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Bringing up a strong minded dog

 
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We've just got a new puppy! Della is an American mastiff x Cane corso.  She looks like her dad!  Although black in the photos, there is a bit of lighter colour coming through so we think she will be mostly brindled.  This is our third dog, all of which we got as puppies.  Our first dog, Douglas died a couple of years ago, and we'd been thinking of getting our Labrador, Dyson, a friend for a while.  We would have been happy getting an older dog, but all the rescues we saw online were 'no cats' and most needed 6ft fencing too!  It would not be easy going to see the dog, during lock down either, and didn't seem fair to take our other dog half way across the country for introductions to make sure they would get on.  So anyway these puppies came up locally and the owner saved us one, even though we couldn't afford the full price.

She is a darling and Dyson absolutely adores her. He missed his dinner and breakfast he was just too excited to eat! And will give her his biscuits and let her hang off his jowls even though she's got sharp little teeth.  I'm having to protect his dinner since she is used to sharing a big bowl with her litter mates, and I'd rather monitor what she eats.
So: food
From what I've read online it is important not to overfeed a big breed like Della will be.  Apparently they can grow too quickly and this leads to skeletal issues.  I think I can formulate something based on rice, vegetables and ox lights from our butcher. We've been using mainly raw meat for Dyson, with a complete biscuit. I've also made a batch of bone jelly to mix in.  Any other tips or ideas would be appreciated.
I've had a go at making a hard biscuit for her.  She seems to like to gnaw on stones!  I based my recipe on the UK navy biscuits from Greenwich museum
 . I used some gluten free bread flour that had gone out of date and some no salt veg stock cubes for flavour.  Even at more than half an inch thick however, she still has no trouble crunching them up!  Do I just make them thicker still, or has anyone a better idea?

My main concern is socialising and training.  Both our other dogs have been lovely!  Our first was a lab/border collie cross; we used to call him a labradollie he was that good natured.  Dyson is a full labrador retriever and is a real nanny dog.  Della seems to quite very intelligent.  She seems to understand much of what we say and will come very well when called (for a treat) even from out of sight.  She want to do what we say (she can sit but hasn't got the hang of staying) so she has a good potential which we want to do justice to.  I am just very aware that she will be a big powerful dog, and is very confident.  We never got either of our others to walk on the lead nicely, and I'm sure that we would not be able to restrain Della if we can't train her well.  Her breeder uses a figure eight lead on her dogs, but someone else locally says that's just being lazy.  The trouble is we are a bit lazy - we have 6 1/2 acres to run around off lead, so walking on lead on the road is a rare necessity, but we do need to prepare for. She's only turned ten weeks the day before yesterday, so we've had her 10 days and have just concentrated on daily routine and getting used to each other, but I think she's ready for more now.  Any experience to share would be gratefully recieved.
 
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Congrats on the gorgeous pup!

My family has always adopted bulldog or Pit bull mixes from the shelters. That can be a challenge, since we don't usually know their past. Bulldogs tend to be, well, bull-headed. And they have all been runners. If the door was left open, they were bolting out of the house.

What has worked for us is that we find out what motivates them. For some of our dogs, it was the tennis ball. And a car ride. Two of our dogs have gotten out, and the only way we could bring them back was to open the car door and show them the tennis ball. We made sure NOT to scold them when they got back home, because we didn't want them to associate coming back home with punishment.

Another of our dogs is motivated by food. She will go through her whole repertoire of "tricks" if she sees me with a bit of cheese, for example. Sit, down, shake, whatever...she wants me to see her showing her "skills" so I will give her something.

Leash training those bullies has always been our challenge. We try to show them grace, because they are by nature strong leaders. It's in their DNA to want to go ahead of us for protection. They're also really muscular. What works for most of our dogs is a halter, not a choke collar. So if I were in your situation, I'd start leash training now. Maybe an idea would be to always keep your pup on a leash right now if she's outside. I've sometimes kept my dogs on a halter with a leash tied to my belt loops. It keeps my hands free to do what I need to do, but still the dog is kept close by. She must go when I go, and must stop when I stop. It's a pain, because I would always get tangled up with the leash around my legs, but I'd try to reward the dog if they were by my side and not acting the fool.

