Dogo pup getting too protective - how to curb it?

Discussion in 'Dogo Argentino' started by Cwright2003, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Cwright2003

    Cwright2003 Member

    Hi all,
    I have a 1.5 year old intact female and she is my first Dogo. She was super friendly with everyone when she was younger (like all puppies I suppose) but ever since a few months ago she's become kind of a nuisance when people come to my door and I answer the door. When my husband answers the door, she is the perfect dog and just stands or sits quietly at his side, doesn't cross the threshold, doesn't need to be restrained or even touched. He opens the door fully and she doesn't even try to go out. When *I* open the door, she darts in front of me and tries to squeeze her way out so that she's blocking me from the visitor and she barks ferociously nonstop. I do not need protecting and I don't know what I've done to make her think that she needs to protect me, but I want it to STOP. I come from Akitas and they are protective as well but I don't get this kind of guarding behavior from them. They do what my Dogo does when my husband opens the door. They just watch. So I need to ask the more experienced Dogo owners. How do I get my Dogo to lay low and watch instead of try to chase everyone away from our door unless my husband is there? I do more obedience training with her than my husband and I feed all the dogs. My Dogo has recently started going after certain other dogs too when I'm holding her leash - as if they're prey and not dogs. She goes to doggy daycare twice a week and her caretaker reports that she does fine and does not go after any type of dog in particular even though she doesn't know her own size and doesn't know how to play gently. So there seems to be something with ME that is bringing out her bad behaviors. How can I turn this around before it gets worse?
  2. Bailey's Mom

    Bailey's Mom Super Moderator Super Moderator

    I get something like this with our Corso. If Dad goes to answer the door, she watches, but from behind him. Me, she inserts herself trying to get her nose out ahead of me, and, she is not welcoming...she often gives a warning growl and won't stop until she has rebuffed the visitor...OR, I invite them in. If I use my happy voice, "say hello, say hello", she chills out, but, I generally keep a hand on her collar until I know all is well. There is this stiffness in her body, and she fixates on their faces if she feels there is a threat. I guess, she thinks her Dad can handle himself, but I am HER Human and, she's on guard for me.

    I think things have progressed with age too. Now if I play fight with my husband, she'll let us know when it gets too loud or I'm too...high pitched? It is related to my tone. And I think the door is the same thing....she's reading my tone, the stiffness of my body. And, you know, I'm glad I have a 130 lb protector whose got my back, front and sides.

    Equally, if Dad got loud with someone at the door, she inserts herself....And I think, if my step-son (he's a hulk) was being threatened, she'd go into threat mode. Not attack mode, just back the person off.

    You've got to trust your dog...they are sensing things you can't. I believe they can smell the bad intent in people.

    I've told this before, my husband went to a party down the street, and came back after I had gone to bed, but he brought two guys and all of them were drunk. My husband had invited them back for a drink. Bailey went flying down the stairs and blocked all three of them from entering the house. She took up an attack stance, head down, legs apart and her voice was all aggressive. She would have bitten all of them (Dad included), if they had tried to leave the hallway. I couldn't call her off. She wouldn't stand down. And, finally, my husband said, she won't let you in, you'd better go boys. After they left, and the door was locked, Bailey ran back upstairs, but she wasn't calm, she jumped up on the bed at my side, and was ears forward, body stiff, staring at the doorway. She was all business. BUT...I didn't second guess her...whatever she was sensing was a danger to me, and she would not let them pass.

    Are you listening to her...maybe she is seeing something you aren't? Are you petite as versus your husband being formidable? Have there been any invasions of your property? Are you, perhaps, giving off a fear signal? Are you stressed when you go to the door. They smell the stress on you and stress on your visitors.

    Dogos are very protective, their family is their job. All Mastiffs are guardian breeds. I wrote a poem about it, have a read, you'll find it in Chitchat.
    Courtney H likes this.
  3. Jarena

    Jarena Well-Known Member

    My 9 month old Corso is similar too. (I know she is young and this could all change). When we are on walks and someone looks like they are approaching us, she barks and growls. If I feel like the person is approachable, I tell her “say hello” and we go greet them together. If I don’t feel comfortable saying hi to them, I tell her “leave it” and keep walking. With other dogs, unless they are known family dogs, she inserts herself between us and growls.

