11 Tips for Training Your Pit Bull (Video) - Simply For Dogs
Pit Bull

11 Tips for Training Your Pit Bull (Video)

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Have you ever heard someone ask, “Why are pit bulls dangerous?”, or “Are pit bulls good dogs?” There are a lot of false beliefs out there about pit bulls, but the fact is that pit bulls can be just as good, or bad, as any other breed. It’s true that pit bulls have bodies that were bred for aggressive behaviors centuries ago. But today, the pit bull is a lovable goofball with a lot of energy. “Bad” pit bulls are products of their training. Check out my post this week on the history of pit bulls bans, to learn more about why it is that pit bulls seem to be so violent.

Everything about any dog’s behavior, no matter the breed, comes down to training. The way the dog is taught to act is far more important than the genetics. So, the next time you are asking yourself, “Why do pit bulls attack people?”, consider who it was that taught the dog to do so.

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With that being said, pit bulls do have a lot of energy, and if they aren’t well-trained, that energy could easily lead to destructive behaviors and unwanted social behaviors. So, I’ve done some research and found 11 tips for training a pit bull.

(1) Positive Reinforcement

The number one thing to know about training a pit bull is that they are very smart. If you reinforce rules with negative, violent behaviors (like punishing a dog for potty accidents by pushing his nose into the mess), they will learn that negative, violent behaviors are acceptable. These dogs respond very well to positive reinforcement. They are natural people pleasers and want to make you happy. When they see that they have made you happy, they will remember, and will try to repeat the action that did the trick.

Positive reinforcement can mean a lot of things. For example, treat training is popular. This means you teach your dog a command, and reward him with a treat when he follows the command. It’s important that you use treats sparingly, or that you use low-calorie treats – or even a piece of his regular kibble – for rewards. Pit bulls can put on excess weight easily, and you don’t want them to get obese.

The goal of treat training should be to slowly wean your dog off of needing the treats to perform commands. Be sure to always use lots of vocal praise, petting, and visual signs of happiness with your dog when you give them the treat. Over time, you will be able to just use the happiness to reward your dog.

Related Content:

The Real Truth About Pit Bulls
10 Dog Breeds Mistaken for Pit Bulls
Breed Spotlight: The American Pit Bull Terrier
Toy Pit Bull, Anyone? The Truth About Small Dogs
4 Indestructible Chew Toys for Pit Bulls

(2) Clicker Training

One tool that I’ve mentioned a lot here on the blog is a clicker for training. This is a great tool to use in conjunction with positive reinforcement. Think of the clicker as a tool to get your dog’s attention, and to communicate certain steps of the command. For example, you can click the clicker to get your dog to stop what they are doing and look at you. Then you can command them to sit. If you train them to do so, they can sit until they hear the clicker “releasing” them from the command, at which point they can get back up.

Why do this? Primarily because the clicking noise isn’t something they hear all day every day, like your voice. It’s harder to ignore a brand new, unexpected sound. It also helps you avoid snapping at your dog when they are misbehaving. I did a post on clicker training that can help you understand this method in full.

There are plenty of clicker tools out there that are simple buttons that click when you push them. I like this one by Starmark, but any clicker will do the job.

(3) Socialization

It’s very important to socialize a pit bull, both with other dogs and with people. Because pit bulls were bred for fighting centuries ago, they can sometimes have a guarded response around other dogs. When they have never been introduced to violence, they aren’t likely to be a problem around people – any more than other dogs – but they can have reservations about other dogs.

That is why puppy play dates from young ages are very important for the pit bull. They get the dog used to being around other dogs, and give you the chance to teach your dog how to behave when they are still small enough to be physically controlled with no problems. It’s best to start off introducing your dog on a leash, in a fenced-in area. Take your time before removing the leash, but always keep the dogs in a secured area so they don’t run off.

(4) Basic Commands

There are several basic commands that every pit bull – or any dog – should know. Those include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Lay down
  • Come here
  • Drop it
  • Get down
  • Stop or No or Freeze, whichever word you prefer that tells the dog to stop whatever they are doing immediately
  • Their name

These commands cover most situations that your pit bull could get into. You should definitely focus on “come here”. Most people who are afraid of pit bulls will want them to be well controlled by your side, so this is an important one. It shows that the dog isn’t a threat, which is important for a dog with as bad a reputation as this one. Stay and Sit are probably the two most basic commands that most puppy kindergartens start with, because they are easy to teach.

(5) House Training

Another thing you’ll want to start with a pit bull puppy is house training. While you may want to have some newspaper or puppy pads around for accidents, don’t delay house training. As soon as your puppy is old enough to eat kibble, they are old enough to be house trained.

An easy way to get started is to create a schedule for your puppy that follows their natural digestive routines. Puppies usually need to use the bathroom when they wake up, about 15 minutes after eating, and once an hour throughout the day. As they get older, you can start to stretch out the times between breaks till you are just going out once when they wake up, 15 minutes after eating, about four times per day throughout the day, and once before bed. Keep in mind that a puppy will need to go outside in the middle of the night at least once until they get to be at least seven months old or so.

