If you’re not training your dog… Why the hell did you get one?!

Dexter and I train twice a day. Treats are only given as a reward for a task performed and even his meals are given as a reward for a command.

I believe that dog needs training. It is not an option or a trick. It is a mandatory part of healthy and balanced life for a dog and it’s owner/family.

Dogs are meant to be active and to perform a job. For ages, a dog was a functional partner for humans. They performed two primary jobs – hunting and guarding/herding. Only in recent history (about 100 years) people began to create companion breeds. There are still very few of those and predominantly all breeds originally were created to perform a job. Great Dane is a hunting dog. Doberman Pincher is a guard dog and terriers are fearless hunters.

Today, in our society, most people don’t hunt and guarding the property is not as essential as it used to be. Yet, we still get dogs that were created for those functions and they don’t know that the world has changed and the jobs they were meant to do are not needed anymore or have changed. The dog’s genetic drive and need is there, but is not satisfied!

This is where training plays a crucial role. Through training, we can give the dog an outlet for its energy, Failure to do that results in all too common issues of dog ownership and “bad” dogs. Destructive behavior, separation anxiety and fearfulness, and worst of all uncontrollable aggression are common problems and stress, frustration and in worst cases surrendering the dog or even putting it to sleep.

There are three main training regiments:

Obedience Training

Obedience is not a dog doing tricks or maybe sitting down when the owner begged for five minutes. Obedience is solid and concentrated work; the owner and the dog being in sync. The dog should have a set of commands that are responded to and done instantly. If the owner said DOWN, that means the dog lays down imminently and stays down no matter what is happening and irrelevant of distractions or duration. I am not talking about competitive levels of obedience, but the tasks and consistency are the same.

Working on our obedience with Mike Oberman #dogtraining #canecorso

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The benefits of such exercise are boundless. You will develop a bond with the dog that will last a lifetime. The dog will trust you in any circumstance and will follow you through any environment or distraction. You will have trust and faith in your dog. You will have peace of mind that you can always have your dog return to you if there is danger (cars, other dogs or people) and that your dog will always safely follow you.

Lastly, with obedience training and exercising everyday, the dog will have a job to perform. It will exercise it’s mind and release the mental energy in a constructive and functional way. Best of all, it will give you an opportunity to spend time with your dog and to bond … instead of checking out those very important Facebook posts during the walk.

Obedience training should be done with all breeds regardless of size.

A basic Schutzhund BH routine covers all the necessary commands http://www.schutzhund-training.net/bh.html

Protection Work/Bite Work

Protection work applies more to large and medium breeds, especially those breeds whose purpose is to guard and defend property. Shepherds, mastiffs and bullys, schnauzers and many terriers fit into that category. Although, there are some little guys that love it as well.

Full bite #canecorsopower #canecorso #workingdog

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Despite of what many people think, bite work does not teach the dog to be vicious or attack people. In fact, it does the opposite.

Protection work teaches the dog that there is a right time and wrong time to exercise it’s protection instinct. The dog learns when it is OK to bite and most importantly when not to and to let go!.

The dog develops confidence and a body of knowledge though which it can channel it’s protection instinct and  to think through it’s drive. The dog learns to listen to the owner even through extreme pressure and excitement of protection work.

Many people don’t realize that the most important command in this exercise is LET GO/RELEASE. The dog learns to release the bite on command and learns to listen for that command no matter the intensity and excitement.

If it is not yet obvious, the benefits of this training in modern society are very important.

Aside the obvious ability to defend the owner and property, the dog learns the proper way of doing it. It learns that it has to be done on command and not just because the old lady with a walker looks weird. It learns how to turn on and off it’s defense and protection instinct based on owners command.

At the same time the owner learns what to expect from the dog. Most people, who have not done this training with their dog, panic when the dog gets aggressive or actually bites someone. When a person has done this exercise with their dog, they have experience of controlling their dog and have a good understanding of their dog’s abilities.

Last, but not least … It is a fun mental and physical exercise for your dog!

Agility/Tracking Training

These forms of exercise are extremely fun. They are physically demanding and mentally stimulating for your dog. The training, just like obedience training, builds a bond between the owner and the dog. These exercises give your dog a job and a purpose.

First time and having fun #canecorso #dogtraining

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There are many forms of these exercises … agility courses, fly ball, dock jumping, coursing and scent tracking.

All breeds can do it and will enjoy the physicality and fun of it.

So, in conclusion…

IF YOU ARE NOT TRAINING YOUR DOG, WHY THE HELL DID YOU GET ONE?!

Dogs need a job and mental stimulation! They want to work! Some need more and some need less, but they all do… from Saint Bernard to Yorkie.

If you don’t want to, don’t have time to, or just too lazy to do it … DON’T GET A DOG! Get a cat, fish or may be an XBOX to keep your self busy on the couch.

If you got a dog, then get out and train it and have fun with it. The love, the bond and the appreciation the dog will have for you is nothing like you’ve experienced before!

 

 

Adolescent fears and opportunity training

Dexter will be 7 months in a few days and he has been going through normal adolescent moods, fears and tests.

