Excessive Barking & Agressiveness

Posted by Danes3
Mar 6, 2008
Hello Everyone,

My name is Ana and I am a new member. My husband Kelly and I are proud parents of 3 Great Danes. Duke is 1 year & 2 months old, Drake is 10 months old and Diesel is 8 months old. At this time my husband and I are at a loss with a huge problem we are having with Duke our oldest Dane.

Let me start by saying that my husband and I are animal lovers and prior to getting our Danes we did our research to make sure this breed was meant for us. All our Danes have been socialized from the beginning of a young age and are very friendly towards other animals not just dogs and people in general. They have been socialized in many ways by providing regular visits to the dog prak and family and friends but just before Duke turned a year old we had him neutered and we were informed that this procedure would make him even more of a relaxed dog but to the contrary he is truly done the opposite and has become out of control.

Duke's worse problem is his barking for no reasons at all hours of the day and night. His second problem and most importantly needing addressing is his aggressiveness towards the neighbors dog and turning said aggression onto his brothers Drake and Diesel.

The moment the neighbors dogs goes out to her yard Duke acts out of control by charhging at the fence with full force while barking out of control as he runs up and down from one side to another along our fence and turning his aggression towards his borthers who follow in his foot steps by acting in the same manner but Duke takes it one step further by becoming very upset and annoyed with his brothers and begins to mount on top of the them whomever is closer to him at the time showing his power over them by pinning them down to the ground and snapping and bitting at them to get them out of his way therefore physically hurting Drake or Diesel.

My husband and I have tried everything imaginable even a shock collar but to no avail have we succeeded. The only thing that will stop Duke during this act is the hose of which only will last a few seconds before he finds a way to continue his mission.

The horrible part of all of this is that now Drake our middle Dane does just as Duke does to him and Diesel when he acts out and will attack Diesel the youngest of the Danes and show his power over him as Duke does to them both.

Although my nieghbors has not approached us in anyway about this situation and how irritated they must be I can just imagine when my husband and I are not home and Duke especially is not being supervised how they must act when their female goes out into the yard becoming very upset as they are retired and trying to enjoy a peaceful life.

For example, I am sitting at my dinning room table writting this e-mail and Drake the middle Dane is on the porch bench and Duke just walked up to Drake and expressed that he wants the bench by barking in a aggressive manner and with his attitude making Drake get up and leave the bench for him to enjoy. Duke has become a huge bully and a nasty one at that.

Please can anyone help me find a solution with this problem that is taking my husband and I to the brink of insanity? I need your help with finding a solution for Dukes excessive and uncontrolling barking at all hours and most importantly his aggession towards the neighbors dog and his brothers.

Thank you to anyone that will provide me a solution that I can implement onto Duke in order to stop this behavior. HELP!!!!!!!!!! If anyone is interested in seeing pictures of my Danes to better visualize whom I am speaking of please let me know and I will gladly provide you with them.

Thank you once again, By the way, I have purchased the videos from this site but would greatly be interested in your personal stories and what you did to correct situations like mine.
Posted by Blue
Mar 7, 2008
Hi there Ana,

It sounds like Duke may be bored and lacking in pack structure - and is taking out the boredom by finding his own entertainment. He is most likely becoming obsessive because he is not finding enough stimulus amongst his pack activities.

I would also say your leadership role is not strong enough to keep your particular pack balanced, so they are challenging each other - and other dogs to try and control their environment.

When a human leader is well defined and well established, the subordinate pack members will establish their own pecking order and peace will be found a lot faster. With younger dogs in the pack it is imperative that your leadership be established, because as they mature, they too will start trying to vie for a dominant position, and then you'll have an even larger problem.

Do you take your dogs on lengthy leashed walks and do a lot of obedience training with them? Danes are renowned for being laid back dogs, but even Danes, when young (puppy to 3 years) require a lot of mental stimulus, structure, and obedience to keep them from becoming destructive and acquire behavioural problems.