(6) Leash Walking

Leash walking training is very important for a pit bull. When they are fully grown, they are very strong. If they see something they want to investigate (like a pesky squirrel), they can pull the leash right out of your hands, even if you are pretty strong. So, be sure that you start young and teach your dog that the leash is law. They should know that when on the leash, pulling is not acceptable.

You can teach this by refusing to move until your puppy sits and waits for you to direct the walk. Don’t ever give in to pulling, even if the dog is pulling in the direction you want to go in. You may need to consider a harness with a pit bull, just to give you added control.

(7) Jumping

Because pit bulls have such a bad reputation, one thing you absolutely do need to teach them not to do is jump on people. It can lead to situations in which a neighbor tells the local government that your dog is dangerous – or even claiming injury and taking you to court. Be sure you train a pit bull to keep their feet on the ground at all times, and have an emergency command that tells your pit bull to come to you immediately no matter what they are doing. Considering how big pit bulls get, this is just common sense – even a friendly jump could hurt Grandma or a small child, for example.

(8) Dealing with Chewing

Because pit bulls have so much energy, they often have trouble finding ways to direct their energy. That can lead to chewing, which means you’ll need to help your dog find something that is okay for chewing. Toys like KONG, or tug of war ropes, are great for helping a pit bull deal with some of their extra energy.

Look for toys that challenge your pit bull mentally, as well. They are very smart, which means they’ll enjoy puzzle toys that have treats hidden inside. If you are concerned about your pit bull being aggressive with small pets like cats, I would suggest not getting a stuffed animal pet. Stick with stuff that looks like balls or bones.

(9) Crate Training

I’m a big fan of crate training for all dogs, but pit bulls in particular can really benefit from this. Crate training means teaching your dog that their kennel is their safe place – their home that they can retreat to whenever they want. By turning the kennel into their “den” that they love being in, you won’t have any troubles getting a pit bull to go into the kennel for sleeping. This is good for when you need to confine them away from a guest, or when you need to travel.

Be sure to get a kennel that suits the size of your dog right now. If your pit bull is a puppy, get a small kennel, and work your way up as they grow. A kennel should only be big enough for a dog to walk in, turn around, and lay down. Any bigger, and they may decide to “mark” a corner.

(10) Teaching Relaxation or Calm

Another thing that is very good to do with an excitable dog is to teach them a special signal to get them to calm down or relax. For example, I’ve heard of a dog trainer that taught his pit bull to lay down and take a breather whenever he gently tugged on the dog’s ear. You can choose to use a vocal command, a hand signal, or some sort of body signal like that – anything works. This is a very good thing with a dog that can frighten people, and with a dog that has a lot of energy. It’s another way for you to help control what is happening in any situation involving your pit bull.

(11) Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Finally, my last tip for training a pit bull is to exercise more than you think you should. This dog needs lots and lots of activity. Take them for hikes, find a fenced-in area for long runs, get a fetch cannon, hang a long rope on a tree so they can play tug of war without you, and make puppy play dates with other large, active dogs a regular event. This can help a pit bull stay happy and satisfied, so they have no desire to get destructive. Not only does this help them deal with their energy, it also helps them concentrate more when it matters. So when you need them to follow commands, they’ll be less likely to be overly excited and ignore you.

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IMK9 All Natural Dry Dog Training Treats - Low Calorie - Limited Ingredients Made in USA – Coconut, Organic, Healthy, Balanced, Diet Treat Bag - Best for Small, Big Pets – GMO, Grain, Gluten Free
StarMark Clicker Dog Training System
AmazonBasics Pet Training and Puppy Pads, Regular - 50 Count
Copatchy No Pull Reflective Adjustable Dog Harness with Handle (Medium Black)
KONG Extreme Dog Toy, Large, Black
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Last update on 2018-10-16 at 02:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Final Word

Can pit bulls be trained to be good dogs? Can pit bulls be service dogs or military dogs or police dogs? Can they be good family dogs?

The answer to all these questions is yes, absolutely. Believe it or not, this dog was once considered the best possible breed to have as a family dog, especially if you had small children! Mothers would often leave their children alone with the pit bull to be the “babysitter”, that was how trusted they were.

When well trained, this breed is a remarkably amazing companion, and it’s a shame they’ve gotten such a bad reputation. I highly recommend checking out some other posts about training so that you can learn more, or enrolling your dog in a puppy kindergarten class to get expert help.

Related Content:

The Real Truth About Pit Bulls
10 Dog Breeds Mistaken for Pit Bulls
Breed Spotlight: The American Pit Bull Terrier
Toy Pit Bull, Anyone? The Truth About Small Dogs
4 Indestructible Chew Toys for Pit Bulls

Sources:

https://www.dog-obedience-training-review.com/pit-bull-training.html

https://thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/top-9-tips-training-pitbull/

 

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