How to Clicker Train a Pit Bull Puppy

Medium
3-10 Weeks
General

Introduction

With her big happy grin and smiling eyes, it is hard not to love a pit pup. Pit Bulls manage to be comical, intimidating, cuddly, and dignified, all at once. A pit is everyone's best friend, but willing to do what she needs to do to protect her family. If you are the proud owner of a pit puppy, you've probably already learned what a tenacious breed they can be. They are terriers, after all. 

To raise your pit puppy to be a laid-back pal who listens when she needs to, start training early and train steadily. Pit Bulls are excellent at focusing to the exclusion of all distractions, so if you want a dog who will listen to you no matter what, start very early with clicker training to make a rock-solid connection between noise, response, and reward.

Defining Tasks

Clicker training is all about creating a consistent response. In time, your pit pup will be so accustomed to responding to the clicker that she will respond without thinking about it. You can use the clicker to help shape other behaviors in obedience, to mark desirable behaviors when you see them in your life with your dog, and to distract your dog from an inappropriate focus. 

A click is a promise of a desirable reward to come. Once training is well along, you will not need to reward every time you click, but at the beginning, reward with every click to establish a strong response in your pit pup. 

Getting Started

Most Pit Bulls love a good tug game, so include tug toys as a reward along with treats. Teach a good 'let go' by having other desirable toys and treats, so that you don't end up playing tug instead of training. Clicker train in as many situations as possible, using rewards as diverse as you can, in order to create a powerful association between the clicker and the reward.

The Encouragement Method

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Step
1
Associate click with reward
Stand in front of your pit pup with your clicker and a reward. When your puppy looks at you, click and give her the reward.
Step
2
Click positive behavior
Watch your pit pup closely. When you see her do something you like, click and reward her for it.
Step
3
Click and name
If your pit puppy does something specific that you want to be able to ask for, like 'sit' or 'lie down', name that behavior, then click and treat.
Step
4
Ask for behavior
Ask for desirable behavior that you have named, like 'sit' or 'quiet'.
Step
5
Reward obedience
As your pit pup learns the commands for things, as well as what sort of general behavior you reward, reduce rewards to only the more challenging behaviors.
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The Command Then Click Method

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Step
1
Start simple
Start with the simplest command, 'watch me'. Say it and then click and reward you pit pup for looking at you. Practice until she is looking at you whenever you ask her to.
Step
2
Command and lure
Give a simple command like 'sit' and lure your puppy into a sit. As soon as she achieves the position, click and reward.
Step
3
Command creatively
To keep your pit pup interested, keep asking for new behaviors and helping your puppy figure out what you are asking. Click means she got it. Soon she will care more about earning the click than the reward.
Step
4
Diverse practice
Practice with a variety of distractions to build a solid reaction in your pit to the sound of your voice asking for commands.
Step
5
Vary rewards
After your pit pup has developed some skill, only reward for the best behaviors.
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The Remote Click Method

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Step
1
Focus issues
If your pit pup is having a hard time focusing on the sound of your voice or the clicker, especially with distractions or at a distance, try using a remote beeper collar.
Step
2
Beep means reward
Put your dog's collar on and beep and give a reward. Keep doing this until she comes running from anywhere in the house or yard when she hears the beep.
Step
3
Practice with distractions
Keep increasing the distractions. If one beep doesn't work, keep beeping until your pit pup pays attention.
Step
4
Back track
If your pup ignores the beeps, go back to practicing with fewer distractions and better rewards until you can maintain her attention.
Step
5
Transition to clicker
If in time your pit pup is responding very well to the beeper, you can try a clicker again.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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