Zeus is growling at strangers! What can I do?

Discussion in 'Cane Corso' started by Sue42576, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Sue42576

    Sue42576 Well-Known Member

    Zeus is 6 months old. We live in a rural setting, so he doesn't see many strangers. He is goofy and playful with our family, I have no concerns there. When he was a baby we would take him to all our boys football practices and he was great with everyone. A couple of months ago he started growling at people and children. We know he is not a bad boy, but didn't want to scare people so he stays home now. He is never alone though, our daughters will stay home with him and his two dog sisters. He has a love affair with the neighbours boxer, and hasn't shown much aggression with any other dogs. He does get a little dominant when visiting his littermate brother, but because he is in his brothers' house, he is dominated by him. My concern is while visiting a sick family member, we had to put him in another room when the nurse came and when other family members came to visit. He was growling and snarling and his dander was up. He has shown this behaviour when friends have come to our house in the past, but it diffuses when he realizes they are okay. The problem is he can't behave this way with strangers. What would you recommend?

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  2. Rugers-Kris

    Rugers-Kris Well-Known Member

    Zeus may be coming into his temperment. What type of mastiff is he? Your avatar is too small for me to tell. Not all mastiffs are super friendly with people outside of their homes. I have an English Mastiff who is as sweet as sugar with those he loves but does not tolerate strangers. I leaash him when people are going to be around that he does not know. If this is his temperment there isn't much that you can do about it. She shouldn't stop taking him out, though......He needs to be taught to settle down and trust you when you say it is ok but he should still socialize constantly. He is a puppy and trying to learn what a real threat is and trying to be a guardian. The more you take him out , the more he will learn. I am thrilled with Rugers temperment, I just don't allow people to get close and I keep him on a leash when he is around strangers.

    I can't promise you that this is his temperment but if it is, you will have to find ways to work with it.
  3. Sue42576

    Sue42576 Well-Known Member

    Zeus is a Cane-Presa mix. He is such a sweetheart, and I hate to leave him home. It was easier to take him out when we had football, but that is coming to an end. I would take him into town for walks, but he has learned some very bad habits from my pug and barks at everyone. Thats why we did the football practices, he was out and able to see people, but still had his space. And there wasn't a risk of someone coming up from behind. He is such a sweet boy, I just wish he could relax around others.

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  4. Rugers-Kris

    Rugers-Kris Well-Known Member

    The more you socailize the better. I can take Ruger anywhere and he does fine as long as noone gets within 4 foot or so from me and even then when he begins to growl, I can get him to sit and calm and just tell people not to approach him. It takes time and patience but you can get it to a point where you can take him with you again. Ruger will be 2 in February and he "gets it" now. :) I take Ruger everywhere with me, even to work.
  5. khplaw

    khplaw Well-Known Member

    Is there any particular reason you chose this breed of dog?
  6. Sue42576

    Sue42576 Well-Known Member

    Thank you Kris:) We chose to get a Mastiff breed because of their loyalty and their protectiveness of their family. I have done extensive research on both his breeds and I am aware of their stubborness and the fact that they can be overly protective and dominant. It bothers me greatly that many mastiff breeds end up in pounds because their owners are uneducated. The reason I signed up for this forum was to gain knowledge and information from other mastiff owners and lovers of the breed. We were not looking for a guard dog if that is your next question. We love all dogs, large and small. We also have a Bernese Mountain dog and a mouthy lil Pug. We love the intense love and loyalty the mastiff gives it's people. I only am asking these questions because I would like to know how others have dealt with these issues. Every dog is different, and regardless as to how much research or training you do, the owners of these dogs with experience know best. That is why I love this forum.

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  7. khplaw

    khplaw Well-Known Member

    Sounds like Zeus is learning how to be a better dog, from HIS point of view. He is there to love and protect you and your family, from anyone else who does not fit that description. If he lives in an area where he doesn't see alot of people, he is on super alert when he DOES see people. You need to let him know that the growling is inappropriate on no uncertain terms. Timing is everything; growl and right away correct. Some people use their voices to correct, others use a choke chain and others use prong collars. Each and every time there is a growl, there must be a timely correction. And then move on, no "poor baby" comments, just move on. Reward the good, and in a sense, correct and ignore the bad. I am no expert but that is what has worked for others on this message board and I learned from them. The other change I made is to ask people to let my dog come to them, approach on her own terms and not pet her on the head. When there are things I can see she is uncomfortable with, I ask her to sit an look at what ever it is and talk to her quietly. Playgrounds used to freak her out, and now she is playing on the Big Toy with the kids. A big, bouncy brindle 6 month old 85 pound four legged kid having a good time.

