American Pit Bull Terriers are strong, loving, adorable dogs that make excellent companions and can be trained to become a caring part of any family.
Despite the reputation of the pit bull often maligned by the media, they are actually extremely loyal dogs.
The problem is when people trained them with poor intentions or given to a neglectful family.
These energetic pups need exercise, attention, and discipline. With proper training, any pit bull can become a wonderful dog and will be sure to find its way into your heart.
If you have an American Pit Bull Terrier or are considering getting one, you will want to be sure to train it.
Your dog will be thankful for the time you spend with him, and you’ll experience the joy that can only be received by the love of a pit bull.
If you want to learn how to most effectively train your American Pit Bull Terrier, take some of the advice below and you will be well on your way to having the most loveable dog in the neighborhood!
1. Start Early
If you have a pit bull puppy, start with your training as soon as possible! These pups grow up fast, and although you may want to sit and adore them while they’re so cute, you’d be wasting some of the most important formative time of their lives.
Dogs learn the most when they are puppies, so make sure to start instilling good habits early on in life.
If you can prevent bad behaviors from the beginning, you won’t have to worry about them becoming worse and worse as time goes on.
Develop a strict training regimen and make sure to stick with it. Your dog will be happy that you are spending time with him, and he will grow to enjoy the training sessions that you have set up – even if it is just because he loves the treats!
Keep the sessions short though – half an hour once or twice a day should be enough to start with.
Going too long can have an adverse effect as your pup may get burnt out and begin to lose motivation to keep up with the training.
If there are any parts of your house that you want your dog to avoid throughout his life, set up barriers from a young age.
If he learns not to go into the bedroom as a puppy, he will remember this and stay out as an adult.
Use things like gates, fences, and crates to set boundaries and help the dog understand your behavioral expectations.
It is much more difficult to teach these things later on in life.
2. Start With The Basics
You can’t take a brand-new puppy and expect that he’ll be jumping through hoops within two weeks, so take it slow. Start with things like sit, lay, heel, come, and stay.
Some dogs will learn faster than others, but just be patient and your dog will soon learn the basics. It will be a rewarding process for both you and your pit bull, so stick to and start slow.
As your dog continues to learn these behaviors, add in some new variations or extra tricks.
See how far he is willing to go, and make sure to stop if he seems to be getting overwhelmed.
When a dog becomes frustrated, they are not able to take in information as well and will probably fail at performing the behaviors that you are hoping for.
Take some time off and come back, starting with the basics again and working your way up to your dog’s capacity.
3. Focus on Positive Reinforcement
One of the biggest mistakes that dog owners make is using negative words and body language when their dog does something “wrong.”
Dogs, especially American Pit Bull Terriers, are emotional animals and they will lose confidence and self-esteem when you use negativity to try to train them.
Instead of yelling or pointing fingers at them, focus your efforts on positive reinforcement. You will have to tell them no at some point, but don’t make that the main part of your training.
Instead of spending the majority of the time pointing out the mistakes your dog may make, focus on all the good things that he has done.
If he makes it outside to go to the bathroom, give him a treat or praise him in a loving tone of voice.
When he successfully performs a trick, pet him and let him know that he has earned your admiration and that you believe in his ability to learn anything that you will teach him.
It should go without saying that you should never use physical punishments or even the threat of physical punishment.
This can make the dog fearful and insecure, which in turn will make him more aggressive.
When you use violence to correct a dog, they learn that they will be hurt when they make mistakes and they will lose the courage to put forth an effort to do the “right thing,” in certain situations, making for a vicious cycle that only encourage negative behavior.
While treats are a great way to practice positive reinforcement, you don’t want to overdo it.
Give a treat when your dog learns something new, but don’t condition him to expect a treat every single time.
You want to praise him whenever he is being good, but you don’t want to spoil him.
Gradually wean him off of the treats and he will soon start performing good behaviors out of habit rather than out of expectation of a prize.
4. Establish Your Role As A Leader
You don’t have to be an overbearing alpha dog, but make sure that your pit bull knows who is the boss.
Pit bulls can be somewhat stubborn and often take on a leadership role, but if you set the boundaries early and let them know that you’re calling the shots, they will develop respect for you and be more obedient.
However, if you fail to secure your position as the head of the household, they will take advantage of their freedom and this may be a hard behavior to correct.
Establishing your role can be done in many small and large ways. Sometimes, it is as simple as making sure that your dog walks behind you or at your side.
Keep a tight leash and don’t allow them to pull ahead of you, even if they see something that they want, like a rabbit to chase.
Pull tight and make them sit if needed before you start moving forward again. Repeat your commands so that they know the progression is your call, not theirs.
Don’t let your dog take food or treats without permission. They must understand that you set the time to eat.
If you allow them to get into food without your permission, they will continue to do so and will probably overeat.
This can lead to sickness and obesity, and these can be devastating problems for pit bulls. Your dog should look at you when it is time to eat, waiting patiently for their bowl of food.
5. Stay Consistent
American Pit Bull Terriers are incredibly smart dogs, but like any other breed, they can get confused by mixed signals and inconsistent messaging.
Don’t try to trick your dog by changing the rules or only allowing him to do things on certain occasions.
