A couple of days ago we saw a big bear by the curbside. Kona walked past it and wouldn’t come within 4 feet. Yesterday I just had to take her back to see what she would do. Hint: I kinda already knew how she would react!
Since the last day of hell, Kona has been pretty good. The one exception is that she went on defense mode when my wife put Kona’s pad in the cage. This was a bit eerie as Kona knows my wife well. It was like flipping a switch; Kona went on alert and lunged at her. This was not Kona just wanting to play. I grabbed her collar and told my wife to get the hell out of there.
That behavior just kills me, because Kona is the sweetest dog to my son and I. But there is no substitute for early socialization with these protective breeds. I have since contacted the people that re-homed her. They had her for a couple of weeks and didn’t witness any aggression. I contacted the breeder, and the breeder didn’t even return my email. My next step is to sign up with Robert Cabral (https://robertcabral.com/). I watch a lot of his Youtube videos and this guy seems to be really good with all kinds of big dogs and shelter animals.
On a positive note, Kona is just super intelligent and it is easy to teach her new things. I’ll leave you with Kona’s eat on command routine. She learned this in just a few days.
Thanks for following Kona’s story and I’ll post more soon.
Kona has been progressing very quickly. She has learned a few new commands. She can back up on command. I have her navigating posts; she heels well on a loose leash, around about 10 poles in a parking lot that are 3 feet apart (think about drivers training around orange cones). This dog is a few levels above stubborn. I have a treat bag and a clicker to reward her. She is highly intelligent and reprimanding her does no darn good.
Since I have to work at home, I created an office in the garage. Kona has her own area, right next to me. Now there isn’t anything for her to get into if I leave for a few minutes, and she’s comfortable knowing that we can hang out together all day.
Kona has made amazing progress. She’s great in the house. She is an amazing sleeper, and doesn’t make a peep. She will sit and wait to be served dinner until I say “okay”. It usually goes, “Alabama”, “Monkey”, “Snuffleupagus”, “okay”. She won’t move until she gets clearance.
Kona is remarkably snuggly. She is great with my son and I. We’ll get to my wife in a bit.
Like most large, intelligent dogs, Kona has strange quirks. She has a lot. Despite all of the walks and runs she gets, she suddenly changed her behavior about a week ago. She started to stop on walks. Or she will slow way down. It has progressed to her laying down on walks and sometimes wanting to change direction. This is tough. She is 120lbs of dead weight. I can pull on her collar, offer her food, encourage her, whatever… Nothing works. It is downright strange. I have to outsmart her, and change directions to eventually get where we need to be.
Another weird thing about her is that she hates rain!!! She was in the garage next to me all day. When there was a short break in the rain, I tried to get her out into the yard to pee. She wasn’t having it. I pulled on her collar with both hands to drag her to the doorway. She was determined to stay inside, even though it was a light drizzle. I finally had to pick her up and carry her to the grass. Have you ever picked up, and walked around with, a Cane Corso?
Aside from her quirks, she has been an amazing dog; until today. Today was absolute hell. Today stressed our whole family out.
I have been trying so hard with this dog. I know that I am all she has. I take her for at least 3 walks/runs a day, as often as I can. When her energy is burned off, she’s a pretty good citizen. But the rain hasn’t let up much. So, Kona is lucky to have a walk or two during rain breaks. But that is not enough for this dog. Her energy seems to build up and it has to get out. It can be like a volcanic eruption when she doesn’t burn enough off.
Here is what today was like.
Fun time #1
I took her for a short walk this morning. She was great about not charging the squirrels, rabbits, and other dogs. There were probably 20+ rabbits on our path this morning. She pulled a little, but fell in line with treats. On our way back, I had her heel and walk a little slower as we passed an older lady that was walking. All of a sudden she lunged at the lady wanting to play. Kona scared the heck out of this poor lady. On the wet surface, even with my two leash setup, I could barely hold her back. Boy, that was fun. And she had been doing so well.
Fun time #2
My neighbor came over and he spoke to me through the fence. Kona went nuts. I got her to calm down a little. My neighbor said, “I’ve met her before, maybe she just didn’t recognize me.” I had my neighbor put his hand out to the gate, slowly, with his palm down, as you would greet most dogs. She immediately tried to bite him, unsuccessfully, through the gate. As I grabbed on her collar, she put her teeth on me a bit. Since I had seen the barrier aggression before with her, I wasn’t completely surprised by this, as I know it is something we need to work on.
Fun time #3
I had another break in the rain, so I knew that I had better get a quick walk in with Kona. She didn’t want to go outside because it was wet. She is no Labrador, I get it. I dragged her outside. This time a man jogged passed us. Kona had been keyed up all day, so I anticipated that she wouldn’t be a perfect angel. Sure enough, she took a dislike to the man and lunged at him. This time it was aggressive with some growling and not her usual “I just wanna play” whine. The neighbors must hate me. Anyhow, I have to take some responsibility for this interaction. Since I anticipated the bad behavior, I kept Kona closer to me, and may have pulled a little more on the leash, making her think the man was a threat.
Fun time #4
I had to save the best for last. Kona was lying on her bed. My wife noticed that the dog had something on her fur, so I was rolling the dog over to check her out. My wife wanted to move a toy so the dog wouldn’t roll on it and hurt herself. As my wife reached toward the dog, Kona lunged for my wife so fast, nobody had time to even blink. She grabbed my wife by the arm WITH TEETH. My wife screamed, and went into the house and I made sure she was okay. She was really shaken up and scared.
