T Nation

Dog Training


Im looking at getting a dog sometime in the near future and am heavily leaning towards a mastiff, more specifically a Cane Corso. Now my question to you dog owners is how have you trained your dogs. Im particularly interested in input from owners of larger dogs or the so called more aggressive breeds. Did you train them yourself or send your dogs to obedience school, try dvds etc.

Im also looking at Schutzhund training, any input is appreciated.


Don't. You have a lot more homework to do. This post is analagous to the 17 year old whose been lifting for 6 months asking a question about running his first cycle.

Go to a few clubs, get a feel for the commitment required, and then wait a year before you make your decision. Research, research, research. This is not a decision to be taken lightly, and in the end the more work you put in to learning up-front the happier you'll be.

Demo Dick


Ive owned dogs in the past but they werent larger breeds (retrievers). Ive never used "professional" training techniques i was looking for opinions on them.


the breed you are speaking of isn't suited for Schutzhund. I have have an 11 yr old shepherd, big 31" at the shoulders and 135lbs lean in his prime. Just as Dorian needed weights, and MJ needed a b-ball, certain dogs are meant for schutzhund. Dog park ideology is fucked, people do it for themselves.

Dog whisperer is the man, the monks of new skeet are good, as said above read and research. a dog isn't a cool new thing for college. Dogs are a pain in the ass!!!!

i did schutzhund for 5yrs w/ my dog Cyrus, activities as such don't create aggression more so they create control. however, the difference is...activities such as schutzhund create a scenario wherein your dog is no longer bite inhibited, meaning: other dogs might posture up, growl, etc., a trained dog will bite a human w/out fear of reprisal.

just as there are no magic tricks in the gym, there are no magic tricks w/ dogs, the truth is w/out proper knowledge people trend to do both things wrong.

good luck, and do yourself a favor get a real dog, not a dog fighting super hero my dog will kill your dog bullshit dog. Squat, press, deadlift = Shepherd, Doberman, Rottie.


my buddy owns a Tibetian Mastiff, huge dog raised w/out socialization, it's bitten five people. I like mastiffs but they are stubborn and lack the desire to please trait which is useful for things like schutzhund.


ok forget shutzhund how about proffessional training, yay or nay? if so what dvd's/programs do you recommend?


Yes, if and when you get a dog you are going to want to find a good, reputable trainer. The problem is, competent trainers are few and far between. Look for a trainer that has earned working titles, preferably on a number of different breeds. Good trainers generally use positive reinforcement to teach, corrections to proof, and will approach each dog individually rather than use a cookie-cutter approach. One-on-one instruction is a must for both you and your dog, as a first time handler/trainer is going to get overwhelmed in a class type setting with a green dog.

A good start as far as reference material? If I were you I would look into Ivan Balabanov's DVD's. They're published by Canine Training Systems and cost around $70 each. And they are just a beginning point from which you should plan to start.

I have a little over five years in working APBT's, training, handling and competing across a variety of sports and Personal Protection (which I don't consider a sport). I absolutely love working dogs, but advise anyone looking to get into this stuff to do ten times the homework they think they need to. I got much of what I know through "cowboy learning", i.e. learning the hard way, and do my best to help others avoid doing it that way.

Demo Dick


I had a Bull Mastiff mix with Australian Shep... He was 125lbs but had the temperment of the shepard... My kids could pull his tail while he ate and ride him... We gave him a lot of love and in return he loved us. Was never violent(except for once..story/photo is in other thread)...


I took my dog to obedience school - the kind where you have to have a bag of treats to bribe your dog to do what you want. My dog nipped the owner of said obedience school and we both got asked to never return. It was the ONLY time my dog ever bit anyone and I was very very upset about it. But, most situations like this have a silver lining, and by necessity...I got into Cesar Millan books and DVDs. I learned SO much and have become a big fan of his. It solved my dogs issues (pulling) in a snap.

Good luck with your new dog, whatever you choose!..Most important to socialize, socialize and socialize as a pup. I didn't do that enough and had some fixing to do as a result.

Dogs are NEVER a pain in the ass...if they are a labor of love :slightly_smiling:


That's a problem with the trainer, not the method. All dogs bite and do so for any number of reasons. Some bites are justified, some are not. If I were working with you and your dog bit me, the FIRST thing I would do is assess why the dog bit and work from there. To ask you to leave is the sign of a weak trainer. Sorry you had to deal with that. And food rewards are not "bribes", they are paychecks, if used correctly. I don't work for free, and I don't ask my dogs to either. Even a verbal "good boy" or petting is an external reward in the dog's eyes. I tell people to use whatever works the best.

I've met Cesar. While he can help with a few things, a lot of the stuff he advocates is downright dangerous for most people to try. The alpha roll for example...I'd pay real money to watch him try that with my dog. It's the single best way I can think of to get bit in the face. Pulling is an easy thing to fix for anyone with a modicum of experience in training and handling. Any trainer worth their salt would help you fix that in one session.

Absolutely spot on.

And again, always do your homework.

Demo Dick


Obedience school helped me with my Rottweiler, but you can't expect the training to ever be over. Big dogs like these need lots of attention and exercise and discipline. If you are a little weiry about it, get a female. They'll be a little smaller and are often easier to train - especially if it's your first "agressive" dog.

Another thing that helps is to stay in contact with the breeder you get the dog from. They can be excellent in helping you with any problems you have along the way.


When i said they were a pain in the ass it was an an attempt to illicit the point that deciding to have a dog will change your lifestyle and is a serious decision requiring much forethought, and keeping a house clean w. a shedding Shepherd is a pain in the ass!

