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The Cane Corso is a majestic dog, weighing up to 100 pounds, muscular and noble. They have been bred for centuries as guard dogs. The result is a dog that is deeply devoted to her family, and protective of them against all harm. You will not need to train your Corso to protect you. She will grow up protecting your family as part of her nature. It is up to you to direct that protection instinct, to teach her to behave appropriately in a variety of situations. An adult Cane Corso who behaves aggressively in the wrong situation is a very dangerous animal. Even a playful, still-growing Corso pup can frighten or knock over an unexpecting visitor.
Your Corso is extremely intelligent and longs to please you, and so it will not be difficult for you to train her when protection behavior is appropriate and when it is not, and what the rules are regarding mouth play.
It is up to you to decide what the rules are for your Corso. Is it your goal for her to never lay her teeth on a person, but only to live with you as a family pet? If so, you must decide what the rules are around mouth play, and enforce these rules with friends and family. If you want your Corso to protect you, your family, or your property, it is up to you to teach her how to do this appropriately. If she bites in the wrong circumstance the consequence could be disastrous. However you want to live with your Corso, it is essential that you socialize her well with people and dogs throughout her puppyhood and adulthood. A Cane Corso kept in isolation with her family is likely to misdirect guarding behavior in adulthood. A well-socialized Corso will understand human and dog behavior and will be much less likely to make a mistake.
To train your Cane Corso puppy to not bite, you will need plenty of things that she should bite. Puppies want to chew on a variety of textures, materials, sizes, and shapes, so provide a wide variety of safe chew toys for your Corso pup. Tugging can be a great way to teach bite control and expel some energy, but make sure you follow tug toy rules and always have control of the game. Having a variety of tug toys and treats on hand is a great way to keep your Corso's interest. Remember to use nutritional treats or even your Corso's kibble as treats while training. It is extremely important that your Corso pup has a good balance of nutrition as she is growing.
The Mouth Play Method
Play with hands
Your Corso pup will already have learned bite pressure and some inhibition from littermates and her mom, but now she will need to learn how to use her mouth with her human family. Let your Corso play with your hands with her mouth, being careful never to pull away and trigger her to hold on.
As soon as your pup makes you the least uncomfortable, exaggerate "ouch!", acting hurt and offended.
Leave the room for ten to twenty seconds, closing the door if your pup tries to follow you.
Return to your pup, and immediately go back to playing with her with your hands. Remember to move slowly and not pull away to encourage gentle behavior.
Practice consistently as your pup grows up, as well as socializing your pup thoroughly. Soon she will want to bring you a toy so she can crunch down instead of playing with your hands. Always have plenty of toys available.
The No Teeth on People Method
Have plenty of tug toys and chew toys available, both on the ground with your pup and somewhere only you can access.
Play with your pup with the toys, making sure your hands are available to her.
Whenever your pup touches your hands with her teeth in play, exaggerate yelling "ouch!" and pull back from play.
After a moment, offer your Corso the toy again and continue playing.
Keep playing with toys with your Corso as she grows. Make sure to always keep your hands available during play so she makes a conscious decision not to put her teeth on your hands.
The When to Bite Method
If your Corso is already showing strong guarding behavior and seems protection driven, it may be a good idea to give her an outlet for that instinct, and teach her when to bite.
Teach your Corso pup to bite a bite sleeve by waving it enticingly and letting her catch it.
Wait for command
Once your Corso is motivated to catch the sleeve, ask her to wait before giving the command to go for it.
Increase the time your Corso waits before being given the command. Build up to waiting long enough for her to 'sit' or 'lie down' before being given the command.
Introduce false alarms
Begin introducing times when someone wearing the sleeve enters and exits and you never release your Corso. Reward her during these times with treats and toys. Practice until your Corso is relaxed until you ask her to bite.
By Coral Drake
Published: 02/09/2018, edited: 01/08/2021