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Need advice with Bullmastiff

June 6th, 2006, 09:47 AM
Hi, this is actually my first post and I found this site by googling on trying to find dog advice. I am hoping someone can give me some advice.

We have a one and a half year old male Bullmastiff named Dexter. We bought him from a breeder when he was 9 weeks old. This is not our first Bullmastiff as we have a female who is 4 and wonderful. Dexter was socialized but had problems from day one with other dogs. He also was in puppy class and up to four levels of obedience (he is extremely well trained obedience wise) but he is dog aggressive and dominant. We did not neuter him until he was 11 months old because we had planned on showing him and also did handling training with him too. But with a young child and busy schedule showing seemed impossible so we opted to neuter him. My problem is two things.

1. Is there any chance of curbing this dog aggression? The trainers have said no because of his dominance he (the dog) feels that he must show each individual dog who is boss (which we obviously don't allow because of how he is and his sheer size)
2. I am not comfortable with him around other children. He is just the type of dog who is very protective and gets in other childrens faces. He does not back down if cornered or surprised. If he is surprised by something, his reaction is to lunge towards it and not jump back. His body posture makes me not comfortable so I always put him up in our bedroom if another child comes over. He has not done anything but it is the way he holds himself and the look on his face and I am not willing to take the risk. I am worried about when we have another baby too. My daughter was a year old when we bought Dexter so he has grown up with her but having a baby and bringing an infant into "his" house concerns me.
Any suggestions would be wonderful. I look forward to them.
Thank you.

We are trying to get a hold of the breeder but I cannot find there phone number so have emailed and am waiting to hear back. I really don't want to rehome my dog but am very concerned about this.
Thank you very much.

Lucky Rescue
June 6th, 2006, 10:24 AM
He is just the type of dog who is very protective and gets in other childrens faces. He does not back down if cornered or surprised.

Bullmastiffs were not bred to ever back down. Your dog is coming into maturity now and doing what he was bred to do - guarding home and family and he will take that job seriously. Your new baby will be part of that package he will protect.

These dogs not only would chase, knock down (but not attack) and hold poachers in the old days, but would also dispose of any dog the poacher might be hunting with, so dog aggression should not be considered unusual.

June 6th, 2006, 12:39 PM
It is hard to curb dog on dog aggression, Im not going to say that definately it can be done because of his breed. However I have almost managed to curb my Border Collies aggression. It wasnt hard for me because my dog is so play driven, I can distract him with any stick or ball, when he's fetching a herd of elephants could run by him and he wouldnt even notice. I do not know much about Bullmastifs (other than they are marvelous dogs) Have you contacted a behaviorist? They are expensive but amazing.
My Border Collie too doenst like children, (common with bc's) when there are alot of new children around I too put him in the house or a spare room, however when there is just one or two, as long as they play fetch with him, he completly drops his aggressive stance.
Go with your gut instinct, if you feel he is a danger to the kids. However, try slowly getting one of the children to give him a treat or something he likes. This will work best if there is just one or two "strangers" around.
Its a long hard road to curb aggression but SO worth it in the end.
Best of luck, Im going to try to dig up some of the info Meiks behaviorist gave me, and post some more at a later date!

June 6th, 2006, 12:46 PM
Thank you so much for your advice and I look forward to hearing about the bahavourist. If anyone can recommend one I would really appreciate it.
I do not want to part with him and will invest whatever is needed to try and solve this problem. I do put him in our master bedroom when other children are around. I will have to go with my gut when we have another baby and see how he seems and go from there. Obedience training he is great but maybe a behaviourist would help. Yes, he is a "true to the book" bullmastiff....protective, loving, and 110% loyal to his family. He is on patrol at all times. When he is outside he runs the fenceline constantly...when he is inside he patrols the front windows, and then the back windows.....always on the look out. Our female is the complete opposite and would show a robber where everything is and lick there hands (that is if she would bother to get off of the couch :). Dexter must think it is his sole job to patrol and protect our family and home. Sometimes I feel that he is trying to protect my daughter (who is almost 3) from the other child who is over so that is why he goes up in our room to ensure nothing happens.
Please keep your suggestions coming, they are giving me hope.
Thank you again.

June 6th, 2006, 01:37 PM
I've never heard of a trainer's response to dominance to be to just let him dominate other dogs... That's bizarre, no? If he meets another dog who is equally dominant, what then? I for one don't want to be anywhere near that fight when it happens... I just don't think letting him dominate other dogs will do anything but boost his ego even more. I think you need to find a trainer with more experience with the breed.

