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Cane Corso Considered Aggressive and Unadoptable – Rescued by ‘Rescue’ and Rehomed

Cane Corso Considered Aggressive and Unadoptable

Rescued by ‘Rescue’ and Rehomed

I just adopted a one yr (approx.) male Cane Corso who was on the kill list at the shelter. He was considered aggressive and unadoptable.

He came to the shelter as a stray, adopted out twice, supposedly they were told no other dogs could be in the home, they brought in another dog anyways, and back Luke went to the shelter. A rescue pulled him, and I brought him home a week later.

He showed no aggression whatsoever, knows basic commands, very affectionate. Now after a month, things are not going well.

He jumped all over my 70 yr. old landlord when he was in the yard, He had him on the ground was jumping all over him in obnoxious puppy way, not aggressive, but still very hard to get control.

He went after a friend of mine the other day, (aggressive!) when I had him on a leash (prong collar), it was all I could do to get him into the house.

A couple of days before that, I took him in the car to my son’s house, and when he approached the car, Luke was slamming against the window to get him.

I cannot vacuum, mop, use the weed eater, lawn mower, etc. without him going insane and trying to attack.

He also barks non-stop when I am even 5 feet from him in the yard when he is on the lead, and I am trying to do yard work. I had a trainer come to the house the other day, and she told me that it is fear aggression, and he can be helped.

My question- Can he be rehabilitated? Is it too late to socialise him? I am sick about this situation. I had a Corso that I rescued at 9yrs, just put him down a few months ago at 13. Best dog ever!!!! I am feeling kind of pressured by the rescue to keep him. I don’t want to be the 4th person to have failed him. He can be very sweet and lovable, but I can’t have anyone over right now or take him anywhere.

Brigette A – NY

Dear Brigette,

A dog’s critical socialization period is over at approximately 12 weeks of age so yes it is “too late to socialize him”. However, some dogs, even if they were poorly socialized during this period can improve their behavior. Part of the path to improved behavior is through clearing up some things that you do have more control over at this point.

It appears from your inquiry that you’ve embraced your Cane Corso into your life as if he is a pet. If you’ve read any of my multiple articles about the Cane Corso they, in my opinion, are not entirely – just a pet. They are hobbies. I’m not trying to be humorous. They are a breed that requires a greater commitment than many other breeds. Greater than many companion dog owners have the time or the skill set.

What currently passes for obedience in North America is not an option for responsible Cane Corso ownership. The sort of ”All Positive/Force-Free” all the time obedience that revolves around a treat is not the sort you should be seeking. This nonsense is to true dog obedience what fast food is to nutrition. Nor am I talking about the ‘might is right’ methods. I don’t find either particularly effective or for that matter, respectful of dogs.

What I’m talking about is learning how your Cane Corso sees the world. How he makes connections as to who is the teacher and who is the student. (What you are describing is I think, a Cane Corso that thinks you are a roommate.) With a proper respectful relationship, you go on to teaching him his foundation exercises without distractions and only when it is clear he understands do you move on to low-level distractions and finally (in your case) around the sort of things that are triggering his episodes.

The type of training I do and describe in my book ‘Nature’s Template – Dog Training with Nature’s Template’ in addition to building a healthy teacher/student relationship includes conveying to a dog through structured exercises that sometimes you won’t be asking him to do something but in fact, are telling him.

Addressing fear aggression (if that is what this is) caused by poor early critical socialization (which is almost always the cause) is a high-level behavior problem and regardless of the potential for significant improvement in the dog is not one that the average companion dog owner or companion dog trainer should be taken on lightly.

When things get to this point with a Cane Corso the difference I mentioned earlier regarding Cane Corso not being pets but hobbies no longer applies. In a case such as you’re describing where family and visitors are in jeopardy from a fearful dog physically capable of killing a person you now have a new 24/7 job. A job in which if you fail someone will very likely get seriously hurt.

I am absolutely not suggesting that this dog can’t be turned around. I can’t say that because I haven’t seen the dog. However, even had I seen the dog and believed that the potential for recovery was good we would still have to factor in your experience in dealing with this level of behavior problem and whether there are local training resources with the level of experience required to guide you through the process. We would also look at how much of you is realistically left over at the end of each day to take on such a project.

I admire your desire to embrace the responsibility of dog ownership by reaching out in an effort to save this dog. However, in this day and age far too many companion dog owners, dog trainers and rescues fail, in the decision making process with a dog like this, to take into consideration the responsibilities we also have to family, friends, neighbors, visitors etc.

As you are mulling over what I and perhaps others have to say as to what it might take to solve or sufficiently improve this dog, it is wise to keep the big picture (consequences of failure) in mind as well. It is no small thing you are taking on.

If you have difficulty locally finding someone you are confident has the expertise to guide you buy my book or consider booking a telephone consultation with me.


