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Thread: Houston We Have a Problem

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Perth, WA

    Default Houston We Have a Problem

    Ok so some of you may have seen some of my threads on our now 20 month old sterilised make great dane arrow,

    He came to us with a history of essentially nothing! but we have since found out he is
    -fear aggressive toward men
    -leash reactive
    -has no basic manners
    - is an attention seeker
    - mouths heavily when nervous

    and now to top it all of he is acting aggressive towards me, we usually hand feed him as instructed by our behavioural trainer, i put his bowl down for two seconds tonight as he is on antibiotics at the moment and i went to go and get them as i had forgotten to hide them in his food. Upon my return i admit - my fault as all the signs were there- i reached down to put the meds in his bowl and begin feeding him by hand, he had his tail down, was tense and ears back, as i reached for the bowl he growled and lunged at me. i was shocked to say in the least - i know he is funny around bones so we havent given them to him since we first saw the signs but this is the first time its happened over his food in the bowl. I pushed the bowl away with my foot, asked hi to sit, gave him a treat and resumed feeding by hand - no troubles after that.

    Then he hopped on the couch - he KNOWS he is not allowed on the couch unless invited but he got on there anyway - sometimes he does this when attention seeking but if i ask him to get off and ignore him he will get off. Tonight i asked him to get off -he wouldnt so i went to get him by the short leash he always wears as he has a habit of ignoring us and walking off when we ask him to do something and he raised his lips at me and tried to snap at me.

    Im always firm with him - he gets nothing for free from me and always has to do as i ask before he is allowed to do what he wants, my partner lets him get away with way to much IMHO but he gets full respect from the dog and arrow is very submissive towards him even though if he barks for attention he will get it from darryn, if he wants a treat he will get it from darryn without having to do anything for it!

    I am at a loss, the methods reccomended by our trainer havent caused this behaviour im sure but ive followed everything she has reccomended and he is becoming worse rather than better. The lead reactivity has become less but everything else is getting worse.

    If he does bite me properly or anyone else for that matter and continued to try to do so i will not hesitate in making the desicion to euthanaise as he is huge and even a tiny bite would do a hell of a lot of damage and it is not worth the risk - i will be ringing my trainer tomorrow and discussing these new issues with her and seeing waht she can reccomend but in the meantime i would love to hear from anyone that has or is facing similar issues.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009



    It seems to me like you're doing all the right things. There's probably more things you can do like crating him when you're not available to pay attention (eg training sessions) to him.

    Susan Garrett has a book called "Ruff Love" that outlines the techniques she uses for rescue dogs and puppies, and in particular for one of her more "sensitive" dogs named "decaf" who was fear aggressive with everything. It's mostly a very strict form of NILIF.

    NILIF, the way ALL dogs should be raised

    So for me it would be attach a long lead to the short one and shut the dane out - in a dog run or dane sized crate.

    But it also seems like you are not doing enough "relationship building" with him ie your "rate of re-inforcement" for being well behaved in your company is not high enough with not yummy enough treats to make him pleased to be with you. Ie you could spend more time training him good manners with really yummy treats and fun games?

    If he was 8 months old I would say he was in the adolescent - push the envelope - stage - which needs managing but usually passes. Some of the same management techniques might help you though. Eg no off lead time - must potty on lead, eat dinner in crate or on lead, etc. If he's on lead - he can't get up on the couch without your permission...

    Somehow he got a start on his dinner without permission and got to finish it and it all went to hell from there. Have you done "triangle of temptation" with him - my dog won't start her dinner unless I specifically tell her it's ok. And I've forgotten a couple of times and she's just sat there drooling and occasionally whining.

    If I hand feed her - I make her work for every mouthful eg basic obedience commands or a bit of free shaping.

  3. #3


    I was reading the NILF techinic & realised without knowing I use it alot.
    Tori's men aggression was helped hugely by her getting most of her daily food from the men. At first I just had them throwing it to her & once she would go near them we had them doing sits etc for a treat.
    I have a Darren also mines name is Kirk, lol, very hard but somehow you need to try & both get on the same page.
    Yes I find around 9mths my TM teens using push the boudries.
    Is he desexed?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Perth, WA


    Hey Guys thanks for the help so far, it is really appreciated and your encouragment comes at a time where i need it most with my boy.

