help needed with giant breed 'Aplha' issues

Posted by imstomped
Feb 1, 2008
Hi there

I own a whopping 11.5 stone male harlequin great dane x mastiff whom i rescued at 8 months old. At the time, the ever-so-skinny sorry state that came to greet me was very timid and totally untrained and had no manners and due to feeling sorry for him, I brought him home. I immediately castrated him and began socialising him to gain the social skills he greatly lacked. Things were going ok until he suffered an attack when he and another dog were off the lead. i believe this was the turning point and as my dog grew...and grew... and grew (he now stands at 5'6 on his hind legs) his stature and dominence altered, both towards other dogs and myself and my husband (less so). I now feel out of control as he is heavier than me and has immense strength to pull, even with a halter. He cannot walk without a muzzle and frankly is just not very pleasant to be around. I really need some info as to how i should behave when he shows dominence when out walking and when avoidance isn't an option..its almost impossible not to meet other dogs and as each day goes by he worsens. Any info greatly appreciated x
Posted by Blue
Feb 27, 2008
Hi there,

First off, your dog has become alpha in your household, his aggression stems from protecting everything he considers his, including you!

He is insecure and feels the need to act aggressively to try and stop any aggression towards him before it starts.

His aggression towards humans (your husband) can be resolved, probably fairly quickly, but you and your family will have to learn to be alpha with him. His dog aggression will be more difficult - you may want to enroll the assistance of a professional behaviourist for help with that particular problem - as it is difficult to resolve safely.

[COLOR="Teal"](Quoted from Todd - Kingdom of Pets Advisor)
The first advice I would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is, all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-

1) If you come across your dogs while they are sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making them move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dogs around the house on the leash, making your dogs wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

Generally I do not recommend people give their dogs bones as this encourages the aggression, because in the wild the alpha dog would be the only one to have the privilege of chewing the bones. The reason your dog growls at you when you approach it with a bone is because it believes that it has the right to the bone and is trying to discipline you for challenging your dog for its dominant role.

(end Todd's Quote)[/COLOR]

I would also recommend not allowing him on the couch or beds or anywhere that puts him in a position of dominance over you. Don't allow him to jump up on you or stand on you (while seated) with his front paws - these are all acts of establishing dominance.

Other things that are vital are making sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise and obedience training. Obedience and exercise will give you a quieter more manageable dog who's energy (physical and mental) is being used in another manner then territorial aggression. It may be worth taking him to a professional dog trainer/behaviourist for some one on one obedience. He could become a lot worse and may injure someone, so if you don't feel you have the strength to control his behaviour, a professional may be your best option to ensure a happy future for you both.

Your dog needs to learn that he is no longer alpha and that his behaviour is no longer acceptable.

Your dog should always be reprimanded for bad behaviour. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on a dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

I hope this has been helpful, if you have any questions, feel free to post them, and let us know how things are going!

Best of Luck