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It is a sad fact that the Pit Bull breed has a bad reputation, largely through no fault of their own. This is mostly due to a few irresponsible owners who either trained their dogs to be aggressive or neglected to properly train the dog. A well-behaved Pit Bull is a delight and can be loyal and loving to his family. Therefore, it's super-important to train your Pit Bull pup and have him fall into the 'hero' not 'villain' side of the Pit Bull fence.
However, sometimes Mother Nature deals you a hyper-puppy. Don't despair. This happens with any breed, not just the Pit Bull, and you can overcome that hyperactivity when you know how. Just be aware that a hyper puppy has poor self-control, so this is a skill you need to teach the pup in order that he'll listen during training sessions.
Training a hyper Pit Bull puppy means interrupting his hyper behavior (ideally as soon as he starts to act up). Mostly the pup is likely to be hyper because he is enjoying the game and gets over-excited. When you stop the game until he calms down, he starts to learn the elements of self-control. Of course, nothing is ever that straightforward, but the following methods will give you hints and tips on how to get things going your way.
To teach a hyper Pit Bull you need:
- The time and patience to be prepared to stop the game
- Treats, for training and to reward his calm behavior
- Toys, to engage him in play
- A collar and leash for that vital exercise
- Puzzle feeders to provide mental stimulation
The Teach Self-Control Method
Learn to interrupt hyper behavior
You have a hyper puppy, so you give him plenty of exercise and play. Unfortunately, both of these only get him more excited and so the game usually is brought to a premature end because the hyper puppy starts nipping or pulling at clothing. Obviously, the pup needs to expend his energy, but the trick is to teach the pup self-control by interrupting the game before he gets beyond the point of listening.
Understand the aim
This method relies on playing in short bursts, say 15 seconds, and then expecting the pup to stop and wait for a reward. This teaches the pup the skill of halting mid-game and waiting, which in turn lets him calm down and prevents him getting over excited.
Play in bursts
Equip yourself with a toy, treats, and a stopwatch or watch with timer function. Engage the dog in a game with the toy, but stick strictly to 15 seconds. At which point, put the toy out of sight.
Have the pup sit
Now ask the pup to sit and wait. If necessary, lure him into a seated position using a treat. Give him lots of praise, but in a quiet way so as not to overexcite him. If the pup is good at sitting, make him wait a few seconds, then give the treat. If the pup is not good at sitting, lure him into a 'sit' then hold the treat above his nose so he stays seated, then reward him.
Resume the game
Restart the game only once the pup is calm. Play for another 15 seconds, then stop and repeat the 'sit'. Follow this pattern for the play session.
Extend the length of the play sessions
As the pup gets better at sitting and stopping, you can gradually extend the length of the play. Try 20 seconds, then 25 seconds, and so on. The idea is not to reach the point beyond which the pup is so excited he can't stop. Not only does this method prevent the hyper pup getting overexcited, but it also teaches him to stop and sit calmly, which lets his adrenaline level drop and makes for better behavior.
The Withdraw Attention Method
Understand the idea
A hyper puppy loves to play, but unfortunately, play makes him so excited that he loses control. This method teaches the pup that he only gets what he loves most (play) when he's under control. Conversely, he learns that when he becomes out of control then the game stops. Thus, he has a vested interest in controlling his over-excitement in order for the game to continue.
Zero tolerance of hyper behavior
Recognize the tell-tale signs of your pup's hyperactivity. You want to stop the activity that is making him excited as soon as he shows signs of becoming hyper. As in the method above, let him calm and then resume the game to reward the calmness.
Ignore the pup
If you stop the game but the pup keeps coming at you, then cross your arms and turn away from him. This sends a strong message that his behavior is unacceptable and ends the game. The pup should eventually learn that being over-excited ends the game. Once he is calm, resume play.
Leave the pup
If you turn away and the pup still launches himself at your ankles and tugs at your trousers, then it's time to leave the room. Again, this is a powerful way of telling the pup his behavior is unacceptable. Only return to continue the game once he is calm.
Give verbal clues
In addition, let the pup know his excitement is inappropriate. Say a short sharp "No!" or "Uh-oh!" when he jumps up or nips, then withdraw or have him calm down. This helps him understand precisely which behavior was unacceptable.
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Don't: Punish the puppy
Smacking or physical punishment only makes the pup anxious or fearful of you. Since anxiety is a major cause of aggression, this should be avoided at all costs.
Do: Give the puppy an outlet for energy
Keep the puppy occupied, both mind and body. Use puzzle feeders to give him mental stimulation and stave off boredom. Ensure he gets plenty of exercise, once he is allowed outdoors. When still confined to the house, play games such as fetch, which allow the pup to run around and burn energy.
Do: Engage in reward-based training
Use reward-based training methods to teach the pup basic commands such as 'sit', and 'look'. These are both excellent ways of interrupting undesirable behavior and allowing the dog to calm.
Do: Consider clicker training
Clicker training is a method where the pup learns that a click means he's earned a reward. You then use the click to mark good behavior, such as the dog being momentarily calm, and help him understand with a treat that this is desirable behavior.
Do: Praise calm behavior
A pup doesn't automatically know that calm is good, in his mind excited might be what you want. Make an effort to gently stroke and praise the pup when he's doing good things like resting quietly on his bed.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 03/05/2018, edited: 01/08/2021