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Aggressive Since 12 Weeks Cane Corso

– Posted in: Aggression, Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff), Molosser, Towards All Dogs
Cane Corso Aggression

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.

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 as 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 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 the 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 their owners as a loving teacher/parent authority figure has a dramatic influence on behavior.

Approach To Training

‘Might Is Right’

Sadly, this is an approach still around and is often what dog’s 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 . . .’

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

I actually am referring to fully balanced as many dog trainers mistakenly confuse how they train – positive combined with corrections as balanced and misleadingly call themselves balanced trainers. More balance than ‘Might Is Right’ or ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free… .’ is undoubtedly closer to the truth and it is preferable to either. However truly balanced training draws on learning and behavior science far more extensively.

You can read more about training path options in this book – What Are The Different (and best) Puppy and Dog Training Methods (ebook)

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

I wrote this book to help people with younger Cane Corso, but it will very likely shed some light on why you’re where you are 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)
Otherwise, I’d recommend booking a virtual consult with me. How To Book A Skype/Phone etc Consult With John Wade

Regards,

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

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