"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Neighbour’s Cane Corso Puppy is a Concern

– Posted in: Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff), Columns, Mastiff, Molosser, Newsletters
Cane Corso Pig Boar Hunting

Hi John,

We have a next door neighbour who recently bought a cane corso “puppy”. I have seen it chase kids and pull them down by their shirts, on one occasion snipping at a boy and causing him to cry. The dog is seldom on a leash and It doesn’t seem they are training the dog for obedience. What do you recommend we do as neighbours? I love dogs but this situation seems dangerous.

Thank you.

Jack

Hi Jack,

It certainly has the potential to be dangerous. In order to answer your question regarding what you can do as neighbours depends on whether your neighbour is stupid or just ignorant as you’ve no doubt heard you can’t fix stupid so fingers crossed that it’s just ignorance.

Unfortunately the Cane Corso breed is finding itself on the wrong end of both stupid and ignorant humans. Some breeds are Ferraris and some breeds are mini vans and the average Cane Corso is not a mini van. Things you can get away with allowing with a breed like a Golden Retriever can back fire big time with the Molosser breeds of which the Cane Corso is one.

Dogs of most breeds will partake in the “chase the prey” game but breeds like the Cane Corso aren’t that far removed from the genetics of their predecessors where hunting dangerous big game like wild boars was part of their regular existence. Allowing this breed to partake in this sort of behaviour (which at this point is very likely just play behaviour) is a mistake in my opinion. It’s play now but play which taps very nicely into the dog’s genetics and can later backfire horribly, usually between 18 months and 3 years of age.

The behaviour the dog is exhibiting is normal enough, what is not normal that it’s not being paired with proper obedience where the dog responds to direction no matter it’s agitation level. It’s possible the dog’s owner has sought help but been let down.

True obedience training (not tricks for treats training) has sadly very much become the exception in North America. Maybe partially because people have to work so much harder to get by these days, and there simply isn’t as much of them left over at the end of the day, but mostly because the dog training market has become flooded with amateurs that give out “passed” certificates for the most ludicrously low expectations in obedience. Hard to blame them. Working with dogs is fun. Working with dogs well though, is hard. Very few have the skill set to actually teach a dog owner how to humanely teach their dog to exercise it’s “suck it up muscle” when the desire to follow their genetics overrides their desire for a treat.

Your options are limited. Most of the inquiries I get about this and similar breeds from concerned owners don’t occur until the dogs are about 18 months of age. It takes about that long for dog owners that don’t know the difference between a Ferrari and a mini van to become aware that something is amiss, usually after an incident. You on the other hand are seeing the point where if they called in a professional they’re more likely going to reap the benefits. Basically I’m saying option number 1 is to wait it out until they clue in and maybe do a little research so that if they contact a trainer they are contacting a good one.

Another option is to have a chat with the local animal control to see if they would pay a friendly educational visit about the dos and don’ts of owning a Molosser breed.

Chatting with the neighbour is another option which may or may not pay dividends. It can be hard to broach these sort of concerns in a way that doesn’t get people’s backs up so you’ll need your best people skills. If they’re suffering from ignorance you might get somewhere, if stupidity not so much I’m guessing.

If things escalate from the dog’s behaviour perspective most areas in North America (states and provinces) have Dangerous Dog legislation which sometimes is written in such a way where the dog doesn’t actually have to have acted and followed through in an attack but is simply acting in a threatening manner. Getting local enforcement agencies to act is tough though. The only way I’ve ever seen consistently get any action is when a person or persons in the neighbourhood provide a factual unemotional account of events and concerns, signed it, then sent it in registered letter format to a few different local officials. Recipients then know it’s on the record and are more likely going to at least investigate.

Good luck. I hope it works out well for all involved, including the dog.

John

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