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Anna, Pet Trainer
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 11549
Experience:  40 yrs. training pet dogs and performance dogs in obedience, agility, herding, tracking, and therapy.
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Hi .. I have a 4 month old Giant Maso Mastiff. He is absolutely

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Hi .. I have a 4 month old Giant Maso Mastiff. He is absolutely wonderful in every area except strangers. I started taking him for walks right away [about 10 wks old] and he does wonderful on the leash but is TERRIFIED if we come across anyone else outside. I have to drag him past people if they are in their yards etc. At about 3 months he started getting spooked going into the garage which is how we take him out to go potty. If kids are out there playing, you have to drag him through the door and then he darts to the back door to go outside and its worse if they are bouncing basketballs or on bikes/skateboards. Neighbors had a 40th bday party Saturday and he FREAKED when I took him out with us - it didn't matter if it was a male or female adult or children trying to say hi to him. He would coward down and run away. It also seems if anything is different in the garage, he is weirds out, we had a storm last night and things out side were knocked over, he refused to step off the concrete to go potty, I had to physically push him out to go. He is going to be 200 lbs in the end and I'm very concerned about having a dog that large terrified of going outside or if people come over. He's even starting to be afraid of some of my daycare dad's that he sees every day. Do you have any suggestions for me? I really need to help him get through this an don't know where to start!

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have over 30 years experience training dogs in a variety of areas - household pets, formal obedience, tracking, herding, therapy work. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. Some additional information will be helpful.

Has your puppy been through kindergarten puppy classes?

When you got him, was he confined to a kennel, in someone's home, a pet store, etc.?

Besides his walks, what activities are part of his daily life?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Anna. Thank you for trying to help me and Gunner! He has not been through puppy kindergarten, he was diagnosed with Round Worms at his first check up so was told to keep him away from other animals until medicine had all been taken and stool sample came back clean. I did however take him for walks. Where he was born they are confined to a puppy area where the entire litter is kept. He's from a breeder who lives in the country in WVirginia. On his way here [Fargo], the gentleman delivering him kept him in his home, where he slept in his bed with him. Walks are the main activities, other then playing out back with my daycare kids and then I take him with me to the bank, to pick up or drop off my kids, or any other quick errand.

Thank you for getting back to me. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. (I am not a fast typist). Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back as soon I finish.

Thank you for waiting. As you know, the Giant Maso Mastiff is actually a cross between the English mastiff and the Cane Corso. This has only been done for about 12 years, and the dogs' personalities are not as predictable as the breeders would like us to think.One puppy may have the extreme protectiveness of the Cane Corso, while another is laid back like the mastiff. They can be any combination of traits. However, regardless of what traits they end up, both of these breeds require extensive socialization as puppies. Being kept in a puppy pen until age 10 weeks is a very poor way to raise puppies.

Gunner is at an age where it's critical to do this. Four months is usually the cut-off point for good socialization. If you don't, he is likely to become more and more fearful and will never be well-adjusted. In time, this may even develop into separation anxiety, which is a difficult problem to deal with. One of the best things you can do is enroll in a puppy training class right away. They are offered in most areas. If you need help finding one, give me your location. In such a class, Gunner will learn to get along with humans and other puppies.

You should also take him more places.. Take him with you any place that will allow dogs. Visit friends. The more variety in both places and people that he becomes accustomed to, the better.

You also want him to learn that new people are something to enjoy, not fear. You can work on this with a few cooperative friends, relatives, or neighbors. I recommend clicker training for this process. A clicker is a small device sold in most pet stores that makes a clicking sound when squeezed. Then you should do what is called 'loading the clicker.' You'll need a supply of a treat Gunner really loves - tiny bits of cheese or meat are good. Use very small pieces. To teach the dog that the clicker means good things, click it once and immediately give the dog a treat. In one session, repeat this process 20 to 50 times - that's why you need tiny pieces of food. You want Gunner to immediately look for a treat when he hears the click. If he doesn't do that after the first session, have another session the next day. Most dogs do catch on quickly.

Next, arrange to have your helper be in the park while you're walking, but not approach Gunner. The instant the person comes in sight, click and reward. Repeat this until the sight of this person coming in sight causes Gunner to anticipate the click/treat. When he is comfortable with that, the person should move just a tiny bit closer. Click and reward. The goal is to cause the dog to associate other people with good things. This will take a great deal of patience. You will have to stay at each step along the way until Gunner is comfortable. The process will have to be repeated with other people, until Gunner knows he gets treats when other people are present. Eventually, he can be weaned away from the clicker and treats. There are other methods of working with fearful dogs, but I've found this to be among the most effective.

Here are three sites that have a wealth of information on working with dogs who are afraid:

To obtain the best results, it would be good to use all of the methods above, not just one. Enroll in a class, go to many different places, and use the clicker. I must be honest with you - this is going to require time and patience. There is no easy fix.

If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope these methods will help.


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