Cane Corso puppies melt your heart the first moment you see one. Their wrinkled forehead, floppy ears, and playful demeanor sway many people to take one home because, well, they are just so cute! But the problem is that people either forget or may not be aware of how big Cane Corso puppies get and how much their first few months of life are critical for forming healthy social boundaries.
For any new owner of a Cane Corso puppy, the most critical factor you will confront is how to deal with your dog's separation anxiety. This article will detail why Cane Corso puppies are particularly prone to separation anxiety and how their formative period is important for training them how to deal with it. With proper knowledge on your part, your Cane Corso puppy will be one of the most loyal and loveable dogs you could have as opposed to being a destructive and unmanageable dog.
Why Are Cane Corso Puppies Prone to Separation Anxiety?
Cane Corso puppies are part of the Mastiff family and descend from the Mollosers, a large and thick-boned breed used by ancient Greek people of the same name as guard dogs. Mollosers were brought to Italy by the Romans for the same purposes. Over time, Mollosers were bred with native Italian dogs to create the forerunners of the Cani Corsi (the plural of Cane Corso).
While their jobs evolved from guard dogs to active working and hunting dogs, Cane Corso puppies have always been fiercely loyal to their owners. Their confidence and boundless energy make them highly suited for any intensive job, but their primary purpose in these tasks is to serve and obey their owners.
Their energetic and attentive personalities make Cane Corso puppies more susceptible to separation anxiety than many other breeds. This is not because a Cane Corso puppy is "more difficult" in its temperament. Rather Cane Corso puppies have so much energy and eagerness to please that it requires greater diligence on their owners' parts to ensure that these qualities are channeled in the right direction.
Separation anxiety affects approximately 14% of all dogs, but Cane Corso puppies have a stronger tendency to exhibit moderate to severe manifestations of this anxiety. What are some of the specific causes of separation anxiety for Cane Corso puppies?
Abuse or Neglect
Always ask specific questions about a puppy's history before adopting from a shelter or rescue. For example, when was the Cane Corso puppy separated from its mother? Was the puppy born at the shelter or removed from an abusive home? These are essential questions to ask about any dog. But Cane Corso puppies have a strong likelihood to exhibit severe separation anxiety when, out of abuse or neglect, they have been denied proper socialization during their peak formative period (more on this later). It is a double whammy in that the separation anxiety for an abused, or neglected puppy is usually harder to manage when they grow into adulthood.
Failure to Establish a Safe Space
Whether it is a crate, a dog bed, or even a defined area with a blanket, Cane Corso puppies need to have a space close to their owners to which they can go when alone or stressed for any reason. Despite their limitless energy, Cane Corso puppies want a place to claim for themselves. If they don't have it, they will devise ways to self-soothe in periods of separation anxiety by chewing up furniture, carpet, and even walls or urinating or defecating in inappropriate places.
Owners of a Cane Corso puppy must spend at least several hours a day working with their dog. While every owner has responsibilities outside the home, your Cane Corso puppy must be a top priority when you are home during the puppy's formation period. Otherwise, Cane Corso puppies may resort to jumping, pawing, and biting to get the attention they desperately desire from you. And this can lead to severe manifestations of separation anxiety such as restlessness, whining, and even attempts to escape their crate or the house itself.
In addition, make sure the time you are spending with your Cane Corso puppy is quality time. What are you teaching your puppy? How are you setting boundaries? Cane Corso puppies are, by nature, assertive and boundary-pushers. Improper or inattentive socialization can encourage negative behaviors such as jumping, pawing, or even biting. It also increases the chances your Cane Corso puppy will suffer from more intense separation anxiety when you leave the house. Simply put, your Cane Corso puppy will not be adequately equipped to handle your leaving.
Dramatic Human Exits
The deep loyalty and bonding Cane Corso puppies experience with their owners also requires the humans to be trained and conscious of the subtle social cues they communicate to their puppies. The best example of this is the way that owners leave the house.
With any breed of dog, they perceive their owners' good-bye rituals far differently than how humans understand them. People make a big deal of hugging, kissing, and occasionally crying and laughing when they leave each other. Cane Corso puppies, in particular, view "dramatic" good-byes as if their owners are never coming home. It is so tempting to pet, kiss, and praise your Cane Corso puppy as you are about to walk out the door. But the excited way owners do this raises their excitement, and since you shortly aren't there anymore, it also causes a significant rise in their anxiety.
