How To Train Your Pit Bull And Escape The Negative Image
As the owner of a pit bull, you need to realize that many people might be judgmental against your dog. This is especially true if he appears to be poorly trained. As unfair as it may be, pit bulls have a reputation for aggression, so if you want people to look at your dog without fear or disgust, it is up to you make sure he is properly trained. A responsible owner recognizes that well trained dog is a safe dog. Fortunately, training your pit bull can be an exciting experience for both of you. Pit bulls are really intelligent and love to learn. With the following tips, some time, and lots of patience, your pit bull will be a fun and well-behaved companion.
The recommended method of training is known as the positive reinforcement method. This technique is built around the idea of offering your dog rewards for good behavior. To start, make sure you have plenty of treats available. A perfect training treat is small and chewy, so that your dog can eat it quickly and move on to the next command. You can try commercially prepared training treats, or cheese, pieces of hotdog, or bits of cooked meat work as well. A favorite for puppies is plain Cheerios cereal. Once you have your treats, be prepared to reward your dog with them whenever he performs a trick correctly. Another option for training is a clicker, which is a small device that makes a clicking noise. You will need to teach your dog that the clicker is a positive thing by giving him treats while making the noise. Make sure he’s used to the click before you start training, or he won’t associate it with a reward!
There are at least five basic commands you should teach your dog – sit, down, stay, come, and emergency recall. The technique for teaching each of these tricks is the same in most cases. Let’s use sit as an example. To begin teaching sit, hold a treat near your dog’s nose and move it back over his head. As his nose goes up to follow the snack, his tail end should lower toward the floor. When you are first starting out, don’t expect him to sit all the way. Reward him as soon as he starts to lower his rear end toward the floor. This will help him make a connection between his movement and the reward. Say “sit” and then give him the treat and lots of excited praise for getting it right. The better he gets the fewer treats you can give. For instance, you started out rewarding him every time he looked as if he was about to sit. Soon you will give him treats only when his rear end is completely on the floor. Then, when he does that consistently, you can start making him sit for longer periods between rewards. Wait five seconds at first, then ten, then twenty. The goal here is to gradually phase out the use of treats, so that he responds to your command alone. You don’t want to always have to bribe him to obey! Even when you stop using the treats, remember to give your dog lots of praise when he follows your commands. When you do, you are still reinforcing the positive behavior, and he’ll be eager to keep repeating it.
An emergency recall is an extremely important thing to teach a pit bull, who may be genetically inclined to show aggression to other dogs and animals. Pick a special word to use as your emergency recall command. This is not the same command as the basic “come.” It is to be used only in training and in case you really need to get your dog back to you in a hurry. Use different and special rewards to teach this command. Small cooked bits of steak or chicken, or chunks of cheese are particularly effective. You are raising the stakes for your dog here. If he obeys your command, he knows there is a very tasty treat waiting for him, and he will be eager to come to you. Remember never to yell at your dog when he comes to you (this is true for the basic come command as well). You don’t want to risk teaching your dog that coming will be a bad thing for him. If he learns this, he will be hesitant to respond to your call.
The most important thing to remember when training your dog with positive reinforcement is that these training sessions need to be fun! If your dog enjoys the “game” he will learn much faster. Try to avoid training when you are in a bad mood, because your dog will pick up on your emotions and will be less responsive. Also, if your dog starts losing focus during a training session, it’s time for a rest. Training sessions should be five to ten minutes at the longest. Try holding three or four per day, and focus on a different command at each session. Vary the location of your training sessions as well. Start in your home and yard, where you have some privacy. Then, when you trust that your dog knows the commands, take him to a park or more public place, where he will have to deal with more distraction. Remember to keep him on a leash though, so that you don’t have to chase after him if his focus isn’t quite good enough yet.
Most importantly, have patience! Training takes time, and your dog won’t understand everything you want him to do right away. Keep in mind that pit bulls mature much slower than many other breeds. A pit bull does not reach adulthood until around the age of two, so for the first few years of his life you will be dealing with the attention span of a puppy! He probably won’t be able to focus for very long. This does not mean that you should wait until your puppy is an adult to start his training. The sooner you start, the sooner you and your dog are on your way to a stress-free and fantastic relationship!