Do Not Buy or Adopt Sight Unseen
Please be sure to watch the video near the end of this post!
Training Your Pit Bull
Just like people, Pit Bulls have different fears and needs and their body language will reveal when they are distraught or agitated. When you begin to understand your Pit Bull, look out for indications that your dog is uncomfortable around another animal; does he take a rigid position, crinkle a lip, bark, excessive panting, put his tail between his legs, or even attempt to hide behind you?
If your pet freezes, he is feeling awkward and his guard will be up. Find what you have to do to relax your dog when he displays these behaviors; like moving him away from the area; surprising him (a loud clap); taking him for a walk, or any combination of these activities.
Give your Pit Bull a great deal of physical exercise. You will need to invest at least two hours a day for physical exercise, including frequent walks. Also, plan for the other physical/mental exercises he will need (i.e. playing fetch, or agility training). A well-exercised pet is a pleased pet.
Below are suggestions for starting house-training your Pit Bull. Before acquiring your puppy, choose a potty location outside your home that will be his go-to spot. Think carefully, as this location should be out of foot traffic area and in a location easy to clean up.
Once your pup comes to his new home, take him to this location until he goes potty and praise him for going potty (Good Job!!). Praise and positive reinforcement are extremely important to puppies.
There should be no house tour until he first goes potty outside. Watch for signs that he needs to potty – i.e., sniffing or scratching the floor, going in circles, or looking disturbed.
Being the Alpha Leader
Your dog must understand that you are the leader, and he is the follower. Pit Bulls require a leader or they will certainly attempt to be the leader, or the Alpha canine. For your pet to understand that you are the Alpha of the pack your must provide him approval when doing the things he wishes to do, and also be able to counter when he does things he shouldn’t do. Be prepared to redirect his attention when he is does something inappropriate.
Give your dog appreciation so he recognizes that you approve of his actions. Provide praise swiftly but don’t overdo it. If your Pit Bull has a setback in behavior, immediately redirect his attention to something that will provide him the means tp get approval for a correct behavior. Pit Bulls are smart creatures that will learn quickly through praise and redirection. A good example of redirection: if he gets on your bed, and this is not allowed, offer him a toy to play with but he must first get on the floor. Dogs have a focus of about 5 seconds; they live in the now. Show your leadership: when going in the house, your pet ought to follow you — enabling you to go first. If you have set up your Alpha leadership role, your Pit Bull must follow you on your initial command.
Place a collar, and tags on your Pit Bull so you can locate him if he should run off — micro chipping is also a good practice, and you should discuss it with your vet. Use a leash with your dog when you’re outdoors, to help keep him under your control. Train your Pit Bull to follow you on a loose leach rather than a tight leash.
He needs to learn that the leash has to be slack at all times. Change your direction if he pulls on the leash or have him sit or offer a treat; then release him from the command. This will certainly help him to want to follow you. If your dog keeps the leash slack, commend him, and provide him with a surprise (generally a treat, but eventually this can also be a favorite toy). He needs to recognize that he’s doing exactly what is expected.
Nipping and Biting
Your Pit Bull needs to understand it’s incorrect to nip or bite, and you have to begin when he’s young. If he nips or bites you, move your hand away and sound like you’re in discomfort (fake whine or groan); this will set off alarms in your pet’s head, and make him recognize that something is wrong.
Another method to stop your Pit Bull from biting, and nipping is to have several chew toys available for him. This will help use his aggressiveness in an efficient, and spirited manner. He’s a more likely to use you if he has no other playthings to chew.
Remember you need to provide your Pit Bull with at least two hours of physical exercise per day; from walking to playing fetch, or even agility training. Exercising can include a training session such as sit, and down, which will also be exercising his mind. Generally, a tired dog is a good dog.
Directing and Training Your Pit Bull
When training your Pit Bull, concentrate on instructing him and redirecting his attention to good behaviors. Offer your dog a basic command when he’s ready; if he follows your orders, compensate him with appreciation or his favored surprise (whether that is his favorite treat or toy). If your dog does something right, you must compensate him every single time (even if it’s merely cuddling or kind words). If not, he will certainly become puzzled by your different signals — you must be consistent with praise. Always be persistent and don’t allow that cute puppy face to make you give in to inappropriate behavior. If he consistently gets mixed signal, he will become confused between right and wrong, and will continue to misbehave in the future. You must be on your game at all times.
It is always a good idea to crate train any dog. A crate is more than a place for him to be quiet and comfortable. If for any reason he would need to be isolated he will already be use to using a crate and will alleviate any additional stress. Crate train from the start.