    With people coming inside our house, she is different with me than she is with my boyfriend. With him, she stays behind him for a minute then approaches the person and greets them. I am a lot less social than he is and I’m sure she senses that I am less comfortable when people come over. She is a lot more uneasy when I am home alone and people come over.

    I think with my girl it also has to do with the different bonds my boyfriend and I have with her. She loves us both but I am her human. I have been the main caretaker to her since we brought her home at 8 weeks old. I am also the one who does most of the training and “discipline”, and the most cuddling with her. If we are both home, I am who she follows around and sits beside.

    I have also noticed a difference in her when I try to calm down. When I am anxious, so is she. We recently had our nephews meet her and there was such a big difference how she interacted with them. With the older, more relaxed boy she wagged her tail and sniffed him. With the younger, more rambunctious boy, she wanted to jump and play and be crazy.

    I’m no expert, this is my first mastiff, just some ideas: Maybe you could invite people over specifically to work on her reactions? Have some non-threatening girl friends come over and tell them that you want them to be calm and friendly. Answer the door and hug them and have them greet her and lots of praise and treats for behaving correctly? Maybe your dogo can get some practice with these set up meetings? If people that come over know they are helping you train your girl, you could try to work the situation. Like have them knock but don’t answer the door until she is calm and if needed you could close the door and have a “redo”. Good luck with your dogo!
    Courtney H likes this.
  4. Bailey's Mom

    Bailey's Mom Super Moderator Super Moderator

    Absolutely great ideas Jarena. I'm glad you are on board to help!
    Jarena likes this.
  5. Cwright2003

    Cwright2003 Member

    Thank you for telling me your experiences! My husband is 6' 4" and 158 pounds while I'm 5' 2" and around 116 pounds, so there is that. But just because I'm smaller in stature doesn't mean I need protecting! haha! I can take care of myself, thank you very much! Plus most of the time the people my dogo goes off on are people who are scared of large dogs. She senses their nervousness because they're a bit scared of her, so she growls and barks and they get more nervous. Well, duh! It's a self fulfilling prophesy. The people are on edge because she's scaring them, not because they intend to do something bad. But I can see how a dog can get that confused, which is why she needs to listen to my cue even more. Case in point, my dogo barks the most ferociously at kids who freeze and stare at her with the deer in the headlights type of look. They are not a threat to anyone but they are indeed nervous, and with good reason, 'cause a large dog is growling at them! My dogo is actually very friendly to people who don't hesitate to pet her. She loves being the center of attention and pretty much gloats when people compliment her on how pretty she is, etc. The hesitation sets her off.

    I am my dogo's human as well. She sits next to me and leans on me and follows me much more often than she follows my husband, who is more standoffish with her because he doesn't want to wash his hands so he doesn't pet her that often and just greets her by talking to her mainly. My dogo definitely is the feel-y touchy affectionate type and she comes to me for that.

    I wish I had the kind of setup where I can ask people over to train door greetings! That would be wonderful! We rarely get visitors so when people come to the door it's mostly a package that needs a signature, solicitors, neighbors coming over to drop off something, etc. I don't feel comfortable having them wait at the door until she's calm, and that's part of the problem. I think I'm excited when people ring the doorbell 'cause I'm thinking "oh goody! Someone's here! An opportunity to train the dog not to go beserk at the door!" Maybe she's sensing some good stress (vs bad stress) from me. But of course it never is a good training session because once I get to the door and ask her to sit (and she does), as soon as I open the door she squeezes in front of me and starts barking, and I don't feel comfortable shutting the door in the visitor's face until she calms down again, which is what I'd do if it was a setup (calm = open door, barking = closed door, visitor does not leave until she is calm with open door). I'm thinking I will try something different, like have her sit and then throw a handful of really good treats back towards the inside of the house so that she turns away from the door before I open it. That may be a start... I'm still stumped as to what to do when people are nervous around her though. I mean, there will always be people who'll be nervous around a large dog, and it makes her suspicious, for no real good reason. Any good ideas, please toss them my way! This is my first mastiff type dog too so I'd love to hear how people train their mastiffs successfully when it comes to their protective instinct - do I go the route of treats, play, happy voice, focus on me and not on the stranger, or alpha dominant on my dogo (not physically of course) to get the point across that I call the shots on who's welcome in my house, not her?
  6. Jarena

