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Cane Corso's Training Tips

Temperament & Training

All Cane Corso puppies are sweet and adorable when you bring them home. But one must remember that this darling little thing is going to grow very quickly into a large dog. A large dog that can be strong willed and has a dominate nature. You, as the new owner, must establish control and dominance at an early age. If you don’t take the proper steps now, this lovable little puppy can turn into a real problem in a very short time. When you bring a puppy into your home, you are bringing him into a new "pack" There are very specific rules that run the pack. It doesn’t matter whether you know them or not; the puppy knows them and lives his whole life by them. If you are not careful, you could end up with a 120 LB Corso running your home. When a puppy comes into your home, he will begin to test the boundaries and see where he falls in the pack order. Sometimes he will exhibit obvious dominant behaviors; growling or snapping when he is moved or picked up, when someone gets too close to his food or toys, mounting people or other animals or when he does want to be put outside. You should recognize these behaviors as "dominance" and act accordingly. We will go over that below.

90% of ALL "temperament/behavioral" issues in the Corso were created and fostered by the owner.

The most important thing to remember is a Corso needs to have a family unit that is confident. A Corso should never be brought into a family who has members that dislike or are afraid of big dogs. Before you purchase a Corso, make sure that older children (8 yrs+) and ALL the adults in your home are excited and up to owning this breed.
Most of the puppy’s understanding of pack order is communicated to him in subtle ways from the rest of the family unit. (pack) Boundaries are very important. Its Ok to love and snug our dogs, but we should not cater to them and make them think they are a King.


Crate Training / Sleeping in his place

CastleGuard FadeIn the wolf pack one of the things that the leaders do is sleep on higher ground than the rest of the wolves. If your puppy is allowed to sleep uninvited on the bed orthe couch, he thinks that he is equal to you in rank. After all, if he shares the higher ground, he must be a leader. A puppy should learn to sleep in a crate on the floor beside your bed. This includes him and he doesn’t feel alone. It also reminds him that he is lower on the ladder since he sleeps on lower ground. Crates also protect your carpets from "little gifts" while you are sleeping. Right before bed take the pup on his leash to his potty area outside, . Use a "potty" command. Praise him "good potty" for using the proper place. After he goes, place him in the crate. He will cry, but don't let him out. If you give in even once, the puppy never forgets and reclaiming this ground is almost impossible!! Put your hand down to him and speak to him so he knows he's not alone. After a while he will give up and go to sleep. When he wakes, take him out, BEFORE he cries, to his area and use the same words and praises. He may wake in the night at first but will soon find the only reason he can get out at night is to potty. Very soon he will be potty and crate trained. Never "over use" the crate by using it as a kennel to keep the dog in for an extended period of time. All dogs need outside dog time to run and play. If the puppy/dog needs to be contained while the family is away, a fenced yard is best and a large, sturdy kennel is essential. A Cane Corso that is constantly crated or locked in the house all day can develop separation anxiety . Puppies need to potty every couple of hours. Forcing them to try and hold it or to be crated with their waste will crate serious behavioral problems. People without the proper room for a Corso I.e., living in an apartment without some secure space outside, should chose a different breed.


Potty Training

There are two basic rules to housebreaking a dog. One: if the puppy potties in the house its YOUR fault! It means you were not watching the puppy well enough. Two: consistency is paramount. One mistake puts you back days.

Puppies need to potty after they eat, after they wake up and after playtime. The key to success is knowing when they need to go out and containing them properly when they don‘t. If you are unable to watch the puppy the whole time he is in the house, put him in a crate or outside to play.

At first, the puppy should be restricted to the area of the house that is in your line of sight. This should be for brief periods of time. Don’t risk accidents. When its time for the puppy to potty, pick him up and go outside with him. Not going with the puppy is one of the biggest mistake folks make. Just putting him outside to look in wont do the trick. Take him to the area of the yard he is to use and set him down. Then use a potty commend, in a positive tone. Eventually he will get the correlation between the word and act when he is older; he will be able to potty on command. It helps to have a set schedule for feeding and sleeping. Then you know when he needs to go. Don’t ever get angry! No rubbing noses in it or swatting with a paper. Remember if the puppy goes in the house its because YOU weren’t watching close enough or sticking to the schedule.


