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Hi All
I am having some dominance/behaviour problems with my Dogo Argentino puppy. He is 6 months old and his name is Nacho. We are doing the basic training and he is responding well. He is very well mannered and has a calm disposition. He will allow me to brush his teeth, trim his nails, open his mouth and get toys out of it, he allows me to put my hands in his bowl while eating and also take his food. He always waits for his food by either laying down or sitting. He almost always walks by my side and almost never pulls. I think it is safe to say that he views me as the pack leader. Even at the veterinarians he behaved very nicely and the doctor commented how well behaved he is. I also try to socialize him with dogs and children as much as possible. I have a 5 year old daughter.
A few days ago my wife and daughter were in the living room and Nacho was laying on his bed relaxing. He was not sleeping. My daughter tried to give him one of his chew toys and he growled at her. My wife corrected him.
Yesterday afternoon some children(10-12 years old) came into our yard(uninvited) to sell cookies. I didn't notice them,but he ran towards them and started barking. Needless to say that the children were very scared.
Last night we had some friends over with their daughters (4 and 9 years old). They have met Nacho plenty of times before. Nacho was in the kitchen laying on his bed when the oldest daughter went into the kitchen to ask for some ketchup from my wife. Nacho got up and he started sniffing in the air(the little girl was holding her plate with her food) and the girl lifted her plate higher in the air so that he would not get to it. Then he started barking at her. At that point I came in the kitchen, corrected him and then took him outside.
I want my dog to be as friendly as possible and children to be safe and not scared around my dog.
PLEASE HELP!
 

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I don't know that any of that is actual aggression. The growling was the dog warning your daughter that he didn't want to be bothered. I don't scold dogs for growling, as you want that behavior....I scold the child for bothering the dog ;). You don't want the dog to stop warning that he wants to be left alone, because the next step after the growl, if it goes unheeded, could be a bite. Eliminate the growling and you've lost your early warning system. The dog's bed is likely his safe place, where he goes when he wants to be left alone. Teach your daughter not to bother the dog when he's on his bed.

The other incidents sound like excitement, you know your dog, what kind of barking was it? Excited, "Oh, boy kids to play with!" or "You have FOOOD!! I want some! Oh boy, do I!" or snarling/warning/get off my property barking? If it's excited barking (likely since this is a puppy), work on helping your dog stay calm around kids. Reward for calm behavior. I'd leash the dog when kids are in the house and yard and treat and praise when the dog is sitting quietly and politely. Reward the desired behavior and don't let the dog get in a position to even engage in the unwanted behavior. I'd consult a trainer, they can help you determine the nature of the behavior and help you get the dog calmer around kids. A good trainer or behaviorist can also make sure that there is no aggressive intent.

As an aside, IMO, the "pack leader" stuff is nonsense. I don't think that domestic dogs really do live in "packs" and they certainly know that people are not dogs. They do things for you, and behave the way you want them to because they want to please you, not because they are intimidated by you.
 

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This was not aggression.

First off, the Pack Leader stuff is, in fact, nonsense. Dogs are not wolves and do not recognize an alpha. It's one thing to be a guiding hand to your dog, but to think yourself his leader will get you in trouble. Dominance is not a thing with dogs. It literally does not exist. Your dog is not, and will not, try to dominate you. Believing in that, trying to get your dog to submit to you, trying to dominate your dog, that's going to cause you more issues than it's worth. You can't fight a battle that's not there.

Secondly, never correct (punish) growling. Growling is a form of communication and you punish it, then you take it away, and you take your warning with it. The dog will not warn you, it will go straight to biting. As someone else here put it, taking out the growling doesn't change the way the dog feels, it just takes away your only chance to fix your mistake.


Many dogs don't like to be bothered while they're trying to rest. I know I don't. Let sleeping dogs lie. Don't let the kids bother the dog while he's resting.

Barking does not always mean aggression. It could've been excitement, just communication.

How are you "correcting" him?
 

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Agreed with the others... I think the growling and barking was likely communication and excitement rather than aggression.

Be very careful "correcting" your dog for this type of behavior. Depending on the "correction" used, it is very easy to inadvertently create anxiety of children if the dog is corrected consistently in the presence of children for "offenses" he doesn't understand. Better to teach alternative behaviors (for example, sit/stay), supervise, and teach the kids how to behave around dogs rather than correcting a 6 month old puppy for barking IMO.
 

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Agreed with the others... I think the growling and barking was likely communication and excitement rather than aggression.

Be very careful "correcting" your dog for this type of behavior. Depending on the "correction" used, it is very easy to inadvertently create anxiety of children if the dog is corrected consistently in the presence of children for "offenses" he doesn't understand. Better to teach alternative behaviors (for example, sit/stay), supervise, and teach the kids how to behave around dogs rather than correcting a 6 month old puppy for barking IMO.
Sassafras is right. It's entirely possible you are creating this problem by "correcting" the dog every time he interacts with children. Dogs don't make the connections humans do, so instead of thinking "oh, I acting bad, I shouldn't do that", he learns that "children are here- I get hurt when children are around, I hate children!"

You really need to dump the dominance routine and learn how to clicker train before something bad happens. This is a good place to start.
 

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From the Wikipedia, "The Dogo Argentino can be good with kids if properly socialized at early age."

Note the CAN be. You bought a large dog that was bred to fiercely hunt large game animals. Should it ever turn on a child, it could kill it.

There's only one answer to your post and that's professional dog training now. Don't even bother with the other answers. This isn't a 'my Pomeranian pees on the floor question'. What would you be doing right now if that dog had bitten one of those kids in the back yard. You'd have a lot of people pushing you to have it be put down.

I'm not sure what your motivations were in getting a dog like this, but it's not the ideal animal for a family pet. You have a lot of training ahead of you and if you don't do the work, you could easily find yourself being sued.

Time to be responsible here and get some professional help. Should that aggression towards kids not be taken care of, you should look at rehoming the dog.

Kids > Dogs, period.
 

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People on this thread have given you good advice, and I wouldn't ignore it. A professional is a great idea if you feel this issue is beyond your pay grade, so to speak, but go for a certified behaviorist, not a trainer. Some trainers are excellent, but when it comes to behavioral issues, too many of them believe in all of that alpha junk and end up making things much worse.

I have some good links for you to read:

De-Bunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory
AVSAB Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals
Misconceptions of the Mythical Alpha Dog
L. David Mech's site

Training aids that are good:

Digital Dog Training Textbook
Nothing In Life Is Free

And an article about growling:

Thank your dog for growling

Lots to read! Good luck. :)
 
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