More and more cities and towns are passing
anti-dog legislation. More and more boarding
kennels are refusing to take bull breeds. Newspapers
and TV have a field day with every unfortunate dog-related event. If we want our breed to be welcome in public and
ease the fears of the general public in regard to our breed, we have to be sure our dogs
understand their place in this world, and first and foremost, in our household.
Some may think the worst thing that can happen to a puppy is that it
go to an abusive home. That would be
terrible, but its not the worst fate a strong willed puppy can endure. The worst fate is going to an overly permissive
home where discipline is nonexistent.
Bullmastiffs are strong willed dogs.
Yes, there are those whose main goal in life is to be king of the Coach
Potatoes. Mainly, the breed is extremely
intelligent, healthily active, and strong willed as the devil. STRONG WILLED DOES NOT TRANSLATE INTO
AGGRESSIVE. Strong willed simply
means that no matter how sweet your little darling is, he or she wants his own way and
will use any number of ploys to get it. These
include sudden deafness, temporary idiocy, tears and begging, coyness, or even flat out
In truth, in a very small puppy, all of these behaviors can be
hysterically funny, and an owner has to steel himself against falling down laughing
instead of seeing that the dog does what it is told to do.
What is so funny in a tiny puppy can be the path to hell for that dog,
because very few of these behaviors are acceptable to people when the dog grows up.
Bullmastiffs are so clever that getting away with something once is
the incentive to try ten more times, even if all ten are failures.
I have become extremely cautious where I sell male dogs. Ive always looked for good homes for all my
dogs. However, with males, it is a bit more
important to be sure of the new owners ability to offer the dog a loving home with
DISCIPLINE. Female dogs tend to try coyness
when they want to get away with something. Male
dogs tend to pout or push.
In 29 years with Bullmastiffs, I have never had one of my dogs
seriously challenge my authority. That is
because the problem was settled at a very early age, sometimes as early as six weeks. Most puppies with any spunk at all will try to get
their way. Some will accept a strong
No! Others will take a little
shake of the neck. And then there is that
rare puppy who, had it been born in the wild, would have been destined to be the leader of
the pack. These pups usually take a severe
reprimand and a downing to settle the matter.
That is what the adults of a pack would do it, and that is what it understands. I have never had to prove a point with a puppy
more than once. The problems arise when the
puppy leaves its breeder and goes to a new home.
The puppys nature is obvious from the day it is born. The breeder should be able to tell which puppies
are the stronger willed and screen new owner prospects very carefully for these babies. There is nothing wrong with a strong will dog. It simply needs a strong will owner willing to mix
affection, consistency and discipline.
In the first place, the Bullmastiff is not the breed for everyone. Dogs and people should be temperamentally suited. Otherwise, the relationship will be short-lived
and disastrous. There are plenty of
qualified owners for every Bullmastiff born in this country. A breeder just has to sort out the unqualified
ones. Selling a dog to someone who insists it
is just what he wants when that person leaves you with that little tingle of doubt is a
big mistake. Believe that feeling!
If a husband and wife come to your home with children in tow, WATCH
THE BEHAVIOR OF THE CHILDREN AND THEIR INTERACTION WITH THEIR PARENTS. If BOTH parents are not capable of controlling
their children, or worse yet, dont even try, DO NOT SELL THEM A PUPPY. The children will torment it. The housebreaking will be only semi-successful. The dog will be blamed for everything that happens
in the household, including the leak in the roof, because these people have to blame
someone for the total lack of control in their lives.
Many breeders can tell horror stories of families descending on them,
and having to divide their time between interviewing the parents and rescuing their dogs
from ill-mannered, uncontrolled, and sometimes downright nasty children. What is even worse is that some dont even
try. They sit there beaming at their little
darlings. It is like a trip to the zoo for
them. Just another outing. What makes you think that if these people
cant control their children, who speak the same language, they are going to be able
to control a dog who is probably smarter than they are?
If someone is away all day and nobody else lives at their home, who
is going to be there to train a puppy they buy? Puppies
left on their own can come up with some fascinating methods of killing boredom. I remember selling a lovely pup to a man who told
me he lived very near his job and would be home at lunch daily to care for the baby. He forgot to add when he was even in
town. He traveled a great deal, which
he did not disclose until a problem arose. The
dog was destroying the plants around his pool and playing games with his TV cable
connection on the outside of the house. He
told me he beat him any number of times, and it didnt change anything. Of course, I was thrilled to hear that. The final straw was when the dog pulled up a
small, new tree and sat in the Jacuzzi eating it.
