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Leash Training Your Pitbull

Pit bulls are a compact and well-muscled breed, and trying to control one of these strong dogs on a leash can be challenging. Because your pit bull would happily drag you wherever his nose told him to go, it’s important that you take the time to train him how to walk properly on the leash. Not only will this save your arms from a lot of soreness, it will also help your dog make a good impression. Because pit bulls are seen as “bad dogs” by many people, a pit bull that pulls on his leash will automatically be labeled “aggressive” and feared.

Your goal is to get your dog to walk nicely on a leash without having to struggle the whole time and end up exhausted when you get home. He should eventually walk calmly by your side with the leash hanging loosely. In fact, it’s important that you are careful with some collars when leash training your pit bull, because they are strong and have a high tolerance for pain. Your pit bull might ignore the pain he feels as he chokes himself, so he can do severe damage to his throat and lyrnx. Chest harnesses should be used carefully as well because they will give your dog even more leverage to use against you.

Tools to Try

You can try using a head leader / halter to leash train your pit bull, I’ve used them and they work great for minor correction. A head harness connects around the snout and head, transferring the energy to your dog’s neck. This doesn’t hurt him, but it does take away his ability to pull on the leash. Head leaders / halters, such as the Gentle Leader head harness, are a safe and easy way to start training your pit bull to walk on a leash.  (be sure to secure your dog with a secondary leash(just use your regular leash) just in case your pup slips out our snaps the lead / halter.  I don’t trust them and they aren’t always heavy duty)

Here is a great Leader / Halter Collar on Amazon.

Why Your Pits Pulling & How To Handle It

Chances are your pit bull is pulling because he is excited and wants to hurry forward. His nose and ears are being overloaded with new information, and he wants to be able to investigate everything. Forward momentum is the most powerful weapon you have in your leash training arsenal. When your dog begins to pull, simply stop walking.. He will eventually get the point that pulling the leash is not getting him anywhere.  When he returns, reward him with a treat, and then start walking again. As soon as the leash tightens, stop in your tracks and wait for the return. You should never move forward when there is tension on the leash. Your dog should get the idea that a loose leash means progress and a tight leash means that he’s not going anywhere. I can’t stress how important it is to be consistent and PATIENT with this part. It’s more beneficial to walk 50 feet with perfect patience and consistency than to walk a mile… trust me.

Rewarding the Good Behavior… Ignoring the Bad

Make sure you take plenty of treats along with you on your training walks. Rewarding him for walking on a loose leash (or, in the beginning, for letting it go loose at all) will help to reinforce a positive connection between your dog and a loose leash. Don’t scold your dog for pulling, he most likely doesn’t know he is doing anything wrong. When you retaliate by getting mad or angry you are only making it harder on the both of you.  I know it is hard, but just be aware of your emotions and take breaks when needed. Leash training a pit bull takes patience, and you need to be willing to stand still until your dog returns to you and lets the leash go loose. This might mean that your walk takes a full half an hour and you only walk one block, but your dog will start to learn and improve.  Remember consistency is key, if you are strict one day, and let him do whatever he wants the next, he will never learn.

Here are some great training treats that my dogs love!

Another tactic you can try is to change directions suddenly. If your pit bull is pulling, make a sudden turn. Your dog now has to catch up with you. As he approaches, the leash will loosen and you can reward him. This also teaches him how to pay attention to you during a walk, rather than being so lost in his surroundings that he can’t hear a word you say. Having your dog’s attention at all times is vital on walks. If another dog or person approaches, or if your dog gets off of his leash, you need to know that he will listen to you when you call him back or tell him to sit. Having a dog that doesn’t listen on walks can be dangerous for you, for your dog, for strangers, and for other dogs you might meet. This is especially true in the case of pit bulls because there a lots of people that are terrified of the breed.  You can also avoid lawsuits or complaints against your dog, since many people will unfairly interpret any misbehavior on the part of a pit bull as aggression.

Patience is Key

Don’t get frustrated if your pitty is slow to learn how to walk nicely on a leash. Take a few deep breaths and realize that is a learning process for him, and it will take time. This is an essential skill that will help him stay safe and can help him make a good impression on the people you meet along the way. Walking your dog is no fun if it is stressful or painful, but it’s necessary to help the dog expend his extra energy. With some patience and diligent training, you and your dog can enjoy your walks together.

