Whether you call it the Caucasian Shepherd, Ovtcharka, Mountain Dog or anything else, there is just no missing this most massive of dog breeds.
And despite its giant girth, the Caucasian Shepherd is ballooning in popularity, and you will find them far from their original home in Eurasia. From America to Australia they are a global phenomenon.
This makes knowing how to train the Caucasian Shepherd an even bigger deal.
Well-bred and raised, they should be a loyal and dedicated guard dog, but should not attack.
But first it needs from you an experienced, firm and determined owner. There is not a breed that requires proper training and socializing more than a Caucasian Shepherd. A badly trained, and poorly socialized Caucasian Shepherd, can be easily afraid, or reactive, and can pose a real danger.
What do you want from the training of your Caucasian Shepherd?
How you train your dog depends on what you expect from them, and what its lifestyle will be with you. This is true of the Caucasian Shepherd more than almost any other breed.
There are two main lifestyles to consider. Will your dog be….
1- A family dog that goes out and about with you on walks and days out.
2 – A family guardian that stays in the home and garden mostly.
The Caucasian Shepherd is more often found in category 2, but it is not impossible, far from it, for it to be a regular family dog, but that requires serious training, and socializing especially. Training for your dog in the 2nd lifestyle is actually easier, but still takes work. And both need at least some socializing.
When your Caucasian Shepherd puppy is around 3 months old this is a good age to begin socialization. This is a little later than for most breeds.
The Caucasian Shepherd bonds pretty quickly with its owners, and strongly too. This means with strangers they can be aloof and very watchful and will put themselves between their owner and someone they feel is a threat.
Every Caucasian should be socialized to some extent, and completely with children, so they learn not to be defensive at all with them. Raise your Caucasian Shepherd around other dogs, children, people and animals then they will accept them as part of their family, and be less defensive with them when they meet new ones.
If you do this early, and regularly, especially if your dog is going to be out and about one, then you should have no issue with very defensive behavior.
It is also important that it is introduced to people in the home and garden, as well as in public, if you want your dog to be safe with people in all locations.
The Caucasian Shepherd as we said is inherently loyal, so they are very capable of obeying you, but that doesn’t mean obedience training should be ignored.
STOP and NO are the most important words. This is because of their guarding instinct, if you do not want them to confront anyone
While the Caucasian Shepherd is a thinking dog, and not a stupid dog, it needs purpose behind actions. So your training must have a specific aim. If you want them to obey, it must, therefore, be done with determination. Obedience training can take months of determined effort.
However the Caucasian Shepherd is a very quick learner if you do not get overly repetitive, and they are one of the most devoted and loyal dogs. On the other hand Caucasian Shepherd can sometimes fail to see the relevance of a command and will certainly try your patience.
Training for Work
The most common ‘job’ Caucasian Shepherd owners have for their dogs is guarding, and it is the one thing you don’t need to focus on! Why you ask? Because the guarding instinct is Natural.
What you need to focus on is making sure your Caucasian is not too OVER PROTECTIVE. This ties back to early socializing and making sure your dog does not see all strangers as a threat.
Instead, you need to focus on the ‘place’ that the Caucasian Shepherd is supposed to protect and guard.
The Caucasian Shepherd Dog is a very smart dog. So you might be surprised to see after a few sessions of work training that your dog loses interest. The reason is not because of a lack of “working ability” but misunderstanding the mind of your Caucasian. So keep it varied.
Territory is key!
When your dog is trained on a different territory to its regular one, then it has nothing to guard and will ignore the commands you teach because it sees no purpose for them.
The Caucasian Shepherd is so smart in fact, it needs to believe there is a purpose behind their actions.
So, while for other breeds it’s better to train at first on a training field and only then to put them into conditions that you will face in the future, for the Caucasian Shepherd it should be done the other way around. Train them in their regular space, most likely the garden, and only later when progress is made should you train them in other places.
Training as a game will not work but should be based on their instinct, – territory guarding especially. This should come naturally to them as long as they understand they are protecting their territory, and you.
All in all training a Caucasian Shepherd is a little different, a little more focused, and a lot more important than with other breeds. But taking these steps, your smart dog should be ready and willing to listen to you, you just need a little time and patience with your big beast.