As always, I cannot stress how important alpha training is. Here are some important points on alpha training-
1) If you come across your dog while he is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move away from where you want to go, no the other way around.
2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. Try reinforcing your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.
3) At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.
4) When your dog wants to go outside for a walk, make it sit and wait until you are ready to go
5) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.
6) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.
7) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved

Also, it helps to disallow the dog access to human beds, this includes any couches or La-Z-boys too , this helps you retain your alpha status by being allowed the "best denning site" place - as what dog wouldn't prefer an elevated couch or bed over a on the ground dog bed!

First off I would suggest no more off leash activity, if it can be avoided, as Duke is not in control then, by you or himself. He becomes obsessive and this is a very bad state of mind.

Start taking each dog out - alone, for some on leash walks - at least twice a day. When you take any of your dogs for a walk on a leash, it is very useful for reestablishing your pack leadership. A priority while the dog is on leash is teaching heel, sit-stay and definitely no pulling.

In addition to this, when having Duke (or any other dogs) out in the backyard, have him on a leash for a few weeks while you are working on obedience and alpha training. Take him around the yard and teach him what the appropriate behaviour is while in the backyard. Any barking or misbehaviour, reprimand him immediately by giving a tug on the leash sideways (it should put him off balance slightly) and growling at him. If he continues to misbehave after three times, take him inside an ignore him for a while. Then you can try again 15-20 minutes later. As in other posts you mentioned reading in your PM, as his training progresses you can move to a longer leash and allow him more freedom. But as soon as he misbehaves, reprimand verbally and reel him in away from his freedom, 3 strikes and he's inside. Always reward his good behaviour - like if the other dog is out, praise him verbally if he's just going about doggy business (sniffing or listening to you!), you can call him to you to give him treats even!

An even better way to stop the behaviour is while he's on the leash, predict his behaviour before he can escalate to full on obsession. Watch his ears and his body language, as soon as his ears perk forward or his tail goes either right down or high up, give him a little tug and reprimand on the leash to keep him focused on his leashed walk. Always praise good behaviour and reward with some treats! Good body language is tail relaxed down and ears somewhat back - but not flat against his head.

The idea here is that he's not getting his freedom unless he's behaving, you are controlling what the pack does, not him.

Even if dogs are socialized at an early age, if their pack pecking order is not clear and their lives structured with clear rules and enough stimulus to keep their minds occupied they will become destructive and obsessive.

Use a collar that you have found most successful in controlling his strength - these are big dogs and you need to master your alpha position as quickly and assertively as possible.

As with other posts with barking dogs - it is imperative that you get this behaviour under control as soon as possible, especially with large breed dogs. As you are already experiencing aggression, it has the potential to escalate to worse, potentially very damaging behaviour.

When it comes to Duke being aggressive, or his younger pack-mate Drake, as alpha, you need to step in immediately. Either throw a bucket of water over him or a heavy blanket to stop the behaviour as soon as it begins. If you see Duke approaching a subordinate to steal a position or object, you can step in to 'referee' the dispute (leash Duke if you can - without any aggression towards you!), allow him to approach the other dog and praise him for doing it peaceably, but any signs of aggression you need to reprimand immediately. Don't take duke away as they need to sort out their pecking order, taking him away will result in frustration and more aggression. The idea is to just teach them that aggression is not acceptable. Period.

In a balanced pack, the subordinate dog should give way to the alpha without the alpha resulting to violence, just eye contact or the alpha approaching should do it for a subordinate dog. So when Duke resorts to being aggressive he is asserting his dominance because there is a lack of pack hierarchy.

It is hard to give advice in this situation - from a forum without seeing the dogs interact; there are so many different relationship dynamics in multi-dog households. You may even want to consider bringing a dog behaviourist to assess the full nature of your dogs' relationships with you and amongst each other. A dog behaviourist will be able to give you exactly the training/behaviour modification required to bring the dogs around to respectable canine citizens!

With proper pack structure, alpha training, obedience, and a regiment of reprimanding for bad behaviour and praise for good behaviour, you should see improvement.

I apologize if this seemed like a very serious reply to your post, but as I said before, with large breed dogs, they have the potential to become a very serious problem - but while you have puppies, you can still find a happy pack stability the sooner you work on the problem!

