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!

 

 

Dexter’s good morning 

Hmm… We’re up a bit earlier then usual. The little furry brother seems to be doing his usual thing and I can hear Him doing the stuff he always does when I wake up. That means it will be time to go soon.

Ah, here He is. I’ll watch Him to make sure I don’t miss the time we can go. Ok… Just a bit longer… I hear a dog outside … I have to let them know to stay away… Woof!! There, I told them… Feels good.

Ok, He is coming … And … I’m out. The neck thing is on and we go! As usual, the furry brother tries to come too, but I help Him to chase him away.

The room before we get outside is moving and I have to sit here and I get a treat! That feels good … All is in order.

I pee on my tree … Hi tree… Glad to see that no one inappropriate peed on you since I saw you!

Ok … Now I wait for Him to put those tasty things that I sniff out. Ah!!! I can bark at this small flying thing while I wait!

Ok … Here we go… He says Sook and I sniff and find tasty things and he is happy when I do and I am happy cause he is happy and tasty things make me happy… And that makes Him happy!!! GOOD!!!

I know this… Wait … No I don’t. Hmm … I walk close to him, but now he wants me to lie down as we go. I think I get it. Let me try to get up?!?! Nope … He doesn’t like that. He likes when I walk and when he says Down, I lie down! Got it! I lie down … He is happy and I get a tasty thing and I am happy!!! GOOD!

I do things I know and He is even happier. Wow… This is great!

Oh cool, this dark girl is here and He lets me play with her. She runs and I run and if she doesn’t run… I raff at her and she runs. Oh oh … He got my Preciuos! It is so cool how He does that. Ahh… She got my Preciuos!!!! Must get it back! That’s right!!! It’s mine and I’ll take your Precioius! Ha … I’m the Boss! Hmm … Ok, He is the Boss, but I am right after Him! Cause he controls Preciuos, but I got it back from the dark girl.

We’re back in the safe place and I know food is coming. Food!!! Ok… I wait until he makes that sound and now I can eat!!! Food!!! I like Food!

Food is gone… I wish there was more Food! Ah, little furry brother … Come here … I said Come Here!!! Look, I brought you Precious to throw for me! You still don’t know how to do it? It’s ok you’ll learn one day! Maybe if I press it on you and chase you you’ll learn. No? Fine, we’ll work on it more.

He gets me and throws the tasty stick into my home and he seems happy and I am happy. 

Now I wait until he is back and we do happy stuff! I know he’ll be back so I just got to wait here. Hey!!! The tasty stick… Let’s see if you got tastier!

It’s a GOOD morning!

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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Your kid doesn’t want a dog!!!

I was telling few co-workers that I got a puppy. One of the people I was having a conversation with said that she would like o get a dog for her kid. She would like her ten-year old to walk the dog and to have something to be responsible for. My response “Your kid doesn’t want a dog!!!” shocked her.

I’ve had this conversation with people many times. The assumption is that the kid will be happy to go for daily walks with the dog and will be enjoy everything with it. It is based on the fact that the child is constantly asking for a dog and is so happy to play with puppies.

However, the sad reality is that kids get bored and lose interest in pets quickly, especially once the puppy has grown into an adult dog and is not as cute or as much fun anymore. What kids, and often parents, don’t realize is that taking care of the dog is a mandatory daily exercise and is not a fun thing you do once in a while. A dog requires training, care and finances. All those things are required throughout the dog life and not just in the beginning … few vet visits, few puppy classes and few toys … And you’re done.

No you are not!

The child grows up and loses interest and the puppy becomes a dog and is not a cute little toy anymore. Even when the puppy is little, it is not a toy. Kids learn quickly that the dog doesn’t like being used as a toy and often the consequences of kids not being taught how to behave with a puppy result in the dog being given away or even worst, destroyed, because it bit the child, who was abusive and rough.

The consequence of the child wanting a dog is that the parent has to take responsibility for daily walks and exercise. The result is usually a grumpy dad who resents going out for those evening walks after work or frustrated mom who has to get up earlier in the morning to walk and feed the dog. The dog, as a result, get a quick frustrated walk around the block and maybe a nice walk on a weekend. There is also a possible access to the backyard where the dog is left to its own imagination and wrecks havoc in frustration.

