How to Train a Pit Bull Puppy to Listen

How to Train a Pit Bull Puppy to Listen
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon6-12 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

If you have a Pit Bull puppy, you may be aware of a common misconception with the breed. Some Pit Bulls, like other breeds, have been trained to be fighters or otherwise mean dogs. But your Pit Bull is naturally a very loving and gentle dog. You can train him from an early age to listen to you and be a great friend and pet in your family. If you train your Pit Bull puppy now to listen to you, he will always look at you as the leader of his pack and therefore won't be the pup with the bad rap.

Imagine the joy of having such a wonderful dog in your family from a breed filled with misconceptions. You can show the world and your community he is a kind, loving pet with manners and strong obedience to you.

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Defining Tasks

Training your Pit Bull to listen to you will start with teaching him basic obedience commands and manners. While your Pit Bull is still young, another thing you will need to do during your training sessions after he has gotten his initial vaccinations is to socialize him. Getting your Pit Bull puppy around other dogs is crucial to teaching him manners and conditioning him to understand what your expectations are when it comes to his behavior. During socialization and obedience training, you should be teaching him basic commands such as 'sit', 'down', 'come', 'stay', 'watch me', 'wait', and general manners while walking on a leash or expectations when he is out in public.

Starting small with a puppy works wonders in getting him to listen to you. Start by teaching him his name so he knows when you are talking to him. Other training like housebreaking will also leave you in command. 

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Getting Started

Teaching your little Pit Bull to listen will be an ongoing process. You will want your little guy to be rewarded and learn through positive reinforcement. Avoid any training that requires you to punish your Pit Bull. He will respond more with positive reinforcement and rewards for good behavior and good choices than with punishments. Anytime you can, turn a moment into a learning opportunity and reward him for learning, do so. This will require always having tasty treats on hand.

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The Your Pit’s Leader Method

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3 Votes

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1

Basic obedience

Train your Pit Bull basic obedience commands early on. Once he’s a part of your family, you can start with small training sessions. Start with 'sit' and move to 'down' before working on 'stay' and 'release'. These short training sessions will show him you are the leader and will tell him what to do, with high expectations. Plan to offer lots of rewards to earn his respect as well.

2

Sit

Hold a treat high above your Pit’s head. When you have his attention, move it back towards the back of his head and wait patiently. As he follows the treat with his nose because he wants to earn it, he will likely sit down. When he sits say the command "sit" and give him the treat. Practice this for a few weeks before moving on to the next command.

3

Down

Put your Pit Bull puppy in a 'sit' position because he is well rehearsed at this, and give him a treat for listening and obeying. Once he's in a sitting position, take a second treat and hold it to his nose, then bring it slowly down towards the floor. Once the treat is near the floor, pull it away from his body towards yours. This should lead him to stretch out and lie down on his tummy. When he's down, say the command "down" and give him the treat. Practice often.

4

Stay

Your pup should be between 12 and 14 weeks old when you try to teach him the 'stay' command. He should understand 'sit' and 'down' and be doing those two commands easily. When he's in one of those positions use the command 'stay.' Take a step away from him holding your hand up palm facing towards your dog and wait a moment. Give him a treat if he stays put and practice by taking more steps away over several sessions.

5

Release

Your Pit Bull will need to know when he's able to come back to your side. The release command will tell him when it's time to move from ‘stay.’ Once he is in the 'stay' position, show him a treat and use the word "release". The treats should be enough to motivate him to move. When he does, give the treat. Keep practicing this command so he understands when to stay put and when he can move freely.

6

Rewards

Be sure you are rewarding your Pit Bull puppy with lots of tasty treats while he’s training. These will give him positive reinforcements and remind him as long as he is listening, he can earn rewards.

7

Advanced

Once your puppy has these basic obedience commands well understood and is doing them consistently by command, begin to teach him other, more advanced commands such as 'watch me' and 'wait.'

The Start with a Name Method

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Name the pup

When you bring a puppy home, especially one with such a strong personality, the first thing you will do is give him a name.

2

Train name

To get to your puppy to recognize his name and when you are speaking to him, he’ll need to know his name. Say his name and give him a treat. Do this several times while sitting with him.

3

Without attention

Once he’s heard his name a few times and has earned a treat just for listening to you say it, try to get him to recognize his name when he’s not paying attention to you. Start talking to him when he’s not looking at you. Say his name and watch his reaction. If he looks at you and gives you his attention, give him a treat. If not, try again later after more practice.

4

Knows name

Once your Pit Bull puppy knows his name, start other training. Always use his name before teaching him anything to ensure you have his attention and he’s listening.

5

Rewards

Always give your little guy rewards anytime he responds in a positive way to hearing his name. Use his name when you talk to him, when you need his attention, during training, and while on a leash. Be sure to have lots of treats on hand to reward him for listening.

The Positive Attention Method

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Once home

As soon as your bring your Pit Bull puppy home, you can start playing with him and training him small tasks and commands. Start with his name. Reward him any time he listens and gives you his attention.

2

Name

Spend a few weeks teaching your little guy his name. This should be something you use often. Say his name in a calm manner when you need him to pay attention.

3

Commands

Once he knows his name, you can begin to train basic obedience commands starting with the easy command ‘sit.’ Use his name often and reward him through the training.

4

Potty Training

It will take some time for your little guy to be totally house trained, but take advantage of this training opportunity to remind him of your expectations and reward him when he makes good choices.

5

Socialize

An extremely important task in getting your Pitty to listen to you is getting him social with other people and animals, especially dogs. A social dog is a well-behaved dog. One who is not social might be cautious and not listen as well as you’d like.

6

High-value treats

Remember, the tougher the task, the better the treat. Be sure to reward your puppy with treats for his good behaviors and when he listens to you. He’s more likely to keep listening if he knows he’s getting rewards.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 04/17/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Blix

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American Pit Bull Terrier

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9 Days

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Question

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How to get him to respond to my voice ?

Feb. 16, 2022

Blix's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Thomas, At nine days old pup's hearing likely isn't developed enough to expect pup to respond to your voice much. Once pup's body is more developed, place something pup loves in front of pup's face then move it toward your eye while saying pup's name. When pup looks toward your face at the reward, praise pup and give the reward to them. At first this will be a toy. Once pup is old enough for food other than their mother's milk, you can use small treats to practice this with. As pup improves, hold the object next to your eye while saying pup's name without putting it in front of pup's face first, then praise and reward with it when pup looks. As pup improves, you will transition to holding the reward behind your back while you point to your eye, giving pup the praise and reward when pup looks at your eye. Next, practice until you can say pup's name without pointing anywhere with the reward hidden behind your back, then praise and reward pup when they look at your face. Finally, start practicing saying pup's name randomly throughout the day with a treat or toy to give pup hidden in your pocket. Wait until pup is weaned from mom's milk before giving treats. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 16, 2022

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Simba

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pitbull

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8 Weeks

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Question

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We are training simba with the treat training he knows his name,sit,down but we cant get him to stop biting when he bites we say no and give him a toy but he still bites

Dec. 25, 2021

Simba's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Wendy, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would also work on teaching the Out command, and then use the section from the article on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness, to enforce it when pup doesn't listen, especially around other animals or kids. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Dec. 27, 2021


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