Training is very important if you have or are thinking of getting a Pitbull. Generally Pitbulls aren’t a dominant breed. This means that you don’t have to “show them who’s boss”, because they always strive to please their owner. Pitbulls are not like some other breeds that will challenge family members for dominance.
Pitbulls are sensitive emotionally. I will tell you from personal experience that spanking or physical correction does not work with Pitbulls because they have such an incredible tolerance to pain.
To really cause them any pain you would have to use force so extreme it would be horribly cruel. This also rules out “training collars” or other pain correction devices. I also advise you to not put a heavy chain-like collar on your Pitbull. Some Pitbull owners think this builds strength and makes them look cool but it can damage their spine. Just use regular flat buckle collars.
Dog training has come a long way in the last few decades and many of the old methods aren’t used anymore because the new more effective methods work much better. While there are complete books on training, it’s not easy to teach in writing. However, I will do my best to teach it here.
Positive Reinforcement training has been around for about 100 years. It has been used successfully on marine mammals (ex. Dolphins, Whales, etc) for the last 50 or so years. Oddly enough, positive reinforcement training is pretty new for dogs.
The central idea behind Positive Reinforcement Training is to reward good behavior and ignore bad or unwanted behavior. Repeat that in you mind several times because it’s very important.
Reward good behavior and ignore bad behavior. Many people think that this type of training is too difficult for average people but it’s really pretty simple. Sometimes it takes a little while for a dog to catch on when you are using this method but after the dog gets it, you will start seeing results at lightning speed.
What’s great about Positive Reinforcement is that you can be constantly training your dog whenever you’re with him. Because this type of training isn’t stressful for the pit bull it can be done a lot more often than the old methods or jerking, yelling, and spanking.
Older methods of training used fear and pain to get the desired response, while positive reinforcement uses pleasure, treats, or praise to get a desired response. Often times with the old training methods the dog would just as soon run away than obey the command because fear was used to motivate the dog.
The bottom line is that your experience with your dog should be positive, not negative. Who wants a dog that’s constantly scared of them? With positive training your dog will look forward to training, and will start trying new things to get rewarded. It should also be said that yelling at, or spanking a dog will make that dog more likely to be aggressive, or bite in the future.
Some people also refer to Positive Reinforcement Training as “Clicker Training.” These are basically the same thing except in clicker training a clicker is used to immediately reward good behavior. When you see a good behavior you should Click and Treat. Timing and consistency are crucial because if a dog isn’t rewarded within three seconds of the good behavior it probably won’t know why it’s being rewarded and if good behaviors aren’t consistently rewarded it could confuse the dog.
Before you get started you should have a few basic items. First you should get a Clicker. These can be found at most pet stores for pretty cheap or if you’re the Macgyver type, you can use a metal bottle cap (like the kind on Snapple bottles) or anything else that makes a pleasant clicking sound. You also need treats and LOTS of them. Many people use regular dog food for the treat which is wise because some treats can make a pitbull fat.
Try to find a food or treat that’s somewhat healthy that your dog enjoys. Some people just use one brand of dog food for feeding and then get a small bag of more tasty food for treats. Your dog should be able to eat the treat quickly because if he has to chew it for several minutes it may reduce the effectiveness of the training. You want your dog to eat the treat and immediately look to you for more. Once you have those two things your ready to begin.
Here are a few basic rules on How To Train A Pitbull Correctly:
- Keep it positive! If you say sit and your dog does nothing, don’t say “No,” just ignore that unwanted behavior and reward the wanted.
- Rewards should be done in this order: Click, Treat, Praise (ex. petting, “Good!”)
- Be quick. If you say “Sit” and your dog does it, click the moment your dogs butt hits the ground and put a treat in his or her mouth immediately.
- Take advantage of natural behaviors. If you happen to be right next to your dog when it lies down, immediately say “Down” then click and treat. Same thing with other commands.
- Keep your commands to one word. Multiple words confuse pitbulls . You will see much faster results this way. Use words like: Good, Sit, Stay, Down, Up, Over, Speak, etc. The shorter the better.
- Ignore bad behavior. If you see an unwanted behavior such as begging ignore it until you see a good behavior, such as going and lying down while you eat. When you see the good behavior immediately reward the behavior.
- Always use the same commands. Make sure everyone in the family uses the same commands or it will make it much harder for the dog to learn. Don’t interchange commands like “lay down” and “down.”
- Rewards make behaviors more likely to be repeated, so make sure to be constantly watching for good behaviors so that you can reward them.
If you’re still wondering on how to train a pitbull , guys a good starting point are the 8 steps above 😉 Also make sure you enroll for our Free Pitbull Training Secrets eCourse by clicking on the banner below.
When you start your training you should keep it simple. Start with Sit, and Down. Make sure to have a clicker in one hand and a treat in the other. The first time you tell your pit bull to sit, you will likely get no response at all, that’s ok. Show the dog the treat and then move it slowly over his head until he sits. This will sometimes work. If it does, make sure to immediately click and treat. Make sure not to yell or get upset if your dog doesn’t obey at first. If all else fails, be patient, your dog will sit soon if you wait.
When it does sit, say “Sit” and then click and treat. Do the same with Down. If you want to guide your pit down you can try to run the treat down in front of your dog’s nose and touch it to the ground. Often times this works better if your dog is sitting first. Leading a dog like this is called luring and it’s used a lot when teaching tricks. Another way to lure your dog into lying down is to take the treat and move it from your dog’s nose to his back hip.
Ideally he will try to get it and then go down in the process. The command “Stay” requires slightly different rewards. Start by getting your dog to sit and reward him when he does. Then say “Stay” and just wait. When you see your pitbull starting to lose interest, say “Stay” again and as soon as he looks back at you (while still sitting), click and treat. This way, every time he resists the temptation to get up, you reward him.
If you happen to be near your pitbull when he or she does something good, make sure to reward that behavior. You don’t have to use a command along with every reward, for example you may just want to reward your dog for not chewing your shoes. When your dog goes for your shoes, give it a choice by putting a toy in front your dogs face and then when it take the toy instead of your shoe, give a treat to reinforce a good decision.
Over time the effectiveness of this training is really amazing. Once your pitbull figures out that good behavior gets rewarded, he will soon start seeking a reward. You may also want to slowly raise the standards for a reward. For instance, when teaching your dog to roll over you could start with down, and once your dog has mastered that, get him to roll over on his back with the over command, then stop rewarding that and only reward when he completely rolls over.
This is called “Shaping” because you start with a behavior close to the desired one and slowly shape it into the behavior you want.
As time goes on you can slowly give fewer treats while still clicking and if you want you can eventually move down to a simple enthusiastic “Good!” or “Yes!” When you start off you should always click and treat every time, but as your dog learns more you can start to treat three out of four times, then half the time, and so on.
Remember that any command or trick can be taught using positive reinforcement
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