Bringing Up Baby
Ahhh, the excitement of a new puppy - there's nothing like it. This post will share best practices we have found successful in starting our Cane Corso puppies off right.
Make sure everyone in your house is on the same page when it comes to interacting with your puppy.
That means, identify what is appropriate and inappropriate, acceptable and unacceptable, so that your puppy doesn't receive mixed messages from his new pack. For example, if not allowing the puppy on the furniture is a thing, make sure that when Bobby comes home from college, he doesn't immediately let the puppy on the couch with him. Or, if there is no rough housing with your puppy, make sure your when your elementary age kids are playing on the floor with the puppy, they know not to let the behavior escalate. Though these things may seem insignificant, they send confusing messages to a puppy - "Hey, I was allowed on the couch yesterday and it was so comfy! I'm going to go get on it today!" Or, "I was allowed to jump on and bite this little human yesterday, I'm going to do it again as soon as I see him!" Consistency is an extremely important foundation in raising your pup.
Determine where your puppy's space is going to be.
Dogs appreciate having their own space. Whether a comfy dog bed beside the couch, a crate in the kitchen, or their corner of the couch, you'll discover that dogs appreciate a spot where they can go nap, relax, decompress, or just chill. We highly recommend the use of crates for Corso pups and adults and integrate their use in our household and program. Our dogs know when we say, "Crate," that they are to immediately go into their respective crates and they go enthusiastically and without resistance because from puppy up we've taught them that their crate is their space. Initially, you may get push back from your pup when crate training. Though they are started while they are with us, they are also in the company of their litter mates and their parents. When they go to their new homes, away from their pack, surrounded by new smells and faces, they may whine and cry or howl at night in their crate. Though you may think removing them from their crate will comfort them, it will only set a precedent that, "If I whine and howl, I'll be allowed out." Or, in very simple terms, "The human does what I want," which is not a behavior we want established. Your puppy will learn to comfort himself after a few days.
Create a schedule and routine and stick to it.
Puppies, like babies, thrive in an environment where they can anticipate what comes next. This is not to say that they cannot deal with you running twenty minutes behind because of a traffic hiccup after work; or, a walk that is ten minutes shorter than yesterday's. It simply means that your puppy will be happier if he knows what to expect each day. A consistent, predictable routine for your puppy in the beginning will also contribute to a more successful potty training routine. For example, imagine your morning routine: you wake up in the morning, come downstairs and turn on the coffee pot and then grab your puppy's leash to take him outside. In a short time, your puppy will begin to associate the smell of coffee and the clinking of the leash hardware for "outside," and will know that it's potty time. A routine we developed for our pups is to hang a bell on the back door and ring it every time we take them out to go potty. That routine has created dogs that ring the bell on the back door when they have to go outside. No surprises there and a sense of predictability for the dog. An investment in time management with your puppy will reap many rewards for the both of you moving forward.
Feed your children well.
We, of course, mean your puppy and, when we say well, we mean by utilizing the best nutrition available. In our program, as we begin the weaning process, all of our pups are started on goat milk and high quality, grain-free kibble that we blend in a food processor. Each week, as their teeth come in, we decrease the speed of the food processor in an effort to allow them to chew a bit in preparation for the introduction of raw meat which all of our dogs eat with a high quality, grain-free, kibble supplement. Though we'll go into greater detail about feeding raw in another post, we'll go over the basics and benefits here.
Dogs. Love. Raw. The excitement our dogs exhibit when we bring out their chicken, beef, pork, fish, is palpable. Tails are wagging, bodies are shimmying, ears and eyes are alert - they cannot wait for it - and the bliss in their eyes as they crush the bones in their teeth is amazing. But that's not the only reason why we feed raw. By starting a puppy on raw, you are feeding his muscles and bones the critical building blocks that develop muscle and bone; proteins, amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, B vitamins and B6, creatine. We have seen with our own eyes the difference between clients of ours who followed our nutrition recommendations and clients who didn't when it came to feeding their developing puppies. The clients who fed raw with the suggested kibble supplement have shiny, muscular, thick, big dogs. The clients who petered out and went straight to kibble have beautiful dogs that aren't as heavily muscled, their coats are slightly different, and they're not as big. This is not to suggest that genetics did not somehow play a role in any of the puppy's overall development but we find the differences when it comes to nutrition interesting and exciting.
Sit, sit, sit.
Your Cane Corso puppy will require consistency and leadership and a great way to begin to develop that relationship is through obedience training. Though PetSmart and PetValue offer basic puppy classes, we recommend the use of a certified dog training professional - especially one who specializes in large breeds. Cane Corsos are known for being highly intelligent, dominant dogs who, without firm, consistent (and loving) leadership, can end up running things themselves at home and everywhere else - not a role you want your Corso to take or have just as a rule of thumb. Even after your obedience training has been completed, we recommend continued "reminders" of your training within your day to day lives. Want to give your dog a treat? Make him sit first (always) and maybe teach him to give you his paw as well. Taking your dog out for a walk? Make him sit at the door first before opening it. A small gesture like that can save you being dragged out the door and acts as a reminder that you (the human) are the leader. Due to their savvy, they are notorious for "pushing boundaries," so it is important that they are gently reminded daily that they are the dog; otherwise, the same dog that you've trained not to go on the couch may, one day, climb up on the couch, discover how heavenly it is compared to his crate, and will claim it as his own. And, though that may seem harmless, we know of some who, once they claim the couch as their own, will then growl and snarl at anyone (human or animal) who attempts to sit on the couch; behavior that is completely unacceptable and, in the wrong situation, with the wrong person, terrifying.
Remember that it takes more than one training to educate, train, create boundaries and routines for your Corso puppy. If you have any questions about your puppy or your training methodologies, we are always here to help.