One of the things I started noticing is that he is afraid and unsure of carts, baby carriages and similar wheeled objects. Despite of me introducing him to these things in his earlier age, his “tough” adolescent mind decided that these things are better to stay away from.

Obviously, for a dog that is going to live in Brooklyn and is lining up to do Schutzhund and IPO, these are unacceptable fears.

I’ve seen many people ignore these signs and chuck it off to being cute and just “a baby thing” and ignore the fact that these puppy fears can turn into full blown panics or aggression feats when the dog gets to adulthood. And believe me, I wish luck to anyone who wants to deal with a fully grown mastiff in panic or manic aggression mode.

Thus, I have been walking Dexter by lawnmowers and ladies with carts and etc, but this morning we got a perfect opportunity to face his insecurity head on. Right by our house was a perfectly nice abandoned shopping cart. Dexter promptly decided to make a wide and expeditious circle around it. But to his dismay, which resulted in few “Are you kidding me looks?!” from Dexter and people on the street, I went straight for it and proceeded to roll the cart with us as Dexter and I walk down the street. As he became a bit more confident, i placed him in it and rolled him around. Next, we progressed to walking circles around the cart with Dexter right next to it and doing some basic sit/down obedience with plenty of praise and treats. Not surprisingly, after 10-15 minutes of these shenanigans, he was comfortable and care free walking next to the rolling cart as I rattled and bounced it around or just rolled it in circles.

Unplanned training session to develop his confidence and nerves #canecorso #canecorsopuppy #dogtraining #fun

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In one morning of opportunity training we resolved a very simple but potentially very aggravating puppy neuroses. Not only did we solve a problem, but we also had a bit of fun and increased my dog’s trust in me and our bond.

Pay attention to your dog and his behavioral signs! Do not treat puppy behavioral problems as cute and funny “puppy things.” Help your dog explore life and things around them. Guide them through dealing with threatening and uncertain situations and things! It might be funny to you, but to your 6 months old pup the baby carriage might be the most fearsome thing in the world. Your work and patience will pay off by leading your puppy to becoming a confident and reliable dog that will respect and love you and will be ready to follow you in to water, ice and fire!

 

 

 

Dexter had his own plans this morning! Lesson on flexibility in training.

I had big plans for the morning walk with Dexter. We were suppose to do a tracking exercise, some obedience and tug play. Oh, and maybe we work on some healing.

So, tracking done, I am ready to do some obedience work and BAM!!! Dexter decides that the only thing he cares about this morning is some invisible entity that he cannot get his attention off. He locked in staring into the distance and sniffing. No commands or food could distract him. He was full of tense, concentrated energy that was laser beam directed into that ghost.
Now, I faced a choice … Push him into what I wanted to do or let this almost 6 months old deal with whatever occupied his mind.
My plans crushed, I decided to listen to my pup and allow him to process his emotions and interests along with me.
Instead of all the training planned, we went for a long power walk. I chose to be a part of his process and help him drain that energy with my help.  We walked together and allowed his tension to dissipate into the walk.
Ah, and after about 20 minutes of power walking, a miracle happened, my pup relaxed into an easy trot and his attention returned to me. We did some simple obedience exercises and happily went home.
So, remember to be fluid with your dog. Pay attention to their emotions and behavior. Especially, with young dogs who are still processing lots of new information about themselves and the world. Be patient and attentive! Sometimes you will need to surrender you desires, plans and ego and go along with your dog’s needs. Your patience and understanding will pay dividends later through greater bond and respect with you dog.

What's there? #canecorso #canecorsopuppy #dogtraining

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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!!!

Starting obedience training with a puppy

Dexter is 9 weeks old and we have started obedience training almost right away.

I believe that there is no such thing as too early to start basic obedience training with a dog. As long as a puppy can be excited with food or toy, it can be trained basic obedience skills. Sit, Come, Down, Place … are all mandatory and essential skills every dog needs to have. The earlier a puppy learns these, the better your relationship and bond will be.

The key is to use only positive reinforcement in your training. There should be no negative reinforcement in early stages, as you are trying to build a bond and connection with the young dog. Harsh and negative correction will only hinder the process. Patience, repetition and lots of treats will get the job done quickly and with lots of fun.

In addition to learning a skill, a puppy will also drain their mental and physical energy while it is learning new skills and thus will be calmer and more relaxed at home.

DO NOT be stingy with your praise and treats. Puppy needs to receive a treat as soon as he performed a requested skill. This is something excellent dog trainers are amazing at. Also, use treats that are easily broken down into small pieces and can be swallowed by the puppy as fast as possible. You do not want him concentrating on chewing, but on doing the task. It is more about the flavor and the act of receiving food for the dog and not about the amount it got.

I use turkey hotdogs, uncooked, and cut into tiny pieces. They are cheap, dogs love them and are easy to cut in to small chunks.

Teach/play with your puppy for 5-15 minutes at a time and always end on a good note. If you see the dog is getting tired and losing concentration, have him do an easy task, give lots of praise and let him rest.

The more you do this with your dog, the better will be your bond and you will have a happy and stable dog.

Here is a video of Dexter and I working on his come and sit skills. It took me 2 days to get the results in the video.

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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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.