How to Prevent Aggression in Your Cane Corso

Updated on February 20, 2018
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds, and those that suffer from aggression problems.

The Cane Corso can appear aggressive even when relaxed.
The Cane Corso can appear aggressive even when relaxed. | Source

If you have been fortunate enough to add one of these great dogs to your family you must realize that one of the main reasons people give them up to rescue organizations, or take them in to shelters, is their aggressive behavior.

It is not that Cane Corso are harder to train and socialize than some other breeds; it is just that a dog that weighs over 100 pounds must be especially easy to handle or things get out of control quickly. Not everyone can handle a dog that size.

How are you going to prevent your Cane Corso from getting out of your control?

Socialization of your Cane Corso puppy should start early.
Socialization of your Cane Corso puppy should start early. | Source

Avoiding Excessive Aggression

  1. Work on early socialization: The period before 16 weeks is vital to your Cane Corso. If the puppy is kept locked up at the kennel, or is at his new home but is not taken out during this period, he will become nervous around anyone or anything he does not know. Some trainers will tell you that it is enough to take your dog to "puppy parties" and allow him to meet strange humans and other dogs. I think the Cane Corso needs more. Puppies need to be taken out, even before their last set of vaccines, and walked around so that they can meet other people and other dogs. Yes, there is some danger of infectious disease. When the sensitive socialization period is missed, however, the best opportunity for teaching your dog is over.
  2. Start early obedience training: As soon as you get your Cane Corso home you should start training. Do not wait until he is an adolescent and too strong to handle. Young puppies can learn the basics early, so get started today.
  3. Teach bite inhibition: This is important when dealing with such a large dog, even if your puppy is well socialized and he learned some bite inhibition with his mother and littermates. There is a lot of controversy on the best way to do this, as some trainers recommend “scruffing” the dog if he bites. Others recommend shreiking loudly to startle the puppy if his teeth touch your skin. If your Cane Corso puts his teeth on you while playing, tell him “no”, remove your hand, and stop playing with him for at least five minutes. Your dog should be upset at the loss of his companion and you should not need to scruff or yell at him.
  4. Provide leadership: A Cane Corso will watch your behavior more than most of the small lap dogs. You can provide leadership by making him sit before being fed, making him wait at the door before you let him out, and telling him to lie down and wait quietly while you are busy eating or working. The best way of providing leadership, and decreasing your puppy´s chances of showing dominance aggression, is by starting with obedience classes. Positive training with no force is best for the Cane Corso.
  5. Continue socialization: Taking your dog out for walks will not make up for a lack of early socialization. If your puppy was never taken out of the yard for the first four months, he will be shy and things are going to be difficult for you. If he was not properly socialized as a puppy, or even if he was, you should socialize him as an adult to reduce shyness and lessen the chances of him developing aggression to other dogs. Shyness may be learned or inherited and your Cane Corso may run and hide or stand and bite. When you take your dog out for a walk each day bring along a bag of his favorite treats, something very special. Each time a new person meets him allow them to give him a treat. Your Cane Corso should realize that meeting a stranger equals getting a special treat.
  6. Stop aggression as soon as your dog starts: If your dog shows any signs of aggression as he grows older, you need to let him know that it is not okay. Mildly aggressive signs like staring down your visitors, growling, or even barking, should be controlled by obedience commands. Tell your dog to sit and then lie down so that he will be in a less dominant posture.
  7. Never encourage aggression: The members of this breed of dog are natural guardians and are usually suspicious of strangers, other animals, and sometimes even of objects. You do not need to teach them to be wary of new situations, and excessive praise or encouragement (when he is growling or acting nervous/aggressive) may lead to an excessively aggressive dog.

Will Neutering My Cane Corso Stop His Aggression?

Neutering is not the answer.

The surgery may be effective in controlling aggression with other male dogs, but it does not always help. It is never effective in controlling aggression to people.

Your dog needs your leadership.
Your dog needs your leadership. | Source

What if My Cane Corse is Aggressive With Other Dogs?

If you notice your Cane Corso begin to be aggressive with other dogs when he is still young, please use the methods I described above to stop this behavior. If this happens when he is older, you can try some of the methods in dog to dog aggressiveness to control it. I use these methods in training dog aggressive dogs but you need to be aware that sometimes nothing works.