If your dog is not allowed in the bedroom, keep it that way and never allow him in. Don’t mess with his mind and leave him wondering whether or not he has done something wrong.
Consistency is key not only for you but also for the mental well-being of your dog. They enjoy having routines and start to feel insecure when they are not sure of what to do.
This will cause them to feel stressed and can lead to aggressive behavior or the inability to remain obedient.
Keep your actions predictable and easy to understand and your dog will have a much easier time being trained.
Dogs can sense anxiety and tension, so it is best to keep your emotions consistent as well.
If you are acting erratically or panicked, your dog will feel that and will start acting that way too.
If you feel that you may be stressing your dog out, it may be better to step into another room and cool off for a while.
Your dog looks up to you and expects you to provide for him, so it is best not to let him see you flustered too often.
Try to stay on a set schedule as well. As we mentioned, dogs like the routine and will have a better memory if you train at the same time every day.
You can work on different things each day, but try to stay consistent with new tricks until your dog has them down pat.
If you phase out the practice of a certain behavior too early, your dog is likely to forget it while moving on to the next one.
Practice everything until it is almost instinctual and comes second nature to your dog.
They will enjoy it this way and you’ll be able to teach them more than you bargained for.
6. Emphasize Exercise
Pit Bulls, like many other dogs, become anxious and sometimes aggressive when they haven’t gotten the proper amount of exercise.
When they sit inside all day and can’t follow their natural instincts, they gain an unhealthy store of excess energy that might cause them to act out, whether by destroying property, going to the bathroom in the house, or barking all night long.
The best way to curb these behaviors is to make sure to give your dog the proper amount of exercise.
Since pit bulls are natural companions and loyal, they will enjoy every minute that you play with them.
Take them out to play fetch or run after a frisbee. Some may even like to go for a swim!
Whatever it is that you do, make sure your dog is releasing energy, and they will be more likely to remain obedient and continue to learn new things.
If you like to go for jogs, bring your dog with you! It will make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.
Remember that exercise isn’t only good for your dog – it’s also good for you! When you are healthier, you will be happier, and it will make you better able to connect with your dog and keep him well-trained and exercised.
A healthy duo is a happy duo, so keep taking your dog out and letting him run around, whether he likes to chase squirrels or run after the ball that you’re throwing.
Pay attention to your dog as you exercise him though. You don’t want to overdo it, as that can lead to respiratory issues or fainting.
Dogs can overheat easily, so don’t make them work out too much if the weather is hot.
Always bring plenty of water and be sure to slow down if your dog is showing any signs of fatigue.
Don’t worry – dogs are resilient, and he’ll be ready to start running around in no time after a quick lay-down in the cool grass!
7. Socialize Your Dog
Socialization is important for many breeds of dogs, and American Pit Bull Terriers are no different.
It is important that they learn how to interact with other dogs in a friendly manner so that you can trust them when walking in public.
Bring your pit bull to the dog park and let him sniff and play with other dogs. Doing so from a young age is very beneficial, as it will help to curb unwanted behaviors early on.
Failing to socialize your dog properly can lead to many behavioral issues, such as aggression, being territorial, or showing signs of unease and insecurity.
All these things might lead a dog to lash out at other dogs because he feels threatened rather than loved. Effective socialization teaches your dog to be calm and friendly when approached by other dogs.
This doesn’t mean that he can’t play or rough-house a little bit, but he must learn the limits and understand how to treat other dogs.
Pit bulls are strong dogs with impressive bites, and you don’t want your dog unleashing on an unsuspecting dog that didn’t mean any harm.
8. Enroll In A Training Class
While you should always train your dog personally, there is no shame in enrolling in a training class taught by professionals.
They are constantly learning the best ways to train dogs, and they can give you plenty of advice.
Not to mention, this allows your dog to learn new tricks while at the same time socializing with other dogs, thus killing two birds with one stone.
Your dog will learn to take on new places and meet new dogs as well as people, which can be a major advantage as he gets older.
You’ll feel more confident in your dog’s ability to go on a walk and to interact with other animals in a cool, calm, and collected manner.
This is a big advantage for both your lives and will make for a better relationship.
9. Always Show Your Dog How Much You Love Him
One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of training your dog is the personal bond that it creates between you.
He will gain worlds of respect for you as you teach him how life works and how he can be healthy and happy.
Let him know that you are training him because you care about him, and he will always remain loyal and show his unconditional love for you.
Your relationship with your dog is ultimately what is going to determine whether he behaves or misbehaves.
If you are neglectful, lazy, or uninspired, he will not have the motivation to be a good dog and may start acting out or looking elsewhere for attention.
Your dog should have your utmost attention while you are training, and you should be stern with him in letting him know that you are the boss.
He won’t be mad at you for teaching him new things – he will respect that you are the leader and that you are providing for him.
Pit bulls are kind-hearted, strong, loyal companions that love you and just want to be loved back.
They can be a bit stubborn at times and may have excessive energy at others, but as long as you follow some of these steps in training them you should end up with a wonderful, loving dog.
Keep them well-exercised, let them know that you care about them, and continue to put your effort into providing them with a long, healthy, and happy life.