How to Train a Pitbull Puppy to Protect

How to Train a Pitbull Puppy to Protect
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon1-6 Months
Work training category iconWork

Introduction

Oscar is a bundle of energy. You open the front door and your Pitbull puppy is leaping into the air, desperate to plant slobber all over your face. Despite his tough exterior, you know your Pitbull is full of love and affection. He's brought nothing but happiness and smiles into your life. However, you got Oscar for a specific reason - you want to train him to protect. You may have a family you want to keep safe at night or it may be that you simply want to protect your house and valuable possessions from intruders. 

Training a Pitbull puppy to protect seems like an ideal solution. In fact, Pitbulls naturally possess many of the characteristics needed to effectively protect people and property. This type of training will also instill strict discipline into him, which may make it easier to teach him any number of other commands. While Pitbulls have a reputation for being strong, powerful dogs, with the right amount of control, knowledge, and patience, you can help shape your Pitbull puppy into a loyal protector. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

Training a Pitbull puppy to protect isn’t as complex as many owners believe. However, it will require strict discipline on both your part and Oscar's. You will need to take steps to show him that what you want him to protect falls within his territory. You will also need to encourage the sorts of defensive behaviour that will make him effective at protecting, such as barking. To do all this, you will need the right incentive. As you can probably guess, food is often the best way to get your Pitbull puppy dancing to your tune.

If Oscar is particularly receptive, then you could see results in just a matter of weeks. This is because when they are puppies, Pitbulls can soak up information and learn impressively quickly. But if your Pitbull puppy is stubborn with a short attention span, then you may need several months. Stick with training and before you know it, you’ll be able to sleep easy at night as your Pitbull protects you and your home.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

Before you get to work, you’ll need to make sure you have a few essentials. A long leash will be required and you may also want to invest in a body harness. This will increase your control while reducing the strain on Oscar’s neck.

You will need a decent supply of treats or his favorite food broken into small pieces. A friend will also be required for two of the methods below. Then, set aside fifteen minutes each day for training. Of course, you will also need access to the space or persons you want him to protect.

Once you’ve ticked all those boxes, just come armed with patience and a pro-active attitude, then work can begin!

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Follow Me Method

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

1 Vote

Ribbon icon
1

Capture interest

Secure Oscar to a leash and then have someone slowly approach in your yard or on a walk. Stand level with your Pitbull puppy and then point at the person, whisper, and do all that you can to get him worked up. This method relies on the theory that dogs mirror their owners behaviour. So be patient, it may take him a little while, but eventually he will get worked up when he sees that you are.

2

'Bark' command

Keep pointing and getting animated until Oscar barks at the person. If he's struggling, start shouting at the person yourself, to show your Pitbull puppy how it’s done.

3

Reward

Once he does bark, you need to give him a reward within three seconds. Any longer and he may not associate the action with the reward. If you use a clicker when you train, click before you hand over the treat or toy.

4

Mix it up

Now you simply need to practice regularly. Have a stranger approach several times a week in a range of different situations. The more frequently you train, the sooner it will become habit.

5

Lose the rewards

Once your Pitbull puppy barks whenever a stranger approaches even with distractions around, you can slowly start to phase out the reward. By this point, Oscar knows what to do and doesn’t need a tasty incentive to behave as you’d like.

The Natural Instinct Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Obedience classes

The first thing to do is start taking your Pitbull puppy to group obedience classes. Firstly, they will teach him a range of useful commands that will help you retain control later on. These classes will also help socialize Oscar with other pets and people, as you don’t want him being aggressive toward everyone.

2

Encouragement

Whenever Oscar takes an interest in a stranger, you must reward him. Give him a treat, a toy, or some verbal praise whenever he sniffs, barks, or heads over to a stranger. Do this every time and it will soon become habit.