June 6th, 2006, 01:45 PM
It must have been misunderstood when I typed it. The trainer said that Dexter cannot be cured of his dog aggression because Dexter is the type of dog who (in the dogs mind) would need to dominant each and every individual dog he meets (not something that could be cured if another dog made him submit one time) and his dog aggression will need to be controlled by obedience training only. The trainer has also said he would not want to see him get into a fight in fear of the other dog being extremely hurt or even killed. He feels that Dexter will never be able to learn to get along with other dogs and of course will never be a dog that could be trusted to take to an off leash park. So that is why we have done so much obedience training with him. If a dog gets loose and runs at him though, it isn't pretty and has happened to me a few times while I was walking him on a leash. He has never made a mark on another dog but inturn grabs them by the neck, flips then and pins them done with his chest and they cannot move (even though they are yelping or biting him) I am afraid he will suffocate a dog. Surprisingly he is the one who has been bit a few times with blood (from the dogs who have run loose while I was walking him in our neighbourhood and just run up to him and get in his face) He seems to be above average in his dog aggression. He doesn't tolerate any dog, even if they submit. I learned this quickly when he was about 6 months old but even with his size then I wouldn't risk him with another dog to try and work him on this.
I just want to know if anyone has suggestions of other trainers who have been successful at breaking this behaviour? or contacts for animal behaviourist?
Thanks again.

doggy lover
June 6th, 2006, 01:58 PM
I don't like muzzles but if this was my dog I think I would use one while out on walks. What would happen if a child was to run up to you, I shudder to think. It is better to be safe than sorry. I would never leave him unsupervised with children either.

There are some dogs mine does not like but all in all he is good with most dogs. He was out the other day on a walk and a springer spaniel was there and for some reason Tucker was not too happy with him. I find he gets more aggressive on leash but like I said he has many other dog friends and meets dogs very well, so why this dog was disliked I don't know. A few minutes later he ran into a sheltie friend (still on leash) and was fine.

June 6th, 2006, 02:56 PM
He is fine with children who run up to him while he is leashed because he has been obedience trained and is always leashed. But I do discourage any child that just runs up to any dog and will tell children that he likes to be left alone and I continue to walk. It is the people who let there dogs run loose that just run up to him and then the fight begins. I would never muzzle my dog because of that reason. It isn't like he is pulling me too these dogs, He walks so well that he could be walked on a shoe lace with a flat collar even but these dogs run up to him unleashed and as I said in the previous post, they bite him and have drawn blood but they lose the fight because of his sheer strength alone and the pinning. How could he even defend himself if he is attacked and is wearing a muzzle???? I called our animal control to ask what would happen and I am not at fault if my dog is leashed and the other dog unleashed. The fact is though I would like to see if he can be more dog friendly so I do not even have to worry about this, and am asking for advice and recommendations for trainers or behaviourists who specialize in this.
Thank you so much.

June 6th, 2006, 02:59 PM
The fact is though I would like to see if he can be more dog friendly so I do not even have to worry about this,
He isnt Looking for or picking the fights? Well then hes just defending himself, these other people are irresponsible to let their dogs attack others and to let them run loose!
I am still on my quest to find all the info that i have from my behaviorist ( not mine personally but you get my drift ;) ) I will email you all the info, however remember it is geared for a different breed. It will just be a great guideline!

June 7th, 2006, 01:23 PM
Hi, He doesn't look to pick the fights. He can walk past other dogs but if any dog shows a sign of dominance (either in its stature, look or if it attacks him), he will fight with it and always wins from his sheer size and power. He is not intimidated by any person or dog. Because of this, I never risk him off leash anywhere and try and keep him away from any dogs to avoid a possible fight. I get very annoyed at the people who let there dogs run loose on there is always happening here. Ususally I walk him at night when I don't have to worry about dogs charging him.
He is fine with puppies and just wants to play (I know this from my sister in law brining her lab female pup over and he was always fine) but pups don't try and be dominant with him so he is okay.
Now, last night was interesting. We took him for a family walk (my husband walked him and I pushed the stroller) and a dog was loose, luckily didn't run over but Dexter saw him and could care less, just kept walking perfectly on the leash. It was a shepperd and I was so thankful it didn't bolt across the road at us. In your opinion, do you think Dexter may feel that he needs to protect us from these "dogs"? and that is why he gets between us and the dog and will fight? Last night as well I put him in the house after the walk, and my daughter was playing out front with two little twin 3 year old boys and I was talking to there two seconds the one little boy went up and openend my house door and let Dexter out! I almost died but he just trotted down the steps off the veranda and was doing that puppy bounce around my front lawn...never even looked at the kids running around but wanted to play. I called him instantly and he came right to me but I never thought in a million years that a random child would just go and open my front door to let Dexter out!!!!!! His Mom promptly told him that he cannot go around opening other peoples doors but sure gave me more to think about!
Hope everyone is having a great day...thanks again for all the advice.

