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Question
Posted by: Connie | 2011-08-28

Stubborn great dane

Hi

I have a 13 month old castrated male grat dane who is giving us beans ! He is extremely stubborn and wilfull and we have a real problem getting him to obey commands. We have been in training with him since he was 10 weeks old. Even the trainer has given up ! We have had no problems with our other danes and our weimeranar who are all extremely obedient. This dane pup is the youngest in the pack (and the biggest !) And we have used the same breeder (reputable, registered, award winning dogs) for all our danes, and this one is the only one we have so much trouble with. We have also been to behaviour classes - with no results !

We love him to bits because he is extremely lovable, just very difficult to handle when on walks and at school .

Any advice please ?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi Connie, it sounds to me that the behaviour that he is exhibiting at school and on walks could be fear related. A lot of people dont realize that when a dog acts up in school situations it is simply because it cant cope! When a dog is acting our of character in any situaion it normally exhibits one (or more) of what we call the 5'F's i.e. Fight, Flight, Fooling around (distraction, ignoring, acting like a hooligan etc), Freeze (even small few second increments) and in extreme situations Faint. I have dealt with a lot of dogs like this and Fear is always at the bottom of it. As soon as the dog realizes that your are acting like a proper pack leader and react accordingly, the behaviour lessens.
Not having more background, I could be wrong, but i would suggest you bring in basic House Rules (you can find these for free at www.friendsofthedog.co.za) and especially put your boy onto a 'work to ear' regime, making him work for every single piece of food by having the days allowance in your hand and getting him to come, sit, down etc for every bit. Dont do this just with the food, make him work for attention, before playing, before walks etc, by asking for a behaviour (such as a sit) before dishing out what he wants.
I would also suggest you bring in the 'watch me' exercise (also on website) and when a dog looks at you and away from any fearful situation it is exhibiting what is called a Calming Signal and this serves to calm the dog down and also ups you in the combined human/canine hierarchy.

Finally, if he ignores you, ignore him back! If he does not come when called quickly walk awy and let him see you do that. As he comes running up (and he will), act as if nothing has happened, ask for a sit and give treat and verbal praise.
Do try these and let me know how you go, thanks Scotty

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3
Our users say:
Posted by: Scotty | 2011-09-07

Hi again, I really do think this is happening from stress and possibly from feeling your stress in a group situation. Dogs pick up on our body language more than we realize it and it really does affect them. Do try the Watch Me exercise, not just practising at home but out on walks etc. also get him to ''work for his living'' by using daily meals and feeding a cube at a time using the Watch Me and Recall.
I know you may not like this, but i really would suggest desensitizing him to a muzzle. It is not that he really needs it, more that it will make you feel calmer as he cant do any damage and the dog will pick up on this immediately. also there are accupuncture pressure points all along the muzzle that help to calm a dog, and the muzzle normally touches these, helping to calm the dog further.
Once you have the Watch etc in place, start going to school again, but work him from a distance from other dogs, and slowly and gradually get him closer and closer. Do have a look on my Friends of the Dog site for information on the Watch Me, Real Reliable Recall, House Rules articles which will help. If you are still having problems I would then suggest getting in a behaviourist to assist and doing some rehab work with other dogs with him. Good luck and do let me know how it goes. Thanks Scotty

Reply to Scotty
Posted by: Connie | 2011-08-29

Thanks for the advice Scotty. He already does most of these things. He sits, waits and goes down for food and attention. He knows he will be ignored when he is excited and betond hearing. He is the most fearless dog I''ve come across and we have to watch at school as he can be aggressive to certain dogs in class (they also respond/start each other off). They have all been put into different classes as well. The main problem is that he listens - eventually and when it suits him. Because he is the biggest he uses his size and is thus dominant in the pack (even though we castrated him at 16 weeks when we noticed his aggression starting with other dogs). On his own he is an absolute darling, but we can''t seem to get him to calm down on a group walk. On the flip side if he is separated from the group he pines and is miserable - he once tried to jump the gate to get into the car with the other ddogs. He is not aggressive to the pack at home or to most dogs. There only seem to be a few who trigger him. We are so confused !

Reply to Connie
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011-08-29

Hi Connie, it sounds to me that the behaviour that he is exhibiting at school and on walks could be fear related. A lot of people dont realize that when a dog acts up in school situations it is simply because it cant cope! When a dog is acting our of character in any situaion it normally exhibits one (or more) of what we call the 5'F's i.e. Fight, Flight, Fooling around (distraction, ignoring, acting like a hooligan etc), Freeze (even small few second increments) and in extreme situations Faint. I have dealt with a lot of dogs like this and Fear is always at the bottom of it. As soon as the dog realizes that your are acting like a proper pack leader and react accordingly, the behaviour lessens.
Not having more background, I could be wrong, but i would suggest you bring in basic House Rules (you can find these for free at www.friendsofthedog.co.za) and especially put your boy onto a 'work to ear' regime, making him work for every single piece of food by having the days allowance in your hand and getting him to come, sit, down etc for every bit. Dont do this just with the food, make him work for attention, before playing, before walks etc, by asking for a behaviour (such as a sit) before dishing out what he wants.
I would also suggest you bring in the 'watch me' exercise (also on website) and when a dog looks at you and away from any fearful situation it is exhibiting what is called a Calming Signal and this serves to calm the dog down and also ups you in the combined human/canine hierarchy.

Finally, if he ignores you, ignore him back! If he does not come when called quickly walk awy and let him see you do that. As he comes running up (and he will), act as if nothing has happened, ask for a sit and give treat and verbal praise.
Do try these and let me know how you go, thanks Scotty

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