3

Morning walk

Secure your Pitbull puppy to a short leash each morning and walk him around the perimeter of the space you want him to protect. If you want him to protect you, keep him with you for a short while. This will help reinforce where his territory begins and ends. He will then naturally want to defend anything within that space.

4

Evening walk

Repeat the previous step each evening. This will further reinforce his boundaries. Before you know it, he will become protective over any stranger that wanders within this space.

5

Never use punishment

Do not use punishment techniques to train your Pitbull puppy to protect. Such methods may make Oscar overly aggressive and incredibly difficult to control, especially as Pitbulls grow up to be both big and strong. Instead, stick to positive reinforcement techniques.

The Verbal Cue Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Watch closely

Spend a couple of days watching your Pitbull puppy. You’re looking for situations which trigger a bark. This could be when he's excited for an imminent walk or when you’re preparing his food.

2

‘Bark’

Once you’ve identified a situation that makes him bark, put him in it. Just before, or as he starts to bark, issue a ‘Bark’ command in a clear voice, just once. Don’t keep repeating the instruction, as you want him to respond to your command the first time, every time.

3

Reward

As soon as he does indeed bark, swiftly go over and shower him in praise. You can also chuck him a treat or play with a toy for a minute. Now simply practice this for ten minutes each day in a variety of situations.

4

Stranger approach

Once he barks whenever you instruct him to, even with distractions around, it’s time to put your work to the test. Have a stranger slowly approach the house. Have them knock on a window or door. Then point and give Oscar the ‘Bark’ command.

5

Reward and practice

Once Oscar barks, have the friend yell and run away. It’s important your Pitbull puppy knows to keep barking until the intruder vacates the vicinity. Now you simply need to practice a few times a week. Try and use different people each time and before you know it, Oscar will automatically bark whenever a stranger approaches.

Written by James Barra

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 05/30/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Bella

Dog breed icon

Pit bull

Dog age icon

four months

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

I want her to come the first time I command even when distracted

April 23, 2023

Bella's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Check out the two articles I have linked below, especially the sections and methods with a long leash, and the premack principle. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtJxSXu4rfs&t=614s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 25, 2023

Dog nametag icon

Apollo

Dog breed icon

Pit Bullmastiff

Dog age icon

23 Months

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found this helpful

User generated photoUser generated photo

I want him to know when to protect the house. Although, he does bark when he hears someone around the house. I want to use words to train him to protect us and the home.

June 28, 2022

Apollo's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Koko, For the alerting, first teach pup to bark by teaching the Speak command. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak Once pup knows the speak command, recruit friends pup doesn't know to step onto the property or come to the door while pup watches from a window or inside somewhere. Command speak and reward with a treat when they do. Practice with telling pup to speak each time the person is there, until pup barks on their own when the person tries to enter without saying speak. At that point, have the person come onto the property, wait seven seconds to see if pup will bark on their own, reward if they do, and command speak if they don't - then reward but give a smaller reward when you tell pup opposed to when pup does it on their own. Practice until pup will bark each time someone enters the property. Practice with different people you can recruit, that pup doesn't know so that pup will learn to do this with anyone who enters the property and not just that one person. Draw pup's attention to people outside or people on your property, and reward pup when you see them watching someone in general - so that pup will begin watching people and staying more alert as a habit. Pup doesn't have to bark to reward this one - just reward when pup is watching someone and you notice that. I also recommend teaching the Quiet command, so that you can tell pup when to stop barking after they alert. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark For anything that would involve bite work, you would need to pursue training with a professional protection trainer who knows how to utilize pup's defense drive, build confidence, utilize rewards like a bite bag and tug, and have the right staff and equipment to practice things like arms holds - this training should only be done with a professionals help and should not encourage fear or true aggression when done correctly - it's more like teaching pup a task, teaching alertness, obedience, building confidence, and encouraging a natural defense drive - opposed to poorly done training that encourages suspicion and fear to get a bite from the dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 28, 2022


Wag! Specialist
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2024 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.