Rules for responsible owners of powerful dogs
1. Spay or neuter your dog
Spaying and neutering your dog can decrease aggression when done at an early age. The optimal age lies between 6-9 months, particularly with male dogs. After your dog surpasses 10-12 months, altering is less effective in reducing aggression. Yet, the rule of thumb with male dogs is “better neutered than not” regardless of age.
2. Socialize your dog
Introduce your dog at an early age to community parks, family and friends, busy sidewalks and other animals. The more socialized your dog is, the less chance it will feel threatened in new experiences and the less likely it may choose to bite. An unsocialized dog is nearly always a dangerous dog.
3. Exercise your dog
All dogs require exercise; robust breeds require much more. One can’t assume that 15 minutes of fetch once a day is adequate. Powerful breeds require both physical and mental exercise. If this cannot be supplied, destructive behavior may result. Furthermore, without proper exercise obedience training is often fruitless.
4. Train your dog
Obedience training trains the owner as much as it trains the dog. Such training should start at 3-4 months of the dog’s age. Lack of obedience training ensures a frustrating experience for the dog owner and a dangerous one for the community. Failing to train your dog is a 3-way lose situation: the owner, the dog and the community all suffer.
5. Constrain your dog
Chaining your dog is not the same as constraining your dog. More evidence points to chained dogs as a recipe for disaster. A Denver study revealed that biters were nearly 3 times as likely to be chained as unchained, and dogs with a history of long-term chaining made up 20% of attacks that resulted in fatalities.
6. Limit exposure to untested situations
If your dog is unfamiliar with a busy sidewalk or joggers on a path, do not expose your dog to these situations until you understand what the response will be. If you consider your dog a “family” dog, understand that a new guest in your house is also an untested situation — your dog does not perceive a new guest as “family.”
7. When walking your dog
Do not walk a powerful dog if you are ill equipped to manage it. Under no circumstances should children or teenagers be allowed to either. Managing strong dogs off-property may include: a training collar, a leash no longer than six feet and three-quarter inch thickness and a muzzle. Never, ever use a retractable leash when walking a powerful dog.