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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
If you've seen some of my other posts over the past year you may know some of this history already, but I'm getting more concerned about Kane. He's exhibiting signs of dog aggression and I'm at a loss.

A bit of history/information:
Kane is half Boxer, half Cane Corso. He's a year old (neutered) and we've had him since he was about 13 weeks old. Personality-wize at home he's a super affectionate and cuddly dog. He loves to give kisses and is always wagging his tail. He seems to be very "soft" when it comes to training/discipline. He's not very treat-motivated either.

He has some separation anxiety, particularly if Pepper (our other dog who I'll describe later) isn't around or if my husband is gone. It's the worst if they're both gone. I have taken him to work with me many times without them and he's okay with that though.

We also have a 3-year-old female Boxer/Rottweiler (Pepper). She is very high energy and rambunctious. Very food motivated and LOVES people and other dogs. I've noticed a bit of resource guarding with her though since we got Kane. We've had Pepper since she was 7 weeks old.

The two dogs get along wonderfully most of the time. Pepper was still very young at heart when we got Kane and just wanted to play and play and play. I suspect a bit of littermate syndrome with Kane because of this, even though she's way older. Most of the time their inseparable. But they have "spats" every now and then. They seem really violent and loud, but they don't bite each other, they've never drawn blood and it's over within a minute usually. These "disagreements" seem to happen with food, treats, or high value toys around so we are aware of the triggers and can minimize the frequency.

Now on to the aggression with other dogs. Their have been 3 instances where there's been a problem.
1 - When Kane was about 4 months old we were walking them both when we were approached by two off-leash Great Dane mixes. They sniffed Pepper and then ignored her and went over to Kane. Within seconds there was a "spat" (as I call them). All noise, but no damage. Both other dogs were on top of Kane and my husband had to grab his back legs and slide him out from under them and hold him up in the air. One of the dogs even jumped up at him in the air. The owners came and leashed the dogs and we carried on, trying not to make a big deal about it. We passed the same dogs on the way home (they were now on leash) and Kane growled at them as they passed.
2 - A couple of months ago I picked the dogs up from daycare and was told that Kane had gone after another dog who didn't want to play with him and tried to bite his legs. I didn't think too much about this because that's what dogs do when they play. But with his personality and the "spats" at home, I keep it in mind. I also know they probably wouldn't have said anything at the daycare unless they felt it was necessary. He had been banned from daycare in the spring because he wasn't neutered and was becoming too "friendly" and pushy with the other dogs. But I chalked that up mostly to hormones. I hoped things would get better after he was neutered, which was in June.
3- Today when I picked the dogs up from daycare (they go once or twice a week) I was told he had had another incident. Apparently he, Pepper and a couple other dogs were playing outside and another bigger dog came out to join them and Kane "went after him" aggressively. The manager who I was talking with didn't see it but said it was bad enough to make his employees quite uncomfortable. We discussed sending him to daycare without Pepper to see if he reacts any differently, but it's infrequent enough that I don't know if it would make any difference. I suppose it's worth a try but I don't want to make anything worse either. I would be sick if he got in a real fight and someone got hurt.

So that's Kane's life story. It's not often, but it's enough. And the fact that he and Pepper have spats too lets me know something's not right. Honestly at home I can't tell if it's Pepper or Kane who's starting it, but my hunch says Kane. Or they're feeding off each other's state of mind.

As far as humans go - he doesn't trust anyone initially. People have to earn his trust. With new people he barks and backs away. In an outdoors situation he's okay to walk right by people as long as they don't look at him, talk to him, or try to reach for him. People will earn his trust quicker if they use a high pitch, cutesy voice. He likes that. He seems to trust women quicker than men.

Thoughts/suggestions/critisism? I'm open to all. Ask me for more information if you need to.

I don't want to have an aggressive dog. The last thing I want to do is to unknowingly make it worse.
 

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The situation with the Danes doesn't really concern me. Those dogs just attacked your dog, of course your dog is going to be uncomfortable and growl at them.

The daycare incidents it's really hard to say without having seen what happened. Do they have toys at daycare? Nothing about it screams OH MY GOD THIS DOG IS AGGRESSIVE to me. I mean, maybe not a candidate for daycare, which is fine, many dogs aren't but that doesn't make them aggressive. Maybe he just needs specific playmates matched to his energy level and play style.
 

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I would ask for a statement from the people witnessing the Daycare incident. It couldn't of been that bad if your not banned now surely.
The reason I'd question it is because just because a dog has reacted doesn't mean they're the cause or the "bad dog". Dogs can be rude and then another dog can over correct them by accident and that's ok as long as a dog isn't hurt IMO.
I find people tend to always blame the dog who reacts and that's not always fair or right.
 

