Do I really need a trainer for my puppy?
I'm asked this question frequently by folks who have some dog experience, "Why do I need to hire a trainer? Ive already trained all my dogs before."
We all look in the mirror to make sure our clothes look like they fit, make sure we aren't walking out of the house with two different colored socks on, etc.. A dog trainer is your mirror. They will coach you into being the best partner for your dog and to set you both up for success. In addition, your dog trainer is a PROFESSIONAL. They've studied many different training tools, dog behavior and motivation and they will use the best training tools and methods that will work for your dog.
Hiring a dog trainer doesnt mean that you dont know about raising a dog. Not all dogs develop and learn in the same manner. All dogs go through certain stages, such as fear periods, where you need the guidance of a trainer to correctly identify what's happening and form a plan to get through it.
Even if you have some experience with dogs, nothing can compare to someone who has dedicated their life to working with dogs and their people. In the Potrero contract, all my puppy owners agree to attend a basic obedience class immediately with their puppy. This is so that you all start off on the best foot and paw!
After hearing about all the cases of diet related Cardiac problems in dogs, I decided to go with a dog food that has no legumes, peas or white potatoes in the first 6 ingredients. This was much harder than I thought. Most dog foods contain one or more of these ingredients and pretty much every "grain - free" diet contains peas.
I switched our crew to a few different varieties of Victor brand dog food. Not every single dog in our house is on the same food. For puppies and pregnant moms, I like the food to have higher protein and fat content. For the active adults, they get a decent amount of protein and medium fat. For the "mature" folks they get lower protein and fat kibble.
Victor had been great for the last year until the company decided to change their formulas....So here I am, looking at dog foods again.
After looking at all the options, including how many times a food has been recalled, I've settled on using Purina Pro Plan. I have a few different varieties in use here.
For our adult Active dogs, they get Pro Plan Savor Adult Lamb and Rice
For puppies and Moms, they get Pro Plan Performance Salmon and Rice 30/20
For our Mature folks who have sensitive skin and tummies, Pro Plan Focus Salmon & Rice
How We Place our Pups:
We are VERY picky about the homes we place our puppies in. As you are well aware, this breed is not for everyone. Gabe and I do extensive, early socialization, enrichment, and beginning training with all the pups raised here. During the early training and socialization, we are able to make a best guess on which puppy may have more drive for tug or for food. Which puppy may need more mental stimulation than a typical home can offer We do not allow new owners to choose puppies for themselves. Since Gabe and I have competed and titled dogs in multiple performance venues, and we are always continuing our education on training techniques and dog behavior, it is truly best that you let us pick out the best pup for your needs. This is also why we interview ALL prospective homes.
I know alot of breeders may be touting the Volhard method, which claims it can predict a pup's future behavior. In very recent studies, these "puppy tests," such as Volhard, have not shown that they can predict any adult behaviors. The only behavior that seemed to be able to be predicted was a need to explore.
Despite this setback for puppy raisers and breeders, what these tests can do is be a diagnostic for a pup. They can show us what a puppy may need to work on at that moment, but It is not a predicator of adult behavior.
Another study was also released around the same time as the aforementioned one, actually DOES prove that ALL experiences before a dog is a year old, will have a huge impact on how the dog will act when they become an adult. So that means that all the enrichment, training and socialization we do, and YOU continue to do, will have a positive impact on your dog's life and ability to cope with stress. You can read more about what this means here on PuppyCulture.com
I am asked about offering breeding rights quite often. First of all what do people mean by "breeding rights?"
Breeding Rights means the ability for an owner to breed the dog they buy and register the puppies with AKC.
First off, breeding a male and female dog isn't that hard. When a female comes in season, both parties pretty much let mother nature take over and the dogs do their thing.
As a responsible breeder, the hard part is proving that those two dogs should even reproduce in the first place. That is where things like responsibility and ethics and goals, come in to play.
