Five personal virtues you need for dog training!

There is no magic to training a dog. I strongly believe … “There are no Bad Dogs; There are only BAD Owners!”

Any dog can be trained, no matter the age or the breed. It is up to the owner to take the effort and put in the work necessary for training a dog and providing it with an appropriate environment.

I love our morning walks. #Joy of having a dog! #canecorsopuppy #canecorso #walkyourdog #dagwalk

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Here are 5 virtues one needs to successfully train a dog:

1. Patience – this is probably the most important one. Training a dog requires lots of it. Some skills the dog will learn in a few tries and some will take time. Often the dog will have a bad day and will not perform as you expect. It is up to the owner/trainer to be patient and take the time necessary for the dog to understand what’s expected.

2. Ability to praise – I’ve seen many people not being able to praise the dog properly. Often times men are restrained with their praise and women over praise their dog. It is important to show the dog that you are happy and excited with their achievement (even it is a small one or an obvious one … like puppy taking a poop outside). However, getting over excited and over praising the dog can be as counterproductive as failing to praise the dog.

3. Ability to learn / Open mind – no matter how long you’ve been doing something, there is always something new to learn or someone who knows better than you do! Always be willing to learn a new way to train/interact with your dog and be ready to change something you’ve thought was the “right” way.

4. Control your emotions – Dogs feed off their owners emotions. If you are upset/angry, the dog will feel it and will share that tension with you. Your state of mind will affect your bond with the dog. It might be better not to train the dog if you are upset or angry and cannot put it out of your mind. I have seen many times when the owner takes out their frustration on the dog. It does not resolve the problem and only ruins the bond and the experience with your canine friend/partner.

5. Consistency – Last, but not least. Consistency in training will ensure that the dog stays on course. Many people make a mistake thinking that dogs think like people. However, dogs are very black in white in their thinking. If the dog was not allowed to be on the couch on Monday, but it is allowed on the couch on Tuesday, it will assume that it is always allowed to be on the couch. They do not make the conditional connection. Changing the rules all the time is not fair to the dog. It has no way of knowing what your rational is. Thus, in training, it is important to be consistent with your rules and conditions. Stick to the same rules and the dog will understand what is expected and will behave and react accordingly.

Train and walk your dog and you will experience a bond and friendship unlike any other! 

Hey, he's not blond!!! He can walk and hold the ball at the same time 🙂 #canecorso #canecorsopuppy #nohate #walkyourdog

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Dexter is learning how to speak cat … aka not to bite Monya’s tail

We have been working on learning not to chase the cat every time. Dexter’s favorite thing is to run up and grab the tail, but Monya is not a fan. So we are working on hanging out together without chasing or biting.

These are important skills for Dexter to learn for peaceful co-existence with his buddy.

As an owner, even though it is quiet entertaining to watch their antics, it is my responsibility to teach Dexter proper etiquette with the cat and other smaller animals. Very soon he will be much bigger and stronger and bad learned behaviors can lead to lots of headache and conflicts.

Socialize and teach early!!!

Preparation for new puppy and what you will need before one arrives.

There are a lot of things you can buy for your new puppy. However, there is a number of essentials that you need to have prior to your puppies arrival.

I’ve put together a list of things that I have purchased and had ready before I went to pick up Dexter:

1. Crate is an essential part of housebreaking and should be ready for when you bring the puppy home. This crate is nice as it has a divider and will allow you to adjust the space as the puppy grows.

2. Water and food bowl … for obvious reasons. I like this one as it can be mounted inside the cage. Puppies can be rowdy and can flip the bowl if it is not fixed in place. Stainless steal is best as it is easy to clean, hard to chew and will not cause allergies as some plastics do.

3. Natural grain free food (preferable in the beginning same as the puppy was fed by the breeder)

4. Crate bed to make the puppy comfortable

5. Collar… I prefer a simple leather collar. They are durable and reliable.

6. A standard 6′ leash is a must.

7. “Indestructible” toy… something a puppy can chew and play with. I like these as you can put treats inside to stimulate puppies interest and keep it occupied and to drain energy.

8. Treats, preferably grain free, natural and small. It is a must to have so you can right away begin training the puppy and have treats at hand to encourage and reinforce the training.

9. Two identical balls to play fetch. In later posts I’ll explain why 2 and not 1.

10. Chew treat

11. Treat pouch for walks and training. This is very useful as you need to have treats on your walks to reinforce and encourage your training.

12. Waste bags and Dispenser. I like these as they are biodegradable. Prices have dropped significantly in recent times for these things and the pouch is very convenient.


13. Bite and tug rag, especially for bully or larger breeds and if you are interested in obedience, Schutzhund, and other trial dog sports

14. Training Wee Wee pads… for housebreaking

Amazon is a great source for these things vs pet stores. Prices and availability are better as well. This whole list is under $200. Here is a link to the full list http://www.pinterest.com/stevedakhe/new-puppy-welcoming-shopping-list/

The road to meeting Dexter … How to pick a puppy

The road to meeting Dexter was an interesting experience.