June 7th, 2006, 03:26 PM
I have not read every word here, but I have to interject.

The one and only bite/attack I have EVER received was from a 9 mo. male Bull Mastiff. That was last fall and I am still recovering emotionally and physically.

To say that a Bull will NOT attack to harm is not realistic. Lucky - I am not criticizing you at all. But even if a dog is bred to behave in a certain manner there is no guarantee that all of the dogs in that breed with succeed in that same manner. There are always aberrations. Not all Labs retrieve or like water!

This dog that attacked me had been purchased from a highly 'reputable' breeder, for top dollar, and had been brought to us from California to help him curb his aggression. We made huge strides in his manners but did not make huge strides in his reactions to fast movements. He could learn to stop himself with enough repetition and guidance, but when a new temptation came along he was on it. We sent him home telling his person that this dog could not be trusted with children and should not live in a home without a very experienced person guiding his every thought. This was this first time in all of our years that we had to admit a dog was not going to be rehab'd in the time we had him (1 month). Some animals are just not wired right.

My attack came when I was literally saying 'good-bye' to him. I was gently loving on his face with my hand, and as I pulled my hand away he got the look. He grabbed my face, then my leg and then my upper arm as I tried to shield myself. My injuries were severe, but not horrific by my standards. Had no one been there to help me I don't know how bad things would have gotten. As it was the person could not pull him off of me fast enough, and he continued to stand on his hind legs trying to get at me.

I am still at a loss as to how this experience was to serve me. If I can caution you to the maximum degree and prevent any injuries happening to your friends or family then I am glad it happened.

Now - I am not condemning Bull Mastiffs - I have know many who are the dearest and sweetest animals on the planet. This is about the individual animal - regardless of breed or breeding. You have to look at the fact that you are already insecure about this animal - unless the training you receive is stellar, and changes this dog's attitude quickly and for the long haul, then I would rethink the appropriateness of having him in a home with small children.

I am sorry to be so dramatic, but children are involved and it would be very irresponsible for me not to speak up.

June 8th, 2006, 11:55 AM
Thank you Tenderfoot for your post.

I do just have to say though that Dexter has never once EVER even made a growl, nip whatever at any adult or child or even a fast movement towards anyone. He gets into kids faces though when they are eye level and that part makes me feel uncomfortable (sometimes he licks them and other times just stands there) of course, he is very large and intimidating to a toddler and could knock them flying pretty quickly. That is why I put him in our master bedroom when other children come over. I know that you did not read all of the posts but it is not that I am concerned about him attacking a person......His temperment was previously tested and was found to be very good and solid. He is obedient and protective of his family. That said, he is like the breed says, not afraid of ANYTHING. He lives with two cats and is fine with them and fast movements do not bother him. With other children though (and I might be reading into this too much) if they are squeeling and playing I don't want Dexter getting confused that they are hurting our daughter in anyway.....because I know he would try and "protect" her and that is what makes me feel uncomfortable, so I avoid the situation. I would of course rather avoid a potential situation. That is why I posted the question about a new baby into the house, it is a concern of mine on how to introduce them safely.
His issue we feel, is that he is a definite dominant dog (with dogs not people)and has issues with dogs that show any signs of dominance at all plus I agree that when he gets into a fight and wins each time it boosts his ego again and again which is not good and does not help the situation.
He can walk by dogs and not bother so maybe I will just have to live with that and the fact we can never get him to the point where we could go to the off leash park, and if another dog in our neighbourhood charges him off leash, that is that owners fault and they are irresponsible for allowing there dogs to run out front freely.
We will continue with even more obedience training with him and I will continue to put him into our bedroom when other children come over, for his safety too and that is how we will proceed with him.
He is a very loving dog and respectful of all of us. My 2 1/2 year old daughter can tell him to sit, down, stay, etc and he listens perfectly.
I don't want everyone to think he is a monster because he is not. We just have two complete opposite bullmastiffs in our family and these two are the only ones we have owned.
It was simply to get advice on dog aggression and thoughts on introducing an infant and the thoughts/ideas on other children in the home.
I appreciate everyone responses and they have helped me a great deal.
Thank you.

June 8th, 2006, 02:02 PM
He looks lovely.
I am sorry for over reacting to the dangers to the people in his life. It had started to sound like your insecurities were taking over and I wanted you to make sure that you understood that the breed description did not guarentee anything in each individual dog.
Good luck and give him a big hug from me!

