A Comprehensive Guide to Training Your Cane Corso Puppy

Key Points

  • Cane corso dogs are an ancient breed known for their bravery and loyalty.

  • Owning a cane corso comes with the serious responsibility to properly train them to become well-mannered members of society.

  • Ongoing socialization, and more socialization, are critical for success with your cane corso puppy.

  • Here is a guide to training your cane corso puppy.

The cane corso has been around for a long time. They descend from the ancient Molossus dogs that fought beside the Roman centurions during the Gallic Wars. As daunting as their appearance and history are, they're one of the most intelligent and loyal breeds of dogs. Their unique way of communicating with their sweet "talk" is quite comical. In May 2023 the Charlotte Observer named the cane corso the most popular dog in North Carolina.

If you're considering welcoming a cane corso into your life, congratulations! You're in for an extraordinary ride. You must learn how to train your cane corso puppy properly so they grow up to be the well-mannered dog of your dreams. This article provides a guide to training your cane corso puppy.

Training Is Essential for the Cane Corso

Even though the cane corso is brilliant and eager to please, they are equally self-willed and bred to have a strong personality. A cane corso puppy is much like a human baby — they're adorable, full of energy, and need constant supervision and care. However, unlike human babies, cane corsos grow up to be adults in a year and have the instinct to protect their pack.

Like all dogs, your cane corso needs proper training. When they are puppies, early socialization is critical. Within the first month in their new home, cane corso puppies must be picked up, hand-fed, and hugged by 100 different people, especially children and men. When they become giants weighing over 100 pounds, these well-socialized behaviors allow them to be wonderful family members and safe companions in society. Socialization training for your cane corso continues into adulthood.

Training Allows You to Bond With Your Cane Corso Puppy

Training is essential to improve the bond with your dog. Training allows you to teach your dog what you expect from them. A well-trained dog listens to you and obeys your commands, making it easier to take them out in public or around other people and animals. Corsos love having a purpose. By training them and teaching them new tricks, you give them that sense of purpose.

Important Types of Training

When people talk about dog training, most think of the basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, down, and heel. While these commands are important, they are just the bare minimum when it comes to training your cane corso. Focus on household rules and manners. Aside from potty training, crate training, and leash manners, corsos need vigorous socialization training, territorial inhibition training, and bite inhibition training.

Socialization Training

Because cane corsos are bred to be protectors and guardians, their instinct is to be suspicious of strangers. It is essential to start socialization training early on so your cane corso learns to accept people, other animals, and new situations. The goal is to expose your puppy to as many different people, places, and other house animals, such as other dogs and cats, in a positive way so that they grow up to be confident and well-adjusted. The training also allows them to be exposed to children and smaller animals and to learn gentle ways to interact with them.

Territorial Inhibition Training

Territorial inhibition training is just as necessary as socialization training. This type of training teaches your cane corso to confidently accept when someone comes into their home and yard or approaches their crates, beds, and feeding bowls. Your dog remains calm and relaxed in these situations.

Bite Inhibition Training

Cane corsos have the innate ability to bite and hold onto their prey. With their powerful jaws and colossal stature, a tiny nip quickly turns into a severe bite. It is vital to begin bite inhibition training early on so your cane corso understands that biting and nipping humans are never acceptable behaviors.

Bite inhibition begins while your pup is still in their litter, and continues to be reinforced by all the excellent and ongoing socialization you are providing. There are a number of ways to get your cane corso to stop biting, and the following is one that works.

While your puppy is still very young, whenever they place their teeth on you dramatically exclaim "Ouch! That hurts!" and immediately cease interacting or playing with them, and theatrically and obviously walk away and ignore them. In a few moments, reapproach your pup and continue playing. Repeat each and every time your pup uses their baby teeth on you.

Positive Reinforcement is Key

When training your cane corso puppy, positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, praise, and petting, have a much more significant impact on their behavior than aversive types of training such as scolding or punishment. With positive reinforcement, your puppy learns that those good behaviors are rewarded and are more likely to repeat those behaviors in the future.

cane corso puppy sitting in grass

When Should You Begin Training With Your Cane Corso Puppy?

Puppies begin their learning as early as two weeks of age while they interact and bond with their mothers and littermates. Even though they are blind and deaf at the time, the social interactions given while in their litter shape their personalities to become more confident and calm adults. As researchers Dr. Tiffani Howell et al. published in Veterinary Medicine Research and Reports, "Socialization with other animal species was negatively associated with inappropriate predatory behavior, and dogs that attended puppy preschool were found to be less fearful, less aggressive, and more social."

When puppies are three weeks of age, their eyes, ears, and other motor skills become more functional. Handling the puppies gently every day produces more calm behavior than in puppies that have never been handled by humans. Although these early stimulations induce mild stress in the puppies, the experience allows them to cope better with stress later in their lives.

Newborn puppies must be introduced to humans before they reach 14 weeks. Puppies never introduced to humans during that critical period are less able to form healthy relationships with humans. Even when the puppy bonds with a human, they are still generally wary and fearful of other humans.

Calming Dog Ad

Here is a training timeline to guide you on focusing your puppy's training so that they hit all the critical socialization and development milestones.

6 to 16 Weeks: Major Milestones

When your puppy first comes home, feed them a balanced diet made for puppies. Follow the size and weight feeding recommendations of your choice of the many good commercially available puppy foods. While puppies are under a year old, it is best to feed them enough to maintain healthy "puppy pudge" while they are growing. Once your cane corso is a full-grown adult, be sure to control their diet to keep them fit and trim.

