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Shikoku Ken Discussion
Problems with aggression and dominance. Help appreciated.
Hello everyone. I wanted to try to get some input about about our male Shikoku, presently approaching 7 months old and now showing pretty severe aggression.
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Specifically, that aggression is directed towards strangers and other dogs. He started developing this at about 5 months of age, but it's progressed to the point where he bites at most hands that reach out to him, no matter how slow, calm and gentle--that is, if it's a hand he doesn't know. Biting is a huge concern, obviously. We socialized him a ton as a puppy, so this caught us off guard, however we've since learned that dog parks can be a bad idea and just worsen aggression, so perhaps that had something to do with it. We also tried our best to use primarily positive reinforcement and weren't using any special collars for training, so our corrections were basically annoying tugs on his neck. But we're at the point now where we've switched to a training collar that provides more control over his head. We're having better success with corrections (presently in week 5 of obedience training).
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So, what I'm trying to figure out is whether or not our dog is actually a dominant dog with overly aggressive behaviour for a male shikoku, or if it's just normal for the breed at this stage. He was fixed last week, so there's a possibility that this behaviour will slow down, but I don't expect it to magically disappear. Our trainer suggested the dog is dominant over us, but I don't buy that because:
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- He waits for us to go through doors
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- We can take his food dish away, grab food out of it, and get all up in his face and he shows zero aggression
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- He doesn't guard his toys
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- We don't let him sit on our lap and he doesn't try to stand or sit on us
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- He doesn't protect any areas within the house
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On the flip side, there are some things he does that show he's dominant (maybe just not over us). He jumps on all dogs, no matter how large, and with many dogs his first instinct seems to attack them rather than sniff/introduce. He appears to be guarding my wife and I, which makes me think he still feels he's dominant, so we're working on breaking that with various techniques, not just for these specific situations but for overall training.
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So any advice is appreciated. Presently our plan is to continue ensuring we have full control and stay on top of correcting any sign of aggression. We think we've been too wishy-washy, which was partly because we kept reading that harsh correction (pinch collars, shock collars) with Shikokus are a ' quick a way to ruin your dog', and we certainly don't want to go that route anyway. However, based on our brief foray into using a training collar for correction, it has worked a hundred percent better.
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