    Hyacinth you are probably right about the relatioship building, i guess i been so focused on trying to fix these problems (and stressed about it too) that he probably picking up on it, he was fine today with his food and as i heard him get on the couch once without my permission and just said get off the couch from the other room and he got off straight away. I dont know mabye he was testing me but i dont want it to happen again. He may be a little stressed at the moment as he has been mouthing more than usual this past week, my work hours have changed ever so slightly so it may have set this behaviour off.

    Crazydog we had him desexed pretty much as soon as we got him (1 week after) he was 18 months old then and weve had him for two months. He didnt really seem to know what his boy bits where for but was just starting to realise that they where there - i would have prefered it be done earlier but obviously we didnt have him at a younger age!

    I have a few books in my shopping cart from amazon - the one you mentioned hyacinth, one called click to cal - healing the aggressive dog and the feisty fido one aswell

  5. #5


    Well thry say 6wks after the snip testostrone levels should be that of a desexed male so his bits arn't the prob, lol...................
    Maybe you should look into a new trainer or join a dog club.
    good luck...............

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Western Sydney


    one called click to cal - healing the aggressive dog and the feisty fido one aswell
    I am thinking of getting that book as well. Karen Pryor's book isn't it? I hope everything goes ok with your g/dane.
    I love cooking but I love eating even more.

  7. #7


    You've stated a few times that you ask him to do things and your partner lets him get away with things.
    It seems like he's got no strong leader or pack leader figure.
    A pack leader doesn't ask a dog to do things he's fair but firm.
    To me, for a dog that age it is well past the age of being asked to do things, it should respond to a command.
    I wouldn't want him in the house at all if he was showing that sort of aggression near a food bowl or the lounge. It seems like dominant aggression with the lounge too it could be a real problem if he's not taught some respect.
    I'd be looking into pack behaviour and trying to put him in his place as pack member and not the leader.

    If you feed him and then walk behind him while he's eating will he turn around ?
    If he wont take his eyes off you when he eats, you are not his pack leader, you are just a rival pack member so he thinks you're after his food.
    Everyone in the house needs to treat him consistently and your partner is making the problems worse, by letting him get away with stuff he is undermining the structure of the pack and relegating you to a lower status level in pack hierarchy than the dog - not acceptable with any dog especially a large breed showing signs of fear aggression.

  8. #8


    My wife is an experienced security dog handler and I got her to read through my previous post (after I posted it) and she said in no uncertain terms that dog should not be in house and and even questioned the suitability of that dog for a pet.
    Without knowing the dogs full history there is no way to know if the dog was mistreated as a pup or if it was the result of bad breeding or even a combination of both.
    She said that the dog could bite at any time it feels threatened.
    At the very least your partner needs to adjust his attitude towards the dog and establish a pack hierarchy where you are higher than the dog, I hope there are no kids involved.

    She says if it were us it would be the dog or her, I'd have to make a choice.

    Sorry to sound so harsh, that's her opinion.

  9. #9


    I too would jump all over this stuff if it was my dog but Bundy they do not beleive in pack leaders here.
    I do not think it's unfixable however but I think you need to not only take on the training advised here by another member but if it was me I also would be changing the whole way I think about & interact with my dog. If interested PM me.

  10. #10


    A quote from the puppy development calendar article from K9force

    "They can also start to show signs of dominance, good pack leadership should be exercised now, a large breed dog let go at this point can be quite a handful, yes at 18 weeks.. They can learn the skills they need to dominate you & exercise these skills when they get big & strong enough, it may be funny to watch a 16 week old pup growling at you, not so funny at 16 months & 40 plus kgs.."

    As far as it being unfixable I couldn't say, it could well be fixed with the right training methods (force will not work), maybe the best person for the job would be a woman in this case and then de-sensitise the dog to men a bit later.
    Fear based behaviour can be the most dangerous and will need a gentle but firm approach to rebuild the dogs confidence.

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