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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!

Positive Reinforcement Pitbull Training

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!