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I agree with Ireth0, from what I've read I'm not too concerned. I know personally if a dog with a rougher/more aggressive play style tried to get my dogs to play with them, they would correct them (which would look like a scuffle to us). Kinda sounds like what happened in that first day care scenario you wrote about. With the other one, it's hard to tell what exactly happened but I find it a little hard to believe he just ran over and went after him to attack him. If there was no blood drawn and it was easily broken up/didn't even have to be broken up I wouldn't think that was the case. And with the Great Dane thing, I wouldn't even add that to the list of why you think he might be dog aggressive. Those dogs attacked him for no reason (other than they were poorly handled) and of course he's going to be afraid of them.

Not every dog is going to be dog friendly so to speak. But just because he isn't a good candidate for day care or the dog park doesn't make him dog aggressive. I would just try to make sure he has good experiences when he passes other dogs on walks to prevent it from going any further.

Also, he is a Cane Corso mix so I'm not sure what you were expecting as far as his personality with people goes but that sounds pretty spot on to me.
 

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Boxers (and Bostons and sometimes pit types) all have a sort of play style that can really, really, tick off other dogs. If Kane's not taking 'correction' well but is yelling back, or is just offending them and they're getting uncomfortable and he's reading them wrong, it's going to create an issue.

Basically, to me he doesn't sound DA, so much as he sounds high energy, physical, and a bad fit for day care and dog park settings - basically play with random dogs.

My Boston is very, very much the same. She plays 'rudely', upsets other dogs, then gets TICKED OFF because they're annoyed with her. Never turns into a fight - she just gets loud and 'yells' back, but she also isn't a dog I'd toss into a free play situation with unknown dogs. With our dogs she's fine; they know her play style. Even they get irritated by her but they know her well and can get away from her easily because they're in a house and not stuck together in an enclosed yard.

But that's all conjecture based on breed, description and guess work.
 

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I agree with everyone else that you shouldn't be overly worried about his behavior. With proper management I think you can keep issues to a minimum. Can you leave them both at home during the day instead of daycare? My adult dogs do fine alone while I'm at work.
 

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The stuff with people, I think isn't surprising or all that concerning given his breed mix. I wouldn't call him "aggressive" based on that behavior, since he's perfectly willing to live and let live if strangers ignore him - but at the same time he is a dog you will probably always need to manage introductions to strangers (and manage around strangers in general) as well as a lot of positive association building. But at the end of the day, he's a Cane Corso X. He can't be something he's not.

The dog stuff... I don't know, it's so hard to say without a better explanation from the daycare worker ("it made me uncomfortable" tells you exactly squat about what happened) and/or seeing it yourself. I hate when people (talking about them, not you here) use the descriptor "going after" because it also doesn't say anything about the situation or the dog's behavior. He "went after" another dog means... what, exactly? And what was the context? It's essentially meaningless as a stand-alone descriptor. Someone watching my dogs free play in the backyard would probably say at some point that someone "went after" someone else, probably more than once. So I think you would need a better explanation of the situation, observe yourself, or have a good trainer or behaviorist evaluate him to know how concerned to be. Me personally, I would be paying attention but not yet panicking, kwim?

Having said that, even if he is not "aggressive", he may not be a candidate for the type of group play that happens at a daycare or group play. Most dogs aren't, IMO. Squash could probably do it because he's the king of de-escalation, but he wouldn't enjoy it. The rest of mine, no. It doesn't make them bad or aggressive dogs, any more than it makes me a bad or aggressive human because I don't care for clubbing (although there are other things that make me terrible :p ). Maybe he doesn't take correction well. Maybe he can't control his arousal/excitement level and tends to escalate small scuffles. Maybe he's afraid of a certain type of dog after the incident with the Danes. Maybe his play style annoys other dogs who don't take correction well or can't control their arousal/excitement levels. In a way, it doesn't matter to the daycare - they just want a harmonious group of dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you for all the feedback so far - this is great information!

It couldn't of been that bad if your not banned now surely.
I thought that too. I even asked if he should stop coming and they said to keep bringing him.

Also, he is a Cane Corso mix so I'm not sure what you were expecting as far as his personality with people goes but that sounds pretty spot on to me.
I think maybe this is why I'm being cautious. Because I know the breed needs to be managed properly. But yeah maybe daycare's just not for him.

Boxers (and Bostons and sometimes pit types) all have a sort of play style that can really, really, tick off other dogs. If Kane's not taking 'correction' well but is yelling back, or is just offending them and they're getting uncomfortable and he's reading them wrong, it's going to create an issue.

