Pitbulls are generally considered to be aggressive dogs, but that’s not really true. With proper discipline, they could be cuddly pups just like any other dog breed. So, how do you discipline a pitbull puppy?
The best way to discipline a pitbull puppy is through positive reinforcement. This involves rewarding your dog when they do something right, whether it’s with treats, attention, or something else they like.
To start disciplining your pitbull puppy, you have to understand what they respond best to, why they get a bad reputation, and more. You also need to know how to use positive reinforcement on your pup. Read on to find out more.
The first thing you need to do is establish dominance. Show them that they can get all of their favorite things from you, and they will show you respect.
Before giving them something they like, ask them to do something for you.
A pressing question with pit bulls is whether they will become aggressive towards you, the owner, despite their training.
While there is no surefire way to know this, with positive training and a strong bond with them, you can reduce the risk of this happening. But, any dog might turn on their owner, for various reasons — usually, poor training.
During training, you need to make sure that your pit bull is exposed to various people, animals, and situations. If they learn to deal with all of this when they are young, they will have a much easier time dealing with it later on. Encourage appropriate responses by offering treats and stuff they like when they behave well towards others.
Build a Bond Through Training
Pitbulls were originally supposed to be fight dogs, which is why they have a bad reputation. But even though they are a bit harder to train than other dogs, they can be lovable pets, eager to please their owners.
If they form a strong bond with you and train them well, they will be as cuddly as you want them to be. However, keep in mind that they are stubborn.
So, you need to build their behavior based on love, affection, and trust. Aggressive behavior from the owner can result in equally aggressive behavior from the dog.
You should start early, while they are still young, but you can also train an older pitbull with enough patience. They have been known to respond well to affection and care after years of continuous fighting. So, no yelling, screaming, or hitting will work.
Don’t Hit or Yell at Your Dog
First things first, a dog should never be hit. They learn aggressive behavior this way, and they learn to fear you instead of loving you. While they should understand that you are a dominant figure in their life, they shouldn’t fear you. This ruins the bond you have, they lose trust in you, and thus, aggression is created.
Positive and negative reinforcement aren’t the polar opposites that you may think that they are. Positive reinforcement means that you are giving something to your dog — treats, attention, etc. — when they are good.
Negative reinforcement means taking something away when your dog is misbehaving.
So, in a way, even hitting your dog or yelling counts as positive reinforcement, although you should stay as far away from these forms of discipline as you can.
Remember to take breaks when your dog just doesn’t have the patience to listen anymore. They are likely tired, and so are you, so it’s best to focus on that when you’re both up to it.
Do your training sessions in small bursts rather than stretching it out for hours. Dogs don’t have a very long attention span, and they will get antsy, so make sure that you aren’t dragging out your sessions.
Fifteen minutes when you are both rested, and comfortable will do. You can even repeat it several times a day, as long as the timing is right and both of you are up to it.
Sessions that are too long or too straining will only get you both annoyed. Instead, try to make these sessions something fun that your dog — and you — look forward to. Remember that training takes time, so your dog will not change overnight, but with an appropriate amount of training and correcting bad behavior as it happens, you’ll be able to discipline your pup.
Socialize Your Puppy With People and Other Animals
As your puppy gets their vaccines and the doctor confirms that they can go out, the best you can do for your puppy’s behavior is to go outside and let them experience the world.
They will learn best that way. Take them to a dog park, to the beach, to doggy daycare, etc. Wherever they can meet other breeds, dogs, animals, and humans is the best place for them.
Observe how they behave. Reward any good behavior you spot with a nice treat or some attention, and then don’t reward anything that you don’t like. They will understand after a few times. New situations, such as being near food carts and similar things, should also be observed.
The more they experience, the better they become at dealing with various things.
Various tools can help you adjust their behavior.
For example, a dog whistle could be an excellent tool to distract your dog and turn their attention in a different direction, especially if they are doing something bad.
This Mumu Sugar Professional Dog Whistle could be just what you need on the go.
Reward Them for Being Good
Positive reinforcement is all about rewarding when your dog behaves well, so make sure you use it. Carry treats with you and give them plenty of love when they are at their best.
This will help you establish dominance over them, and they will love you even more because they realize that they can get what they need from you, but only under certain conditions.
Rewards can be anything that your dog likes, treats and attention are just some examples. If, at any point, you find that it’s hard to deal with your dog’s bad behavior, make sure that you leave the room instead of doing something that you’ll regret.
Give Them Enough Exercise and Play Time
Pitbulls need exercise and a lot of it. They are very muscular and bred to achieve certain things. While you don’t have to take them hunting, you should provide some form of exercise that they find challenging.
For instance, you can create an obstacle course or take them to one, take them swimming, etc.
The more exercise they get daily, the happier and calmer they will be. You can find more fun activities for your pitbull as well as more information on these dogs in general in The Pit Bull Guide: Learn Training, Behavior, Nutrition, Care, and Fun Activities.
With a bit of training and love, your pitbull will become the perfect dog for your family. Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to achieve this, and it’s quite simple. Puppies tend to be easier to train since they still don’t have any experiences that can affect their behavior.
However, if you have a fully grown dog on your hands or a rescue, consider hiring professional help.
Still, the training phase could bring you and your dog closer and make your relationship stronger, so you might want to do it yourself. In either case, remember that a violent owner will create a violent dog, so you want to do your best to avoid that.