Presa Canario Aggression

Young Presa Canario Showing Some Attitude

Hello John,

I came across your website online and I was hoping to ask you a simple question. I have a one and a half year old, male, neutered, Presa Canario mix who is very aggressive to people and other dogs; whether it be people we pass on the road while he’s in the car, people who walk past the yard, or especially people who come up to the house. If we’re out walking and we pass someone he will often lunge toward them jumping, growling and barking. He is extremely relaxed, playful and loving with our family inside the home however. He has never actually bitten someone, but when introducing someone new to him it often appears as though he would if we gave him the chance, before he’s able to calm down and relax around the person (which takes quite a bit of time). I was wondering if there’s any help you could give me in regards to appropriate means of training or steps I could take to improve his aggression.

Hi Michael,

That’s not what I would call a simple question. 🙂

You have a dog (Presa Canario) that is genetically predominantly a guard dog that is hitting an age where if incorrectly handled is going to start guarding when he thinks it’s appropriate. Even when handled correctly most dogs with this sort of genetics is likely to feel the need to guard it’s just that they’re more likely to ask you first and/or suck it up when told to do so.

Presa Canario
Presa Canario

There’s nothing abnormal about what he’s doing as far as Presa Canario dogs go, what’s missing is perhaps your role to influence. I suspect you’re going to have to address the relationship you have with him. If he thinks as most of our dogs do (and if it’s a Golden Retriever there’s little harm in it) that you’re more of a college room mate rather than an authority figure in his life in my mind in the context of a good teacher/student relationship you’ll likely find that you’re left with resorting to some pretty heavy handed methods to dissuade him from behaving this way and in many instances this can actually make the behaviour worse.

For what it’s worth, I’m not a big fan of walking dogs with the Presa Canario dog’s sort of genetics. They don’t walk so much as patrol. Particularly in inexperienced hands. I absolutely teach them how to walk on a loose leash no matter what, I just don’t make a point of irritating them every day with a jaunt around the neighbourhood that stimulates their guarding/patrolling instincts. Instead I use the time to exercise the dickens out of them. A walk is not exercise for this breed. By not walking them and truly exercising them you will find your training regarding the aggression will get more traction, faster.

I also do not allow these breed like the Presa Canario to spend time in the yard unsupervised or at a window or door to look out on to street activity. It is a huge contributor to this sort of problem.

Download my e-book about working with difficult dogs – The Beautiful Balance – Dog Training with Nature’s Template to learn more about relationship based training. It’s inexpensive and there are some great handling tips intended to get inside his head in an appropriate manner.

John Wade
Difficult to Control Dog? – Try the WadeCollar

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2 thoughts on “Presa Canario Aggression”

  1. What is the best way to exercise my Presa Canario? We do all the activities to contribute to her aggression like everything you mentioned above. She is so great in the home and with the kids, but gets bored easily, which contributes to being aggressive. We have a pit mix and they get along, but my pit gets too wild (not aggressive) with her so she doesn’t play with him too long. She loves being outside, but hates other dogs and I’m always worried when someone has their dog off leash because it will result in a fight.

    1. Hi Beth,

      One of the best and fastest way to get any currently untrained well enough to recall so that they can be allowed off lead to get some actual exercise is to purchase a lunge line from a tack shop (horse supply). Generally speaking, they’re 3 times the quality and 1/3 the cost of the canine equivalents. Buy two and attach them end to end if you think you need the extra insurance. You don’t want to wreck your dog’s freedom, you want to wreck your dog’s freedom to make mistakes, such as ignoring you if you say, ‘Come.

      Take your dog somewhere appropriate, attach the line, drop it and go hiking. Your Presa Canario will put in 10 steps for every single step you take. If something pops up you can then get to your Presa Canario and leave before your Presa Canario can get to the distraction that your training isn’t far enough along yet to ensure a reliable recall.

      You’ll have to start scouting for places you can take her but they are out there once you start looking.

      Other ideas:

      Treadmill training
      Use an attachment called a ‘Springer’ or something similar so you can keep your dog safely (for you and your dog) beside you on a bicycle. Requires some training with some dogs.


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

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