The best way to control aggression is to prevent it.

Socialization should continue when he becomes an adult.
Socialization should continue when he becomes an adult. | Source

Should I Consult a Behaviorist?

This breed of dog is not as easy to handle as others because of his size and the work that he was developed for. If you are not able to handle your Cane Corso´s aggression problems you should consult an animal behaviorist before making any decisions as to his future.

If you do not know of any behaviorists in your area, talk to your vet or a local dog trainer. They will often be able to give you advice on where you can get more help for your dog.

Your Cane Corso was developed to be tough. He was selected to hunt and later was used for personal protection, which is why he might seem to be impervious to a lot of pain and might seem different than some other breeds. I believe that this dog is not like a wolf, though, and will be loyal and not despise you and try to take you down if he sees a moment of weakness. It is everyone else you need to worry about.

In order for your Cane Corso to learn to be okay with those others, he needs plenty of your time, gentle training, and adequate leadership.

Take the time to teach your Cane Corso and he will reward you for it.

You should train your Cane Corso to be comfortable during his physical exam.
You should train your Cane Corso to be comfortable during his physical exam. | Source

Questions & Answers

  • I plan on getting a Cane Corso puppy, but my brother also plan on getting a smaller breed puppy; how do I make this work?

    Some larger breed dogs, like the Cane Corso, get along just fine with smaller dogs, especially if introduced when still puppies. Be sure to read articles on how to introduce a new dog to your other and read this as it might help: http://hubpages.com/dogs/my-dog-is-suddenly-aggres...

  • I'm getting a three-year-old Cane Corso. From what I've seen, she's a giant baby. And she's smart. Would she be good for service dog work? She has no aggression whatsoever, and again, she's a giant baby and smart.

    They are not usually a popular choice for a service dog, but not because of aggression. They are large and intimidating, so it depends on what type of service work she would be trained for.

  • I have a 6 month old cane corso she has been to training here and there she is overall has a calm temperament; when she plays with my sons she ends up jumping on them and biting them and she goes crazy. I'm the one who she looks as a leader and two times she has tried to bite me while I'm trying to calm her down. Shes just going to get bigger and stronger what should I do?

    How does your CC respond to commands? If this were my puppy, the first thing I would tell her when she started to get rambunctious is "down". She should respond to you and to your sons the same way--when she is told that command she should learn to respond.

    You are soon going to have a big, hard to control dog. If you do not teach her to respond now, to you and to your sons, you are going to have problems.

    If she does respond perfectly to all of you, the only other thing to do is to stop playing with her and working her up.

  • We got my Cane Corso at seven-months-old, and we want to get rid of him after a couple of days because he tried to go toward my son's girlfriend because he’s never seen her before. Do you have any tips on how to train him because we really want to keep him?

    A seven-month-old puppy has gone past the sensitive socialization period. It is still possible to get him used to new things but it is not as easy as when your dog is young. Plan on spending at least twice as much effort for every little thing.

    1. Obedience train your dog. This is vital. If your dog does not sit, lie down, and stay on command 100% of the time you have work to do. If you can not handle this get a trainer.

    2. Socialize your dog. You need to expose him to everything, every day. Take him for walks, introduce him to new people, etc. Find out if you have a canine good citizens program in your area (it is sponsored by the AKC).

    3. Have your dog neutered.

    This is not going to be easy. If you stick with it, however, you will have the best dog ever.

  • I adopted a Cane Corso a year ago from someone who basically kept him in the backyard for the first 3 years of the dogs life. The dog is affectionate to me, but not socialized with other dogs and people. He knows basic commands (2,000$ on training so far), but he is overly protective of me. He snapped at a friend in my kitchen, so I don't have people over. Will he ever get better with people and dogs?

    Dogs that are not socialized in their sensitive socialization period (up to about 16 weeks) are difficult to work with and sometimes never get over their fears. I have trained some aggressive dogs that have been "stunted" by the vet telling the owner to not let the puppy out of the yard until all vaccines are given, at about 16 weeks.

    Sometimes, with intense socialization, these dogs will get better. Often they will not.

    The problem with a potentially aggressive Cane Corso can not be overemphasized. Even if the dog responds 99.9% of the time, if he breaks loose and bites someone he is going to be branded a "dangerous dog". The next time this occurs animal control will probably take him and put him down.