Even if your Cane Corso puppy is well-trained and socialized, they struggle to manage their stress since you have left them in a borderline state of panic. As a result, Cane Corso puppies in this state tend to remain restless the entire time you are gone, chew on objects (furniture, doors, crate wires) that can harm them, and can very likely break through doors or windows to escape.
Lack of Exercise
Dramatic exits by owners build up psychological stress in Cane Corso puppies, leading to separation anxiety. In addition, a lack of proper exercise causes Cane Corso puppies to build up an enormous untapped reservoir of physical energy that must release. If they don't have a constructive outlet for this energy while their owners are away, Cane Corso puppies will express it through constant pacing, chewing, and inappropriate use of the bathroom.
Change in Routine
Cane Corso puppies are schedule keepers. Because they are so close with their owners, any variation of the times you come home can trigger an attack of separation anxiety. Of course, this assumes that you have provided a consistent routine for your Cane Corso. You will be looking at far worse problems if you haven't trained them on a schedule!
When Do You Begin Training Your Cane Corso Puppy?
You've got a good summary of the leading causes of separation anxiety. But the training of your Cane Corso puppy, and especially the age at which you train it, are vital in giving tools to help your dog cope with its inevitable separation anxiety.
First, do NOT adopt a Cane Corso puppy before eight weeks of age. Like most breeds, Cane Corso puppies need "primary socialization," where the mother imprints important social behaviors on her puppies. However, this doesn't mean you can't interact with your hopeful Cane Corso puppy. On the contrary, human interaction is crucial as early as three weeks old. But don't remove the puppy from its mother until it is at least two months old.
When is the crucial period for a Cane Corso puppy to receive proper training and socialization? Beginning at eight weeks, Cane Corso puppies are usually ready to come into their new permanent home. Therefore, the window that allows for the best human imprinting upon your Cane Corso puppy is 8 to 16 weeks (roughly 2 to 4 months old).
Why is this window significant? Your puppy learns the basic building blocks of its social skills during this time. The puppy will have the ability to continue learning cues from other dogs, but it will also carefully observe your behaviors AND your reactions to its behaviors. This is the ideal period for owners to begin housebreaking, bite suppression, sitting, and especially introductions to as many people as possible.
Cane Corso puppies are still capable of learning new behaviors after 16 weeks of age. But, by this age, the bulk of their imprinting is complete. Puppies who have received little or no socialization will present greater challenges to their owners in how they can help manage their dog's separation anxiety. Every dog needs a good home, but keep an open and realistic mind when adopting puppies older than 16 weeks whose background and training are questionable or unknown.
How to Address Separation Anxiety in Cane Corso Puppies
Owners must work diligently to provide proper boundaries to help their Cane Corso overcome their natural predisposition for separation anxiety. At the same time, these very traits that contribute to the fierce loyalty that a Cane Corso offers its owners help make it a dog that can also thrive around all people. And, by following these tips below, you can contribute to a higher quality of life for your Cane Corso by giving it the confidence and skills to cope with its separation anxiety when you are absent.
Proper Crate and Bed Training
What type of bed do Cane Corso puppies need for a suitable home base? A great option is the Calming Dog Cuddle Bed. This bed provides a soft cushion that provides comfort and prevents calluses from forming; it provides a warm and snug environment that can calm down an anxious puppy; it even contains ridges that allow your puppy to burrow when they are fearful.
One of your first tasks in training your Cane Corso puppy is to acclimate it very quickly to its home base. Command your puppy to come and sit on your bed or go into its crate at random intervals. You will need to start by placing treats to help lure your puppy. With a crate, start by placing them at the entrance, ultimately working the treats to the rear of the crate. Most importantly, give your puppy praise each time they obey. In the long run, your ability to give verbal commands in any situation is far more crucial since you will not always have treats on you.
Introductions to People and Pets
With their breed beginnings as guard dogs, Cane Corso puppies will often develop suspicion around any people or animals to whom they are not correctly introduced during their formative period. While widening their swath of friends and positive influences doesn't solve the problem of separation anxiety, it can reduce the likelihood of other triggers (e.g., doorbell, seeing people walk by your house) enhancing that anxiety.