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11 thoughts on “Cane Corso Considered Aggressive and Unadoptable – Rescued by ‘Rescue’ and Rehomed”

  1. I need help, I live in Georgia and I need a phone number to a rescue center. That takes cane Corso that has bit a human in the face. I don’t want to put him down, but I have kids. Please help

  2. Jess Dobson

    Hello. I am in a terrible situation, right now, with my dog Coco. I am copying and pasting my desperate write up, as I scour the country to find her a good, loving, safe rescue that can handle her. I just got off the phone with one of the best aggressive dog trainers in my area and was told that it sounds like a predatory instinct and low chance of us helping her. There are behavior issues that I did not mention in detail. Please, let me know, if you can help. It’s not just about keeping her alive – it’s giving her a second chance at a good life. We don’t want her to have a unhappy one and if we can’t find a good place, we know she will be best off being euthanized and that’s the worst thought. She is a sweet girl.

    Hello. We have a 2 year old cane corso. She loves, loves, loves us to no end but hasn’t been a dog we can socialize. We got her at 7 months old and she was fairly set in her ways. She has gone to training and she knows her commands: sit, place, lay down, off, roll over, high five… It has taken a lot of effort, but she walks quite well on the leash with a harness. She automatically sits beside us, when we stop and heels when asked. We have a dog and 2 cats that she adores. She will do anything for a cookie. It breaks my heart to say that we need to find her a new home. Today she got under the fence and injured a neighbor’s dog. I have to be 100% honest, in everything I say. The dog was an eight week old golden retriever. So there was no provocation or fighting back. I had a very difficult time regaining control of her. Even laying ontop of her and my arm around her neck, she managed to get free of me and attack the puppy again. She is 100 pounds with a 47 in chest. I am 115 pounds. I took the puppy to the vet. He has injuries to his neck, but they expect he will be fine. They requested that the puppy stay for observation. We loooove her, but in light of this, our neighbors will not stand for her staying, and I realized that I am not strong enough. She has been such a loyal, loving dog and she is family. It is our hope that we can find someone to love her like we do. She will need a very secure yard. She thinks everything is her chew toy. We purchased a custom crate for when we aren’t home. She has shown no signs of crate anxiety. She even goes in to hang out on her own free will. She loves playing tug of war and with her balls. She thinks she’s a lap dog and she always goes to sleep resting her head on me. One of her favorite things to do is go disc golfing with her “dad”. She loves a good splash in the water too! She plays with the kids, cats and dog all of the time. If anything, she loves us too much! She always wants to be by us either playing, going for walks or cuddling. We realize now that she needs to be with someone that understands her breed, gives her tons of love and walks, but she will need to start over with a home to herself and very secure surroundings. She may never be the dog that can be socialized with others, but I can say, without a doubt, you would never meet such a lover with her family. You will, definitely, get a lot of chuckles, when her lips blow around outside the car window! We want her to have a loving home, but that person needs to understand her inability to socialize with other dogs and her protective nature. If you are that person, we would be happy to drive her to her new family. Again, this is a painful, heartbreaking thing for us to do. We need to do this and she deserves an amazing home. Please call 828-450-4135, if youd like to learn more about our girl Coco.

    1. A lot of missing information and maybe a few clues as well. I obviously wasn’t on the call so take this with a grain of salt but on average I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on “the best aggressive dog trainer in your area’s” opinion. Especially if he or she didn’t ask you what a Presa Canario under the age of 3 years, was doing in a yard unsupervised and how long that has been going on. That would set many of that breed up to fail. I can say with some confidence that this incident may be due in part to the “predatory” instinct, but mostly that’s amateur dog trainer ‘speak’.

      I say almost because where that may be the evolutionary and selective breeding aspect that is behind the issue it is far more likely that it’s a lack of a dog owner’s (and trainers, most breeders, veterinarians, vet techs, etc.) understanding of what that is, how it develops and manifests in a Molosser breed such as a Prea Canario or a Cane Corso, and how such a dog’s training and day to day environment should be managed particularly in an urban setting.

      Also, if someone mentions in the context of training that their dog will “roll over, high five” and do anything for a cookie, they haven’t been exposed to anything other than amateur dog training. That isn’t a criticism of you. Most companion dog owners will never in their lifetimes cross paths with a real dog trainer. All that’s available now is ‘All Positive/Purely Positive/Force-Free/Never Say No/R+…’, treat, treat, treat or ‘Might Is Right’, Alpha, Pack Leader, Dominant amateurs.

      I have a few recommendations before you thrown in the towel. Read this free article: Seven Options Available to Dog Owners with Dogs With Very Serious Behavior Problems (Aggression) and buy (and read, cover to virtual cover) this ebook – The Five Most Common Cane Corso Mistakes, How To Avoid Them And End Up With Your Dream Dog (e-book) and where it says Cane Corso, substitute the words Presa Canario. Also, read each and every one of the free articles (and the comments) listed when you click on this link about Molosser breed behavior.


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

  3. Rhonda Kitzler

    I’m not sure if this is where I post a new question/narrative, but here goes.

