Her Dog's Aggression Is Worse After In-Kennel Training
A Bull Mastiff owner wrote me, with the following question:
"My problem comes in a 147-pound package. Mack is a 15 month-old Bull Mastiff. He has been in and out of training since he was 10 weeks old.
He was starting to show dominance aggression at around nine months, so I found a training facility that would in-kennel train him. He was there for seven weeks. When I got him back he seemed to have a bigger problem than when he left. I was told by the trainer that he showed no signs of aggression there. He also said that he would have to schedule an in-home session which would run me another $250+. As it is, I expected a whole lot more for my $1200.
He also told me I have to take him through the whole training course again myself starting at day one in order to establish my leadership role in the pack. I have done this and he does great when there are no strangers around but if a neighbor goes out into his yard or one of my brothers stops by, forget it. He goes into attack mode. No fear in it by the way. I'm at my wits end. My brother is telling me I'll have to have him put to sleep before he hurts someone. I definitely do not agree with this; I just need to know EXACTLY what to do.
Its hard to desensitize him to strangers when the ones that know him won't come around and if I take him out around people I have a hard time controlling him because he out weighs me by about 30 pounds. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate any.
Thank you for your time.
What your trainer said is right, and should have probably been done the first time. Your dog is seeing the kennel trainer as the Alpha and obeying him, but has no working relationship with you as the Alpha. This is the problem with in-kennel training, in that the dog gets no one-on-one work with the owner, who is supposed to be the Alpha and have that position firmly established through obedience and the Nothing In Life Is Free program.
For now, you will want to start from square one as though he has never been trained and teach him what the commands are. This might go a bit quicker than normal because of the previous obedience experience. Use a prong collar on him: it has been referred to many times as a hearing aid collar and used on dogs that outweigh their owners, much like your situation.
When you reach the correction phase, where you teach the dog that each and every command MUST be obeyed, be very firm. If he is out in the yard, don't give him freedom off-leash until he can be under control. Work obedience with him in the yard so he learns that even in that area, he should listen to you. This applies too when the neighbor appears on the scene. With the prong collar, you will be able to give motivational corrections, even though you are outweighed by the dog.
About the Author: Adam G. Katz is the author of the book, "Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer: An Insider's Guide To The Most Jealously Guarded Dog Training Secrets In History." Get a free copy of his report "Games To Play With Your Dog" when you sign up for his free weekly dog training tips e-zine at: http://www.dogproblems.com