The warning bite was a little surprising. Although she had lunged at my other neighbor previously, through the cage, I can’t understand why Kona would put her teeth on my wife. My wife pets the dog, I have my wife feed Kona occasionally, and Kona even wants her attention sometimes. Now, the dog does not have the same snuggly affection fests with my wife that she has with me and my son, but the warning bite scared me. I’m not the least bit afraid of the dog; I’m afraid of how she interprets situations. Kona may have been trying to protect me from my wife, which could have been bad. Really bad.
I don’t know what the next steps are. I do have a referral to a really good local trainer, but with the virus situation and the scarcity of work, the timing is terrible. I’m very concerned about the future with Kona. My kid was pretty depressed about the situation, and my wife… let’s just say she is not on Team Kona right now. I love this dog, and today was pretty disheartening.
I’ve had 3 rottweilers. My last rottie was a rescue. She didn’t play nice with other animals, so we had to be a one dog family. On December 23rd, 2019, our girl Cleo crossed over the rainbow bridge. It was rough for my family.
Recently, we were in Arizona for my son’s travel baseball tournament. One day in, my awesome neighbor tagged me on a Facebook post. A 22 month old Cane Corso needed a new home. It was a black, female, with cropped ears. She was beautiful. She was exactly what I was looking for.
It was a long story. The lady that was fostering the dog was super nice, and she was re-homing the dog for her sister. This was an AKC, pure bred dog that had been formally trained. This seemed too good to be true. We spoke on the phone. Nobody had really been able to handle this dog. The breed alone isn’t for everyone. But the original owners were actually injured when trying to control the big puppy.
I’m not intimidated by dogs. My last rescue was a tough case. I was ready, so I thought, to take on this snuggly monster dog. Unfortunately, I was too late. I saw the post about 7 hours too late, and another family had been selected. I was really bummed out. How could this be? This dog and I were a perfect match!
About a week later, I got a call from the foster mom. She told me that the people that took the dog didn’t work out. Hmmm. I wondered why. I said that I would have to speak to my wife. After owning a rottie that was “dog-aggressive”, my wife wanted to get a Labrador that we could take everywhere, for a change. However, I couldn’t pass on the beautiful Cane Corso!
The dog was bigger than I thought! She instantly took a liking to my son, which is good because she outweighed him! We had to see what life was going to be like with this giant, adorable beast. The size was no big deal, as my rottweiler was a large 100lb female. But there were a few things we weren’t ready for.
The last family that had her had named her Kona. I thought that was a great name, so it stuck. Kona looks like a panther. She is a really beautiful dog. A guy stopped his car when I was walking her to say, “that is a beautiful dog!” She is also the most affectionate dog that I have ever had.
Kona sleeps in her crate, through the night, without making a peep. She is getting used to her environment and the house rules. She is a bit of a weirdo! She hates being out in the yard and prefers to be in the house all of the time! She is willful, and really smart. When we try to get her outside, she will lay down and roll on her back, as if to say, “what are you gonna do about it?”
The last person that had Kona warned that she grabbed everything and chewed. He also said that she wanted to eat other dogs, and would pull hard to get at them. He was right.
I kept Kona busy with her toys. I also introduced her to a few more toys that we had around. When she went to grab a cell phone or a TV controller, I would scold her, and give her her own toys immediately. She caught on quick, and learned the rules. She is super curious, but if you keep an eye on her and let her sniff new things, she won’t try to chew stuff. We keep our shoes downstairs, and she learned not to mess with them. Each time she sees a “new” pair, we have to go through the exercise again, but she gets it.
Here are the big draw backs. I’m working with her every day to try to deal with these things. It’s like a full time job.
Kona is super stubborn. If she doesn’t want to go outside, she doesn’t care if you drag her. We have to come up with creative ways to get her to do what we want.
She tests constantly. This is probably mostly due to her being a big puppy. She knows to stay out of the kitchen and not to beg for food, but she’ll come back every few minutes to see if you’ve let your guard down. Every once in a while she gets in a mischievous mood. She knows she is not allowed upstairs on the new carpet, but let your guard down, and she is already at the top of the stairs! Yes, and she pooped on the new carpet, all in about 5 seconds!
She’s strong as hell! A strong, willful dog can be difficult. If you want a Cane Corso, think hard about the fact that only a few people will be able to control the dog. My son and my wife can’t handle Kona, so it is all on me.
Kona’s foster dad said that she got between him and his wife. My wife gave me a hug, and the dog did, indeed, get in between us. I’m not sure how to fix this behavior.
Kona, like all Cane Corsos, is very protective of her “pack”. This is great for home protection. Not so great when the dog sees the neighbors as a threat. I’ve been told that this is barrier aggression, and it is common. I’m taking precautions to prevent this behavior by not letting the dog greet people at the door or in her crate, but this one is tough.
Lastly, it appears that, since Kona was difficult to handle, she spent a lot of time in her crate and not enough time socializing with kids and animals. She is fairly dog aggressive. This really sucks when you’re walking her! She probably wants to play, but if she every got off the leash and charged at an older lady walking a pug, I have a feeling it wouldn’t end well.
So, what’s next? I’ve committed to raising Kona. Based on her history and the difficulties that people have had with her, I feel like I am her last hope. When I saw the barrier aggression, I had second thoughts as well. But, if not me, who? Large black dogs get euthanized more than any other dog. I’m all she’s got. I’m going to do all I can. She is a smart dog and she makes great progress every day! Although I can’t afford a trainer at this crazy time in our world, I have lots of time to invest in her. With love and patience this is going to be one of the best dogs that I’ve ever had. I helped my last rescue transform into an amazing dog, and I’m gonna help Kona get there as well!