Aggressive Since 12 Weeks Cane Corso

Question

We would like our 2-year old neutered male Cane Corso to be able to go places and have him behave. He aggressively barks at people when we are in the car, aggressively barks at other animals on-leash when we are walking him and attempts to lunge at them. He will not allow any animal (even as small as a mouse or bird) to be in our yard without aggressively barking at it. He broke a window while being aggressive towards a chipmunk in our yard. Delivery people are petrified to knock. Went to puppy school….aggressive towards other puppies at 12 weeks. Never improved. We have horses and pet pigs and he is fine with them.

– Robin P.

Answer

Hi Robin,

A Cane Corso, like any other breed, has its behavior influenced by nature and nurture. In other words genetics and everything that happens post birth. The things that affect a dog’s behavior post-birth are many, but those most commonly tied to behavior such as you are describing are:

  • Genetics
  • Critical Socialization Period (3 – 12 weeks of age)
  • Relationship with the owner(s)
  • Approach To Training ( ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free-treat-treat-treat,’ ‘Might Is Right’ or Balanced)
  • Degree of supervision

Genetics

I’m not sure what you were expecting from a Molosser breed such as the Cane Corso. Some breeds are Ferraris, and others are minivans. The Cane Corso is no minivan. Molossers such as your Cane Corso have been used literally as weapons in war, to hunt boar, guard, etc, and other “I’m not a pet, I’m a hobby/tool” breed characteristics. The other side of the coin is that any breed is motivated and easily capable from the perspective of ability to kill, when adequately bred is also bred to be influenced by training.

Critical Socialization Period (3 - 12 weeks of age)

This would influence whether your dog’s current issues are triggered only by genetics and a lack of training or also by fear. You can read more in my book Socialize Your Puppy for Everything – John Wade. Although, I don’t know that at this point that would be the best use of your time or money.

Relationship With Owner(s)

Almost without exception, what has come to pass for companion dog training in North America over the last decade+, is not obedience training at all. It is trick training. As a result, most dogs see their owners as great roommates and are as likely to be influenced by them as one might be affected by a roommate. Transitioning the relationship so that the dog sees its owners as a loving teacher/parent authority figure has a dramatic influence on behavior.

Approach To Training

‘Might Is Right', Alpha, Pack Leader, Dominant (Yank and Crank)

Sadly, this is an approach still around and is often what dogs like your Cane Corso end up subjected to as a last-ditch effort to save their lives. Sometimes it works. It’s not the route to go as it can cause other problems and it’s not really how normal teaching and learning functions.

'All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free/Never Say No/R+…’, treat, treat, treat

Or, as I sometimes refer to it, ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free/No Need For No!/Skinner Meant Two Quadrants Not Four/Everyone Gets A Trophy/Don’t Wreck The Dog’s Self-Esteem/Sit Down And Talk About Our Feelings’ is literally killing dogs like yours throughout North America. It’s almost impossible to find a dog trainer, veterinarian, vet tech that doesn’t believe this is based on actual science. Designed for a controlled environment and for the most part appropriate in those environments, it has no place in the real world for influencing behavior in a manner intended to teach life skills. Ask any mother, dog, wolf, ape, or human being if you’re looking for confirmation. We would all be dead or in jail if our parents raised us in this manner.

'Balanced'

Or, as I sometimes refer to it, ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free/No Need For No!/Skinner Meant Two Quadrants Not Four/Everyone Gets A Trophy/Don’t Wreck The Dog’s Self-Esteem/Sit Down And Talk About Our Feelings’ is literally killing dogs like yours throughout North America. It’s almost impossible to find a dog trainer, veterinarian, vet tech that doesn’t believe this is based on actual science. Designed for a controlled environment and for the most part appropriate in those environments, it has no place in the real world for influencing behavior in a manner intended to teach life skills. Ask any mother, dog, wolf, ape, or human being if you’re looking for confirmation. We would all be dead or in jail if our parents raised us in this manner.

Degree of Supervision

You’ll learn more of this should you pursue balanced training but the short version is that dogs are as shaped by outside influence (the company they keep and don’t keep and temptations they encounter when unsupervised) as any human youth. This is especially true for the first 2 – 3 years of age (depending on breed.) No amount of training will override the impact this has on behavior if it’s not addressed.

Recommendations

 

The Five Most Common Cane Corso Training Mistakes and How To Avoid Them And End Up With Your Dream DogI wrote this book (pictured to the left) to help people with a younger Cane Corso (under 12 weeks of age), although ideally before they even purchase a Cane Corso puppy, but it will very likely shed some light on why you’re where you are and where to go from here. The Five Most Common Cane Corso Mistakes, How To Avoid Them And End Up With Your Dream Dog (e-book)

Alternatively, I’d recommend booking a virtual consult with me. How To Book A Zoom Consult With John Wade

Regards,

John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
Embracing Science and Common Sense

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2 thoughts on “Aggressive Since 12 Weeks Cane Corso”

  1. Richard Cowell

    Broke my heart, but had to put my young corso asleep. He came to us at 18 weeks, couldn’t be petted. Barking, scared. I trained him, he was easy to train, thought hey I can do this but he turned on both my children and my other dog over the year or so, bit / attacked all 3, even grabbed me round the throat once when I put my head near his, he did this in slow motion, then just stared at me. He simply had this fear/ aggressive predisposition in him and was a frightening beast, as he never gave warning. He had a strange look in his eyes too, grey dog from Italian working stock. Most impressive dog, but very dangerous, I could sense it always. The first owner I don’t think did their bit, but he was not the only dog PTS in two litters from same bitch, and others also attacked family too, still kept on in a couple of instances I believe. It broke my heart, but this dog was not right. Many were returned to breeder from the litters too. Could have hurt someone very badly my dog, even human babies he had his eye on. Never experienced anything like him, he was the Ferrari of mastiffs, unpredictable. Wish I didn’t have the experience or have to make such a decision.

    1. Hi Richard,

      I’m really sorry you’ve had this experience. Unfortunately, the dog world is a crapshoot. Breeders are often more ‘greeders’, and don’t do what they should be doing regarding physical and mental stability follow up on all of their litters (throughout their lives). Dog trainers are trainers because they ‘love dogs’ and end up being guided by ideology rather than science.

      If you decide to venture into the world of the Cane Corso again, I highly recommend first investing in and reading my eBook, The Five Most Common Cane Corso Mistakes – How To Avoid Them And End Up With Your Dream Dog, and, or reading this article, Questions To Ask The Breeder Or A Rescue Before Deciding This Is Where You Want To Get A Dog

      • John Wade (www.askthedogguy.com)

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