    The only potential solution you have is to socialize the dog even more. Make sure that he is used to going everywhere, and have everyone that meets him give him a treat. If this were my dog I would never take him out of the house without a good muzzle, both for his safety and the safety of others.

    If you want to read more about some techniques that might help, you can read my article at https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-to-dog-aggression

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    • profile image

      letoyamba@gmail.com 

      4 days ago

      Read

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      3 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Julie, the puppy is only 9 weeks old? You should feed him the same amount but 4 times a day, as he is probably usually hungry. He is not being aggressive, just playing and testing his boundaries. If you take puppy obedience classes he will calm down.

    • profile image

      Julielees@sasktel.net 

      3 months ago

      cane corso has biting and showing teeth,growling with 9 week old blue cane He is taking out side for walks also play time! He is on a raw diet and is always hungry as well He is taught to sit and wait before getting his food He is feed 3 Times a day ! Please can you suggest anything ?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      3 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      jessy, your CC mix is at the age where she is first testing limits. If you do not get things under control now this will be hard to deal with.

      When she jumps up and bites, tell her NO, tell her sit, then tell her down. If she is not obedience trained already, and obeying you when you tell her to sit and down, that is the first thing you need to do. Your CC will respond to positive reiforcement training; she will not respond if you do not know how to control things.

      Walking away is definitely not going to solve things.

    • profile image

      Jessy 

      3 months ago

      I have a five more month old female Cane Corso mix.Can she be showing signs of aggression?? she jumps up and bites when I tell her to stop or correct her she still jumps up and bites, she could be calm for a while then all of a sudden she begins to act crazy ,run around and throws herself up and bites.I try walking away and she keeos following me and doing the same thing.what should I do?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      5 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Mike, your dog is probably already too large for those types of coercive training techniques, and they are going to get you in trouble. Read this article on how to teach your dog to be polite and start using some of the gentle training suggested in the videos: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/teach-your-dog-impulse...

      Cane Corso are no more unpredicatble than any other dog. He was fighting with the Pitbull over food, which is normal.and since he responded to your command that is a very good sign.

      You do need to make sure your dog is well trained since you get him when he was older and past the sensitive socialization period. Make sure he is socialized as much as possible now.

      Best of luck with him.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      5 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Lorri, take a few minutes to read the article at

      https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-to-dog-aggression

      Dog on dog aggression can be a big problem, as you already know. The best way to handle it is obedience training and counterconditioning.

      Most dogs will get better with a lot of work, but you must be able to handle your dog if he gets riled up. If you cannot, he must be better trained. You will also need the help of friends with dogs so that your dog can learn to walk close to other dogs without getting excited, as outlined in the article.

      This is not a simple problem.

    • profile image

      Lorri Coleman 

      5 months ago

      I can not take my Almost two year old make Cane Corso who is the most loving dog in the house out for a walk. He literally acts like he wants to kill every dog we see. I’m so disappointed.

      He has been raised around other dogs cats. Been to the dogs pal and now all of a sudden he’s acting like a killer. My neighbors hate me. But we love him so. Please help!

      Thank you

      Lorri

    • profile image

      mike cosola 

      6 months ago

      Greetings, i bought a 9 month old CC, hes very friendly, lets the kids play with him, allows my poodle to eat out of the same bowl as him but today for the first time he snapped at my pit. my son dropped some food on the ground and they both went for it. he snapped and my pit snapped back and as soon as I entered the room and said NO they both went their separate ways..... my question is, are CCs unpredictable, I have tons of kids and friends in and out all day and I don't want an unprovoked attack. other than today there has been no issues at all..... i do know that he is still learning to sit and other basic commands. he was the last of the litter and I have no idea what life was like for him prior to me purchasing him. do I have anything to fear? I'm just nervous about the potential for unprovoked attacks. when i tell him to sit he wont, so I push him down until he complies.... is this the correct way to teach him, he is always praised and is very gentle otherwise. just a nervous first time owner. Ive had other large breeds.

      thanks in advance

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      6 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Lena, it is not a sign of aggression but can become one. Puppies will often mount other puppies to determine hierarchy in the family. You are doing the right thing by making him stop. The best thing you can do is to tell him "down" and make him sit for a few seconds and calm down. If he does not know "down" at his age you need to get him into obedience classes right away before he gets too big to handle.

