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aggressive behavior in a 'gentle giant'?

  1. cindi h profile image61
    cindi hposted 5 years ago

    I have an English Mastiff named Duke. He is a very loving, funny 190 Lb. boy.His breed was touted as a gentle giant, which for the most part, he is. But only to the immediate family. I know that animals pick up on the emotions of their owners and will often react to such emotion. We have had a couple incidents where friends coming to the house have precipitated an aggressive reaction from Duke. It seems he is overly protective and easily confused about when to act aggressively. I have done much research on the breed and behavioral techniques for training. Our problem now is that the family is so tense and nervous when we have friends over that we've taken to locking him in another room. When we let him out,after guests have left, he exhibits signs of anxiety. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle this problem without putting future guests at risk?

    1. ThePepperDen profile image80
      ThePepperDenposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Remember that many of the breeds that are promoted as "gentle giants" were in fact originally bred to be protection dogs. I'm not saying that all these breeds are prone to aggression- simply that this side of their background may come to the fore if they become unbalanced.

      You've already picked up on part of the problem. If you, your family and friends are nervous/tense/fearful whenever someone visits, your dog will pick up on that. If your family is feeling such weak emotions, your dog is more likely to take up the "protect the owner" role, thus becoming aggressive to any potential threat. The fact that you don't show him the proper way to behave with visitors only reinforces that the aggessive behaviour is what you want.

      I'm not a dog trainer, so I can't really give you step by step instructions on how to safely train your dog to exhibit better behaviour to guests. I recommend that a session or two with a reputable dog trainer may be just what the doctor ordered. smile But basically, you have to 1) be calm and show your dog that you are in control of the situation, so he doesn't have to be, 2) show him how you want him to behave, rather than simply removing him from the situation, and 3) teach your visitors how to behave in the dog's presence.

      I hope that helps! Best of luck. ^_^

  2. knolyourself profile image60
    knolyourselfposted 5 years ago

    Without actually being there and not the character of your guests one can only guess. Might be because he is a giant, the "Hound of the Baskervilles", that he makes some of your guests uncomfortable, to which only the dog is perceptive. He reacts to those subliminal negatives. In this theory the people would be the problem and not the dog. Just a guess.

    1. cindi h profile image61
      cindi hposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Never thought of it that way. I guess I'll have to find a better class of friends! ha ha   thanks for the input.

      1. recommend1 profile image71
        recommend1posted 5 years ago in reply to this

        With big dogs I found the best way to overcome this is to clearly greet the friends and make the dog or dogs part of the greeting. Mine used to shake hands - which was a cute trick in one way but in another it served to settle down and relax the guests who were often less socially adequate and intelligent than they were.

        The other thing I found was to try and keep things calm, fake squealing, hand flapping and overacting will unsettle a dog, it is false and unusual and the dog does not understand it, neither would the people who do it if they saw a video of themselves.

        Did I mention that our guests were invariably my first wife's friends big_smile

  3. 59
    ShortStoryposted 5 years ago

    Just stop having guests over. You've got a nice dog, why bother with lousy humans?

  4. cindi h profile image61
    cindi hposted 5 years ago

    Thank you all for your sage advice. I will definitely try a dog trainer, altho I do believe it is US that need to be trained. I especially like the idea of not bothering with humans!! Too funny.

  5. akirchner profile image95
    akirchnerposted 5 years ago

    I have malamutes who can be a little funny on greeting folks - they get very vocal which kind of scares people.  It is their way of saying "I'm kinda scared right now" I think.  According to my trainer, she had me give people a piece of kibble or two and have them approach my dog(s) with a piece of kibble.  I also use the same technique to "distract" them when someone is approaching. Hope that helps!