Pit bulls are big dogs with even bigger personalities.
They show more character than most other breeds their size and often ‘wear their hearts on their sleeves.’
These loving dogs can be your best friend, jogging partner, and beloved family pet. A well-trained Pit bull is an absolute pleasure to be around. They’re smart dogs with a real drive to please their owners.
But don’t be fooled, they can also be an absolute nuisance.
I say this because an untrained pit bull will destroy property, howl constantly and take its frustration out on other family pets. So training (and socializing) should be a top priority for any pit bull owner, and whether or not your Pit bull is easy to train really depends on two things.
The Dog’s Personality
It’s unfair to view all dogs in the pit bull category as aggressive, bloodthirsty canines. And the fact is that each dog will take different lengths of time to train.
Pit bulls should be treated on an individual basis. They’re extremely intelligent dogs that take well to focused training sessions. They can learn and master commands of medium difficulty and will stay loyal to their owners, making them relatively easy to train.
The word relative is used here because although they will listen to commands, they will also show a real tenacity at times that drives them to dominate other dogs. So they must be exposed to socialization and training sessions from a young age.
The Dedication and Devotion Of The Trainer
This is often where the problem lies.
Everyone wants a well-trained dog, but not everyone is dedicated to keeping their training sessions regular and consistent. Like many other breeds, pit bulls thrive under a solid training routine.
You, the owner, need to use positive reinforcement during training sessions to make your dog look forward to training.
But how do you do it? And will the process of training your pitbull break your love for these four-legged companions?
Let’s look closely at all the ins and outs. Firstly, why is training important?
Keep the history of the breed in mind. Because of their alpha dog mentality, they were often used as fighting dogs in a bloodthirsty sport called bullbaiting.
Over the years, they underwent selective breeding, growing bigger and stronger with upper body muscles, jaw muscles, and a strong prey drive to match.
Without training and socializing, their natural instinct to bite, fight, and maul could very well take over, and these friendly pooches could turn into dangerous animals.
When To Start Training Your Pit Bull Puppy
You don’t need to wait too long before introducing your puppy to a good training routine. From about 8 weeks old, they can handle basic commands.
At that age, you should keep training sessions to 15 minutes or shorter. Puppies get distracted quite easily and won’t focus on commands for too long, anyway.
During these initial training sessions, you could teach your puppy to sit, stay, and come when called by its name. This is probably the most raw or basic form of training and will help set the tone for training sessions in years to come.
As they grow and learn to respect you as the trainer, you can increase the length and frequency of training sessions, keeping them to 30 minutes or less.
An adolescent pit bull will have a lot of energy and show eagerness to explore its surroundings, so introduce them to a leashed walk as soon as possible.
Remember that professional dog trainers will use up to an hour at a time for intense training sessions, but in all likelihood, you won’t need that much time for at-home training.
Different Types Of Training
Depending on the desired outcome, there are a few different types of training you might want to look into.
Each type of training serves a specific purpose and can be combined to create a well-rounded and well-behaved dog. So before you start using a specific method, ask yourself your desired outcome and base your training on that.
That being said, here’s a closer look at the various training criteria:
Obedience training focuses on teaching dogs basic behaviors and commands, such as sit, stay, come, and heel.
The goal is to establish clear communication and control between the dog and the owner. This type of training is important for a well-behaved and disciplined Pit bull.
For example, obedience training can be used to teach your dog to sit and stay while waiting for food or to come when called in a park.
An important part of any dog's training would be an emergency recall. This involves teaching them to come to you promptly and reliably in urgent or potentially dangerous situations.
Here's a more detailed explanation of the training process:
Start in a controlled environment: Begin the training indoors or in a fenced area with minimal distractions like other dogs. This allows you to establish a strong foundation before progressing to more challenging environments.
Choose a recall command: Select a specific word or phrase, such as "Come" or "Here," that will cue your pit bull to return to you. Consistency is key in using the same command every time.
Positive reinforcement: Associate the recall command with positive rewards to motivate your pit bull. Use their favorite treat, enthusiastic praise, and petting to make coming to you a highly rewarding experience.
Leash and long-line training: Start with a leash or a long line attached to your pit bull's collar to maintain control during training. Allow them to move freely while you hold the leash loosely.