June 8th, 2006, 07:35 PM
I have to agree with Tenderfoot, if he is posturing around children, you have a problem, in 4 or 5 years your daughter is going to wanting to have friends over to play, and in sweetness and innocence may want to introduce her friends to her dog, while you are busy in the kitchen, an that is when things can go horribly wrong, or they can rush out the door not fully closing it and dexter may notice there is a person walking by the house with a dog and he goes charging out the partly opened door, or if several children including your own started play fighting he may feel the need to protect them not realizing they are just playing, and to have your children end up witnessing some act would leave some pretty severe emotional scars

I am not saying he is a dog that should be put down, but I do think there is too much room for tragic accidents to occur with an overly dominant dog in a home where there is young children, so another home may be better for him. I was sort of in your shoes once and I like you wanted to do every possible to keep the dog with me, and I held out even after the experts told me he has serious mental problems, There was one close call that made me realize that one careless slip or lapse and a child or adult could be maimed or killed and what was the likihood of me or my young teenage son never making a mistake for the next 10 or 12 years while the dog lived.

Though with dog I did learn there is a difference between a behaviourist and a trainer and in North America there is no real guidelines as who can call themselves one

Unfortunately anyone can hang a sign on their door claiming to be an "animal behaviorist," or for that matter a "certified" animal behaviorist. This is an extremely disheartening, frustrating, and dangerous reality in Canada. The fact is that most people who profess to be "animal behaviorists" or "pet behaviour experts" in Canada have very little knowledge of learning theory, the scientific literature concerning applied animal behaviour and applied ethology, or the scientific literature concerning behaviour modification. Commonly individuals claiming to be "behaviourists" or "behaviour experts" have completed a short course in animal behaviour (either over the internet, over a weekend, a few weeks, or a few months) and have been accredited by an agency or individual rather than by an registered academic accrediting body.

In accordance with the standards of the Animal Behaviour Society a certified animal behaviorist must have at least a Masters of Science in either Ethology, Psychology, or Applied Animal Behaviour, must have apprenticed for an extended period under an applied animal behaviourist certified by the Animal Behaviour Society, and must have conducted a significant amount of peer reviewed behavioural research. Unfortunately until legislation is introduced in Canada clearly defining the title of "animal behaviorist" individuals that do not meet these standards will claim to be animal behaviorists.

The behaviourist I had was trained in animal pyschology at one of the universities and had a certificate to prove, he has since passed away

but using the guidelines above I found this person in the Toronto area

On this website 7th entry from the bottom is another

Then scroll halfway down on this link for Pamela Ried

June 9th, 2006, 10:05 AM
Thank you very much. I am going to contact the first behaviourist and will let everyone know how it goes and what advice, etc is given.
I appreciate everyones responses and help so much.
Have a great day.

Lucky Rescue
June 9th, 2006, 10:33 AM
Lucky - I am not criticizing you at all. But even if a dog is bred to behave in a certain manner there is no guarantee that all of the dogs in that breed with succeed in that same manner. There are always aberrations.

I didn't say NO bullmastiffs would ever bite, just that they were bred to knock down and hold people and should not bite without provocation. I would never make that kind of generalization about an entire breed.

This breed should be courageous, calm, protective yet docile, and loyal - but NOT aggressive.

When he is outside he runs the fenceline constantly...when he is inside he patrols the front windows, and then the back windows.....always on the look out.

I do not really consider this anxious type of behavior to be correct for this breed, in accordance with the standard and it would worry me.

I haven't read through all the posts, so if this has been mentioned before, sorry!

June 12th, 2006, 05:54 PM
We live on a corner lot with lots of windows...that is why he runs the fenceline because so many people, kids and dogs walk by (or they are playing baseball on the road by the side fence and Dexter wants the ball). If he sees someone come up the side, he runs to the front windows because he will see them go by there (can't say the way my house is, makes it a boring house for a dog!!) We are moving though and have a huge pie lot, not on a corner I made sure this time. This should stop the fenceline and window patroling.
He sleeps alot like any bullmastiff (does that most of the day actually) and he is definitely courageous, brave, loyal and excellent with my daughter. Everything that I have read on what the breed should be, he has those characteristics.
I am very excited to work with the behaviourist and work on modifying his dog aggression and understand him even better.
Thanks again everyone and I will post how it goes.

June 12th, 2006, 07:00 PM
Nathan is great - he's trained under Pamela Reid, and really knows his stuff. Best of luck!