My last dog Dante passed away in December of 2013. After a month or so I began considering getting another dog. The new friend had to fit a number of criteria that I would require from my dog:

  1. I prefer mastiff breeds for their power, size, guard dog qualities and for their relaxed attitude in the house.
  2. It would have to be an active breed that can keep up with my activity level.
  3. A breed that would have the desire and drive to do obedience and protection training and enjoy the process.
  4. A breed that is established well enough in Unites States to allow for a large enough scope of choices and tested, proven parents.
  5. A breed that would be good with children. Mastiffs tend to be good with kids due to their size, tolerance to pain and annoyance and house activity levels.

After some research and from my previous experience, I settled on a Cane Corso. It is a lighter and more agile mastiff, males averaging at about 120 lb. The name Corso implies corsing mastiff and therefore is a breed that possesses the endurance, size and drive for an active and strong breed. In addition, there have been a few Cane Corsos coming up in the world of Schutzhund and PSA and demonstrating great abilities (Alla Zilberg’s Safir was definitely great example and inspiration). Few other mastiff breeds, from my research, have demonstrated same level of abilities in dog sports.

After inquiring about breeders and breed lines, I met Alla Zilberg on Facebook who has been very successful with her Cane Corso Safir. She has reached a high level of IPO3 with her male Corso. Through her, I was referred to Joe and Renee Liberty Cane Corso.

With a referral, I reached out to Joe. During our first conversation, I warned him that I will annoy the shit out of him with questions and details about his dogs, breeding program and his dog’s abilities and achievements. Joe’s response was the first indication of a responsible breeder. He was happy to answer all my questions and respected and appreciated my concerns and diligence. My list of questions was as follows (I continued asking over several conversations and online chats)

  1. Do they perform hip, elbow and knee tests on their dogs and if yes, which tests do they go for.
  2. What is an average longevity of their dogs.
  3. Are their dogs house kept or are kennel dogs.
  4. Does he require a contract for a working dog, show dog or pet owners.
  5. What are the specifics of the contract… such as co-ownership, spay/neuter requirements.
  6. At what age do they allow the puppies to be taken.
  7. Would it be ok for me to come out and meet his dogs (on several occasions; I think it is important to visit breeder’s home/facilities before you make a decision to buy the dog from them. The condition of the house and facility indicates to me the quality and responsibility of the breeder.)
  8. Do they concentrate on show or working trials? If yes, in what way and what is their preference.

Eventually Joe told me that he had two litters coming up Fifty x Lola and Brutus x Josie. According to our agreement, I would get the best working prospect from either litter.

I was lucky… Fifty x Lola had 7 puppies with 4 boys and Brutus x Josie had 5 boys.

I visited Joe and Renee when puppies were about 3-4 weeks old and got a chance to spend some time playing with Brutus. His drive and intensity were very impressive and combined with Josie’s (I’ve met her on my previous trip to Joe’s house) drive and conformation got me very excited for their puppies.

When puppies were 7-8 weeks old, I and my friend and experienced dog trainer Mike came to see the puppies and hopefully make a pick. After looking at several puppies we settled on 2. First was the pick of the litter formentino boy with high drive, alpha attitude and impeccable conformation. Second, was a darker boy, who was the “runt” and a bit smaller. He was extremely stable and unfazed by anything. When we let both boys play tug using a cloth, the darker one took a deep bite and held on. Formentino took as strong of a hold but was more excited and shook the rag. Both puppies were eager to chase, play and were comfortable with full set of jingling keys (darker one even grabbed them and played dug), dropped objects on the floor and being handled. However, while formentino displayed rebellious tough attitude, the darker one was more willing to please and tolerated being handled, checked and held down. Both puppies exhibit an amazing recovery time from any new experience or stress. They bounced back to playing, exploring and running around.

Mike and I were really impressed with both puppies, but both agreed that the darker one will be easier to train and is a better candidate for me and my life.

And thus after 24 hours of consideration I let Joe know that I want the darker smaller guy with a shorter muzzle.

Say Hello to Dexter

Hi, my name is Dexter. I am a 8 weeks old Cane Corso puppy. I joined Steve and Inna today. #canecorso #puppy #instapuppy

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Apartment setup for house training… Dexter tested … Us approved

Previous setup was quickly figured out and Dexter happily pulled him self over the play pan’s wall (mastiff power). He ended up spending some of the night rearranging the living room. Nothing drastic :).

However, reconstruction was needed of the playpen for the times when we have to leave.

Thus the new setup

This system worked and we were able to leave for Thanksgiving dinner and to go out for drinks after with Dexter safely having his sleep and relief space without soiling his bed/crate and staying safe at home.

I used 3 connected play pan walls and attached it with wire ties on one side and locks on the exit site. I used another panel on top and wire tied it on one side in the form of a hinge and used a velcro tie to secure the other end.

Housebreaking setup Dexter

I setup a playpen as Dexter is too young to hold it for long. At 2 months of age , he can barely hold it for 5 min and needs to go every 2-3 hours. Considering he will need to be left alone for extended periods of time while we are at work, he needs a way to relieve himself. I setup a playpen and it works great. Dexter only does it on the wee wee pads in this setup. However, he also figured out how to climb out, so now I have to figure out how to prevent him from doing that.

Update on the solution will follow.

Feel free to share your solutions… much appreciated.