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Training methods - We Love Our Mastiffs!

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Previous Entry Training methods May. 28th, 2009 @ 02:12 pm Next Entry
Hi all, I just joined because I am doing research on the breed to see if it is right for my family and I am interested in your experience with training.

I know people's beliefs on which methods are the best are tantamount to religious discussion and am not really trying to open a huge can of worms but I'm curious as to which methods you all have used for obedience training.

My mother raises and shows other breeds (Samoyeds, English Springers) and has had much success with the Koehler method and has tried to instill in me a disdain for any "treat-based" methods. Her dogs certainly haven't suffered for it, are loving and friendly, not fearful, and are always extremely safe off the leash as a result of using this method. However, my reading suggests that mastiffs "don't do well with harsh / physical negative corrections" so Koehler might not be a good fit. I am certainly not opposed to considering other methods though I do worry about a method that has NO negative reinforcement not being effective if the dog wants something more than the treat they are usually praised with.

Please no flames, this is an honest question on how to balance the mastiff personality with a training method that will help keep it safe even when no treats are forthcoming to reward good behavior.

Thanks in advance.
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From:maleficents
Date:May 28th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
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I was raised training English Bulldogs in obedience and I own a six year old Mastiff. He was trained in the Koehler method using a pinch collar and he is the best behaved dog I have ever owned. My nine year old can walk him on a leash without any kind of trouble or problems. He responds well when I call him and I have absolutely no complaints with him. Everyone he meets absolutely falls in love with him because he is so well behaved. Every bulldog I have trained as well are absolute dolls. I strongly believe in being the "alpha dog" with a breed that can easily be overbearing when it wants to be. :D I hope this helps and good luck in your research! I give you Kudos for being responsible and doing research first!
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From:anyeone
Date:May 28th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
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Thank you for the feedback! That is good to hear that Koehler worked for your Mastiff. I wasn't sure whether the comments about harsh methods were based on a fundamental difference between Mastiffs and other breeds or based on a possible bias of whoever was writing the articles. I know a lot of people are fundamentally opposed to Koehler's methods regardless of breed, which is their right of course, but the way the info was presented on many of the breed info sites made it sounds like Mastiffs in particular don't respond well to harsh correction.

Thanks again!
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From:maleficents
Date:May 28th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
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I have used the method on as I have said english bulldogs and even pitbull dogs which are both of the mastiff breed list. My english mastiff tends to ONLY respond well when I use more aggressive methods with him otherwise he looks at me as if I'm an annoying fly and goes back to what he was doing. LOL. I think a lot of your decision has to do with the personality of the dog as well. I used this method on my daughter's Chinese Crested and now the dog is terrified of me so obviously I should have chosen a more mild way of training him. My father always used to tell me that with "bully" breeds you have to be the bigger bully in order for the dog to obey and listen well. It has yet to fail me.
From:eretik
Date:May 28th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
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Ha ha - altogether, I have 300 lbs of dog and only about 140 lbs of me. I feel like if I don't assert some kind of authority...besides the fact that my CCs are big fat jerkfaces and are all "whatev" if I'm too soft with them.
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From:maleficents
Date:May 28th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
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*laughs* that's about the attitude I get with Bruiser when I'm not assertive with him as well. As it is, I babysat a GSD that was trained with a soft hand and she has taught my boy the fun of getting in the garbage so he is finding he has to wear his pinch collar at home now instead of just on walks. He hasn't gotten in the garbage since he started wearing it! And if you notice on the pics I have of him, he has it on! :D
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From:maleficents
Date:May 29th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
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Positive reinforcement is always a good thing! I will agree on that. When Bruiser does well and responds to commands I give him a good rub down or scratching in his favorite spots or we take a break and rough house for a bit. Though I had to cut back because he was tearing apart my shoes and pant legs because he doesn't know his own strength sometimes LOL
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From:house_draven
Date:May 30th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC)
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I'm looking for an Old English Mastiff now, and had an OEM as a child. We only used affection and non-food rewards, and we had the best-behaved dog on the block. I'm with krecik.
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