Education and sports activities with Spanish alano

Article published in the magazine El Mundo del Perro, nº of December of 2012.
Author: Sergio López Martínez, breeder of the affix Collado del Diablo.

I thank from these lines the opportunity that The World of the Dog gives me to contribute my experience as breeder and amateur to the Spanish Alano and to the training and sports activities.

The Spanish Alano has been selected over time to hunt and grab wild cattle, getting over the years to maintain the qualities that make him possessor of a marked identity, such as his nobility, courage, strength and innate disposition for grip and prey. The fact of being a race with an undeniable hunting spirit makes him possessor of his own natural aptitudes that enable him to perform very diverse sports activities in which he can play a great role.

His great intelligence combined with the strong and tireless morphology of the Alano allows us to integrate it into our lives in everyday sports activities such as jogging, swimming, excursions, etc… being able to enjoy our canine companion in many different hunting experiences . We are therefore facing a versatile dog, with good skills, that learns quickly and easily adapts to life in the city.

As with any race, the importance of obedience training is paramount. A Alano needs to know what his place is and what he can or can not do, to have a full life to participate actively in our day to day life. A basic education is more than recommended not only for the Alans but for any race, we think that the bad habits acquired when they are puppies can become a problem when the dog reaches adulthood.

Training an Alano in basic obedience is simple and allows us to establish a very special connection with our dog, it is fun, easy and will be the perfect way to later enjoy the most varied situations of life in society. Starting from the earliest age when their learning capacity is maximum, we will take into account that their evolution will depend on the socialization work that the puppy has, from the breeder until it is part of our family. A puppy with a multitude of lived experiences is more receptive to learning activities than someone who lacks them and is easily distracted by any stimulus.

That our Alano understand and obey the basic orders will make it much easier for us to live together in the family and with our immediate environment, being a dog with whom we can go anywhere and behave appropriately in different situations.

Once our Alano has that basic education it is possible to delve deeper into some of the many qualities they have and enjoy them practicing canicross, dog frisbee, swimming, search and rescue and training as dogs for therapy. Today the race has numerous fans inside and outside our borders with copies that give very good results in all these disciplines.

We must not forget that the specialization achieved with his selection has fixed in the Alano physical and psychic qualities enough to carry out these activities successfully, running structures, good physical background, instinct of prey, perseverance and determination among others.

On the other hand, when talking about alano as a sports work dog, we enter into a topic that has created controversy on more than one occasion. The first thing to keep in mind is that this breed has been selected for hunting not for guarding and defense and therefore we must be objective before starting training and ask ourselves if our dog’s abilities, as individual in particular, are the suitable to give optimal results in sports training. Due to the balanced character and its hunter instinct the training in RCI or mondioring must follow somewhat different approaches to those used in shepherd dogs, since their evolution in the exercises is somewhat slower than with Belgian or German shepherds. But having consistency and a good training plan adapted to their particularities we can obtain good results with our wing, have fun and expand the range of activities to practice with it.

And finally I want to emphasize that although the polyvalence and versatility of the Alano is patent, it is the responsibility of breeders, associations and amateurs to do a breeding work based on the ancestral functionality, which is none other than the grip of cattle and big game. All their aptitudes and qualities, which give it its unique essence, are due to the selection of breeding specimens, which fulfilled their tasks perfectly and that over the years have modeled the optimum morphology and character to carry them out. Resistance, robustness, speed, gregariousness and his balanced, serious and noble temperament distinguish him and make Alano a dog that does not leave indifferent. That is the spirit of the Spanish wing that makes it a unique race and that we must preserve. Reconducing the baby to fix other characteristics is in my opinion a mistake, since the set of its virtues is what makes the Spanish Alano the magnificent race that it is.