Feeding healthy, whole-food additions like pumpkin, carrots, mushrooms, or blueberries gives an additional health boost. Using your pup's daily food as reinforcement for training is a powerful tool, and because resources come from your hand the pup learns that guarding their food bowl is not necessary. Stuffing hollow toys with their daily meals is the perfect way to teach puppies to properly settle and learn to enjoy spending quiet time alone.

The sooner the training starts, the better. Unless you are the breeder, you probably only have full access to your cane corso puppy once they reach at least six to eight weeks of age. At this point, they already have some time to bond with their mother and littermates, and they still need to be introduced to new experiences without being overwhelmed.

Owner and Puppy Bonding

The initial bonding period between an owner and their cane corso pup is crucial for socialization. The puppy should get used to their new home and family during this time. They are learning your scent, voice, touch, and face.

Socialization Is Key to a Friendly Cane Corso

This period is also another key socialization period for your puppy. They must be exposed to as many new people, animals, and experiences as possible to grow into confident and well-adjusted dogs. This socialization includes exposure to different types of people, such as men, women, children, and seniors. Expose your puppy to different types of animals, such as cats, rabbits, and other dogs of all sizes.

Do this by taking your pup to puppy socialization classes and hosting puppy parties, or by arranging playdates with the puppies of your friends. These experiences must be positive so your puppy associates them with good things. This is also the time you want to introduce your puppy to the vet and the groomer so that they get comfortable being handled. Making the first few visits a positive and happy experience lays the foundation for future visits.

Obedience Training

Your cane corso is a smart cookie and is able to start learning basic obedience commands as early as six weeks old. Because their attention span is still short at this age, keep training sessions short and sweet — around five to ten minutes at a time. This is the time to load the training with lots of positive reinforcement in the form of treats, petting, verbal praise, and play so that your puppy associates obedience training with good things.

Patience is of utmost importance when training puppies. Every puppy is different, and some learn faster than others. It's always a good idea to enlist a professional trainer to help and give insightful tips. Having someone kickstart the training process makes a big difference in the whole learning experience for your puppy.

Inhibition Training

Depending on the litter size, your puppy may learn to be protective of their food and territory early on. If this is the case, start working on territorial inhibition training to make sure that your puppy does not become overly possessive. They learn that the crate is a safe place to rest and spend some quiet time. They also understand that you and other people approaching their crate is a positive occurrence.

Food Aggression Training

To minimize your puppy's food-aggression behavior, allow your puppy first to become comfortable eating with you standing nearby. Drop in special treats every now and then to get the puppy used to the idea that people approaching while they're eating is positive. Over time, practice touching the feeding bowl as your puppy eats. Once they get comfortable with that experience, work on lifting the bowl. Then give them a treat for being a good puppy. If you have any family members, have them repeat this whole process.

16 Weeks to 6 Months: Continued Development

At this point, your cane corso puppy has better concentration and learns new tricks and commands more quickly. Continue socialization and obedience training while adding more advanced commands such as heel, roll over, speak, and shake. As your puppy becomes more confident and obedient, you have more fun teaching them various tricks.

Exposure to Other New Experiences

Continue to take your cane corso on different types of outings so that they get used to various environments. As they are now easing into adulthood, they are much more capable of handling different situations and less likely to get overwhelmed. This includes going on hikes, to the beach, or even to the grocery store.

Polite Playing Habits

They also learn proper playing habits during this time. If you have other dogs in the home, your cane corso learns to play nicely with them and not get too rough. They also exhibit the same politeness in dog parks and when meeting other dogs on walks. If you do not have another dog in the home, still provide plenty of opportunities for your cane corso to socialize by taking them to puppy classes or parks regularly.

Learning Calm Behavior When Alone

This is an excellent time to start teaching your cane corso how to be alone. If you work full-time or are otherwise gone for long periods during the day, your puppy needs to learn how to stay alone without getting too anxious or destructive. The initial introduction to alone time is accomplished by starting with short separations and gradually increasing the time they are left alone. Leave interesting chew treats or hollow toys stuffed with food in their crate to help them feel more secure when they are alone at home.

Allow Your Cane Corso to Develop Their Personality

At this age, your cane corso develops their own personality. You get to know their quirks and what makes them tick. It's important to remember that every dog is different and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to training or raising your pup. What works for one cane corso does not always work for another.

6 Months to Adulthood: Reinforcing Good Habits

As your cane corso reaches their adolescent stage and grows bigger, they may retest the rules and boundaries you have set in place. This is normal behavior for all dogs, regardless of breed, and is expected. The best way to handle this stage is by remaining consistent with the rules and staying patient with your pup.

Provide More Physical and Mental Stimulation

At this stage, your cane corso also needs more physical and mental stimulation than they did as a puppy. It means more exercise, both in the form of walks and playtime. Continue to work on obedience training and trick learning. As they grow older, further increase the difficulty of the tricks or commands. These sessions also allow you and your cane corso to deepen your bond with each other.

grey cane corso puppy outside

A Special Breed

The cane corso is a beautiful breed that makes a loyal and loving companion. By following the tips above, you help your puppy develop into a well-rounded dog that is a joy to be around. Remember to be patient, consistent, and loving, and you and your cane corso are sure to be best friends for life.

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