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Alpha Dog Training

Mona Lindau-Webb, Ph.D.
West Los Angeles  California  USA



Mona Lindau-Webb
Mona Lindau-Webb is quite possibly one of the best Bullmastiff specific trainers in the United States.  She is not only a trainer, but also a Bullmastiff owner, breeder, behavior specialist, and handler.  Mona acquired her first bullmastiff in 1979 who, under Mona's training program, attained Utility Dog (UD), Begleitungshunde (BH) and Wach-hunde (WH) titles.  With 21 years of experience, Mona has put approximately 40 working titles (obedience, agility, and Schutzhund) and two championships for her clients' Bullmastiffs.  This includes the two Bullmastiffs from her own kennel's breeding - Elysian Bullmastiffs.

Mona is also an author to her own book and has contributed numerous training and behavioral articles to Bullmastiff related magazines.  She is also deeply involved with Bullmastiff Rescue and is an invaluable contributor with providing behavior evaluations and rehabilitating behavioral problems.  Tell us about your training facility and expertise.

Alpha Dog:  My company is Alpha Dog Training in West Los Angeles. Mostly I do in-home training in the clients' home. I do a small amount of evaluations and training at my home. I run training classes for the city of Beverly Hills and for West Los Angeles Obedience Club.  The most fun thing I do is my puppy program that consists of private training sessions, a weekly puppy play group, and a weekly city walk.

A large part of my practice deals with behavior problems, and I specialize in aggression problems.  Would you tell us about the training books you have written about the Bullmastiff? 

Alpha Dog:   Raising a Bullmastiff Puppy.  This is an introduction to the breed and the importance of socializing your guard breed puppy. This booklet tells you the unvarnished truth about our breed, frontside and backside.  Why have you chosen to focus your training expertise specifically towards the Bullmastiff breed? 

Alpha Dog:  I love living with this breed. The bullmastiff is a great companion to hang out with and do things with.  Training a bullmastiff is never straight forward. They hardly ever work like the books say, so it is a nice challenge for me as a professional trainer.  Please explain what the following titles mean:  UD, BH, and WH. 

Alpha Dog:  UD = Utility Dog. This is the highest level of AKC obedience titles. The dog starts with a Companion Dog (CD), then advances to Companion Dog Excellent (CDX), and then to a UD.

BH = Begleitungshunde; a pre Schutzhund companion dog title that combines obedience with a temperament test.

WH - Wach-hunde - pre schutzhund Watch Dog title. Involves guarding objects and chasing agitators away.  When a family adopts a new Bullmastiff puppy, what steps should they take to ensure that they raise a well-adjusted Bullmastiff companion?

Alpha Dog:  It helps to do some homework before getting a puppy. Find a good breeder, try to get the know the breeder's line. Find out about the temperament and personality of the bullmastiff and make sure this is what you want. Buy my book and find out more about the bullmastiff personality.

Once puppy arrives, start training. Use treats, and gentle guidance in the beginning. It is also important to socialize the puppy by exposing him to lots of people and environments. Use common sense to find safe places. This early socialization determines a large part of the adult personality and behaviors, and it has to take place during the critical period when the puppy is between 7-14 weeks in order to be effective.  The word "socialization" is commonly used in conjunction with proper ownership of a Bullmastiff.  What does this mean?  How would a typical owner accomplish this task? 

Alpha Dog:  Socialization means exposure to life at a critical period. The critical period is 7-14 weeks. My standard advise is to expose the puppy to 50-100 people each week, and 4-5 different places. Round up your friends. Go to the mall. Sit outside the Disney Store. Go to lines outside movie theaters. Start frequenting coffee places.  Have puppy parties at home.  Would socializing a Bullmastiff make them less apt to perform their duties as a guard dog? 

Alpha Dog:  Totally on the contrary. The more socialized a guard breed dog is, the better will he/she do the guard duty later when the guard instinct kicks in.  Early exposure to all kinds of people, animals, and situations teaches the pup all about the Good Stuff. Then when the guard instinct kicks in, the dog will automatically recognize Bad Guys, and Bad Stuff as different from Good Stuff. This makes the dog confident and safe.

An unsocialized mature bullmastiff is just plain dangerous. This dog will protect out of fear, and not discriminate. These are often the dogs that end up on Death Row.  The Bullmastiff is classified as a working breed primarily used for guarding.  Would an owner need to teach their Bullmastiff how to perform as a guard dog?  Why or why not? 

