If you’re part of the Pitbull community, you’ll probably mark their sometimes ”bad rep” as negligible, or irrelevant. There are many dog lovers (and the vast majority of the general public) that think a Pitbull is a dangerous animal. While it is true that Pitbulls can be very aggressive and dangerous at times, it is a very common misconception that they are always aggressive and ready to attack. When trained and brought up properly, a Pitbull can be a great household pet that will even be safe and fun to have around small children. Below, you’ll find some basic but very important tips that will help you with Pitbull training.
Your Pitbull may not be a dog lover
If you have other dogs in your house and want to bring in a Pitbull as a new member, it might be difficult, as Pitbulls are generally intolerant of other dogs. It is in their nature to be that way. They might generally be aggressive towards other dogs, even if the other dogs don’t want any trouble. Of course, there will always be exceptions where a Pitbull might be particularly friendly with other dogs. However, you must not leave anything to assumption. If your Pitbull is going to be around other dogs, you must first carefully introduce and socialize your Pitbull with them, while the Pitbull is on a strong leash. If the first meeting doesn’t go well, you can pretty much be assured that your Pitbull is not going to get along with other dogs too well. Another mistake that a lot of people make with Pitbull training is when they assume that a Pitbull will exhibit the same kind of aggression that it shows to other dogs to people as well. It is not like that. Pitbulls can be extremely loving with people and just not very friendly with other dogs. It is generally that way due to their inherent nature, as mentioned earlier.
Pitbulls Need to Expend Energy
A lot of your Pitbull training needs to revolve around exercises. The average Pitbull is energetic and a large dog that will require dog sport participation and other aerobic activity to burn off energy. Not involving your Pitbull in any kind of physical activity will make your Pitbull a particularly stubborn dog to discipline, as the excess energy will be hard to contain when he begins to bark or become excited.
Begin Socialization ASAP
When you have a Pitbull, you should ideally begin to socialize it when it it’s still a pup. Many of the horror stories that people read about Pitbulls are when adult Pitbulls are suddenly introduced to a large number of people when they might have only dealt with the dog owner for several years. When a Pitbull is suddenly confronted by a meeting with several strange people at a time, it will become naturally aggressive, with the aggression being a form of a defense mechanism. However, if your Pitbull was routinely introduced to people and even other animals when it was a pup, it will be very accommodating of new introductions.
Though Pitbulls generally don’t play well with other dogs, there have been several cases where Pitbulls have been trained to be great friends with other dogs and animals, when they were socialized at a very young age. However, it will always be safe to assume that the Pitbull doesn’t like other dogs or animals and it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave an adult Pitbull alone with another dog for any length of time, no matter how socialized they are.
Positive Reinforcement is the Key
It would be a grave mistake for you to yell or physically abuse your Pitbull, in the name of training. Such techniques can backfire quite significantly and even put your safety at risk. If you hit or yell at your Pitbull, you always run the risk of igniting his aggressive instincts. Being a fairly large and very powerful dog, he can cause a lot of damage with just a few bites. However, you will never be able to see his aggressive side if you use positive reinforcement during your Pitbull training. Though positive reinforcement sounds like a sophisticated psychological term, it is a very simple concept to understand. It basically means that your Pitbull training should use techniques that will reward your Pitbull for everything that he has done right. As an example, if you tell your Pitbull to sit and it only sits on the fifth attempt, you must say “Good boy” after he sits down or maybe give him a treat. It would be a bad idea to yell at him for the first four failed attempts, as that will just make him aggressive and completely get out of the training mode.
Establish Yourself as the Pack Leader
Silly as it might sound, your Pitbull will naturally want to be top dog. Instinctively, it will even want you to be under him if you don’t let him know that you are in fact the top dog that runs things. The sooner you let him know that you are the one running things, the sooner he will learn to be obedient and a good pet to you. Becoming a pack leader does not mean that you scare your Pitbull into submission. In fact, you should use a high level of subtlety to convey the message. There are several ways in which you can communicate this message. As an example, tell your Pitbull to sit and wait until you serve its food. Don’t allow it to jump up on you and hurry things along so he gets his dinner faster. Waiting for dinner and your command to say that it is time to eat will tell him that you decide on dinnertime. Similarly, you can subtly claim your position as top dog by making your Pitbull walk behind you when going out on walks. If he walks in front of you, pull on the leash lightly and tell him to get back behind you. Though it might sound mildly cruel and unfriendly, these are important steps in Pitbull training. Unlike most other dogs, Pitbulls are fairly large and powerful creatures. You need to maintain that psychological advantage over them if you want to have them as household pets.
Buying the right equipment
Training will require you to make a few investments. You will have to buy a crate and engage in rigorous crate training if you want to make your Pitbull a great household pet. When you buy leashes, buy a leash that is specifically meant for a Pitbull. Most ordinary leashes will just be too weak for a powerful Pitbull that will easily break free (if he really wants to).
The American Kennel Club hands out something called a Canine Good Citizen certification if your Pitbull is able to pass a small test where it obeys some simple commands and is able to socialize well. Such a certification will allow you to have proof of your Pitbull training, and it will also make it easier for you to find apartments to live in, as landlords will generally be more obliging if you have this certificate than when you don’t.