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Reactive and aggressive towards everything while walking.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019

    Reactive and aggressive towards everything while walking.

    I have a 1 yr old Shar pei, Mastiff, GSD mixed dog. He has the intelligence and energy of a gsd, the size of a mastiff and the general attitude and tolerance threshold of a sharpei, for a basic description.

    He came to me as a foster as a 3 week old pup, who was part of a dumped litter. He is a very well behaved, potty trained dog who can and will follow several commands. Including sit, stay, come, focus (eyes on me) and go to bed. As well as a few tricks. He executes these commands easily, until we get outside.

    Up until he was around 8 months old he was a well socialized, friendly dog. We regularly went to the dog park and he had many doggy friends he played with and was always able to greet new people and new dogs calmly and properly.

    Now however, he has transformed seemingly over night into a 140lb terror. I can not even take him outside to go potty without him snapping, snarling, lunging and aggressively trying to reach anything that moves. People, birds, other dogs, leaves blowing down the street etc. He has snapped a collar, a leash and two yard tie outs. (All rated for his size and weight). The cables and leash he snapped the metal clips, and the collar he literally ripped the stitching out in one pull.

    He has never been in a negative situation with another dog, or abused/harmed in any way by any person. Nothing in his daily routine has changed, no new people etc. Other than we no longer go to the dog park, or on walks, due to his sudden aggressive behavior.

    He has been looked over by his vet and he has no illness, or condition that could have caused this change in behavior.

    Once he is engaged in this behavior nothing stops him. There is no distracting him, even with highly prized treats in hand. Meat, cheese, etc etc he won't even sniff it.

    I have had it suggested to me to by a reputable trainer, to use a prong collar as well as continue attempts to desensitize him, use positive reinforcement and slowly correct this behavior.

    I have thoroughly researched prong collars and the way they function, please do not tell me how they are cruel. I understand they are frowned upon, but when used correctly they are safe and effective and I am trying to maintain control of 140lbs of muscle. If you do not agree with this method, I understand.

    However, I am seeking advice from someone knowledgeable about these breeds, someone who has experience with prong collars, or someone who has successfully corrected this behavior in a large genetically aggression prone breed, or mix breed.

    Any advice pertaining to the problem is welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Has he been neutered, or is he intact? I'm just thinking if the change in behavior happened when he reached maturity and he was still intact, it might be hormone related. Perhaps extra dominant, sexually frustrated, combative or extra defensive.

    Can you use one of those harness leads that help stop dogs from pulling you around, that might be better than a prong which might irritate him and make him more angry? Just guessing here. Mastiffs are know to be guard dogs and can be very aggressive, but you can't generalize about any breed, IMO, I've seen a couple at the dog park over the years who were friendly and socialized. BTW, welcome!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Chest harnesses make it easier for dogs to pull, that's why sled dogs wear them. If you're referring to the head harnesses style, I've seen the damage they cause and I feel he'd be more upset by that. I have tried the leg style harness and he wasn't particularly thrilled/ refused to walk/ fought to get it off.

    The way pinch collars/prong collars work is by tightening a small amount and the blunt ended prongs simply apply even pressure. They can't strangle him the way a choke chain would, or Pierce/damage the skin, but do cause enough discomfort to get his attention/break his fixation on his target long enough for me to redirect him without being drug down the road or losing control of him.

    He isn't nuetared as of yet, due to being a large breed dog and still growing. My vet and I agree it is best to wait awhile longer, to avoid potential bone health problems and hip dysplasia, which can be caused by the lack of hormones in growing dogs, especially large breeds.

    Mastiffs aren't usually violent dogs, however Chinese shar peis were breed specifically to have low tolerance thresholds and fight, poor breeding heightens this aggressive trait. He's a mutt from an abandoned litter, so I'm guessing the pedigree isn't there. I know you can not generalize any breed, but the breed description for Shar pei in general out lays their tendencies towards aggressive behavior. His personality fits this description to a tee. Which is why I stated breeds prone to aggressive tendencies and did not say aggressive breeds. Dogs have individual personalities, but factors that help determine personality traits are also inherited.

    I agree with you that part of his problem is hormone related ( dominance, territorial) but he is still fine with the other animals in my home, a spayed 8 yr old female pit/boxer mix and 2 cats, my fiance, myself and my children. However, it doesn't explain why he is suddenly aggressive towards strangers and people not seen on a daily basis. He will snap bark and growl at a distance and if approached he will snarl and recoil. For vet visits, he has to be muzzled and sedated in the parking lot and the office has to be free of all other animals, for the safety of the people inside. The same vet he's seen since his first day in my home, he now growls and snaps at. He will bark and lunge after everything that moves.

    Inside, he's a lazy foot warmer that thinks he's a lap dog, enjoys chasing after and nosing my toddlers toy cars around and cries if I shut him out of a room, or forget him in one as he follows me through the house. He rarely barks and could care less what's going on outside unless someone knocks, or he hears kids yelling/crying. Take him into the yard, or for a walk and he loses his mind.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    New Hampshire
    You have to go with what works for you. My sister had a 160 pound rotti, a gentle giant but he hated joggers and skateboards so she walked him with the prong collar. Its not sharp so it doesn't hurt them, just makes them uncomfortable and gets their attention. Neutering him will not change his basic personality, he will still be aggressive. I don't agree with early spay and neuter, they need those hormones to grow properly, in fact I don't neuter my males at all unless there is a reason to do so and My females I wait until about 18 months until they have been in heat twice and are fully mature. My shepherd is aggressive with strangers, but good with other animals. She too has to be muzzled when she goes to the vet or groomer. Its genetics, they can't help it. So we just have to work around their issues. My dog would never run out and chase people or animals but if they approach me that's a different story. I can walk her with no leash and she never bothers anyone as long as they don't approach me. So if the prong collar works for you then you need to use it. You must keep other people and their animals safe and if the collar is the only way then you do what you have to do.
    he is your friend and protector, he will love you unconditionally, you owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion

Please reply to this thread with any new information or opinions.

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