Basically, to me he doesn't sound DA, so much as he sounds high energy, physical, and a bad fit for day care and dog park settings - basically play with random dogs.

My Boston is very, very much the same. She plays 'rudely', upsets other dogs, then gets TICKED OFF because they're annoyed with her. Never turns into a fight - she just gets loud and 'yells' back, but she also isn't a dog I'd toss into a free play situation with unknown dogs. With our dogs she's fine; they know her play style. Even they get irritated by her but they know her well and can get away from her easily because they're in a house and not stuck together in an enclosed yard.
Cpt Jack I think you've hit the nail on the head. I've actually said it before to my husband that he seems to get offended that Pepper got annoyed with him and tried to correct him. Then HE gets mad because he has the "I won't back down" attitude. I've just never had a dog with his personality before so it's a real learning experience for me. I'm glad to know that it doesn't get any worse with your dogs. Maybe that's just the way he is.

Can you leave them both at home during the day instead of daycare? My adult dogs do fine alone while I'm at work.
My husband and I both work full time Monday to Friday so that's a lot of alone time. I do think Kane would be okay not going to daycare, but Pepper is high strung and really needs it or she gets bratty and destructive. The issue is that Kane doesn't like to be alone. The last time I sent Pepper but left Kane home he broke out of his crate - his wire crate - and spent the day wandering the house alone. Other than a few accidents to clean up he really didn't get into any trouble though. I think leaving him in the house alone will be an option once he's a bit older and fully housebroken 100%.

The stuff with people, I think isn't surprising or all that concerning given his breed mix. I wouldn't call him "aggressive" based on that behavior, since he's perfectly willing to live and let live if strangers ignore him - but at the same time he is a dog you will probably always need to manage introductions to strangers (and manage around strangers in general) as well as a lot of positive association building. But at the end of the day, he's a Cane Corso X. He can't be something he's not.
I agree completely. I don't think he'll ever be aggressive to people if we keep managing him the way we are with people.

The dog stuff... I don't know, it's so hard to say without a better explanation from the daycare worker ("it made me uncomfortable" tells you exactly squat about what happened) and/or seeing it yourself. I hate when people (talking about them, not you here) use the descriptor "going after" because it also doesn't say anything about the situation or the dog's behavior. He "went after" another dog means... what, exactly? And what was the context? It's essentially meaningless as a stand-alone descriptor. Someone watching my dogs free play in the backyard would probably say at some point that someone "went after" someone else, probably more than once. So I think you would need a better explanation of the situation, observe yourself, or have a good trainer or behaviorist evaluate him to know how concerned to be. Me personally, I would be paying attention but not yet panicking, kwim?
Yeah I agree with this too. I'm going to see if I can talk to the person who saw it happen, or ask if they have cameras back there.

Having said that, even if he is not "aggressive", he may not be a candidate for the type of group play that happens at a daycare or group play. Most dogs aren't, IMO. Squash could probably do it because he's the king of de-escalation, but he wouldn't enjoy it. The rest of mine, no. It doesn't make them bad or aggressive dogs, any more than it makes me a bad or aggressive human because I don't care for clubbing (although there are other things that make me terrible ). Maybe he doesn't take correction well. Maybe he can't control his arousal/excitement level and tends to escalate small scuffles. Maybe he's afraid of a certain type of dog after the incident with the Danes. Maybe his play style annoys other dogs who don't take correction well or can't control their arousal/excitement levels. In a way, it doesn't matter to the daycare - they just want a harmonious group of dogs.
It's good to have other people say it's okay to be that way. I'm only used to Pepper so anything other than how she is is different to me and I think "why doesn't he play well, why is he being mean", etc. Especially being inexperienced with his type of breed and the traits that come with it, it's nice to hear it doesn't make him a bad dog :)
 

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I would agree with the statement that he is a cane corso mix and you can't make him what he is not. I would take this serious, that action at the lowest level is needed for him at this time. I would take him out of day care at this time to take the opportunity for escalation to happen. Every engagement is learning for the next time. If your noticing a slight off change , quick to be snitty, engage instead of being tolerant , ignore. A good time out re-group to help them reconnect with structure in the home and with you to help them get through this growing phase to be a stronger individual .. If I could go back in my own house hold, I should of did a time out and regroup to help Adele , J is a lip service type dog and everyone in the household ignores her grumpiness , passive displays.. It was't that J had changed, but it was that Adele had decided not to tolerate it, and it was slow tiny signals from Adele in hind sight NOW,, that I could of helped Adele have more of her space to grow stronger as an individual without having to deal with J's random behaviors, Only a growing phase to pass through and I missed that opportunity for her when it was critical for her. (life stage timing can be everything as to what they learn ). Adele's a great dog, high tolerance and her own perfectionist having structure doing the rotation now.. Something to consider for your situation...
 