    In general, guardian dogs need to learn their parameters. They gain their CONFIDENCE from interacting with you. They need to see from how YOU behave what is OK and what is not. A calm and confident owner will raise a calm and confident corso, generally speaking. Take Zeus EVERYWHERE! It will be nerve wracking at first because you will feel anxious, but practice makes perfect. My neighbor laughs at me; if Sophie seems a bit tweaked about something I tell her "kisses and cuddles" in a cheery voice, which is more for ME than for HER. I took her to a huge car show last weekend, 500 people or more. When she is uncertain of something, she looks at me right in the eyes for guidance. Not a single growl, she allowed people to pet her with my permission, and we had a lovely outing! Zeus wants to be with you, and to be the very best guardian he can be. Give him the guidance he needs, NO GROWLING, and kisses and cuddles. If y ou stop taking him places, he will never see all there is to see and be a confident corso.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  8. Rugers-Kris

    Rugers-Kris Well-Known Member

    I absolutely disagree!!! Never discourage growling as that is a warning......Nothing wrong with growling and he shouldn't be corrected.......he is a baby still learning and as he learns that you have control of the situation (I use "It's all good, I got it") he will trust you and calm down. Correcting a growl is a huge mistake. if you teach him not to growl, he will go straight for the bite.

    I think you already have a good ahndle on things and will do just fine. I understand you asking questions and that is how I learned with Ruger, too. Every dog is definitely different as you said and I am sure that you will help him be the best Zeus that he can be. Keep me updated, I would love to hear how he progresses. :)
  9. musicdeb

    musicdeb Well-Known Member

    Yes, DO NOT discourage growling. It is a warning.

    Are you afraid when he's around other people? If you are afraid of what he might do, he senses your fear and feels he has to protect you.

    Keep him on leash when others come into your house and when you are outside. Do not allow others to approach him until you tell them they can approach him. Learn his body language so you know when he will go into his protection mode.

    You have to show him what he needs to do. Put your shoulders back, breathe and tell him it's ok and make him sit.

    Tell anyone who approaches him, with your permission, to not look, talk or touch the pup. Let the pup approach them to smell them and you tell him it's ok. If you notice his body language reads it's not ok, make him come back to you and bring him to a sit. Do not let him enter the "strike zone"

    When he does what you want him to do, reward him. Positive reinforcement goes a long way.

    Do your best to not become frustrated or afraid, he will sense it. Frustration will cause him to shut down on you and stop listening. Fear will cause him to kick into guard mode.
  10. Hector

    Hector Well-Known Member

    At 6 months, he might be going through a fear stage. That's okay, it just means you need to double up on the obedience training and socialization. Socialization means exposure, exposure, exposure. When people come into the house - they need to be calm and ignore the dog completely until the dog is calm. It is helpful to teach the dog some focus exercises if you have not already or teach him to go and stay on his mat/spot. Use a high rate of rewarding when you first do that so he remains focused or in place. Remember some dogs just can't be accepting of strangers. Have you signed him up for obedience classes? I like to use those for exposure and to proof basic obedience in a distracting environment. It will help your pup gain some confidence too.
  11. khplaw

    khplaw Well-Known Member

    I offer my corrections with verbal cues such as "No Worries"; acknowledging her instinct and doing exactly as you so straight forwardly pointed out. The correction is to let the dog know that you hear him/her, and will deal with it. A correction needn't be a reprimand; it is a correction in perspective, in this case, the dog does not have to do anything because you the human have it under control. I would never ignore a warning, merely redirect it to where the proper decision making lies; with the human.