As a pet owner, you know you LOVE your dog and in your eyes, Mr.Man dog is gorgeous and stunning and has the best temperament ever. You know this, because he stands out at the dog park, the beach and when you take him out in public, people cant stop staring. While those things are great and it likely means YOUR Mr.Man Dog is a good canine citizen, it does not mean he should automatically be bred. In addition, just because HE is like this, it doesn't mean he will reproduce his wonderful traits in his offspring.
As a breeder, there are a multitude of traits and factors I weigh in my head about a potential breeding dog. I look at whole litters of dogs from one pairing, look back at the pedigrees, the dogs' health tests, temperament tests and whatever other information I can get, to hopefully make the best prediction for what that potential dog may reproduce.
The next step, is to look at the dog in front of me. While titles aren't the ONLY thing that matter, it is a starting point to proving that a particular dog is worthy of being used in a program... I show my dogs because I want to see how they adhere to the AKC breed Standard, compared to other dogs of their breed. Its extremely hard to look at one's dog and be totally unbiased. Alot of breeders, myself included, tend to nit pick at our dog's faults. Sometimes, its hard to see their virtues. I compete in conformation shows with my dogs, because I want to see them against other dogs in the ring. The whole purpose of dog shows was to choose the best breeding stock. I still believe that is the case. A championship title has merit and it does prove that a dog, who has one, has defeated many dogs of his own breed in order to get it.
Another thing I look at is the dog's health tests and just as importantly a few of the dog's littermates health tests. While science has made testing more available, its not a failsafe and one still cant predict the onset of disease with testing. Testing is a tool for breeders to better understand the dog in front of them. Again, if possible, I like to see the tests from multiple dogs in a litter instead of just one dog as that will give me a better picture of how the dogs reproduce.
Finally, I want to see the dog, and ideally his littermates and parents, perform, be it in Agility, Schutzhund, Obedience, Tracking, Flyball or Dock Diving. I want to see the dog DO more than just sit on the couch or do loose leash walking. For me, one of the most paramount tasks a dog can do is something that the owner has trained it to do. Not only does this prove that the dog is "smart" it also proves that the dog is biddable enough to learn something, retain the information and then perform the behavior on command despite distractions. It also shows that the dog is likely motivated by food or toys and it will work for those items despite being in an environment that might have some temptations. In any type of sport work, you get to higher and higher levels of training and more complicated routines. Of course the owner has 100% to do with the dog's success. The owner also needs to spend time learning to train the dog and investing in their relationship together.
So what does all this have to do with breeding rights?
Well my friends, it has everything to do with breeding rights. Most people want a fantastic, healthy, well tempered pet to share their life with. These dogs may be wonderful ambassadors for the breed and for their families but it doesn't mean they all have to be bred. As a responsible breeder, we need to pick the best of the best. The owners also need to prove that their dog is worthy of reproducing by titling, training and health testing their dogs. I only give breeding rights to puppies I feel are good prospects and owners who are dedicated to doing the work to prove their pup is a good prospect.
And no, I dont charge more for prospects either. All my puppies are the same price, but its the dedication that an owner must prove to me before they get their puppy that will determine whether or not they should get a Show or performance Prospect pup. With all of the work I put in to my litters, I would like to see my puppy owners do the same. Because breeding a male and a female dog is easy, its the work before hand that is really tough.
I am frequently asked what I feed our dogs. And no, its not small children and clowns....
We switched to a raw diet at one time and loved/hated it. I loved the small amount of poop each dog had. That was a breeze to clean. Most of the dogs looked relatively good on it, some got super skinny, some looked the same. The coats in the Lowchen definitely matted MUCH less. What we hated about it was the cost. We sourced raw meats from Costco and our local grocery store and averaged a cost of about $1.50 - $1.75/lb. I know, it doesn't sound TOO bad but when you're feeding around 10 - 15lbs a day, the costs add up dramatically.