Corsos and Kids

Cane Corso with proper temperament are very perceptive and are able to bond closely with children. Even though they have a lot of natural instincts that make them generally good with kids, we must curb any behaviors that might confuse our dogs and may cause problems later. First, and foremost, children must be respectful of the puppy. It is our job as the adults of the home to make sure that the children do not play too rough, tease, or hurt the dog. Cane Corsi have very long memories. They may be patient for awhile but will defend themselves eventually. Second, Corsi have natural prey drive, which is why they love to play "chase the bunny" games. It is very important that we do not allow a Corso puppy to play the chasing game with children. Kids running and squealing with the puppy grabbing onto their clothes may seem cute, but this "game" establishes that it’s OK to treat children like "prey". The interaction between children and puppy should AWAYS be supervised. Children and puppies should be encouraged to play in a "low key" manner where the child is always in the dominate place. Puppies should be restrained by the parents when a group of children are playing tag. The dog must learn it’s OK for children to run, scream and play wild and that the dog does not belong in that game. Games like fetch are good. This requires the puppy to do the child’s bidding. Children should never get down low enough for the puppy to jump on or stand over them. This is a subtle dominate action on the dog’s part. If the kids play tug-o-war with the puppy, make sure the child wins the majority of the time. Children should put the puppy on a leash and walk him on a regular basis. Even if it’s only around the house or if the child is too small to lead the puppy on it’s own, "helping" hold the leash will get the point across. Children should be warned NEVER to feed the dog any of their food. If the child establishes that it’s OK for the dog to have his food, don’t be surprised if the dog takes what he wants right out of the kid’s hands. A three year should be able to eat a hotdog on the floor in front of a Corso. He may lick his lips but he should never dream of crossing that boundary. The Corso - kid relationship should be loving, nurturing and full of respect for each other’s place. It is our responsibility, as parents and puppy owners to make sure there is NO confusion about pack order between Kids and dogs!


Just being a puppy

Puppies do things that are "wrong". Relatively few of them are him trying to assert dominance. One must be careful not to over use dominate discipline. If the puppy is not challenging your authority, don’t use a dominant action. The improper use of dominance can make a puppy shy and afraid. If the puppy bites too hard when playing, squeeze his lip hard or thump his nose. Discomfort teaches a lot. Generally, if something causes discomfort, he won’t do it anymore. If the puppy becomes more aggressive when corrected, he may need to be rolled then but always weigh his attitude. If it is just "puppy stuff" Do not over correct the puppy with rolling or scruff shaking. A squirt bottle with vinegar/water is very affective or a can of pennies shaken hard and loud are great tools when the puppy is engaged in unwanted behavior i.e. chewing things other than his toys, putting his nose in the trash, etc. The key to stopping unwanted behavior is consistency. One day of inconsistency will set you back five with a Cane Corso.


Never hit your puppy!

This includes hitting with a rolled newspaper) Hitting a puppy for correction sends very confusing signals to him. Dogs don’t hit each other. The puppy is at a loss as to what "pack rule" he has broken. Hitting can cause anger and aggression or can make the puppy afraid of everything. The best way to discipline a puppy is the way an adult dog would. We will go over that later. Think about this: If a man crawls into your window one night and begins to assault you, you want your dog to become aggressive, right? But if you have punished the dog by hitting him all his life, he will be afraid to attack some one who is hitting you. After all, he will probably just think you pottied on the floor or tore up this guy’s slippers.


Disciple and Dominance - Who is the Boss??

Its your job to teach your puppy his place in your family. Start out day one by holding the puppy, in your arms, on his back. Just hang out watching TV and getting him used to submitting to you in a non-confrontational way. If you are blessed a combination of this and the other “do’s” listed here might be enough. But that isn’t always the case considering we are dealing with a guardian breed.