    • profile image

      Lena 

      6 months ago

      Recently adopted a male 4month old cane corso. I have had him 4days he started yesterday while playing to grab my leg with his two paws&try to hump it. When I tell him to stop he stops then tries again. He does not do this to my husband. Why does he only do this to me? Is it a sign of aggression towards me?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Jocelyn, do you think your dog is breaking into the cabinests because he is hungry, bored, or just does not know when his next meal is coming? If it is the last one, it may be something that happened with his previous owner so will take time to get over.

      If he is hungry, feed him twice a day but only by hand. Make him sit before giving each piece of food. If it is boredom, exercise him more so that he is tired and not likely to do things like break into cabinets.

      When he turned on you, how did you handle it? If a dog like that growls or acts aggressive to me I immediately put him through obedience commands. If he does not obey, he needs more training. That will take some time but you should have several good years with him and the time you spend now will be rewarded many times down the line.

      I hope you can work things out with him. Good luck with his training.

      These tips are most helpful if he is hungry and not sure when his next meal will arrive:

      https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Training-Tips-Aggr...

    • profile image

      Jocelyn 

      7 months ago

      I adopted (recently) a cane corse mix who is 10 years old. He is great and most of his stuff I can deal with except he is very food aggressive and he pillages through cabinets for food, take what he wants and when I try and correct him or stop him he becomes very aggressive. Tonight, when he got into the cat food and I went to stop him he turned on me. Thankfully, I diverted him with turkey and the episode deescalated. Now he is sleeping happily next to me. Its like two different dogs. Any suggestions on this issue? Can an old guy learn that he isn't suppose to break into cabinets and help himself and more importantly turn on me.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      8 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi gg just left you a long answer in the question box above. If your little dog does not like your puppy, it does not help to just give him extra attention.

    • profile image

      gg 

      8 months ago

      got a cc mixed puppy.

      My little dog is growling at her

      should I give him special attention? Does he feel threatened by her taking over?

    • profile image

      Brooke 

      14 months ago

      Im so in love with my 14 week old CC and I've only had him for 5 days. In this amount of time he's learned sit, lay and shake. He heels without even being told. What age is the sensitive socialization period?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      14 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      A five month old CC is past the sensitive socialization period so it will take a lot of work; if he was never used to small kids, I would be worried.

    • profile image

      jaime 

      14 months ago

      i just adopted a 5 month old Corso this past Friday you can tell hes never been socialized and is very scared of people except me of which he is very attached already. I took him to the park yesterday he went up to strangers and let children pet him which is a huge goal for him. My question is I have a 5 and 3 yr old i wonder if he will ever be completely comfortable with them or if I should re-home him?

    • profile image

      New Rescue Owner 

      16 months ago

      Hi! Just yesterday I rescued a 3 year-old Cane Corso female from the local animal shelter. We introduced her to our current dog, 11 year-old GSD mix, and the interaction was uneventful and we decided to go along with adopting the CC. Now on the first full day of having her, she has snapped at the GSD twice now. The first time was when the GSD tried to enter her crate, understandable. The second time, I was on the couch and my CC was laying on the floor when my mother invited the GSD onto the couch. My CC immediately lunged and snarled at the GSD sending him sprinting away and causing him to hide in a bathroom until we convinced him the CC was no longer in the room. The CC was spayed only 5 days ago, but the GSD takes priority in regards to safety. Please help me! I would hate to take the CC back to the shelter but if she continues to snap at the GSD I will have no other choice.

    • profile image

      CC Owner 

      17 months ago

      I have a year old male cc. I did not use violence in his training, never praised him if he showed signs of aggresion (even barking at the door), started taking him out socializing since he was a month and a half. This dog is the most amazing, never starts fights, would play with any dog, if other dogs show signs of aggression he backs down. This is my first dog, but investing time in training documentaries and in his training paid off. Do not choose a cane corso if you do not have time for heavy training, he has a huge destructive power, but in the right hands they're a blessing. Tip: Taking him on bike rides (while still immature, no more than an hour every 3 days if it's on CONCRETE) will keep his energy at a moderate level and will stop the leash pulling. You will be amazed on how much energy he shows, taking him on a walk with your slow pace is only a tease for a cc. To wrap it up, fantastic dogs in the right hands.

