What do we love about the breed...
Their Instinctive Protectiveness!
A Cane Corso does not usually need to be trained to protect. They are a Guardian breed and that means that protecting has been bred deeply into their genes. Puppies as young as 4 weeks of age can begin to alert to something new in their environment. Puppies as young as 8 weeks can attempt to "protect" you from a perceived threat.
We love their loyalty!
Cane Corsos value loyalty like no other. They are yours and you are theirs. That's the best way I can think to explain it. All the love you can give is given back 10 fold! They would truly give their life for their family and consider it an honor.
Yes, those big ole dogs actually have something between their ears! They are very fast learners, as long as you find what motivates them. If they know a command and do not respond, that's not stupidity. They have probably just learned that you don't actually mean it until you YELL, or say it more sternly. They have learned YOU just as much as the commands you give!
What do you need to know about the breed?
They are Protectors!
As obvious as it may seem, many folks forget this about the breed. A Cane Corso loves their family more than themselves. This can often mean that they are aloof with strangers, or even uncomfortable or over protective. This is where YOU come in. A Cane Corso that hasn't been raised by a strong leader, may start to feel kind of like the "parent". They will determine threats, instead of you. We do NOT want this. Think of your Cane Corso as BACK UP, not your first defense. They are usually happy to follow your lead if they have been taught to do so.
They are not Labradors!
Again, seems obvious, right? Apparently not! Many folks get this amazing breed because they love their strong and impressive looks. We do too! However, folks that don't do their homework first (like you must be doing if you're reading this, lol) can be surprised that their Cane Corso is not a social butterfly. That is not a fault in this breed! Socializing is important, yes, but it can not eliminate MANY years of breeding for the Guardian instinct. Some Corsi are more social than others, but those that aren't are not defective. A well bred and raised Cane Corso should be a well mannered member of your household. If they do not want to interact with your guests, that's ok! But, conversely, they should not growl and bark or worse, snap at everyone who gets close. If they don't like company, it is YOUR job to protect them from well meaning, but uneducated, folks that just want to "pet that cute doggy"! If you can not protect your dog from those pushy folks because you are busy or socializing, just put the dog in his crate or kennel. It is the safest option for a guardian breed if you are not present and aware of your "body guard" at ALL times!
Size is NOT everything!
Cane Corso are THE SMALLEST Mastiff. They are still big dogs by most standards. But we have all heard of the 6 month old puppy that weighs 372 pounds (insert sarcastic eye roll here). Ok, so that may be an exaggeration, but I've heard so many fibs in regards to size and weight. Even breeders do this! That breeder that advertises they produce HUGE Cane Corsos may be fibbing or greatly exaggerating. Or, their dogs could be obese. Or, their HUGE dog can produce a very small dog. Genetics are genetics and a dogs adult healthy weight is determined before birth. Feeding them more, or adding crazy additives will actually harm your dog by making them grow too quickly! You ever have growing pains as a kid? I did, and man they sucked! I wouldn't want to do that to my dog on purpose!
Often the first question folks ask is the parents weight, Really? Is that truly the MOST important thing? No, its not. I should also mention that the smallest pup in the litter MEANS NOTHING! Every puppy in that litter will grow to their full genetic size if fed and exercised properly. The smallest pups can end up the largest adult in the litter. The dog that weighs the most may SOUND impressive, but if he's obese to achieve that weight, it is so NOT impressive.
Correcting your Corso is not only OK, it is NECESSARY!
I never have to tell people to spoil their pups. LOL. That is the easy part! It is the BEST part, BUT it can't be the ONLY part of raising a puppy. Cane Corsos are a tough breed and some can be really persistent and stubborn. Some only need a soft, verbal correction. If that's all they need, GREAT! Some however, will need a harder correction. So many trainers out there preach "Positive Only" training. That's great, but in my experience the average pet owner does not have the skill and timing to make that work. Physical corrections are not abuse in and of itself. Like anything (spoiling included) too much can be bad. No one should ever need to beat their Cane Corso. That is NOT what I'm talking about here. However, proper physical corrections are not abuse! A collar/leash pop, restraining, getting in their space (I hold the cheek while I give a strong verbal correction), or even a spank if needed is ok IN MOST CASES. If you correct your puppy appropriately for their age when they are young, harder corrections are not usually needed. If you correct your pup and they "clap back', your correction was not clear or hard enough. If that happens, reach out! We are here to help you navigate those moments in puppy raising! If you're close, we can even come to your home, or meet somewhere, to help you out. I want your puppy to be successful! It's why we do so much the first 8 weeks. But that alone is not enough and you must continue showing your puppy that you love them so much and you're so proud of their accomplishments, but that you will also enforce the rules and correct if needed.
Corrections should always be as follows (many of you have probably heard me say this)
As light as possible, but as MUCH as necessary. It's that last part that most people struggle with.
Good dogs don't just happen!
That would be nice though, right? If you see a well behaved dog walking down the sidewalk or at your kids ball game I can promise you that didn't JUST HAPPEN. LOL. Good dogs (like bad dogs) are created. Training is not an option, it is a NECESSITY!
Don't forget to reward good behavior.
If you are a disciplinarian like me, you can get caught up in enforcing the rules and making sure our Cane Corso is not getting out of hand, that we miss all the little amazing things they do all on their own. Those things should be acknowledged if you want them to continue. If you are only ever saying "BAD DOG", you are doing it wrong!!! You should be saying "good dog" WAY more often than bad dog. Just laying quietly at your feet should be rewarded. Sitting before you ask, should be rewarded. Moving out of your seat on the couch when you approach, staying alert while the kids play, playing with the kids gently, ignoring that potato chip you dropped. You get the idea. Your puppy/dog does good things so many times throughout the day. Reward them! Your dog should think their nick name is GOOD DOG, not bad dog. LOL.
It is not OK for your dog to "protect" you when there is no threat!
If your dog growls, barks or lunges at someone that is just having a casual conversation with you, that is NOT protection. Protection in the absence of a threat is not protection at all. It is inappropriate aggression. For example, in Florida, I can defend myself against a threat to my life with lethal force. However, If I shoot someone in the absence of a threat, that is not defending myself. That is a crime and I WILL be punished for it.
Socializing is not making your dog like every person or animal he meets
Somewhere along the way, socializing has been misinterpreted. I want my Cane Corso to be neutral to other people or animals. They are "wallpaper", something he may notice but doesn't have an over the top reaction to. That means that I want to socialize my puppy AROUND other people and animals. They do not have to interact with strange folks or animals. Asking your Cane Corso to love every dog and animal they meet is like me telling you to hug every person you meet in the mall and to trust every animal you see at the zoo. Pretty sure someone is going to get punched in the mall or bitten at the zoo.
If your dog is social, that's great. If they are not, that's ok, but they can not act a fool either. I recommend training BESIDE the dog park, not IN the dog park (otherwise know as dog fight club).
I will continue to add to this page as I think of things, but this is a good start I hope!