Additional Resources

I love reading how to do things, but if I can watch that’s even better. I’ve found a few videos that demonstrate what has been discussed above that I hope will help.

Leash Walking Tips

This is a great video from kikopup on simple training exercises on working with leash training your pit(or any other dog for that matter).  She even talks about how to deal with your dog not taking treats due to distractions on walks(happens to me all the time).

Daily walks should be an enjoyable event for you and your dog so keep up the practice and you’ll be a pro in no time!

How to Give Your Pit Enough Exercise

Physical fitness is an important factor in a dog’s overall health, so it’s necessary for you to help your pit bull get enough exercise. Not only will this help him maintain his target weight and prevent unnecessary health problems, it will give him an outlet for all of his energy (which might otherwise be used to destroy your home). Exercise helps dogs stimulate their minds, which is beneficial for you because a bored pit bull is often a destructive one.

Walks are one of the most important parts of a dog’s exercise routine. Dogs burn calories and energy when they walk, so this simple exercise is a great way to keep your dog in shape. Walks aren’t just for exercise either. When you put your pit bull on his leash, you are taking him away from his usual environment and giving him a chance to explore the larger world. The exposure to new smells, sounds, and sights will give him a chance to exercise his mind as well as his body. An energetic pit bull needs two walks per day. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes for each walk, or, if you prefer, you can take one extra long walk. Keep your pit bull safe on walks by keeping him on his leash at all times, taking your own water along in case he gets thirsty, and wearing reflective gear at night. If you encounter any new dogs on your walk, be sure to watch your dog’s body language for signs that he is getting tense or nervous. If he is, remove him from the situation before a fight starts.

Dogs make great exercise partners, especially if you enjoy running. Pit bulls have high energy and great stamina (if they are in good condition) and will enjoy a brisk jog. Running has the same health benefits for your dog as it does for you – it burns calories quickly and gives his heart a good workout. If you aren’t fond of jogging however, a long walk will do just as well for your pit bull.

You can also try taking your dog for a swim. Many pit bulls love water, though you may have to introduce him to swimming slowly. Take his favorite toy to a pond and toss it into the shallow water so that he only has to wade out to get it. He may pounce happily into the water, or he may be shy about it at first. Stick to shallow waters until your dog gets used to spending time in the water. Once he is comfortable, you can gradually throw the toy into deeper waters until he is forced to swim to retrieve it. It’s important to remember, however, that not all dogs know how to swim instinctively, so it’s a good idea to start out with life jacket on your dog just in case. If your dog enjoys swimming, it will be a great way to get him the exercise he needs! (He might even feel tired afterward. Did you think that was possible?)

Swimming can also count as play time. Play is just as important as walking. When you play games such as fetch and tug-of-war with your dog, he is getting physical exercise while fulfilling his need to engage in predatory behaviors. You’re giving him an outlet for the hunter within, and he will love every minute of it. Games allow your dog to use his instincts and his intelligence while spending time with his human best friend. When you play with your dog, you are helping to strengthen the bond between you while keeping him mentally and physically healthy.

A great option for getting your dog extra exercise is to train him to compete in one of the many available dog sports. These sports are mentally challenging and often physically demanding, and they will keep your dog in good shape and give him a challenge to overcome. They also allow you to reinforce and continue your dog’s training, so he will be the best-behaved dog in the neighborhood. There are a surprising number of sports available; agility, disc-dog Frisbee competitions, dock diving, weight pull, and flyball are all canine sports that your dog can participate in. Pit bulls, with their compact muscles, have been known to excell at weight pull competitions. Your strong pit bull might get extra satisfaction from that particular sport! Some pit bulls have also been known to do extremely well at disc dog, a game in which the handler and the dog perform a choreographed sequence of Frisbee tricks. In fact, if you want to see what your pit bull is capable of, you can check out this link for some great videos: http://www.pitbullunited.com/wallacethepitbull/wallacevids.html.

If you are diligent in making sure that your pit bull gets enough exercise, you will find that he is not only healthier, but that he is more balanced, obedient, and happier. Through walks, jogs, or play, you can enhance your dog’s training, keep him physically fit, and strengthen the ever-growing bond between you. On top of all of that, you might find that you get some exercise of your own along the way!