Another one of my soapboxes is kennel-training our dogs. We keep our dogs inside the house if we are gone, but until they are trustworthy to be left alone, they must be crated. If we have someone over to the house that might be afraid of our dogs, the dog is crated.

Dogs have a special place in my heart. Congrats on your beauty!
 
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Hi Nancy;
We have a Mastiff / 1/4 great pyrenes.
I highly recommend starting leash training now.
Until you teach them , mastiff's seem to have a serious dislike of being restrained by a leash.
Molly would drop down and try to back away as soon as you hooked her up.
Now after training, she mostly will swagger along at your side... unless there is a really good sniff needed nearby... then she needs a reminder...

They are incredible awesome doggy's,  very smart,  very protective,  also very laid  back/ lazy/sleep a lot kind doggy.
She seems to prefer on her back ,legs akimbo.
They watch everything and everyone.
They use a bark and hold method of detaining intruders.
Nothing like a #120 dog with all her ruff standing straight up barking at you to freeze an intruder.

Some are wet mouth... they tell me you get used to the slobber flinging around...
Thank goodness Miss Molly is a dry mouth "Whew dodged a bullet there"
They are extremely anxious when separated from their "pack" YOU .
Molly will sit on the bank staring down the lane and mournfully howl when I leave without her.

Your going to have 2 great doggy's in 2 years or so.





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pollinator
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Congrats on the gorgeous pup, Nancy!

She's going to be a big puppy, that's for sure. You're wise to consider how to handle the training.

I think you've made it clear that you're aware how necessary training will be for an animal that will become so large and powerful. I have my lazy side, too. I find it's not wise to indulge it in life-and-death situations; a 150-200 lb. bundle of untrained wants, impulses, instinct, muscle, bone, teeth, and paws can easily become that.

I would also encourage harness training and keeping the pup on a short leash outside. Considering the size of the dog and its potential to grow at alarming rates, I would keep that pup from running for the first year or two, as you might for a breed like a Great Dane, until your vet specifically tells you that bone and socket growth have proceeded far enough along. If you let some breeds run too soon and too often, they could cause serious bone and joint issues to develop.

The dietary restriction I believe is largely caloric in nature. I feel that a nutrient-dense diet with sufficient calories is best, personally. You'll know that she'll get everything she needs, and if the most of her training revolves around staying around you, with distance stuff saved for when it's safe for her to run unchecked, she won't have huge demands on her caloric intake beyond her own physical and mental development.

A friend of mine had a rescued Pit Mastiff for a while after high school, until he had to find a more suitable home for him on a farm a couple hours away. Charlie was fawn-coloured with a chocolate brindle pattern, and he was easily 150 lbs. He loved his person, a love he extended to his person's friends. He would never be more than about six feet from his person outside, and sometimes literally fell all over himself to do things to please him.

He hated being confined, and was destructive if it was allowed. He loved when his people would leave unattended glasses of beer on the table; we quickly learned (okay, not so quickly, some of us) to look for the slimy sheen of dog slobber on our mysteriously depleted beers. Oh, and he loved to sing along with us.

It's sad to think that he's probably the better part of a decade gone by now, but I bet he feels skritches and ear rubs in the Summerlands any time any of his people think good thoughts about him.

-CK
 
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i'm not sure i agree with the figure 8 lead being lazy (I'm assuming a figure 8 is a halter type thing). I have trained horses and trained dogs and I think a halter makes a lot more sense for dogs than a collar or a harness at first, especially if that dog is a strong one with tendencies to pull. I think more than anything it sets up the dog for success, making it clear what you want.
Something else I used on my last dog, a bully-type mix with enough shepherd to make him bullish AND too smart for his own good, was a backpack, when he was old enough to safely carry one but young enough to still be a ball of energy. Mostly he just carried weight, but occasionally he carried real things for me. He loved it, it tired him out on walks with my older dog, and gave him something to do. I made it out of some freebie vinyl bags I had laying around, nothing fancy, worked really well.
 
