Catahoula Leopard Dogs tend to be aggressive toward other people and animals due to their dominant nature. The good news is that you can tone that down if you train your dog well.
Owning a Catahoula Leopard Dog isn’t something a novice or timid dog owner should do. However, for those that are up to the challenge, there are ways to help deal with the breed’s aggression tendency.
Namely, obedience training and socialization starting from puppyhood will be good at curbing these problematic instincts. Some, however, will need professional intervention.
There are a few reasons why this dog can be aggressive:
The Catahoula Leopard Dog was originally bred as a herding dog. Dogs of this type had the role of herding and protecting livestock.
Because of the traits bred into them, Catahoulas are highly loyal, protective, and territorial.
As a result, they can be over-protective of their owners, leading to them being aggressive towards strangers that they perceive as a threat to their master.
When dogs feel anxious, they’re likely to lash out at whoever or whatever happens to be near them.
If there’s a specific thing or person that’s stressing him out, that's where the dog will vent his pent-up aggression. It can be a serious challenge to train your dog in this situation.
Catahoulas, as a breed, often try to assert their dominance, as they possess an independent nature. They want to be the pack's leader and will do anything to get to that position.
It’s essential to deal with these assertions early to let your dog know that aggression isn’t tolerable.
Catahoulas that weren’t properly socialized as puppies exhibit a high prey drive. This makes them likelier to try to capture and kill prey animals.
This may be dangerous for a family with small pets, cats, and children.
Lunging and biting are apparent signs, but it’s easy to miss the earlier indications of aggression. This is important, as it’s better to prevent it from happening in the first place.
One of the first signs of aggression is the “hard stare.” A Catahoula will stare towards the object of their aggression and have a fixed expression.
When this happens, their eyes may look glassy. The dog may couple the hard stare with a snarl for a more serious warning.
If you fail to address this early on, it may evolve into more forms of aggression. For example, hard staring could progress to growling and barking.
You should take these signs seriously no matter what. Be sure to watch out for any signs of aggression so that you can resolve it as soon as possible.
Should your Catahoula exhibit signs of aggression, you’ll have to seek help from a qualified expert. An experienced dog trainer adept at dealing with aggressiveness may be able to help you find out the cause and work out a solution.
Fortunately, Catahoulas aren’t hard to train from an early age. They’re intelligent and can understand most instructions.
The main problem with training is that Catahoulas tend to be stubborn. Therefore, it takes some dedication and time to train your dog.
One of the best ways to minimize potential aggression from your Catahoula is to socialize him from a young age. You must introduce the puppy to as many stimuli, animals, people, and environments as possible.
If you socialize your dog well, he will be much less aggressive. Fear of the unknown is the basis of many aggressive behaviors, so the more he’s familiar with different things, the better.
A dog lover like you might have a lot of different animals other than dogs at home, such as cats.
If you raise your dog along with household cats from puppyhood, your Catahoula could get along just fine with felines. He might still chase cats that he isn’t familiar with, though.
Catahoulas being dominant also means that if you want to keep another dog in the house, it has to be of the opposite sex. This applies even if both of them have been neutered or spayed.
However, herding instincts may show up. Catahoulas may start trying to herd your other pets, including other dogs. Other than that, well-socialized Catahoulas get along relatively well.
When it comes to strange dogs from outside, though, Catahoulas don’t react well, as they’re territorial. Be careful with encountering other canines when walking. It would be wiser not to go to the dog park unless your Catahoula is muzzled.
If you have young children, Catahoulas tend to be gentle and affectionate with their immediate family.
The problem is that, just like with other animals, the herding instincts of Catahoulas might be used on children as well. Because of this, the Catahoula Leopard Dog may not be suitable for a home with small kids.
You have to teach your Catahoula three necessary obedience commands: Focus, Stay and Lie Down.
They’re relatively simple to train with, but you may have to consult a professional if you can’t get these commands to stick.
This is the first command you have to teach your Catahoula. It shifts their attention from whatever bothers them and puts it back on you. You may use different words for this command, such as “watch” or “look.”
You can begin by saying his name and then giving the command. Once he looks at you, give him the treat. If this doesn’t work, you could give the same command but use the treat to lure his eyes to yours.
Eventually, you can just use the command and do so from a further distance.
Stay is important if your dog tends to lunge or chase. This command teaches your dog to curb his impulses.
Much like ‘Focus,’ you can use treats to help train your Catahoula.
Commanding your dog to lie down is also essential to curb aggression.
Start this in a quiet place with few distractions, then gradually increase the distance between you and your dog. Tell him to lie down in progressively more distracting situations.
When he gets aggressive, use this command for him to get a grip on himself.
Calvin is the co-founder and one of the main contributors to dogtemperament.com. He has been an avid dog lover all his life. He enjoys researching and sharing great ideas on how you can avoid common pitfalls of dog ownership and build the most loving and enjoyable relationship with your dog.