Hope this helps, if you have any further questions, feel free to ask!
Posted by Danes3
Mar 8, 2008
Thanks so much for your advice I will try to impliment all your suggestions. To answer a few of the questions you asked. My husband and I usd to take all the boys to the park every single day right after work and even on weekends but once my husband changed jobs and the time change as it got earlier sooner came into play we have not been able to take them and although Drake & Diesel do not seem affected by this as we still take them on short walks every other day Duke seems to have mind alot after reading your post I can see why he is bored and needs more stimulation.

Like I said before the only issue I have that devastates me and my husband is when the neighbors female dog goes out into the yard and Duke goes completely crazy therefore the others follow in doing the same barking and charging at the fence running up & down with full force. I do throw water at him with the hose and although he stops he stills tries to find away to continue so I guess I will be putting him on a leash when this happens to rectify his attitude.

I wouold be happy to record what takes place and sent it to you for you to see exactly what I am talking about just let me know. I will try my best as big dogs can be powerful in strength and hoep to nip this before it gets worse.

Once again thank you for taking the time to repond and help out.
Posted by Blue
Mar 8, 2008
Hi Ana
I forgot to mention in my first post - that even though Duke is now neutered, because he only recently underwent the surgery, it can take several months for the surgery to actually have effect on the level of hormones in his system. So the "calmer dog" results expected after a neuter surgery are more delayed in arriving! . Although, depending on disposition, some dogs don't actually calm down, they either remain the same, or, on very rare occasions can become worse.

To avoid potential issues (male hormones) with your other dogs, I recommend getting them all neutered sooner rather then later - before the hormones have a chance to start taking hold of their personalities! Also with two intact male dogs in the house you can expect trouble if there is a female nearby.

Is the female dog next door spayed?

Drake and Diesel are not yet affected the same way as Duke (frustrated/bored behaviour), probably because they are still puppies and do not vent their frustrations in the same way that a more mature dog will - they are more satisfied with playing with each other, and causing puppy mischief that is more manageable.

My recommendation first and foremost is still one on one obedience, daily leashed walks and alpha training for all three, it's a lot of work with three large dogs, but the results will be worth it, promise! As they grow older, they will mellow out and life will become easier too!

Let me know how you are progressing, and problems along the way. Feel free to post frequently if needed .
Posted by Danes3
Mar 8, 2008
Hello Blue,

Thank for the additional advise and recommendations. I will say that I started last night implementing some of your suggestions and to my surprise it worked.

My husband and I normally will prepare the boys dinner together and as a routine all three boys look into the kitchen via our French Doors. During this process Duke normally get's irritated with his brothers if they even touch him while standing at the door looking in and will asert his grouchy ways and alpha status by barking at them or even at times growling which would really make me mad as all them have the right to look in while waiting.

Well last night for the first I took action towards Duke and instead of yelling at him through the glass door to stop I immidiately put the food down walked over very upset and growled at him in the same manner that he does to his brothers.

I will say he was shocked and unknowing what had just taken place but the moment I returned to continue the perparation of their food he tried me again and once again I asserted my position only this time I was more aggressive towards him as he tried getting away from me while showing his submissive side. I will not lie as my husband looked at me wierd and I am sure I looked like a crazy human dog but it worked. The remainder of the time in finishing the food perparation Duke stood still along side his brothers and not one peep out of him at all as if he had been a good boy always.

Before walking outside to give him his food I did praise him for being a good and he enjoyed the love I gave him. So thank you very much for your help.

The barking issue is getting better I will admit as when he is laying quietly I go up to him and give him love and the moment he begins to bark I walk away but soon after he stops so I think he is getting the idea little by little. As I sit here at the computer he started to bark and he noticed my intentions of getting up and immidiately stopped right in his tracks so I think there is hope for Duke after all.

As for the neighbor's dog she has not been operated I think but my husband and I have already made appointments for Drake and Diesel to get done for the end of the month. And as you say they seemed to still have that puppy play and mischief and that is why they are not acting out like Duke and hopefully they never will.

I ordered the training DVD's but they have yet to arrive so I have access to downloads on Alpha Training and I will be doing that in just a few moments. I would love to post pictures of the boys but I am still trying to figure out how but I willl let you know once I am successful. I will continue to update you as I impliment your suggestions and how it turns out. Talk to you in a little while.


I was able to add a picture of Duketo my profile have a look.