So do not get the dog for your kid!!! (Some kids are an exception. I got my Doberman at 13 years old and spend every waking moment with it … walking, training and playing. However, I have always been obsessed about dogs.)

Get a dog if you as an adult want to have a dog and are willing to dedicate time to train and exercise with it. Your kids will benefit greatly from living with and caring for a pet, but they will not take care of it! I believe having a dog is one of the greatest experiences out there! However, most people only like the idea of a dog in the house and not the actual responsibility of having a dog.

So, do not buy a dog because your kid saw one in pet store or had fun playing with it in a park or friends house!

Make a responsible and mature decision!

Chances are neither you or your kid really want to have a dog!!!

 

A little bit of training

We have been working on come, sit, down and leash walking. All is done with lots of praise and encouraged with food. We do randomly about 20-40 minutes a day of training in between walks and play.

It is paying off and here is a short clip of Dexter doing Sit and holding the position while I walk away about 25 feet. On command he comes to me into come/sit position.

There is no magic to this. All it takes is patience, praise and desire to spend time with your dog.

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!!!

Raw food vs Dry food Costs

I am seriously considering going with raw food option for Dexter.

Here is him trying it for the first time… To say the least, it was a success

It has been 3 days and we are doing kibble (Taste of the Wild Salmon) in the morning and raw Bravo Turkey Blend in the evening as a transition process. I do see qualities of raw food that many people speak of. Dexter’s stool is more solid and he is drinking less water after he eats raw. There hasn’t been enough time yet to make a better evaluation, but so far there has been no negative side effects.

However, an important aspect of going with raw (pre-manufactured, not home-made) option is the cost. Especially for a large breed it could be substantial even with kibble, but raw comes out even more.

Here is a breakdown of costs kibble vs raw:

Taste of the Wild Salmon 30 Lb = 120 cups $40.79 s/h http://amzn.com/B0018CIP6K

According to the manufacturer, Dexter requires at the age of 6-12 weeks about 2 and 1/2 cups a day. As an adult at the weight of 110 lb, he will require about 5 cup per day.

Thus, simple math shows that a 30 lb bag would last me about 48 days now and about 24 days when he is an adult. The cost of feeding is about $1 a day now and about $1.70 later.

Bravo Original Formula Turkey Blend  from PetFoodDirect.com 2lb Chub $6.01 s/h

According to the manufacturer, Dexter requires at this age about 0.56 lb a day. As an adult, at the weight of 110 lb, he will require about 2.5 lb per day average.

Thus, same period as a bag of food would last me, raw food for Dexter would cost me about $80 ($1.66 per day) and about $180 (about $7.50 per day) when he is fully grown

So the cost of raw food is about double the price for the puppy (or small dog) and almost 4.5 times more for an adult large breed (Cane Corso) dog.

48 days of food for puppy

Dry high end kibble food – $40.79 (aprox. $1/day)

Bravo Raw – $80 (aprox. $1.66/day)

24 days of food for adult

Dry high end kibble food – $40.79 (aprox. $1.70/day)

Bravo Raw – $180 (aprox. $7.50/day)

Obviously, it is a lot more expensive to feed raw, especially for an adult large mastiff breed. If raw food delivers all the health benefits claimed by pro raw food community, then the argument is easily won for the favor of raw diet. The vet bills to deal with skin, coat, allergy and digestive issues can be very high. Many dogs with food allergies end up on special vet diets, which can be nearly as expensive as raw.

Aside the costs, dogs health and well-being is a major concern and if raw will prevent all of the above mentioned health issues then, again, the pro-raw argument is easily no-brainer.

I am not arguing here one way or the other. There are great quality kibble foods out there (nearly 100% grain free; grain is usually one of the main concerns in kibble food). I think a conclusive ruling on raw vs kibble is still out there. I am leaning towards raw.

Raw also presents a storage issue as it requires fridge space which can be difficult if you live in an apartment (like I do) and do not have space for extra fridge.  I will have to buy a mini-fridge to store food for Dexter.

Here is an article from WebMD discussing raw diet for dogs.

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/raw-dog-food-dietary-concerns-benefits-and-risks

I would love to hear back from people about their raw vs kibble experiences and opinions.

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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