I went to the house and saw a perfectly lovely LARGE yard on one side
of the house with shade and plenty of romping room. It
was divided from the pool area by a narrow opening, easy to fence, with just one or two
fence panels. I suggested that would solve
the problem. But no, that wouldnt do. He didnt want the dog fenced off. He wanted him to have access to the whole area but
not do anything wrong while he was bored to death, having someone come in once a day to
feed and water him. I did solve that problem. I got the dog the heck out of there before I
strangled the man. He simply didnt
have a clue about handling a dog properly.
Another situation to avoid in selling a puppy is if one member of a
husband-wife team is crazy to have the dog and the other is reluctant, disinterested, or
downright opposed. If one says, Oh, I
just know he/she will come to love this dog, think long and hard before you let the
dog go with them. Maybe the less interested
party will learn to like the dog, but dont be on it.
There is more going on here than a small disagreement over whether or not to
buy a dog. One or both are not giving much
consideration to the others feelings. A
dog living in this situation becomes a pawn in a war game.
All of the above situations can create dogs that are undisciplined. Some may just have annoying habits, like climbing
into your guests laps while they are sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee; or
eating everything you plant, or never paying the slightest attention to a word you say if
it wasnt their idea first.
The real problem is the pack leader type that would be a
wonderful dog in the hands of a good owner. But the worst advertisement any
breed could have in the hands of the people described above.
DOGS ARE PACK ANIMALS. DONT
TREAT THEM AS HUMANS! That does not mean you
cant shower them with affection. Affection
and permissive stupidity are not the same thing. If
it is in a dogs nature to be on the low rung of the pack hierarchy ladder, probably
nothing will make him very aggressive. It is
the bright, strong willed, dominant dog that runs into trouble (this is not saying that
passive dogs arent bright, too). IF YOU
DONT TEACH HIM HIS PLACE IN THE PACK. HE
WILL PICK HIS SPOT HIMSELF. That will
probably be the TOP SPOT or SECOND IN COMMAND. That
creates a massive problem, since the dog loves his people, no matter how misguided or dumb
or hopeless they are, so he feels he has to protect them.
If he is in the top spot, he is going to make the decisions on whom to
protect them from: the mailman, the meter
reader, guests he didnt invite! Soon
the people decide the dog is incorrigible, and it must be bad breeding because they NEVER
do anything wrong. Actually, theyve
done little if anything right.
The answer to these situations that make large dogs so feared and
despised of late is not all that difficult to achieve.
For breeders sell puppies to GOOD OWNERS. For buyers BE GOOD OWNERS.
What is a good owner? A
good owner is a person who has done some research into the breed he or she is about to
purchase, understands the nature of the breed, is temperamentally suited to the breed, and
TAKES CHARGE FROM THE FIRST MOMENT HE OR SHE IS HANDED THE PUPPY TO TAKE HOME.
There is absolutely no reason a puppy cant be treated with
great love and affection, cuddled and held and still be disciplined. Some dogs require stronger discipline than others. Discipline should fit the nature of the dog. Some puppies are actually crushed if they are
yelled at; others just act that way, and when the owners, feeling guilt-ridden over
upsetting their little darling, practically apologize for correcting the dogs, the puppies
merrily go back to doing what they got scolded for.
There is another important key in properly raising a dog. CONSISTENCY.
What will not be acceptable at two years of age is NOT acceptable at two
months of age. The dog cannot be allowed to
do something on Tuesday and get laughed at and patted and then do it on Wednesday and get
spanked or screamed at. That is the formula
for raising a psycho. If you want him to
sleep on your bed when he is older, thats fine.
But if you dont want him to, dont let him up there as a baby,
and three or four months later start punishing him for the same behavior. The dog is not a college graduate. RULES MUST BE SIMPLE AND FAIR. RULES MUST BE CONSISTENT.
Obedience school is highly recommended for the average dog owner. That is not a place one sends a dog for a trainer
to train. That is a series of classes that a
single person or both husband and wife attend with the dog to LEARN HOW TO TRAIN THE DOG. Of course, the dog will work for a professional
trainer. Its just not going to live
with the trainer. Owners need to learn with
The formula for raising a well-adjusted, socially acceptable dog is
simple: a combination of LOVE, CONSISTENCY,
and FAIR DISCIPLINE. It is just that easy.
- written by
This article is written and
contributed by Carol Beans of Tauralan Bullmastiffs in Santa Ana,
California. Carol Beans can be reached at