For socialization, the primary goal is to acclimatize your Cane Corso puppy to as many "friendly" faces as possible in that 8-16 week period. How do you make a good introduction? First, invite your friends and family who don't live in your house over for frequent visits. Your puppy will quickly get to know the people you trust in your own home. What's more, it acclimates your puppy speedily and effectively to the fact that people routinely come and go from your house. This will give you a leg up as you train them on how to deal with your departure each day.
Another crucial socialization step is to let your Cane Corso puppy "visit" with other people and dogs on your daily walks. Remember, you have a stinking cute puppy on your leash who doesn't quite yet resemble the behemoth that is one of the leading breeds for inducing cynophobia in people! Strangers will naturally pay attention to this beautiful dog, and they (along with their own dog if they are also out on a walk) will often approach you. Use that opportunity to teach your Cane Corso puppy to sit and wait for your command instead of lunging at the visitors. This skill comes in handy when your puppy is ecstatic at your coming home each day, a tool very useful for controlling the energy that often triggers separation anxiety.
Calmly Exit the Building!
How do you counteract your innate tendency to make a big fuss with your dog when you leave the house? You don't need to be Houdini and escape without detection, but Cane Corso puppies often find it helpful to have a job as you are leaving. The initial step is to make them go to their bed or crate. It is essential to have had prior training with them that DOESN'T involve you leaving the house. Do not make them go to their safe space only when you leave; they will quickly associate this with your leaving, much to everyone's detriment.
When they go to their safe space, give them a toy or a treat toy (something you can stuff treats that require effort to acquire). An excellent treat to use in these exit moments is Calming Dog Zen Chews. Dogs love the taste of these treats, but, in addition, they contain natural agents that help to soothe your dog. As your puppy is distracted, walk out of the room where their safe space is. Then simply leave through the outside door. The key is to leave casually and calmly. Don't even speak to your Cane Corso puppy except to praise them when they go to their crate or bed. Yes, they will eventually notice that you are gone. But you did not leave them in a state of anxiety. The state of relaxation in which you left them is the state in which they will likely remain until your return.
For Cane Corso puppies, note that your return later in the day can trigger a later bout of separation anxiety. Many other breeds who suffer from separation anxiety suffer no ill effects from an exuberant greeting from their owner at their return. Due to the hypersensitive bond they have with you, Cane Corso puppies will initially act in a manic state when they see you because they have experienced some form of stress due to their separation from you. If you return the overly bubbly greeting to them, it could backfire by their perception that your crazy hello to them affirms their stress. Upon coming through the door, greet your puppy, give a quick pet, and then walk away for a few minutes. Once they calm down, now it is time to engage and be playful with your Cane Corso puppy!
Exercise and More Exercise!
Cane Corso puppies need more than a quick walk around the block. They need at least two substantial (i.e., at least 1 hour) exercise sessions during the day. If you have a fenced-in backyard, that is a great tool. But don't get into the habit of simply throwing them out in the backyard to self-exercise. Even as adults, the Cane Corso needs interactive exercise with its owners just as much as it requires the exercise itself. Use your exercise times as a way to form deeper bonds with your Cane Corso puppy.
Follow a Schedule - But Create Adaptable Moments
Cane Corso puppies like a good schedule. However, inevitably you will occasionally come home late from work, take a full-day weekend getaway, or have an adjustment in your routine. While deviations should be kept to a minimum, purposefully work in a slight change in your schedule each day. Whether this means coming home a little later or a little earlier, adjusting one of the mealtimes on a given day, or going outside to work in the yard without your puppy, find ways to alter things just enough so that your Cane Corso puppy doesn't freak out at any change. Above all, the key is to act precisely the same when you leave the house and when you leave home so that your dog doesn't suspect something strange is up.
Your Cane Corso puppy has the potential to have a long and healthy life. A great way to ensure this is to minimize the intensity and frequency of your dog's separation anxiety. You can never eliminate it in Cane Corso puppies. But like humans, prolonged stress can lead to significant health problems. Be firm, polite, and calm with your Cane Corso, who in turn will enrich your life in a myriad of meaningful ways.