    Jarena Well-Known Member

    Ok my girl Lettie does the same thing when strangers are scared of her. Even if someone she knows is acting weird around her. My boyfriends dad (who she LOVES) is a very awkward guy and if he is just standing in front of her not talking and just looking at her she will bark at him. We are always telling him “talk to her”! That seems to work for most people, we tell them to talk to her and acknowledge her. She will warm up to them much faster if they don’t ignore her.

    And I get the not having people to come over and practice. I am a hermit crab and most of the people that come over are people that me and the pup already know and love. :)
  7. Cwright2003

    Cwright2003 Member

    Jarena, when you take your Lettie out in public does she ever growl at people? If she does, what do you do? Right now, if Ice, my dogo, growls at someone I tell her "come" and we walk away. Most of the time she solicits attention and petting from people we meet. It's just the odd people that she growls at. Bailey's Mom is right in that sometimes dogs sense things that we don't. I can't help but feel embarrassed though.
  8. Jarena

    Jarena Well-Known Member

    Yeah I feel a little embarrassed sometimes too. I feel like people don’t understand she is being protective, they probably just think she isn’t well behaved.

    When she growls at someone I think looks “unapproachable” then I tell her “leave it” and she sometimes listens lol. But then we get off of the path to let them pass or we just keep walking (I usually have a pocket full of treats to help with the “leave it” command). If I feel like the person will play along and if they seem like they want to meet her, I will say “let’s say hello” in my happy puppy voice. Then when she greets them with her tail wagging I tell her “good girl” and give her treats for nicley greeting the person.

    Sometimes if we are not in a good position to meet the other person/dog (like in a pet store) I will tell her “leave it” then I will remove her the best I can from the situation. Sometimes that means using my body to block her view. She ALWAYS sounds mean, even though most of the time her tail is wagging. And I also think BaileysMom is right. If she is clearly telling me that she doesn’t like someone (growling, fur raised, stiff stance) I will listen to her and steer clear of the person. She is my protector and I am hers.
  9. Cwright2003

    Cwright2003 Member

    I've had Akitas for a long time and there's enough bad press in that breed that I've actually had someone tell me at a Farmer's Market, "That's an Akita. Those are dangerous dogs. You shouldn't have him out in public!" So I always feel like my dogs need to be good ambassadors for the breed and if they're growling at people I feel like they're out of line and making people see the breed in a negative light. Dogos have a bad rep too. My Akitas don't growl at people. They don't solicit attention and want petting from strangers either. My dogo does both. I've never had a mastiff before and there's definitely behavioral differences. I've found my dogo to be so much more vocal. She'll growl if something makes her uncomfortable vs my Akitas won't growl unless they're about to bite something. I'm glad I found this mastiff forum and can see that other mastiffs growl too and my girl isn't aggressive or unstable or something. I think it's just that coming from a mostly silent breed I find all the growling and barking unnerving because if an Akita did that it's usually about to attack and I just feel like people will look at her and think she's out of control and dangerous.
  10. TylerDurden

    TylerDurden Well-Known Member

    I can definitely relate to that. Based on my experience, it often looks like this: small dog barks = annoying; large dog barks = dangerous. This seems to be the classic generalization that I have experienced in public. Many people don‘t have the knowledge, intellectual capabilties, or interest to understand that size and appearance don‘t mean much. Can a large dog potentially cause more damage? Definitely, but generalizations do not help anybody. I think what you do os exactly right. I allow my dog to great people if they are interested in it. If not, we just pass by.
    BattleDax likes this.

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