"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Resource Guarding Cane Corso

– Posted in: All Positive Dog Training, Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff), Columns, Mastiff, Molosser, Newsletters
resource guarding

Resource Guarding in a 8 month old Cane Corso

Reading all your comments about the Aggression in the Maturing Cane Corso is very interesting. Me and my boyfriend have a 8 month old cane corso, everyone thinks he has a great temperament he loves people, children and dogs but where he is so playful and big we are very cautious of him around small dogs and kids as he could jump up to play and hurt them with his size. He can be such a loving dog good at times but around food he is resource guarding. He is extremely possessive growls if you touch him, so this is where the problems started we found a recommended trainer who trains police and army dogs, he advised a few things raising the bowl, but he also had a very hands on approach if he growls hit him on head with less etc. Anyway he got worse as he got older and when he was ill tried stroking him and he growled, then when tired and tried getting him to bed growled. The trainer advised he stay with him for week, so we did, come back I believe worse, I think this trainer uses them physical approach hitting etc which I think for this breed or our dog particular worse as he will never back down.

So we have found another trainer who comes to your home, said his great temperament etc and taught us various things to show our dog we are the pack leader not him. Gesture eating we eat then he has some that helped but once back in his bowl eating normal growls watches you while eating. Runs crazy biting sofa clothes running of, was taught to isolate him he would then chew the wall, taught we leave the room he would chew stuff in the room. We now have him in garden more, have kong toys etc got better (not that I would dare go near him with his kong full of food.)

So we though we was doing good, then yesterday he chewed a metal bbq blood everywhere we was cleaning him up he knew we was helping but that day he wasn’t him self tired un well, my boyfriend entered the kitchen and if he is at the door and you try to open he won’t move if you push him out way he will growl. My boy friend walked passed him near door stroked him and he bite him quite bad !! We now don’t know what to do ??????

We are trying to be the pack leader trying to show dominance around the resource guarding but it’s like he is one dog then another dog could he have mental issues because he never shows aggression to anyone and when he does it to us it’s like after he forgets what his done comes over tries licking you and being all sorry !! Need serious help I love him so much and don’t want to get rid of him but I don’t want to be scared of my own dog!

Cydney United Kingdom

Dear Cydney,

As far as trainers go, I think you need to keep looking. The “trains police and army dogs” is either a fraud or your nation needs to take a good hard look at the level of knowledge and expertise they have training their police and army dogs. Even so, I’ve found the worst trainers for companion dogs come from people who’ve had exposure to the working dog, or sport dog world. They don’t understand the difference from what the training they’ve been exposed to and methods that are companion dog and dog owner friendly. They’re either “might is right” or in the case of some of the sport dog world, agility etc., don’t know much more then how to work with a dog that likes/loves/is fanatical regarding treats. I don’t consider that real training, in fact I always feel bad when I see the frenzy these trainers work a dog into over a treat. If they’re aiming at the dog’s tummy, they’re missing the best part of the dog. Besides, you’d be surprised at what you might get me to do if you had enough $50.00 bills (Does that really make you a trainer?), but what happens when someone comes by with a $100.00 bill? If you still chose to do what you were trained to do and walk away from the $50 or the $100, I suspect you might have been exposed to some legitimate training. Treat trainers insist they can continue with all positive, all the time and wean the dog away from treats. I’ve yet to see it in a companion dog setting and if it has happened the reality that it is such a rare occurrence should tell companion dog owners all they need to know.

Keep in mind no species on the planet raises youngsters either of these ways (might is right or all positive all the time), and if they did, their youngsters would either all be in therapy for the rest of their lives, dead or in jail.

So, if you’re not looking for a ham-handed, “might is right” trainer, or an all positive, all the time, ignore bad behaviour, reward good behaviour trainer what are you looking for? The answer is easy, however, finding such a trainer isn’t. You are looking for a trainer that knows the breed you have, knows how to assess your particular dog’s strengths and weaknesses, knows how to assess your handling strengths and weaknesses, can show you how to move your dog from thinking you’re college room-mates into seeing you more of an authority figure (parent). Unfortunately, very few trainers have the training or experience to check each of these off your list.

Finding a qualified trainer is just the first step of what may be a long road. What you’re describing in your dog is typically referred to as “resource guarding” which is a big deal and needs to be taken very seriously by the dog’s owners and especially serious when the breed is as “capable” as a Cane Corso, but especially, especially serious when it’s a Cane Corso that is resource guarding that is only 8 months old. That is wicked early for someone to be writing the following words in an email to me, “not that I would dare go near him with his kong full of food” and “he bite [sic] him quite bad”.

Just taking a stab at what might be going on – when you say, “We are trying to be the pack leader trying to show dominance” – this is usually a sign of at least one part of the problem. Some dog trainers insist there is no such thing as “dominance” when it comes to dogs and being/showing “dominance” towards/over a dog will do nothing but cause problems. I don’t agree, it will sometimes/often cause problems due to the way “dominance” has been traditionally expressed (alpha rolls etc.) but hierarchy in some form is a natural part of every social beings group-living existence. A good trainer will show you how to ease your dog into understanding that it’s your home, and he just gets to live there, without resulting to physical extremes. It’s more of a head game then who’s actually physically stronger, faster and more agile. Believe me it’s much better and easier if it’s more subtly done. Easier on the dog, the owner and far more likely to get done with lasting results. Sometimes just clearing up any confusion there is regarding the household’s “hierarchy” has impact on behaviour problems like resource guarding. However, in enough cases to be significant, resource guarding is a problem that isn’t just learned, but is in at least part, hard-wired into the dog. It’s a lot of work to get dogs like that to suck it up around resources. It can be done, but the hard-wired ones don’t like doing it, and to be truthful it’s a risky business keeping a Cane Corso around in a normal companion dog setting if they’re like that.

Best of luck finding a good trainer. There are far more dog trainers now then any other point in history, but finding the good ones is like finding hen’s teeth. Finding one with Cane Corso experience and resource guarding experience is like finding golden hen’s teeth. Failing that, my ebook, The Beautiful Balance, Dog Training with Nature’s Template will provide better information then you’ve been exposed to with your prior two trainers.

John Wade

1 Comment… add one
Charles Konkel

Great read my experience was with a year and half Presa Canario intact male resource guarding an in heat female. I came out sadder but wiser

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