his mom and me nobody can come close to the dog or touch him. When he gets aggressive he will attack you, and bite you. Sometimes it looks like he is going in for the kill. Like aim for the throat.

Until now we are ‘lucky’ That he only bit hands, arms and legs. But he tasted a lot of blood and I am worried about that.

I’ve contacted multiple dog therapists and dog trainers and veterinarians because I have never owned a dog and I want to do things right.

I know it was not my choice of breed because my boyfriend already had him but it is getting out of hand and I want to know what my/our options are.

The veterinarian told me it is probably safer to put him down, but because it is illegal in my country to put healthy dogs to sleep she told me to let a dog therapist take a look at the dog to maybe give his permission to put him down.

I called the dog trainer/dog therapist immediately and he came the next day to take a look at Sosa and based on our story he told us that Sosa feels that it is his job to protect us and that there is a very bare minimal chance, he said 1%, that the dog will rehabilitate and if so it will not be in the hands of my boyfriend because the dog have had lost his respect for him. So he advised us to put the dog to sleep.

Now, I did do a lot of research and some trainers say that the respect thing is true, some say it isn’t so I don’t know what to believe anymore. But I definitely know that dog trainers have a lot more experience with all kinds of dogs than me but I have a hard time believing that this is the only option.

Even though I only know Sosa for a year, I really care about him and love him. This is not a good and safe living situation tot me and my boyfriend but it is also not a happy living situation for the dog. I want him to be happy and have the life that he deserves and if possible together with us but in the first place, we want to do right by the dog and do what is best for him.

I am sorry for the long email but I wanted to explain the situation as good as possible. I am really out of solutions and I really hope that you can and want to help us, we would be very thankful. And if you think it is best to let him put to sleep than that would be sad but at least I tried to find another way.

I am looking forward to your response,

With kind regards,

Iris B. (Netherlands)

Hi Iris,

I suspect that much of what you advised by the veterinarian and the dog trainer is true. It is a sad truth for a lot of Cane Corso dogs, particularly the males. However, the only area that isn’t a match for my experience is the bit where the trainer says, “that there is a very bare minimal chance, he said 1%, that the dog will rehabilitate”. It may be merely a nuance caused by English not being your native language, but just in case I will clarify.

In many ways, there is not that great a significance between rehabilitating an aggressive Chihuahua and a Cane Corso as far as the techniques. Both can be quite intense in their aggression, and both require some knowledge and handling ability to turn them around.

The factors that most often reduce the likelihood of a good prognosis are:

  • The combination of aggression with the size of the dog.
  • The dog owner’s handling ability and experience with dogs of this nature.
  • Lifestyle (How much is left over of the person(s) left over at the end of the day)
  • If more than one person, keeping them all on the same page and as equally motivated.

The four-wheel drive of a hundred pound or more Cane Corso in translates into several times that human body weight. (3X) Worse still when agitated (4X). That’s not an easy train to stop should your attention wander or you be caught off guard.

It is much easier to go from where you are now to where you want to be safe with an aggressive chihuahua than an aggressive Cane Corso. Making an error in judgement regarding the safety protocols required to keep yourself and others exposed to an aggressive Cane Corso over the lengthy rehabilitation period (likely one year) is not something you can afford to do.

I have found that mistakes are inevitable when the person(s) in charge of rehabilitation aren’t highly experienced with this sort of task. On average, there just isn’t enough left over of the average companion dog owner to get the job done safely.

Your boyfriend getting bitten by his own dog is one thing, you and several other people getting bitten is quite another. Tell your boyfriend for me that while I admire his loyalty to his dog, in my opinion, it does not absolve him of his dedication and responsibility to his girlfriend, your guests or innocents the dog can access during outings.

In other words, I’m telling him like his dog, love his girlfriend.

Place this dog somewhere where he can be rehabilitated (almost impossible to find) or escort him from this existence and honour his memory by doing it correctly the next time or making a donation to a Cane Corso specific rescue.

John

PS – For further reading, here is a quick link listing the multiple articles I’ve written about the Cane Corso on this website. http://www.askthedogguy.com/breed/cane-corso-italian-mastiff/

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