    My son and future daughter-in-law “rescued” a Cane Corso–this dog was going to be euthanized the day they agreed to take her. She was definitely abused and possibly used to fight (not sure about this) and then was a stray for an unknown amount of time. Age is undetermined. She has multiple health problems as well; however, some have been taken care of: heartworm, and entropian eye surgery so far. She also has issues with her hips. She was terrified of anything new but immediately became very attached to her family including a mixed breed lab/boxer/bulldog/coonhound mix.
    Originally, she was to be a rescue and eventually adopted by someone who would give good home but it’s very easy to see that this is not going to happen so they’ve decided to keep her. They absolutely love her. She follows commands etc but is not good around any dogs that visit. I think it is fear aggression but could also be territorial or both. She doesn’t do well around loud/new noises, riding in the car, or sudden activity and shakes or occasionally pees a little (this is getting a lot better). They have had her 7 months. Is there anything specific that should be done to help her?


  4. While you may be the “dog guy”, you should be a bit humble. Most companion dog owners will never meet a real dog trainer… well bc we want them as companions! I came on here to add to my research as I am about to adopt a 2 year old female Cane Corso and I have a 9 year old male large breed dog who I dealt with fear based aggression when I adopted him 5 years ago. I changed his environment and he couldn’t be more comfortable where he is now. And the amount of love he gets just adds to his security. I don’t care about “tricks” but he listens and obeys me and yes he will do anything for a treat also, but he aims to please me as his owner. He NEVER leaves my yard and it’s not fenced unless he is by my side. Doesn’t matter if there are bunnies out there. I was told he was untrainable. I have been blessed to be able to spend a lot of time home with him and well dogs have personalities just as we do. Some of us ppl are jerks and sometimes dogs can be too. My dog knows I am the boss and I never have hit him. It’s all about respect. He is an 85lb boxer/ Stanford shire terrier. There was a time that I fostered a male and there was a fight after 3 months and it was awful but I eventually got it under control. I have confidence, not as much as you!

    1. Hi Heidi,

      I sort of got lost somewhere into the second sentence of your comment so I’m not sure I really got the gist. If what you’re saying is that because you trained a single dog to your satisfaction that qualifies as being a ‘dog trainer’ you can do so if you wish, but that’s sort of just emphasizes my point when I suggest it’s rare to meet a legitimate dog trainer.

      Someone that has raised a single child successfully might consider themselves to be a successful parent, but they might raise a few eyebrows if they started to believe that made them an expert and on par with being a child psychologist or psychiatrist. Fortunately, there are regulations governing those arenas.

      Unfortunately, there are no similar regulations or legitimate governing bodies in the companion dog training world, and while you may believe it isn’t ‘humble’ to publicly state (even warn companion dog owners looking for legitimate help) that I have found that the vast majority of those that call themselves dog trainers do so with a pretty shallow well of knowledge and experience, I don’t think humbleness or arrogance has much to do with it.

      This article may interest you. Questions You Should Ask A Dog Trainer – Especially If They’ve Given Themselves A Fancy Title

      – John Wade (

  5. It’s not to late. I had rehabilitated red zone cane corsa. If the dog is too much for you I will take it. It’s not the dogs fault.

    1. Monique

      Troy where are you located? I have a male Corso just like that, can get in the red zone. I am in need of trying to find him a safe place because of my situation after a divorce and left with the house. I need to acquire roommates to keep the home but am unable to because of my beloved Corso. Help! (in Georgia)

    2. Hi, I have 2 young daughters and we have recently moved in with my new partner who has a 2 year old cane corse…. he has gone for my eldest daughter (8) and shows signs of aggression around food…. once he gets to know adults and other larger dogs he is fine in their company but he is not safe to be around children. Has anyone got any advice or know of any specialist cane corse re homing in the UK. My new partner wants to start a family and having the dog just isn’t an option. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

      1. Hi Susan,

        Do a search for Cane Corso Rescue. Breed specific rescues are far more effective than the average all breed dog rescues, many of which have little or no assessment strategies, and some very weird placement standards. So much so, that I often now refer to rescues as rescue-mills. (Beware of Rescue Mills More Than Dogs, Donating To A Rescue? Some Are Rescue Mills)

        Breed specific rescues are typically run by breed enthusiasts, with breed specific hands-on-experience whom are experienced enough with the breed to be realistic about actual versus false-claim-marketing breed characteristics, and as importantly, characteristics required in potential new homes to ensure the best chance of success.

        Hope this helps.

        – John “Ask The Dog Guy” Wade – Embracing Science and Common Sense

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  6. Madison

    I live in NJ. I have a beautiful almost 3 year old Cane Corso named Jax who I acquired at 8 months old when his previous owner had to return to work after Covid. I’ve had him trained and he is very well behaved with me. He also loves car rides and enjoys spending time with my parents and my brothers. When I introduce him slowly, he is good with others as well. But, I live alone and work so he is by himself most of the day. He clearly needs more interaction, socialization and room to run. But, he appears to show aggression towards small dogs and strangers (that are not introduced slowly). He actually nipped 3 people’s hands when the walked up to pet him. He definitely could have done more damage if he wanted to but didn’t. Even so, I’m worried because he is 100 pounds and I am 5 foot so he’s too much for me to handle. Is there any way you would consider taking him?

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