HOW TO TRAIN YOUR PIT BULL
The Pit Bull, or American Pit Bull Terrier, has a very negative reputation, which is supported by The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in the UK. But does this mean the Pit Bull needs a different type of training than other dog breeds? And how do you go about training your Pit Bull puppy properly?
Regarding the Law
It is currently illegal to own a Pit in the UK. If the police believe you to be the owner of a Pit Bull, they may seize it and bring criminal charges against you. In this case, your dog would be held in a police-appointed kennel until the case is over. During the trial, you would have to prove to the court that your dog is not dangerous and appeal to have it registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs, a list of dogs the court does not consider to pose a risk to the public. Fortunately, the trend in recent years shows that you have a relatively good chance of winning a case; the number of dogs registered on the Index of Exempted Dogs has quadrupled since 2010. If you are given a Certificate of Exemption from the court, your dog must be neutered, microchipped, kept on a lead and muzzled at all times in public, and kept in a secure place from which it cannot escape. As the owner of a banned dog, you must also take out third-party liability insurance for your Pit Bull.
How to Train My Pit Bull Puppy?
You can start training your Pit Bull as soon as you welcome your new puppy home, as early as 2 months old. Set clear boundaries right from the start, and don't give in. Your four-legged friend needs a well-defined framework in order to evolve peacefully in their new surroundings. Changing your mind about things (using different words for a command, for example) will only confuse your pup and lead them to stop listening to you in the long run. So forbid your Pit Bull from doing anything you wouldn't want them doing once fully grown. It’s much easier to grant permission later than to withdraw permission granted too early and correct bad habits. Set limits and make it clear to your puppy that you are in charge.
Training a puppy is quite different from training an adult dog. A young pup still has everything to learn, whereas an adult dog already may have lots of life experience, including trauma and deeply rooted bad habits. It’s important to take these experiences into account when “re-training” a dog. In this case, don’t hesitate to call on the help of a professional dog trainer.
Pit Bull Training Tips
The principles of dog training are more or less the same for all dog breeds. Keep in mind that you should never use violence with your dog, neither verbal nor physical. Favour positive dog training based on rewards, not punishment. Reinforce good behaviour with cuddles, playtime, or healthy dog treats. This way, you establish a relationship of trust with your Pit Bull, who will be much more willing to obey. All dogs respond much better to this kind of approach than to coercive training. While fear-based coercion may, in some cases, lead to faster results, the long-term consequences are not worth it. Poor dog training could make your Pit Bull aggressive and difficult to handle, which will prove to be very problematic given the Pit Bull's size and powerful build. If you’re having difficulty, don’t hesitate to call a professional dog trainer or canine behaviourist to help you.
When training a Pit Bull, be sure to follow these three main principles: patience, consistency, and coherence!
Patience: It’s essential that you give your pup ample time to learn; don't ask for too much of them too quickly. Don’t expect overnight results when your puppy still has everything to learn. Try not to get impatient or cross with your Pit when they can't do what you want them to. Don't punish your dog unfairly and keep repeating the lesson until the command has been fully understood.
Consistency: The only thing that will bring lasting results is repetition over time. So plan for short training sessions each day. Set aside fifteen minutes a day—no longer, your pup will get bored!—and repeat each lesson as many times as necessary until your furry friend understands what you want from them. You can also go back and practise earlier commands to make sure that they’re still understood. The Pit Bull is a naturally intelligent dog, so it shouldn't be too difficult for them to learn new tricks.
Coherence: Keep your commands short and easy to remember, and stick to them along the way. Each action or request must correspond to a specific word, which is easy for your dog to understand. Teach your Pit Bull one command at a time, repeat until they've fully grasped it, then move on to the next one. Be careful: If you change commands too often, your dog will eventually refuse to obey you.
Finally, while the Pitbull Terrier is a fairly sociable dog breed, it still needs to be socialised early, and always in a positive manner. Focus on creating positive experiences for your Pit and allow them to meet as many people, dogs, and other animals as possible. This dog’s temper can quickly become problematic if a master refuses to listen to their dog’s needs. The Pit Bull's jaw is powerful and could do a lot of damage, for example, if an owner is unable to keep control of their dog.
Which Basic Commands Should I Teach My Pit Bull?
There are two essential commands to teach your Pit Bull:
Come: Please note: By law, you are not allowed to let a Pit Bull off the lead in public. Nonetheless, it’s always possible that your dog slips away from you. In this case, teaching your Pit Bull to come back when you call will help to keep them and others safe. As such, this should be the first thing you teach your dog.
Heel: This should be high on your list. A Pit Bull must be kept on a lead at all times in public. So, your dog needs to learn how to walk on a lead properly, especially if you live in the city. Your Pit Bull should know not to pull on their lead, as they could wind up injuring themselves or scaring people around you. The Pit Bull has a bad reputation for being very aggressive, which is difficult to shake, even if it is unwarranted.
Finally, it should be noted that, as a banned dog in the UK, the Pit Bull is required to wear a muzzle at all times in public. A muzzle feels unnatural to a dog and they may not accept it initially. Take it one step at a time. First, present the muzzle to your Pit and allow them to sniff it. Put a treat inside the muzzle and let your dog stick their stout in to find it. Wait a moment and then give them their reward. Fasten the muzzle over your dog’s face and offer them another treat. Then, remove the muzzle. Repeat these steps, gradually increasing the time you leave the muzzle fastened on your Pit Bull until they seem perfectly comfortable. Opt for a muzzle that is perfectly adapted to the size of your dog and allows them to drink, breathe, pant, and eat.
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