Known as one of the largest, most imposing breeds in the dog world, the Mastiff has risen to fame in Hollywood, starring in movies such as The Sandlot, Turner and Hooch, and Hotel for Dogs. These large dogs are generally known for being great family pets, bonding heavily with their owners and being overall gentle giants. Though for those with a bit more work for their pet in mind, the Mastiff has also found benefits in its hefty appearance.
Though there is a misconception about what constitutes a dog that does guard work, protection work, attack work, and watch work, most families who are looking for a “guard dog”, want a pet that can keep an eye on things in the home and scare away potential intruders. For that purpose, these methods are meant to assist your dog in becoming the household guardian, rather than a dog that can cause potential harm.
Having a Mastiff as a guard dog means drawing a fine line between what is your dog’s responsibility and what isn’t. Knowledgeable dog owners should expect their Mastiff to be able to patrol the property, alert the owner to potential dangers, and present himself threateningly in order to ward off intruders. Things like attacking, biting, and lunging should not be in this list of behaviors if your dog is also meant to be a family pet. Attack dogs and children rarely mix well.
If you still wish to pursue the path of raising a guard Mastiff, then you’ll want to start working as soon as you bring your dog into your home. The basics of the training can be picked up in about three to six months, but you can always take longer to teach more complex routines and obedience commands if you’d like.
Once you’ve made sure you want to continue with guard work, get together some treats to use as small rewards. You will want your dog to eventually begin to do these behaviors out of habit rather than for a reward, so you won’t want to encourage too much reliance on them. You’ll also want to use a leash during the beginning stages of training to keep him focused and on task. The last thing you’ll need - and most important - is a secure yard, whether it be the front or backyard. The fence should be tall enough to not allow for jumping over, should have a secure door with a lock, and should discourage digging around the bottom of it.