Pit Bulls, like most dogs, enjoy having their very own location that belongs only to them. A dog’s crate should never ever be used as a form of punishment. The crate should be considered the dog’s place of comfort and relaxation.
Socializing Your Pit Bull
Essentials to know before you begin:
Know your pet’s body movements. Know what body language signals to look for.
Socializing for Pit Bulls is extremely important! The optimum time for socializing is roughly between 7 and 12 weeks. ALL dogs, no matter the age, require socializing!.
Pit Bulls LOVE individuals and enjoy being around people, regardless the age, particularly if they learned from puppyhood that people equal “great things”, like food, treats, tummy rubs, and playthings.
Be preemptive in your socializing initiatives– constantly aim to produce excellent communications, and never force your pet to do anything he feels awkward about; this is where it is important to understand his body language. Begin slowly and add additional socialization when your puppy is ready.
Socializing with other pets is important. If your dog has not been around other dogs from an early age, or hasn’t already discovered how to behave in another dog’s presence, socializing may be more challenging because of a dog’s propensity to ‘dog-sensitivity’.
Socializing opportunities: Take your dog to areas where he can have good, measureable experiences with other pets and new individuals. Go to your vet’s office even if you don’t have an appointment. This will help him get use to the sights and smells of the office, and make your next vet appointment a little less stressful for him. Take him “shopping” at the pet food store. Most pet stores will allow well behaved dogs on a leash to enter the establishment. Visit the regional shopping center or active grocery store shop parking area and take walks.
Take your pet to the doggy park to fraternize with other dogs. Allow for “doggie” socialization by simply permitting him to run loose.
Take your pet to parks where you understand other dogs are usually off leash. Do you know of dog-friendly shops in your location? Check them out. Interact socially. Hectic city streets could be a fantastic way of socializing.
When it is necessary to prevent your pet from behaving mischievously around other pets or individuals, move to a different location or offer a distraction. Do not connect the modification with the bad actions, this will cause your dog to associate them with the other pet or individual and could trigger concern and stress which could turn into hostility.
Rather, establish where your dog should be in relation to other pet and individuals to have a good experience. Then you can slowly bring him closer when he is ready. When you notice that your Pit Bull is uncomfortable return to the point where he was comfortable, and start the process again. Move slowly closer and continue to watch his body language.
Getting your dog around a variety of individuals, along with a range of scenarios is essential, especially for new puppies. But no matter his age — this is a must.
A Pit Bull must have training and socialization, this is not an option, and is something to which you need to be committed.
Engage you Pit Bull in a variety of activities such as herding, obedience training, French Ring and Schutzhudnd. Understand that your Pit Bull will be a loving and trusting dog if you commit to his needs for proper training, handling, and socialization; then you will have a solid, well trained, obedient, tranquil, and good companion and/or working dog. These dogs are great as therapy dogs, for search, and rescue and many other jobs that dogs are good at and enjoy. Look in your community for a Pit Bull owners group. They should be able to introduce you to other local groups or clubs, including specific training groups. Then it is up to you to determine the direction for you and your Pit Bull.
To give you additional understanding of the Pit Bull breed and your responsibilities as an owner, please watch the short 5-minute video explaining the breed and your interaction. You are the one that can make the change in their unfair discrimination. It’s up to you!
Who should own a pit bull, and who should not?
If you are a first time dog owner I would not recommend this breed, unless you a well versed in dog training and/or handling. The Pit Bull requires a leader — an owner that can understands how to implement positive dog training. The Pit Bull can be the most loving and obedient dog you ever had, but if you are inexperienced in dog ownership, dog training, or dog handling it could be the equivalent of putting a loaded pistol in the hands of a 2-year old child.
A person looking to have what I call “arm candy”, where you think having a Pit Bull on a leash makes you look more important; or someone that is looking to boost their ego by having a “mean dog” or “terrifying dog”. This is not the dog for you and I guarantee that you are not the type of person that will put in the time or training needed to excel the breed.
Pit Bulls need to be treated with respect, as any dog does, and have someone willing to invest the time to exercise, train, and love the animal in the way that is understood by the dog.
I hope you have new insight into the breed and what is required to have a successful companionship. All dogs require some form of training and leadership, and a Pit Bull needs someone willing, and able to put in the time, patience and energy required of an Alpha leader, the trainer and ultimate care giver.
If this IS you, you will have the most understanding, obedient, and loveable dog available. You will help to be the ambassador this breed needs in the world, and you will be a big part of the community of people looking to dispel the undeserved reputation the Pit Bull currently owns.
This article series is written exclusively for PGAA.com and for their use only Written By Suzanne Dean, ABCDT http://www.thedogtraininglady.com