Written by Brenda Bagwell / Eanlo Kennel
As a trainer, groomer, handler and owner of a boarding kennel as well as having titled Fila on stock, obedience and other working areas, the question of training comes to me quite often.
Some of the things I hear the most are:
· "I'm afraid that if I show my Fila in confirmation and teach him to let a stranger touch him, he will think it's okay to let anyone touch him."
· "I don't want to do too much obedience with my Fila because I am afraid that corrections will break his spirit."
· "I want a Fila but I don't know anything about obedience training."
· And the BIG ONE .... "I don't want to socialize my Fila because I am afraid he will be too friendly!"
As a Fila owner, breeder and exhibitor, I would like to express my feelings on the subject of training.
To me, obedience with a Fila is a MUST. Though the temperament varies from mild to very hard, the Fila is a breed that the owner MUST have control of at all times. Of course, the more protective the Fila is, the more the need for training and socialization. As the proud owner of the first Fila bitch to ever earn a Companion Dog title, and one very hard girl, I can tell you that it can be done. A lot of work goes into preparing a Fila for obedience competition. There is also a lot of proofing in shopping mall lots and strange places. This is great for preparing your dog for confirmation too. My dogs have always remained very hard even though they learn to stand for exam in a ring as well as for the vet.
The Fila is a very intelligent breed, and from experience, the Fila can be taught what is expected of them in the ring. They also learn that in working an obedience routine, it is okay for a stranger to walk up, touch them and walk away. This is not a threat to either the dog or owner, it is simply part of the routine. Even if you have no intentions of competing in obedience, having a well trained dog is certainly a pleasure, no matter what the breed.
There are breed and specialty clubs in all areas who offer obedience classes. Some boarding and grooming kennels also offer this service. Local veterinarians may also know people who hold obedience classes. Obedience classes can be both fun and provide much knowledge from people who have had years of experience, offering tips on how to correct bad habits (such as digging, getting on furniture, racing through doors, etc.). Obedience will only serve to make a better relationship between you and your Fila.
There are different methods of training dogs. Talk with prospective trainers and go with the one whom you feel most comfortable. Many methods of training have proven to be effective. Socialization does not mean that you have to let everyone handle your Fila! Taking your dog to the park, vet's office or even to a friend's home can become a very unpleasant chore if the dog has never done any of these things as a puppy. Early socialization will also help you to know how your Fila will react in different situations. If you plan to show your Fila, taking it out as puppy and just having FUN at matches or shows with a puppy sweeps, will teach him that this is an activity that you and it can enjoy together. And as we all know, the Fila loves to be with and do things with its owner!
Remember, training does not have to be a chore or something to be afraid of. Make it fun for you and your Fila. You will be rewarded by a more understanding, trusting and respectful companion.