Increase distractions and distance: Slowly introduce distractions, such as toys or mild noises, to simulate real-life situations. Gradually increase the distance between you and your pit bull while practicing the recall command.
Practice in different environments: Move the training sessions to various locations, both indoors and outdoors, to help your pit bull generalize the recall command in different settings. This will also expose them to other animals, which might be challenging for them.
This ensures that they understand the command in various contexts.
Consistency and repetition: Regularly practice the recall command in short training sessions. Be consistent in using the command and reinforcing good behavior. This helps reinforce the association between the command and the desired action.
Off-leash training in a secure area: Once your pit bull consistently responds to the recall command on a leash, you can gradually transition to off-leash training in a securely fenced area. Ensure the environment is safe and free from potential hazards.
This type of training involves introducing a dog to a crate as a safe and comfortable space.
The crate is a den-like environment where your Pit bull can relax, sleep, or stay when the owner is away. It can aid in house training, preventing destructive behavior, and providing a secure space for your dog.
For instance, crate training can teach your pup to stay calm during car rides or to create a sense of security during thunderstorms.
Advanced training builds upon the foundation of basic obedience training and introduces more complex commands and skills.
It focuses on refining your dog's behavior, enhancing its training abilities, and teaching advanced tricks or tasks.
This type of training is often used for working dogs, service dogs, or dogs involved in competitive activities like agility, dog sports or obedience trials.
It can include teaching a dog to perform complex sequences of commands or assisting individuals with specific disabilities.
This is a positive reinforcement-based training method that utilizes a clicker as a conditioned signal to mark desired behaviors.
The clicker is followed by a reward, typically a treat, to reinforce the behavior.
Clicker training helps to establish clear communication and enables precise timing of reinforcement. It can be used for various types of training, from basic obedience to advanced tricks.
For instance, clicker training can be used to teach your Pit bull to shake hands or to perform intricate tricks like rolling over.
Potty training, as mentioned earlier, is synonymous with house training. It involves teaching a dog where and when to eliminate waste.
A practical application of potty training would be teaching a newly adopted adult Pit bull dog to use a specific backyard area for bathroom breaks. Ideally, though, potty training is focused on younger dogs.
Potty training a pitbull puppy isn’t hard as these dogs are intelligent and will understand where their toilet breaks should be taken without hassle.
Socializing Vs. Training - Is There a Difference?
Yes, there is a difference.
When socializing a dog, you’re teaching it social and behavioral skills. You’re teaching it what acceptable social behavior is toward other people and animals.
This is very important because a well-socialized pit bull knows its boundaries and is less likely to bite other pets. They’ll also be better behaved when visitors come to your home.
Socializing should start from an early age. A young pit bull puppy will learn to play well with other pets before their prey drive kicks in, serving them well when they get older.
It gets a bit more tricky when adopting an adolescent or adult dog. If a pit bull hasn’t been socialized properly, it could be a real danger to your other pets.
So take caution before adopting an adult dog. Check how they react around other dogs in the shelter, especially when they need to share your attention.
Training, as discussed earlier, involves teaching a dog specific behaviors and commands to ensure obedience, discipline, and control.
It focuses on teaching the dog to understand and respond to cues from the dog owner. It covers a wide range of skills, from basic obedience commands like sit and stay to more advanced tasks and tricks.
Training provides mental stimulation, establishes boundaries, and fosters a strong bond between the dog and the owner.
Do You Have A Well Trained Pit Bull?
A well-trained dog doesn’t necessarily have to show advanced obedience. Remember, you need to remember the desired outcome of your training before you set out on a training course.
So if your pup plays well with other dogs at the park without getting aggressive, enjoys walks on the leash without pulling too hard, and can be left alone at home without destroying the furniture, you have a well-trained dog
Because of the stigmas associated with Pit bull type dogs, they are often misunderstood and overlooked when choosing a new puppy for the family. But the truth is that many Pit bulls are very intelligent, fun-loving, and obedient when exposed to proper training sessions from a young age.
Looking for the perfect harness to help train your pup? Check out Sparkpaw's range, including the no-pull and activewear harnesses. Your Pittie will appreciate how comfortable our harnesses are on long walks with their best human friend.