    • profile image

      Manny AA 

      18 months ago

      Hi :)) so I got 2 cane corso & they are both blue & so beautiful! They are both nice, smart, & great with people but my male cc is so over protective hell bark at random people or random dogs. But other then that he is great it's just randomly when he growls at someone.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      19 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Tisa, not sure if all of these suggestions are going to be helpful but here is another article I wrote:

      https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Training-Tips-Aggr...

      The main points to remember in a dog that is blind in one eye is not to free choice feed, feed more than once a day, and feed in a laundry room or other isolated area. Who has he bitten? You can definitely train him to accept others around his food at this age, but do you have to? Can you not feed him in a few times a day so that he will never feel that his food is being threatened?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      19 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Stella, although your dog is very young to start experiencing dog-dog aggression, it is not unknown. Please read the article on dog aggression and look for some tips that can help you:

      https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-to-dog-aggression

      Please look into classical conditioning. That has the best chance of helping you since she is so young.

    • profile image

      Stella1119 

      19 months ago

      I have an almost 4 month old cane corso and we recently tried to socialize her with a group of dogs during a puppy play time. She was aggressive a few times and we had to separate her. I thought it was because there were too many dogs around. The next day we brought her to meet a friends dog that is 25 pounds and she was nothing but aggressive. We are so upset and hope this can be resolved. She is walked 2-3 times daily, is taken out another 3-4 times a day and is only crated for a few hours during the day on most days. On 2 days she is crate the maximum of 5 hours with breaks for walks. I'm not sure what else we can do for her. Any suggestions? I've had large breeds and never had this issue.

    • profile image

      Tisa 

      19 months ago

      Hi, i have a 3 year old cane corso whom i need help. He is blind in one eye; he is showing sign of food agression, its like reflex for him to bite when someone is close enough while he is eating. But he would act really sorry and scared afterwards. What can i do to change this? I know it doesnt help that he is blind in one eye. Can i still train him at this age to not to get startled and bite?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      20 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hey Shelbi is your Cane satisfied when he is done eating? Four times a day is enough, but not if he is still hungry after finishing his meal. Maybe it is not enough.

    • profile image

      Shelbi leser 

      20 months ago

      I have a 10 week old cane corso love my sampson. Was wondering something i feed him about 4 to 6 times a day small amounts but he still seems hungry do I need to feed him more.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      21 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Babyblu, that is very difficult. If the cats run away, the puppy will chase so that he can play. It really depends on the cats at that age. Can you get them to sit on your lap when the puppy is around? Some cats, like Siberians and Maine Coone, do not stress as much, but some cats will run and start a chase response in the dog. If you have trained him to sit/down that will help a lot, may take care of the problem for you.

    • profile image

      babyblu 

      21 months ago

      Hello, how do you teach a 9 week old cc pup from chasing, growling and barking at kitties in the home? Thank You for any help.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      21 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Kisa, barking and looking intimidating are pretty standard for the breed. Some dogs need to be treated very calm, so maybe playing is not even a good option with your dog. As far as the problem when people come in, teach the dog to down-stay until you release. If you do not know how to do this or are not able to teach him you need to hire an experienced trainer.

    • profile image

      Kisa 

      21 months ago

      Hi Rachel My corso won't let any one come in the house how do Teach him if the person has been invited not intruding. He also does not listen to any one once he gets playful. Has been socialized when he was pup had lot of of play time is going to obedience classes but nothing seems to help with his barking and making himself look very intimidating.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      6 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Rachel! They do look a lot alike, but these guys are so huge. One of the Cane Corsos I work with always jumps up when he sees me (despite training!) and probably would knock me down if I wasn't used to it.

      Thanks for coming by!!!

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 

      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

      The puppies are so cute. I swear my dad's pit bull mix is part cane corso. His markings are so similar - but then again, I guess stripes and a white chest blaze are common markings. Great hub, I love all of the information you share about dogs and dog behavior.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 

      6 years ago from Alabama

      Such a beautiful dog. Cane Corso must have the type of bone structure boxers have, though probably stronger. My daughters' family has two boxers and they are definitely stronger than my dogs. They don't even weigh 100. But walking the boxers is different from walking my dogs. I can really feel their strength.

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