August 21st is National Responsible Dog Ownership Day. The AKC promotes this day across the nation every year in an effort to encourage dog owners to be responsible and respectful. Whether you adopt your Pit Bull as a puppy or full grown, it is important to take steps to ensure your canine friend will be successful not only in your home, but with other dogs and humans too. Here are the top 3 Pit Bull training tips to almost guarantee you’ll have a happy, sweet pup!
Socialize and Handle
The ideal time to begin pit bull training is in puppy-hood. If given the opportunity, it is critical to begin socialization as soon as your puppy is fully vaccinated and cleared by a Vet to interact with other dogs. An excellent option is a puppy play time, a class for new pets and their owners, often held by local pet stores. In these controlled environments, a professional animal trainer supervises puppies and allows them play time together in a gated area. Puppies are given time outs when they become too rowdy. The dogs’ natural behaviors will kick in, allowing them to learn social skills and their place in the dog pack.
Socializing older Pit Bulls might be a little more tricky, but not impossible. An excellent tip is to go on plenty of walks. Walks will introduce your dog to other dogs on leash, new objects, sights, and sounds. It is important to remain calm and assertive to prevent over excitement in the dog. You will want to introduce corrections to unwanted behavior and reward positive behavior. The important piece here is to create positive associations for your pup during socializing.
According to The Dog Training Secret, “socialization means ‘control.’ If [you] socialize…dogs with other dogs or people, that means teaching him appropriate manners when in these situations.” It is critical to play an active role in your Pit Bull’s training if you want them to be successful.
Another important tip for puppy owners is to make sure you are handling your puppy and getting them comfortable and tolerant to routine touch. Examples of this are training early on to lay and allow themselves to be bathed, their paws to be handled, nails to be trimmed, teeth to be brushed, and coat to be groomed. Mastering tolerance of these behaviors with your Pit Bull will be beneficial for the rest of the dog’s lifespan.
Dog training may involve several methods, but one of the most popular and effective, is the positive reinforcement training. Punishment will generally not be effective for Pit Bulls, and they tend to have a very high pain tolerance anyways. Positive reinforcement techniques will make positive behaviors stronger and should be force-free. This training method includes rewards such as treats when a correct, positive behavior is exhibited, or clicker training, where a dog learns to correlate a click to a positive behavior. Correct behaviors must be “marked”
Dogs are eager to please and will typically be happy to learn and follow directions to get their prize! Rewards can come in a variety of values. For example, soft dog treats or jerky is a high-value treat, and kibble may be a low-value treat. Other rewards can be a pet, verbal praise, or a special toy.
“Obedience is a lifestyle; like diet and exercise should be a lifestyle and unless you treat it as such you will not gain the control that you need.” – The Dog Training Secret.
Give them a Job
Pit Bulls are muscular dogs, born to be athletes. They are high energy dogs and can be classified as a working breed. They do best with a job to keep them stimulated and on their best behavior, as opposed to acting out. A tired dog is a happy dog, right?
A great way to work on your Pit Bull training is to incorporate agility games, obedience tasks, pulling or retrieving. If your Pit Bull is exhibiting negative behaviors like chewing, barking, hyperactive behavior, disobedience, soiling the home, or showing signs of anxiety, they may be in need of more exercise to release pent up energy. Some healthy for your pup (and you!) activities include swimming, running, weight pulling, Lure coursing, or participating in strit obedience training such as the Canine Good Citizen program.
Pit Bull advocacy groups like Kennel to Couch offer a Pibble Package for all of their sponsored Pit Bulls. This package includes a complimentary training assessment and training tools from Sit Means Sit. Recurring monthly donations to this Pit Bull charity ensures more Pibbles can go to a furever home with top notch training and support.