    We do agree that they need to learn from their person just perhaps different methods for different animals.
  12. Rugers-Kris

    Rugers-Kris Well-Known Member

    I was simply responding to what you said below that I highlighted. Also, you mention using a choker or prong which IS correction. I am NOT correcting my dog when I tell him that "I got it"......I am just reassuring him. There is a big difference. You pointed out again that there should be no growling towards the end of the comment. This is a very different thing than I am speaking of. Ruger will growl again in the next situation because I am not trying to make him stop growling "In no uncertain terms". In the end, I still very much disagree with your post and believe that it is very bad advice. Yes, he will growl less as grows, matures, trusts more and learns but he should not be corrected for growling.
  13. khplaw

    khplaw Well-Known Member

    Note please that my first option is voice, which is what I use. Others may feel the need to put physical ummph into it and use other tools.

    When Sophie is unsure, she has learned to literally lean on me. She then literally looks up at my face for guidance. I don't know if I am just that damn lucky or she is that damn good, but we work at reading each other.

    I believe that there are other ways for a dog to notify an owner of an impending danger. I cannot imagine that Seal Team 6 wants their dog(s) rushing about growling and giving away their position on a mission for example! An ALERT can happen in whatever way you choose to have it happen, and it can be as personal to you and your dog as you wish it to be. Growling is ONE way, and generally, in my experience frightens people unnecessarily. Given that the Corso is already frequently misunderstood, I want my corso to be the best ambassador for her breed possible.
  14. Sue42576

    Sue42576 Well-Known Member

    I understand that Zeus is simply growling to let me know he is uncomfortable with something. Our children are bigger so I understand he is not used to smaller children. I also calmly let him know in these situations that its okay and I know he is doing his job. Its how others who are not knowlegable perceive it that is my concern. He is a large dog, if he was a chihuahua, people would automatically assume he's scared. But with large dogs it is perceived as aggression. He growled at the nurse because he didn't know who she was. I assume he instinctively knows his Nana is dying and has stepped things up a bit to protect her because he knows she can't. Like I said he is a good sweet boy and extremely smart. I do not want to tame his spirit, that is what I love about him, I was just wanting ti know how others deal with it. I thank you for your advice:)

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  15. doyle

    doyle New Member

    My view is that if he is growling at any inappropriate time he needs to be put in a sit, or similar and understand that it's unacceptable.
    You know the guardian aspect of your pup that you desire and obviously this behavior is not it or you would not be seeking advice.

    Having a well socialized pooch does not preclude being a faithful protector despite what many will say.

    I've had my adopted CC 7 weeks now and he's a playful pup and gets socialized around many dogs at parks and thousands of people on the streets of Chicago. Just a big sweetheart. But I'm confident that if I was in real peril, he would respond as I've seen small instances of it already.
  16. Smokeycat

    Smokeycat Well-Known Member

    I take Kryten's growls as an alert. He growls as a precursor to deciding whether the situation needs more attention. Most of the time once I acknowledge what ever it is ("I see her, she can be there") the growl stops. If it doesn't I know that 'something' is off about the situation and I need to increase my attention to prevent the situation from escalating. If he didn't growl I would have no warning as to his mind set because I can't keep my eyes on him 100% when both dogs are around. I would never teach a dog not to growl. Instead teach them to alert using their growl and then accept that I can handle the acknowledged 'threat'.
  17. whit72

    whit72 Well-Known Member

    My girl has growled a few times, I simply tell my guests to ignore her completely. She has been highly socialized but these breeds are extremely protective. She doesn't try to bite she won't even approach them.

    I simply have then ignore her until she approaches them. Then she turns into this cuddle bug.

    I never force an introduction, I allow the dog to initiate the contact, she won't approach unless she is comfortable and that usually takes about five minutes.

    You didn't get a Labrador, your dog is a guardian and she will guard.

    My dog has never once growled outside of my house or yard, she understands that those are not areas she needs to protect.
  18. Rugers-Kris

    Rugers-Kris Well-Known Member

    I agree with never not forcing an introduction but also each dog is different and if his temperment is that he doesn''t like strangers then there can be no introduction at all. My dogs will growl outside of the house and yard because it isn't about the "area", they are protecting their people. Like smokey, once acknowledged they will let me handle it and if they do't immediately stop thenn I know that maybe I need to be more aware. I can walk Ruger anywhere and he doesn't eact to people, dogs, sirens, noises and anything that wouldn't be considered a threat. The exception is when someone gets too close. He is a confident boy and I like that......

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