"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Cane Corso Dogs Fighting

– Posted in: Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff), Mastiff, Molosser, Newsletters
Shock Collars

We have two male Cane Corso’s (litter mates) who just turned 1 year old. Both are neutered. At random times like when they’re playing, someone comes to the house, etc. they rear up at each other, bark violently & ferociously as if they’re trained attack dogs until we bravely separate them then they’re back to the sweet pups they usually are. One on one this never happens. I am considering a shock collar of some type. They know basic training however when this happens it seems as if they block out anything we’re saying.

Michelle – Brockville OH

Hi Michelle,

I can’t really answer this question with confidence because I’m not clear as to what’s going on. It’s quite possible there’s 2 separate things happening. I’ll take a stab at it in general terms but I recommend you get some professional help sorting it out.

I know that you say they know “basic training” and that may very well be the case but what people usually mean when they say that these days is that the dog(s) know what currently passes for basic training which quite frankly doesn’t cut it as far as I’m concerned with any dog let alone with your breed.

Here’s a quick test to see if your dogs have some semblance of basic training.

  1. Both dogs are sent to separate mats, to stay while you make and drink a cup of hot coffee and neither moves until you tell them to.
  2. You place one dog on your left (or your right, if that is the way you prefer) while in your home, tell the dog to “heel” and walk around changing direction and speed willy nilly for 3 minutes without there being any pressure on the leash.
  3. When playing in their own yard and you say “come”, they stop what they’re doing and do so, rather then pretending that “come” means, “If you have a minute, check your Day-Timer.”

If not then what your dogs have learned are tricks as opposed to real obedience. If so, not your fault really as this is the standard most trainers seem to set when they’re setting the bar for what passes for basic obedience. When you’re looking for some help with these dogs (as I recommended earlier) set the bar higher yourself in who you decide on.

The reason I’ve laid out the above is that dogs that think their owners are treat dispensers love them to death but more in the sense of them lucking out and getting the best college room mate ever. Dogs that can do the exercises I listed also love their owners to death  (provided they were taught without treats or brutality) see them as authority figures, in the sense they would see their mother (as opposed to a drill sergeant). Dogs living in the latter household are far less prone to fighting over resources or opportunities as they just assume it’s not up for grabs. I often see dog pairs fight when someone comes to the door or even over which of them gets to go through the door first, or up and down stairs, or gets the treat first (or at all), or petted etc. This may be what is going on in your home.

You mentioned this happens when they’re playing. It’s possible in that context that they’re just playing. It can sound pretty fearsome with some dogs and can freak out a dog owner that hasn’t been exposed to that sort of playing between dogs. If they are playing and you don’t let them get too wound up you should be able to tell them to “chill out” without a lot of effort.

As to incorporating a shock collar into their training I’d have to say a big “No!”. I have no problem with these collars when they’re used by people that know what they’re doing anymore then I have a problem with a scalpel when they’re used by someone that knows what they’re doing. Far too many trainers and dog owners are using these things without a clue as to what they’re doing and often make things worse. I have seen these collars save many a dog’s life when all else has failed but not because it was used as a thunderbolt from hand of Thor reaching from the sky to zap some sense into the dog. Most of the time, (I’m assuming because dogs don’t believe in Thor or the Marvel Universe), in cases like your own they assume the other dog has developed a secret weapon and it increases aggression rather then quells it.

Hope that helps.

John

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