I'd looked into the remade raw diets as well. For the Pre-Made raw diets, those were averaging about $2.50+ per pound which was way too expensive for us. Even still we made due for about a year feeding exclusively raw to our crew. Another expense I didnt anticipate was the brand new chest freezer we had to buy. Our regular fridge freezer wasn't big enough for even a weeks worth of raw meat. So we bought a new freezer at Costco. The expenses keep adding up! Finally the deciding factor on whether to stick with raw or not came when we had to go on a weekend trip to a dog show. It was ONLY a 3 day show weekend, how much could I possibly need? Turns out I needed enough raw meat to fill 2 large coolers! Obviously a hotel fridge cant accommodate that much raw meat, so keeping it cold in the coolers was tough for 3 days. In addition, getting the right amount to thaw out each days for their meals was impossible and then there was the issue of keeping everything frozen for multiple days. That was pretty much the nail in the coffin for raw feeding.
So I had to look back at our options for a kibble diet and this is what I've found to be the BEST kibble combo around. We use the Acana Heritage Poultry Kibble and mix that with a small amount of Honest Kitchen Base Mix and add water. I LOVE the Honest Kitchen because its human grade freeze dried veggies and fruits and its an EASY, cheap and simple way to add fruits and veggies to a dog's diet. I've noticed glossier coats, better stools and better weight gain and condition on our dogs since adding that to the already awesome Acana Kibble. For Puppies, we feed and recommend Fromm Large Breed Puppy kibble mixed with Honest Kitchen.
When we wean puppies from Momma, I wean them using Honest Kitchen mixed with Goat Milk. I like to mix up the various proteins, sometimes I'll use Turkey or Fish or Beef and switch them between Grain free and Whole Grains, that way their systems get used to various ingredients. I do this for Lowchen and Corso puppies.
I also add CBD to our older dogs' food to help relieve inflammation and pain associated with getting older.
Do Cane Corso make good Service dogs?
The short answer is NO.
A couple things to note about using Corsos as a Support and/or Service dogs for any anxiety or psychiatric related disorder. I do not recommend using them as an Emotional support animal or Service Dog for any anxiety related disorder; ie PTSD, BiPolar Support, Emotional Support and/or an alert dog for a disorder where an owner can become unconscious.
Dogs that are good for this type of work need to be very resilient to their environment. They need to be more of a happy go lucky type of dog, where an owners emotions will not affect their emotional disposition. Even in a breed like Labs, or Golden Retrievers, dogs do bond to their people and its even difficult for them to not feed off an owners emotional disposition. The Cane Corso is an extremely sensitive dog. Especially when it comes to their owners. The corso feeds off of YOUR emotions. If you panic, they will panic. If you are unsure, they are unsure. While the temperament of a Corso can work for some service dog tasks, such as mobility support ie pulling a wheelchair, stabilizing an owner if they become unsteady, it takes an even greater amount of training from an owner to accomplish the goal of a true service dog. Most owners end up sending the dog to a facility to be trained and then work with a trainer for months afterward to get the dog trained so that it reliably responds to commands amidst major distraction. Even with all this training, there's no guarantee that the dog will be suited for Service work. According to Canine Companions for Independence, CCI, about 70% of dogs end up failing out of training and are not suited to be Service Dogs.
Forgive me if you've already research and understand this, but here is a link to a breakdown between the difference between Service dog vs Emotional Support vs Therapy dog. Most folks dont know the difference between the 3 terms and what's required, or not required, for their designation. https://www.caninejournal.com/service-dog-vs-therapy-dog-vs-emotional-support-dogs/
Every time I explain these facts to people about the Cane Corso, they almost always say "But I know someone who has a Corso who is a service/therapy/emotional support dog... and he/she is just perfect" Yes. There are SOME dogs who can do the work, just like there are some Dachshunds who can scale a 6' fence, but its not the norm for the breed.
Cane Corsos are protective of their owners and family and fiercely loyal. These traits do not make for a good Service Dog. Asking the dog to take on traits that go against their nature, is only going to result in disappointment for everyone.
this is Ava and I doing focused heeling at the bank ATM. A well trained dog in public is not only under control but also very intimidating to passers by. Ava has been Obedience trained using only reward based training