Can English Mastiff be training for service dog tasks?

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by Sarah Kim, Mar 18, 2021.


Can English Mastiff be a service dog?

  1. Yes

  2. No

    0 vote(s)
  3. Maybe

  1. Sarah Kim

    Sarah Kim Member

    Hello! My puppy is 4 months old English Mastiff. He was re-homed so I adopted him when he was about 14 weeks. He used to live in middle of no where (like one house, and just a field everywhere, not many cars, not many outside people or dogs), and I live in downtown, big city.

    It's been 2 weeks since he came to me, and it has been okay. He is very scared, but he learned his new name, and a few commands such as "sit" and "crate", not perfectly yet, but we're getting there! I'm also planning to start a private dog training next months as he is too scared to walk outside to the training facility. He's very shy and timid but if he can be very funny and active at home, or with some other dogs.

    Anyway, I've been planning to adopt a large breed dog for the last many years, large breed, due to my physical and mental health problem. I've been suffering from chronic autoimmune disease and anxiety disorder along with OCD and BPD. But these have been managed pretty well for the last few years.

    However, I still get flare-ups and anxiety attacks here and there. It's been pretty hard even after medications and therapy, and I used to always have someone living with me who can help me with those problems. However, I cannot have someone next to me all the time. But amazingly, my puppy has been helping me a lot, just being there next to me.

    Whenever I get anxious, I just sit and hug him and it helps me to calm down. But I wanted to teach him more tricks for whenever I have mobility and anxiety issues. When I get flare-ups, my right arm becomes useless, so I wanted to teach him things like opening the door, carrying items, picking up stuff from the ground, and calms me down when I start get anxiety/panic attack in public, etc.

    But I know Mastiff does not like too much exercise or walking. Thankfully, I wouldn't need him to be my "service dog" every day, but more like whenever I have problems occasionally (there are days my problem gets worse, usually between different medications). So that part, I wouldn't worry too much, but I've never really seen many cases with Mastiff being a service dog. Also, I was told Mastiff can be very stubborn, so I wonder if he would be really able to help when needed?

    In general, I love training with him. It also makes me more confident and happy. So no matter what, if he can do the service tasks or not, I'm planning to take CGC exams and Public Access Test, etc. I know it takes years to train different task, but do you think English Mastiff can be a good service dog?

    - He is smart, I potty trained him in one day, and taught him "go to crate" in 2 days, and "sit" in 2 days. He reads my feelings very well. For example, he accidentally peed next to the potty pads (well technically his foot was on the pads lol), and I didn't praise him. Then he saw me not prasing him, and he literally went back to pad and squeeze his pee and looked at me like "Hey am i a good boy now?!" which i found it so funny.

    - Also, he tried play-biting and humping me, and I told him "no" and walked away, and after that, he tried to control his urge to bite and hump! I could tell he was struggling to not bite me, which I thought it was so thoughtful and smart of him.

    Anyway, I love him so much, and I'm so thankful he came to my life. My health has been already improving so much
  2. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    There's no easy answer for you. Any dog can potentially be trained to be a service animal. It's very dependent on the individual dog. Are you looking for him to be a public access SD? Or an emotional support animal (ESA)? ESAs aren't afforded the same access as service dogs. Would you be owner training your dog or hiring a professional? Don't be disappointed if your dog doesn't end up being public access material. I believe it's 70% of dogs end up washing. It's a very high number. My daughter's dog ended up washing at a little over age two. He still performs his service dog duties, but he's no longer a public access dog.

    As you describe your dog right now as being very fearful, I would honestly say that it may take a lot of work for him to overcome those fears to be a public access dog. Please, please make sure that your trainer is a progressive reinforcement trainer rather than a "balanced" or correction based trainer. You need extremely positive training with a fearful dog. English mastiffs in general are often pretty soft dogs when it comes to corrections and will do much better with reward based methods.

    I wish you the best of luck. Please let us know how things are going.
    glen likes this.
  3. Sarah Kim

    Sarah Kim Member

    Hi! Thank you for the response. 2 weeks has passed, and hoo boy! We made some great progress. I love him more and more each day. I've been setting up playdates every 2-3 days, and he gets to meet different dogs and people, every day! (He loves playdates, he would not want to play with me anymore, but only with other doggy friends ........ hurt! lol) And guess what, he now does not scared of big noises like cars, trucks and train!! I've not seen him trying to run away from the noise and I'm so proud of him. We've been working on "heel" and leash training, and he is doing very well.

    And yes, I'm planning to start private/group training sessions with him soon, and I'm ONLY looking for positive reinforcement training. Personally, I myself does not even do well on firm corrections, etc (just like Mahler, I'm also very sensitive, lol), so I would not want that to him. At the end of the day, I know he's just a puppy that does not understand English. So I've been watching and studying Zak George's videos on the positive reinforcement training and practicing every day.

    And whether he can be public access dog or not, it doesn't matter much to me. Yes, it would be great if he can be, but if not, I'm also happy with that! Thank you so much for your advice. I will keep those in mind!! :D
  4. Boxergirl

    Boxergirl Well-Known Member

    Check out Kikopup on Youtube for excellent training videos. I like her better than Zak George, but that's just my preference and I know many people really love him.

    Here's a link to her Dogmantics site. She has a lot of good info available.
  5. Loverboy Skyline

    Loverboy Skyline Well-Known Member

    My vote was Maybe. I wouldn't exclude any breed given good training, but some will need a lot more patience than others. I think the giant breed that probably fits that profile best would be a Newfoundland.

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