Great Dane Aggression

Posted by MissMolly
Aug 2, 2010
My dane Miss Molly is 3 and she is the first dane that we have owned. she is very smart and can understand our commands but she doesn't listen to me most of the time. She will listen to my fiance though she does tend to iggnore him too. She is a very sweet dog that just loved other dogs. She used to run up to them as fast as she could and then stop abruptly to play with them. Most of the dogs and owners would get scared but she would never hurt either of them. I had to start working full time in december so we started taking her to my mother-in-law's house with my son. She has 1 dane, 3 labs, 1 lhasa apso, and 1 yorkshire terrier. One of the labs is very aggressive towards other dogs. Now my dane has ran out of the yard and attacked a dog that was on a leash. another time she opened our gate and attacked a dog. because of her size she injured both dogs and I have had to pay vet bills. I'm very frustrated and don't know what to do. we stopped taking her to my mother-in-laws but now she is home alone all day. please help me.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Aug 3, 2010
Hi there,

It sounds to me like your dog has developed territorial aggression, since both attacks happened right outside your home, to dogs who were passing by it. It might have been pushed on by taking her away from your home to your mothers, where other dogs were aggressive, thus when she returns to your home she feels she has to protect it. Is she aggressive in any other locations, or is she ok if you take her on walks or to a park?

Unfortunately one of the key things to deter a territorial dog is not to leave it alone for extended periods of time. Is there anyone who could come to your house and spend time with the dog while you are gone? Or is it possible for you to come home during lunch or take a break in the afternoon to be with the dog? Most areas have pet services that offer walking and socializing with dogs for a small fee.

When you are home pay attention to her behaviour as someone (with or without a dog) passes by your house. If she becomes alert to them and focuses on them, break her attetion. You want her to ignore people passing by. You can give her commands like "sit" or "come", something she knows and will listen to. If she barks or growls at passerbys when she is in the yard, be quick to reprimand her with a "no" command, and perhaps tie her up for a time out of sight of the fence. My dog used to bark at every person going past our drive, and it only took about a week of my telling him "no" and immediately tying him up in the backyard for him to catch on.

Reward her good behaviour to other dogs when on a lead or at a park, or even at your mothers house, should you take her back there. If she turns her attention to you when you ask her to while people are passing by the house, reward her immediately.

Its important to have your partner work with you, if she is more apt to listen to him. Be stern with her when giving commands, always reward her listening to them, and if she doesn't, keep trying. It might be useful to do 10-15 minute training sessions with her daily, a few times a day, until she is better at always listening to you. You can use leads in the house to pull her back to you and have her be accessible if she's the type of dog to just walk away from you if she "doesnt feel like listening"

Hope this helps, good luck!!
Posted by MissMolly
Aug 4, 2010
I have been reading “Secrets to Dog Training” and I have been doing many things wrong. I didn’t know anything about being the “alpha” and I think working on that will help me a lot.

Since she started the aggression, when we go on walks we are much more careful and always keep her on a leash. When we are walking our normal rout she watches the other dogs that are along the road but she doesn’t focus on them. When we take her places that we don’t go everyday or normally she focuses on every dog that walks by and usually raises the hair on her back but doesn't make a sound.

We live in an apartment above my mother’s cafe with a deck and no yard. There are always people around and she usually doesn't care when people are walking by but if there is another dog she focuses on them and sometimes barks. I could try reprimanding her and then putting her inside instead of tying her up.

I think that I can bring her to work on some days. Do you think that would help with the territorial aggression? She has also only attacked when my son is in the area, but no where near the other dog.

Oh and she thinks she is a lap dog. That would be the only bad thing about bringing her to work. How do I get her to stop sitting on people and sticking her face as close to your face as possible when she doesn’t get the attention she wants. Some people are scared of large dogs and when she does that they get really nervous and I don’t want her to intimidate people (especially customers!).

Right now we are both in the training stage!
Thanks for the advice
Posted by kjd
Aug 4, 2010

Does Miss Molly know how to down? One thing that might help at work is to get some kind of a mat (I like bathroom rugs, much cheaper than dog mats) that is Miss Molly's. Teach her that it is her "place." Teach her to go to her place and lie down. Take the mat to work with you and, when you want her to leave people alone, send her to her place with something to chew on.

I know I've told you to teach her a lot of things without telling you how, but there are good explanations in the ebooks. And I've had a long, hot, tiring day.

If Miss Molly learns "place" and "down, you will have some powerful tools to use with problem behaviours.

Good luck with her.

Posted by KOPCaroline
Aug 6, 2010
Hey again,

Glad you found some more help on our site It is important to set yourself as the alpha member of the team, so I would definitely establish that.

Bringing her to work will probably help her a lot. It will expose her to new sounds and people, as well as get her out of your home so she doesn't have as much time to "claim" it. As far as getting her out of people's faces, the best thing is to tell her "no", turn away from her, and ignore her until she finds something else to do. Be stern with her, and always turn your back to her. Some dogs take more time to catch on to this, but it should help. KJD's suggestion of giving her her own spot at your work is excellent, use it when she is attention seeking or generally behaving in undesired ways.

Hope things work out!