Public & Private Image

The Public and Private Image of the Bullmastiff

(Applies to ALL breeds)

(Author Unknown) Downloaded from the Internet-


How is the public image of the Bullmastiff formed? By you and your dog at home, when the meter man comes to the door; when you travel; when you are invited to the home of friends; when he is left in the car while you shop; when you walk along a crowded street; when the neighbours child trips over him in the doorway; when he soils the neighbours lawn or chases his cat.

Much as we wish the public were soundly and correctly educated on the subject of dogs and dog behaviour, it is not. Individuals usually form their own opinion of an entire breed on the basis of an encounter with one or two specimens.

Will it be a bad image? " That big brute lunged at my Charlie just the other day! (It doesn't really matter whether Charlie is a Toy Poodle or a small child!). "I think that we ought to get together and make them get rid of that dog".

Or will it be a good image? "You know that big Bullmastiff next door? I didn't even know what it was until the guy told me. Well last week we woke up one night because the dog was really barking. My wife nudges me and says, `Ed, you'd better go downstairs and take a look around. I thought it was ridiculous, I mean it was probably a cat and it was also the middle of the night., but I got up and went down. And you know, the police caught a guy practically right between our houses about twenty minutes later. If that dog hadn't barked , I never would have known it until he was inside. Nice dog to have around. You can go right up to him too.

What image do you and your Bullmastiff present to the general public? We all have the responsibility to keep our dogs on our own property; to keep them on leash, or under control on the street; to prevent damage to the person or property of others and soon. We take this for granted. But remember that the Bullmastiff is conspicuous. No one worries about the Pomeranian down the street, that runs loose. However if the neighbours dog picks a fight with your dog, you can be certain that rightly or wrongly, your Bullmastiff will be blamed. He is large and powerful; and he does have a way of confronting people with a sober stare that makes then recollect their sins.

What do you do? You and your dog build a sound,sensible reputation in your community. You keep him securely at home; away from potential dognappers, away from the neighbours garbage cans, cat and flower beds, away from teasing children and car wheels. He remains in your home and on your property, where he can be a companion and protection for you.

When your dog goes out with you, he is always under calm,confidant control; he appears eager and enthusiastic to work; he greets properly introduced strangers politely; he is a healthy, well groomed representative of generations of Bullmastiff breeding. And then when your neighbours complains to others that his dog was injured or whatever, he will hear " oh, it couldn't have been his dog that did it. He is never allowed to run, and besides Iv'e met him. He's is the nicest, most well behaved dog that you have ever seen.

While you study your dog in those situations, study yourself. What is your basic attitude towards your dog? Aloof or affectionate?, Reserved or exuberant? Patient or inpatient? Firm or permissive? What are your physical and emotional strengths and limitations?

When you have laid a foundation of perspective and understanding, you are ready to build a working relationship. training can be classified in two ways: intentional and unintentional. Intentional training is practised at formal obedience classes and at home; ie: putting on a leash, practising specific commands and responses. Unintentional training includes all the things that you have taught your dog without realizing it, ie: to recognize your moods, to interpret unconscious gestures and changes in voice tone, to respond positively or negatively. He probably knows these moods and gestures better than you do yourself. His security depends on it.

Intentional training in most cases averages ten or fifteen minutes a day on leash, and an hour a week in formal training class. Unintentional training goes on 24 hrs a day. The unintentional training, the attitude you demonstrate toward your dog all the time, not just on lead practising set routines, will make or break the intentional training you give him.

Successful training will depend on your ability to train yourself to be calm, firm, consistent and persistent. Everytime you tell your dog to sit, no matter what else distracts you or him, you must see that he sits...calmly and firmly and always with praise, no matter how much of a struggle it was. Everytime you call him, you must be in a position to enforce iit, calmly pleasantly and with much praise.You must never command him to come and then punish him and so on. Consistency is the key to success.

The working relationship with your dog should be based upon mutual respect, understanding and perspective. A dog is a dog;he thinks, acts and learns like a dog. He learns through cause and effect, contrasted pleasure and displeasure and constant repetition. What is your leverage as his trainer?

His desire to please you. Motivation is the key.Motivate him positively and consistently and he will become respondent and obedient.

Many people hesitate to obedience train their dogs because they associate discipline with harsh and vindictive punishment.It is true that some dogs can be forced to carry out commands through fear of punishment.Generally speaking however this is not the way to gain your dogs trust and loyalty.

Proper discipline is the establishment of guidelines,Boundaries which encompass a range of acceptable behaviour patterns for your dog. Correction should always be appropriate to the mistake; a flip of the lease when he lags behind; a sharp no nonsense jerk if he lunges at the dog next to him. save the crack across the muzzle for the really serious things such as unwarranted fighting ,chasing cars etc.Harsh corrections in most cases only confuse and panic the dog so that he is no longer capable of learning from the situation.

Remember that if the dog makes a mistake, nine times out of ten,it will be because you have not indicated properly and consistently what you want him to do. You may have to show him ten,twenty or thirty times before he understands. Correction is only a preliminary step in the training process. Real training begins when you show him what to do:i.e.,when you substitute a correct behaviour pattern for an incorrect one.

The best trainers are habitually observant people,constantly aware of reaction and response between themselves and their dogs. For the most part,they are calm and unexcitable when confronted with unpredictablebehaviour and confident in their ability to control the dog and also confident in the dogs potential to understand if correctly approached.

Unique breed characteristics need to be taken into consideration.Though playful enough as a puppy, the Bullmastiff often takes a rather serious,somber attitude toward training as he matures. He likes to work andconcentrates hard on a new exercise for a given interval. However once he learns it,he will quickly become bored and lackadaisical if the excersise is not applied in a variety of utilitarian ways. Be certain,when you train your Bullmastiff,that what you may interpret as stubbornness is not really boredom.

The only way to build a complete working relationship is to clearly define your training objectives and to study your dog and yourself in order to adapt your training program to your specific strengths and limitations,to gain the respect and understanding of your dog by following through in both the intentional and unintentional training that you give him. Be innovative enough with your training to give him a raison d'etre. The entire focus of his life should be to go with you, be with you and work with you. If he fails

to learn,it is not because he lacks the intelligence, but because you have failed to teach him.

The life of a properly trained dog is filled with purpose.He is confident and relaxed because he lives within a framework of consistent guidelines. He reacts positively to new situations because his owner has taken care to expose him to a variety of experiences and to build his confidence through a series of positive responses. He receives more approval and praise than corrections,because good behaviour patterns have been instilled before bad one could form.

Once the working relationship has been established,it wil never be forgotten.Though you and your dog nay be separated for many years,he will remember and respond with his last conscious breath when he turns toward your hand and his eyes ask "WAS THE JOB WELL DONE?".

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Last Updated Sunday, April 01, 2001