Pitbull Health Concerns

We’ve all heard the phrase before: “it’s genetic.” We use the term to describe traits, illnesses, or disorders that we have inherited from our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc… Unfortunately, genetics don’t just affect humans, and there are a number of conditions that your pit bull might develop as a result of his breeding. Though most responsible breeders try to avoid breeding dogs with these conditions and therefore reduce the chances of puppies inheriting them, your pit bull could still be susceptible. This article will discuss the ailments that you should watch out for.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a disorder which can strike any dog, but there are a handful of breeds that seem particularly likely to get it. The pit bull is one of these breeds, so you’ll have to watch for signs that he is developing hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition in which a dog’s hips don’t fit properly in their sockets. This is because the sockets did not form correctly as the dog grew. It can be a very painful condition for the dog, and should be managed with a combination of pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and low-impact exercise. Your vet can help you create a plan to manage your pit bull’s hip dysplasia, should he develop it. Watch for signs such as limping, widely spaced hips, clicking sounds in the joints, hopping instead of running, pain in the rear legs, and difficulty going up and down stairs or taking walks.

Patellar Luxation

This complicated sounding condition is similar to hip dysplasia, but it involves the knees instead of the hips. The patella, the flat bone at the front of the knee, does not stay in place. This dislocation can be very painful, and surgery to realign the knee is usually the recommended treatment. It’s important that dogs with patellar luxation maintain a healthy weight, as overweight dogs can experience the problem more frequently and with more pain. The deformities are usually present when the dog is born, but the condition might not become a problem until later in his life. Unfortunately, patellar luxation is genetic and unpreventable if a dog has the deformities. Bow-leggedness, lameness, reluctance to walk, run, or jump, and abnormal gait can be signs of patellar luxation.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition which primarily results from allergies. Dogs can be allergic to pollen, dust, and mold – essentially any allergen that you might also be susceptible to. “Bully” breeds such as pit bulls can have severe allergies. In this case, the allergies cause itching, runny eyes, and itchy throat. More severe cases of atopic dermatitis can cause skin infections and lesions as well as ear infections. In many cases, dogs will make the problem worse by excessive scratching and biting, which can cause sores and hair loss. If your pit bull has atopic dermatits, your vet will try to determine what he is allergic to. Medication (including anti-histamines), frequent bathing with hypoallergenic shampoo, and a diet that includes healthy fatty acids (to help suppress the allergy) are the usual treatments for atopic dermatitis.


Just like humans, dogs can be deaf and it is a common problem among pit bulls and other bully breeds. Dogs can be deaf in either one ear or both. Deafness presents its own unique challenges because training a dog that can’t hear can be very difficult. If you choose to adopt a deaf pit bull, make sure you are prepared to exercise great patience and caution as you try to train your dog. Unfortunately, deaf dogs are at higher risk of injury or death because they can’t hear sounds such as traffic or your frantic commands. They can also be more likely to show aggression. This is mostly due to the fact that without their hearing they are easily startled or have a hard time interpreting threatening situations. Hearing loss is, sadly, irreversible.


Dogs can get any type of cancer, but pit bulls are particularly susceptible to a type of tumor known as a mast cell tumor. Mast cell tumors are essentially a form of skin cancer. They can grow very quickly and can have a variety of forms, so if you notice any growths or lumps on your pit bull, it’s best to take him to see a vet. Your vet can test the growth to see if it’s a malignant, cancerous tumor or if it is simply a fat deposit or another harmless growth.

Compulsive Tail-Chasing

Yes, this is a fun game to play with many dogs, and it’s always good for a laugh. But for some pit bulls, the desire to chase the tail becomes a compulsion. A pit bull that suffers from this psychological disorder will often spend the vast majority of his time chasing his tail. It can interfere with his ability to walk, sleep, eat, or play. Dogs that suffer from compulsive tail-chasing often develop the condition as a puppy, but severe or recurring stressors can also spark the compulsion. Treatment includes behavior modification in order to desensitize the dog to the cause of his stress. Anti-depressant medications have also been effective in treating compulsive tail-chasing. Fortunately, as long as the disorder is properly managed, most tail-chasers can live normal, balanced lives.

You don’t have to be paranoid about your pit bull developing a genetic disorder. Most dogs live perfectly healthy lives. As a responsible owner, however, you should keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms of these ailments so that you can get your dog the treatment he needs. Even if your dog does develop an inherited condition, proper care can help make sure his life is comfortable, happy, and long.