Alpha Dog:   Nope. The bullmastiff will guard no matter what. That is what the dog was bred to do. Their genetic behavior patterns for chasing, catching, biting, and damaging are not as inhibited as the ones for non-guard breed. It is up to the owner to put controls on the guard instinct by early socialization and obedience training. Breeders have to stop telling their puppy buyers not to teach the dog to sit. All bullmastiffs should learn to sit and to lie down on command early on, and a command for leave it. These are the controls, and the dog is plain dangerous without it.  What is schutzhund training?

Alpha Dog:  Schutzhund is a competition sport. To get a Schutzhund title the dog competes in tracking, advanced obedience (off leash, includes retrieving and a one meter high jump), and a very stylized and strictly controlled type of protection exercises.  Under what circumstances would a Bullmastiff need to be schutzhund trained?

Alpha Dog:  Never. But it is great fun to compete with your bully in the sport, because it is an unusual breed. It is also extremely hard work to train a bullmastiff to competition level Schutzhund. It will truly show off the versatility and working ability of the dog.

Very few bullmastiffs could even do it. This is not a very sound breed. It takes a physically and mentally sound dog to even train for the title.

 ....continue....  Should a family with children (or whom expect to have children in the future) pursue having their Bullmastiff schutzhund trained?

Alpha Dog:   There is no general answer to this question. IF you are lucky enough to have a bullmastiff that can do the training and IF the owners are dedicated, sure, why not? It will put even more controls on the dog's guard instinct, and the more controls, the better.  What advice do you have for Bullmastiff owners looking for a qualified trainer to help them with their Bullmastiff?

Alpha Dog:  Look for a trainer who is familiar with the guard breeds. Look for someone who has several years experience as a trainer. And most important of all, look for a trainer who is not stuck on one method. I think it is important to use mostly positive methods, but with many bullmastiffs there comes a point where corrections could be used, and a balance between positive and negative training is important.  There are still very few trainers that know how to properly guide an owner on training their Bullmastiff.  Some trainers still fear handling the Bullmastiff due to their size.  Other trainers hold to the old adage that if the dog does not listen - physically force the dog into position - a common tactic that we know rarely works on a Bullmastiff.  What advice do you have for animal trainers to help them seek guidance on working with the Bullmastiff and their owner?

Alpha Dog:  Get educated.  Get more versatility in the training. One method does not fit all. There are now dozens of seminars and workshops all over the country each month year around, teaching a variety of techniques. Join professional organizations like The Association of Pet Dog Trainers, and the International Association of Canine Professionals and go to their annual meetings. Join the Bullmastiff Chat list.                 What classes do you offer at your training facility?   

Alpha Dog:  At my facility I just do private one on one training. I offer beginning and advanced classes in the parks in West Los Angeles. I also do show training, and trick training classes. All classes are 6-7 weeks.   How can interested parties contact you to sign up for a class?

Alpha Dog:  E-mail me at or call me at 310-559-2321.   How much are your training books and how can interested parties contact you to for ordering copies of your books?

Alpha Dog: My bullmastiff book is $10.00, order via e-mail: tikiwiki@mindspring.comor by phone: 310-559-2321.  I also sell copies of articles I have written.  What future would you like to see happen with the Bullmastiff breed in general?  Do you think it this future is reachable?

Alpha Dog:  The breed has improved a lot over the past 20 years I think. I would like to see more research and openness on health problems.  There are now many more bullies in obedience and agility, some in the top of their competition.  There are many bullmastiffs working as therapy dogs. The more we see of this the better.

I would like for breeders to insist on socializing and obedience training the puppies they sell, not just telling puppy-buyers to do it, but follow up and check that it gets done.

Closing Thoughts:

Alpha Dog:  I would love to see two myths being put away.

Myth #1: Do not take your puppy out until he has had all his shots; if you follow this advice you will have behavior problems. Do take your puppy out and socialize, and use some common sense and take precautions.

Myth #2: Do not teach your puppy to sit because he may sit in the show ring. This implies that the dog is not clever enough to learn 3 commands: sit, down, and stand - and I know for a cert that the bullmastiff can learn many many many more commands and exercises than those basic three. The Sit is a great control mechanism, and all bullies need to learn it, just like they learn the show stand and gaiting in the ring.  Believe me, our bullies are more than clever enough to learn it all. would like to personally thank Mona Lindau-Webb for taking the time to share her thoughts and experience with our readers!  If you would like more information about the Alpha Dog Training, please contact Mona Lindau-Webb at

Alpha Dog Training
Mona Lindau-Webb, Ph.D.
West Los Angeles  California  USA


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