  • Prong collar when bad

  • Treat when good

  • 100% consistancy. EVERY time he was bad, pop the collar. Every time he was good, here's a treat.

He quickly learned that being good equaled reward and being bad was uncomfortable.

He also has very high drive. So we play a LOT of games. And he gets 2 walks a day.

It can be done, just know that if you are getting an energetic, high drive, potentially agressive dog your lifestyle will change.

Our dog is a shepherd/heeler mix around 50lbs. He sheds like crazy. Smells bad all the time (like a wet dog). Barks a lot. WE love him :slightly_smiling:


Some breeds may be more suited to working or the working sports like Schutzhund and Ringsport, but it is gratuitous and less than accurate to declare a breed like the Cane Corso unsuited out of hand. Shepards and Malinois are used most often because they excel in those disciplines, but that doesn't preclude other courageous breeds from doing fine in the hands of a competent trainer and helper.

I've seen all kinds of unlikely breeds do fine and sometimes quite well in Schutzhund exercises even if they weren't tried and certified. I've heard of Dogos, Fila's, American Bulldogs, Presa's, English and Neopolitan Mastiffs and the good ol APBT gain Schutzhund 3, not to mention one Standard Poodle. Hell, it may look weird, but I've seen mini powerhouse dogs like Jack Russels and Patterdale and Rat Terriers that will do the work.

All that said, Schutzhund is for Schutzhund's sake. Pride in achievement and competition. If it's been trained in proper Schutzhund fashion it has almost nothing whatever to do with real life protection or aggression and definitely not dog on dog aggression in any way. A well trained, tough as nails, regal and terrifying looking Schutzhund dog may piss himself if faced with a real assailant wearing no equipment.

One other thing, a dog that has to be conditioned out of bite inhibition is suitable to neither Schutzhund nor protection or even area protection. That said a dog that is naturally inclined to bite humans or other dogs unprovoked is even less suited. A great Schutzhund dog does not necessarily a great protection dog make though he may. However once Schutzhund trained I've never seen one I'd trust for protection. Either Schutzhund or protection must be trained from the beginning and exclusively.

You are right though in that either Schutzhund or protection, done correctly, do not produce aggression. They condition and harness it. An ideal candidate for either should both naturally love people and be willing to make exceptions as the need arises under competent training though with Schutzhund the helper is a roughhousing playmate and nothing more. With protection it's actual combat. I've done plenty of helper/agitator work though more protection than Schutzhund.

Bottom line is this guy doesn't sound like he has any idea how to choose a breed, specimen, trainer or probably even a reason to own a dog so I agree with you there, but to say a Cane Corso "isn't suited" for Schutzhund is not a truism. A Schutzhund enthusiast for whom Schutzhund titles are the goal isn't going to choose one though if that's what you mean.


Excellent post.

Also, finding a good Dobie these days is damn near impossible. With the hyper-specialization required of Ring, Sch., and Mondio, it's even becoming a challenge to find a balanced Malinois. I've seen a predominance of prey monsters with no defense or fight drive to speak of.

I'll stick with my little game dogs. Suits me just fine.

Demo Dick


None of that made sense from the OPs post.

That being said. I smacked mine when she was young (when she was bad). Yeah yeah, waiting for people to start bitching.

My dog is very obedient and calm. Everyone comments on what a wonderful dog she is and how well behaved she is.

Great Danes FTW


I was pretty clear. The OP is not ready to jump in the pool just yet. More learning to do.

Uh, ok. We're talking about high level competition dogs that make most police dogs look sloppy and out of control, not dogs that are merely "obedient and calm." I can do obedient and calm in my sleep. Now, training the dog to maintain a passive down while an aggressive, screaming decoy sprays him with a hose? Or perhaps placing the dog in a sit on a swinging chair while two suited decoys fight in front of him. That's a little more my speed.

Danes are rampant with health problems including bloat, hip and elbow dysplasia, heart defects...I could go on. The breeds' working ability has been all but destroyed, save for a few rare specimens. Good luck finding one.

The point was, and is, the OP shouldn't get a dog yet. He needs to do more homework. I pointed him in the direction of a good start.

Demo Dick


Google Ben Kersen and the wonder dogs. He has a college where he teaches people to be dog trainers. He lives here in Victoria was three Border Collies that are all trained to respond to hand signals that you can't even see. It is absolutely amazing to watch him. My co-workers girl friend is taking his training course, she's amazed.


Agreed. my post was short sighted and you've elaborated on some key points i was too tired/disinterested to bother with. Unfortunately a lot of folks seemingly make short sighted decisions based on gonads and strife. The distinctions you've cited between schutzhund and protection training are valid.

i believe my point on bite inhibition was received incorrectly, the point i was pushing towards was as follows: traditionally a dog is scolded and held harshly accountable for biting, a trained dog is praised for that very behavior under set conditions, owning a dog that is trained to bite when warranted comes with a higher level of owner responsibility.

I saw a wiener dog do a crazy courage test, airborne snap jaw wiener dog attack. Point to you again whereby it's not the breed but more so individual constitution. That being said certain dog's will fold up and collapse like broken lawn chairs.


See, this is where the OP confuses me. Is he looking for a dog just to have a dog? Because that's what I gather from his first post. When someone says something like, "Im looking at getting a dog sometime in the near future" they just want the companionship of a dog. And for that you don't need specialized training. A basic home dog only needs to know how to respond to a handful of commands that any competent owner can teach.

But then he brings up Schutzhund and professional training and now I don't know what he's thinking. Anything beyond basic obedience is a pretty serious commitment. And anyone who's just mulling this over in his head, probably isn't ready for it.