Mastiff training can be different than training other types of dog breeds. As they love to please humans with those beautiful, soulful faces, here’s the good news:
They actually enjoy pleasing their owner, making the Mastiff an enjoyable breed to train.
In fact, Mastiffs are known as a soft breed; they don’t respond well to scolding or negative training tactics.
By using the right techniques and strategies, you can train your Mastiff to be a very well behaved dog.
To help, we are outlining tips for training your dog.
Why is Training a Mastiff so Important?
A quick note before we tackle training tips:
It is important to train a Mastiff because they are such a large dog and their natural instinct is to guard. Without proper training, their size, strength, and inclination to protect can be dangerous, if not controlled.
Luckily, these dogs truly can be trained. Once they have a deep bond with their owner or family, they are going to naturally want to protect them, while still being safe with others. That is why it is critical to focus on behavior training, rather than how to guard.
In addition, Mastiffs can be (like many of us) stubborn. It can be a phase or part of the overall dog’s personality; a lot depends on how the dog is handled and cared for while he is still a puppy.
Let’s dive into how to train these calm, relaxed, and lovable giant canines.
Train Mastiffs from Young Age
Start training as early as you can. Professionals recommend starting at around 8 – 10 weeks. This is because it’s best that they are kept in the litter with their mom until 8 weeks or more. Once they have had that time, let the training begin! All puppies take a different amount of time to train. Be patient in the process and don’t give up if your dog is giving your troubles in the beginning.
Socialize Your Mastiff
Get your dog used to being around people and other dogs from a young age. Socializing your dog is key in training if you want your pup to be well rounded and behaved later on in life. Introduce them to:
- Friends and family
- Other dogs
- Folks in the neighborhood
By meeting and observing other dogs, your Mastiff starts getting a better sense for what proper dog manners look like. Introducing them to fellow humans gets them used to being around people; it lets them understand what type of person feels safe (such as a neighbor or pizza delivery man) versus an intruder.
Make Mastiff Training Positive & Fun
Certain dogs were bred to take commands, such as Border Collies, which are known to be sweet sheepdogs.
In contrast, it is not innate for Mastiffs to take orders; they were made to guard and think for themselves, which is admirable. It just means they need different training.
Training has to be enjoyable as motivation for them to continue and be successful.
- Give loving praise with specific, ongoing words (“Good job! Fantastic!”)
- Use treats because, well, they work!
- Notice the activities commands and shows of affection that make your dog happy. Take note and use those!
It is key to focus on positive training for Mastiffs. If they behave incorrectly, you may only need to raise your voice or give them “that look” (you know the one!), and it will feel like punishment enough to these loving, “soft” animals. Praise is a truly fantastic learning tool for most dog breeds.
Give Him Attention
Dogs are like humans, they react when they feel special and loved.
You can start with very basic training. Each time you call your Mastiff’s name, give them love, attention, and a treat. They will start reacting to it in a positive manner.
Keep Training Sessions Short
Do fast training session (up to 15 minutes) at frequent times through the day. By breaking up training, this pays homage to their sensitivity and endearing tendency to be stubborn.
What’s the Right Training Order?
When training your Mastiff, it is key to:
- Demonstrate respect early on and show that you are in charge of the home
- Lead them through house training
- Train them on external activities, such as walking on a leash, interacting with other dogs, and so forth
House Training a Mastiff
Here are some helpful strategies for house training your Mastiff puppy:
- Put him or her on a feeding schedule.
- Shortly after eating and drinking, your pup will likely need to go outside.
- Take him outside. Wait to the side until he has gone to the bathroom. Then, cheer him on like a mom at a kid’s soccer game.
- If there is an accident inside the house, only let him know “bad dog!” if you catch him in the act. If you find it and scold after, he will not know what he did wrong.
Avoid Harsh Training
It is very important to be intentional about how you train your Mastiff. Mastiffs are naturally prone to defense; if they feel threatened, it can encourage aggressive behavior.
Mastiff Training Commands
Here are recommended commands to train your Mastiff:
- Sit + Stay
- Lie Down
What are Good Training Treats for Mastiffs?
It is important to consult with your vet to make sure you are using the right training treats for your dog. Our recommendations:
- Cut up banana slices
- Other types of fruit, like orange slices (without seeds!)
- Use a nutritious organic dog treat
As you can see, training a Mastiff can actually be quite enjoyable as long as you follow these recommended training tips listed above.