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I agree with what everyone else is saying. Kane is likely going to mature more and more, which doesn't mean 'more dog aggressive' but *could* mean more selective, have harder lines about what he will and won't tolerate, be less interested in playing with other dogs, be more direct about how he deals with uncomfortable situations. Any of these may or may not happen. But given his breed, I would not be surprised if he became less dog friendly (which still doesn't mean dog aggressive) as time goes on.

If Kane was my dog I wouldn't be bringing him to daycare or any dog park-like situations (ie, large groups of dogs mingling). Yes, if he plays well 99% of the time it is an awesome outlet and source of stimulation. But every time something negative like that happens you are set back a bit. And a lot of the times it can increase the chance of a reaction happening in the future. I would be especially worried about not being there to judge the situation for myself. Who knows which dog started what and how that affects how he sees certain types of dogs or situations in the future. Will he be more anxious about large dogs? A dog approaching at a certain speed from a certain angle? A dog jumping on him? A dog jumping on him while a person is gently grabbing his collar? Unless you can see it for yourself or the daycare worker is enough of a behaviorist to describe the situation objectively and precisely, you will never know. And Kane may not be affected at all in the long term by these incidents. But you need to decide for yourself if the chances of repercussions are worth sending him to daycare for. There is no right or wrong answer, since Kane does not sound like a truly aggressive dog. There is only what you are willing to risk.

In terms of his situation at home, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I think it is good to let dogs sort things out themselves as helps both dogs set boundaries with each other. On the other hand, depending on the situation it may or may not escalate into a true fight one day. I think you are right in trying to prevent them as much as possible. Supervision is key, as always. And I don't think it would hurt to teach both dogs to play games like teaching each dog to wait for his/her own treat, allowing YOU to moderate toys instead of letting themselves try to moderate, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the reply Canyx. I worry that if I stop sending him to daycare that he won't get any socialization at all (other than with Pepper) and that could make it worse. Do you think that's true? Also at home I did recently consider not having any toys out except when I decide they each get one. But I'm afraid that might make them fight over toys more because now they're even higher value. Pepper could become even more possessive than she is already.

I do generally make them wait their turn for treats, but I could do some more practice with that.
 

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If he's practicing bickering with other dogs, that's not really socialization though. I agree that it's better that he not practice that.

You can still socialize. I would never take Toast to a daycare or other group play and expect him to like strange dogs, but I do want him to be tolerant/neutral towards them. So I often go to our local dog park and hang out across the street from the entrance with him. We watch the dogs come and go while practicing simple things like nose touches and LAT, and getting yummy treats. He develops some positive associations but isn't forced into confrontational situations.
 

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there is a difference of development between adolescence and adulthood... the difference between (me, myself, and I) which is the adolescent stage, and as an adult that is secure with themselves that those petty things don't matter to them to react at them. They are going to develop to one side or the other and that will be what they are learning at this stage. which out come they are practicing to handle it, is what they are learning. react/engage on it or ignore. Taking away the making their own choices and replacing it with let me show you choices and out comes can help them develop towards the ignore not important side of this phase. to me it's a phase , they need help with at this time.
 

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"Socialization" most commonly describes a very specific window of development that Kane is beyond. But more importantly, socialization doesn't mean making your dog social with other dogs, but rather not perceiving other dogs as threats. I think 'socialization' should really be called 'desensitization' or 'normalizing' because a lot of people think 'socialize a dog' means 'get my dog to love everything.' Whereas the key to socialization is 'don't react to things like other dogs, umbrellas, bearded men, etc..."

That said, it is great if Kane could continue to have more positive experiences with dogs throughout his life but Sass mentioned a good point. Personally, especially because I have a dog that is horrible in dog park/daycare situations, I aim for: 1. Owner is the best thing, even in the presence of other dogs 2. But if there is another dog, that's okay and I don't need to react. I have no expectations of my dog 'liking' other dogs. And in fact, I can see that as fun for gatherings where you can watch your dog play with others, and its a great form of exercise... But in what life situation is it necessary? What's absolutely necessary for me is that my dog not react in the presence of other dogs and situations don't escalate into a fight. I would go a step further and say even IF your dog was a social butterfly it is still important to teach handler focus and teach the dog not every dog in the world is their friend. My dog hasn't been in 'social' dog situations in years and last week we were at a dog event attended by hundreds of people and their dogs. He was wearing a muzzle and was completely fine, zero focus on other dogs, brief and polite interactions when they came right up to us (I made sure they were brief), and he was more preoccupied with hiking and sniffing.
 
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