Nancy Reading
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Thanks everyone for your replies.
Stacie, Kudos for taking on those challenging animals.  It must be satisfying to see them after a few years, when you think what their fate could have been.  Pit bulls are banned animals in the UK - considered just too dangerous a temperament.  
So far we know Della likes tug games.  She doesn't seem too keen on chasing after balls, but Dyson loves fetch, so she's not had much of a look in.  Della does like her food (and Dyson's given half a chance) so I think some small smelly puppy treats will work well if we can get her to concentrate on us and not just the food!  She has a tendency to jump for what she wants.
As regards crates.  We built a dog den for Douglas in the corner of the kitchen and extended it for Dyson.  Originally it had a barred door on it, but over the years we have discarded that, so it's really just somewhere out the way for them.  I put some wooden slats on when Dyson wouldn't leave poor Della alone, so she could get in, but he couldn't, but they've both settled down now.  That corner is earmarked for my larder when we redo the kitchen, and the dog beds will be in the utility when that is built (in about ten years time though at the rate we're going!).
 
Nancy Reading
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Thomas, Miss Molly is gorgeous! I think Della will be more slender judging by her parents.  She has long legs and neck at the moment, and is very athletic.  It doesn't seem like she will be a chaser, but she does seem to like to trot around.  She has slipped out the gate after me when I was off to the shop once already.  She loves people - everyone she meets at the moment.  My husband often has people to the house, so we don't really want her to worry about that, she should soon get used to meeting people.  All the local kiddies want to come and play with her.  Douglas and Dyson used to be our shop welcome dogs on a Saturday for a few hours. But Douglas got a bit protective of Dyson, so we thought it best to stop bringing them down.  When Della has her final jabs we could bring her down to meet and greet a bit.  It would expose her to lots of different people in a short time, as well as various cars and other vehicles.
 
Nancy Reading
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Chris, thanks for the reply.  Yes I am very concious of my responsibility with Della.  We were very lucky that Douglas and Dyson both have lovely temperaments, but Dyson can only be described as good enough. He's not really well trained, but is so good natured it hasn't mattered.
Thanks for the tip on running too early.  She doesn't seem to be much of a chaser, but is quite happy going on pretty long walks around the holding with us.  Quite confident now, and pushes her area of familiarity each time.  We're due to see the vet in about two weeks for her final vaccination and to get her chipped, so will be sure to ask about that too.  We think she may be good at agility work, she certainly enjoys exploring tunnels and climbing! She also seems to follow scents, so that might be another task to try.
 
Nancy Reading
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Tereza, yes a figure eight harness is like a halti, but with a slip action.  Properly attached it pulls the nose down if the dog tries to pull, but has a sliding tab that stops it loosening so the dog can't rub it off.  I'm a bit inclined to start with a basic collar and lead and see how we get on with simple following.  She's certainly bright enough, but we need to make it fun for her as well, which I think will be a challenge. When I was browsing to find some illustrations gor you I found the guide dog association seem to use it in conjunction wuth a standard collar (see guidedog.org), so maybe we should do that: start with a standard collar and lead in the house and garden, and than put a figure 8 on as well when we get to a more challenging environment.  She is only a baby at the moment, so not likely to be too strong for a month or so yet. In a week or so she has her jabs so can come out on the road and she might be up for extending her horizons by then.  Plenty of sausage treats required I suspect as well!
Interesting idea on the carrying. I wouldn't mind someone carrying my gardening bag sometimes! It would give me a hand free. Maybe I'll have a go at making her a backpack when she's older.  She already enjoys helping with the weeding!
 
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First off your new puppy is going to require lots of socialization.   The Cane Corso are a guardian breed and if not exposed to people, etc when young the can become reactive as adults.   For training yes start with a plain collar, a clicker and some treats...  Many dogs really dislike head collars and will shut down, a few will go crazy and can harm themselves trying to get out of them.   I can highly recommend Sue Ailsby book Training Levels, Steps to Success.  It will probably be unlike any training book you have read before but if you read it and follow it you will end with a fantastic dog.  You can find the book here https://sue-eh.ca/product/training-levels/

Food the goal is to keep the puppy lean but not malnourished and to ensure the proper amount of calcium is in the diet.  Too much can be as harmful as not enough so it can be hard to get it right when feeding raw or home made diets but it is possible.  Remember your girl will probably take up to 3 years to fully mature and can be well over 100 pounds when mature.  That is a lot of bone and muscle to build so she may eat a lot more then you expect as a puppy but taper off drastically  when mature.

Good luck with your pup I will be looking forward to seeing your adventures .
 
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