We have now progressed to the next level of training: obstacles. You will see from the picture of NuNu in class that “one of these things ain’t like the others” ... and that would be the Bullmastiff! He is twice the size of most of his classmates, but he is required to do everything that the smaller dogs do.
I think I am extremely lucky that I found a trainer who knows the breed and believes that my wee man and I will excel in this training. In his mind the Bullmastiff is a working dog, and it should be worked, and not just become a couch potato or kennel dog that gets run around the show ring every other weekend. They are better than that. They can be trained quite easily if you are prepared to put in the time and effort, and are fortunate enough to be under the guidance of someone who knows what they are talking about. What my wee man and I have accomplished so far still blows my mind, and there is still so much more to come.
After a dog has mastered the basics, he will anticipate and relish more complex challenges.
This training has also opened my mind. Although he is the biggest by far in the class, NuNu has the best rear-end coordination. Each obstacle that is put in front of us he just can’t wait to take on. When he has completed it, the only way to describe the look on his face is, “Did you see that ... did you see that, Mum?” The pride I have in him I just cannot describe. He is happier, moves like a complete dream, and gone is the very lazy Bullmastiff that would rather watch you exercise.
I am now able to control him when he does feel the need to go into natural protection mode. We all talk about “Oh, my dog would protect me.” We also hear and read about how the Bullmastiff naturally has protection built in, but you will only see it if you are actually put in that situation. So here is a question for you: If your Bullmastiff went into natural protection mode ... could you call him/her off? Something to seriously ponder into today’s world.
Don’t get me wrong – my wee man has a temperament to die for. His whole litter is amazing temperament wise, and he is also a certified therapy pet. But because a Bullmastiff has a fantastic temperament does not mean that he won’t protect ... and when he does, what do you do?
For example, at training class, NuNu had to potty. As I bent over to pick up after him, yet again a dog came rushing up behind me, and my wee man went to protect me. Something so simple, but it was his natural instinct to do that. One command from me, and NuNu was at ease again. He had let me and the dog know that he considered it a threat, and needed to alert me that something was coming. Once I let him know all was OK, he instantly relaxed. That complete trust in each other was something he and I previously did not have.
Besides all that, an active Bullmastiff is a happy Bullmastiff, and, more important, a fit one. The breed is dying pretty young these days – could mental and physical inactivity be contributing to this?
The author and NuNu find interesting obstacles to work on in their daily walks.
I would like to think my NuNu is one out of the bag, but the truth is he is not. There are lots of Bullmastiffs out there capable of being worked to their full potential. Working them comes down to the humans that own them.
Our walks are now more exciting, as I am always on the lookout for something for him to climb, walk along or balance on. He too spots things in the distance, and his face lights up, as he can’t wait to get to it. Something so simple has made the bond between us unbreakable. He is certainly well along the road now of becoming my personal protection dog, which in a roundabout way was what they were back in the day.
The next stage of our training and the ultimate challenge for us is tracking, again something Bullmastiffs were designed to do. We will be taking this challenge on with an open mind, but I quietly have no doubt it is something we can master as a team.
Take a leap of faith with your dog, and don’t let anyone ever tell you “Oh, you can’t do that with a Bullmastiff!”
About the Author
Sharron Mischefski of Bullmischief Bullmastiffs got her first Bullmastiff (Kugel Daisy May, CGCB, RN – Certified Therapy Pet) in 2006, and life was never to be the same again. In 2009, her second Bullmastiff and first show dog arrived: NZ Ch. Bodacious Horatio Nelson, CGCB, RN – Certified Therapy Pet. And now in 2012 number three, Kugel Colonel Blackwell, is due. She fell into obedience training after she was told “Oh, a Bullmastiff can’t do that.” She has the only Bullmastiffs in New Zealand with the combination of Canine Good Citizen, Rally-O, certified therapy pet and champion titles. Bullmastiffs and training them have become her passion.