How to Train a Pit Bull to Get Along with Other Dogs

Medium
2-4 Months
Behavior

Introduction

For anyone who has ever owned a Pit Bull, it is well known that they come with a reputation. While Pit Bulls can be some of the most loving and gentle dogs out there, many years of breed specific legislation and media frenzies have given them a bad name. As an owner of a Pit Bull, there are many things you need to keep in mind when training your dog, especially the breed’s tendency to be a little wary around other dogs.

While not all Pitbulls exhibit this trait, the breed is well known for being standoffish around other dogs whether in the home or in public. This behavior can stem from fear or outright aggression, but no matter the cause, it is much more serious coming from a Pit Bull than other breeds without the associated stigma. Aggressive tendencies from your Pit Bull may be seen as a nuisance, or worse, a danger. Your dog depends on you to set him up for success, not failure.

Defining Tasks

Socializing any dog with others of the same species can vary from simple to complex. Attitudes towards other dogs can stem from incidents in early puppyhood, the lack of opportunities to socialize, or traits that are bred into the dog genetically. Your dog counts on you to determine the most likely cause and utilize methods to combat any negative associations with other dogs to create much less stressful encounters.

Unfortunately, not every Pit Bull will find it necessary or inviting to play with other dogs, but with enough work, they can be taught to tolerate others in a fair and calm manner. To avoid having to troubleshoot problems later on, however, it’s recommended that you begin to socialize your Pit Bull as a puppy and carry on this socialization throughout his life to give him the best foot forward. But even if you miss the puppy window, there are still methods available to help an adult Pitbull adjust to the presence of other dogs without raising a fuss. Be prepared to spend several months on socialization either way, as it is an involved process that requires plenty of work to be successful.

Getting Started

Before taking your Pit Bull around any other dogs, be sure that he is vaccinated appropriately. If he has ever shown any indication that he may bite, consider looking into a muzzle to prevent any incidents from occurring. In addition, invest in a strong leash so you can maintain control. Preventing dangerous encounters should be of special importance, even if it isn’t your dog that initiates the encounter.

Following that, find some tasty treats that your Pit Bull especially likes. Try not to use any large treats, bones, or toys that can be fought over, as using these items around other dogs can instigate territorial aggression or resource guarding. The treats should be small and made to be eaten in a single bite.

The Early Method

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Step
1
Start after vaccinations
To give your Pit Bull puppy the best chance at getting along with other dogs, begin as soon as your vet gives you the all clear to take him outside following his vaccinations. Early socialization can give your dog the leg up he needs to prevent aggression from developing later.
Step
2
Set up playdates
Start with friends who own friendly, calm dogs to expose your Pit Bull to the ideal play companions.
Step
3
Keep encounters positive
Watch your dog for signs of stress or fear. Remove him from the situation to calm down if he starts exhibiting these behaviors.
Step
4
Vary the experiences
Allow your dog a chance to see dogs in places other than your home. Be cautious in areas where dogs are off leash. Never allow your dog to approach another without knowing the other dog’s temperament beforehand.
Step
5
Take opportunities
Find chances for your dog to encounter other friendly dogs, whether in a training class, on leash at the park, or out in dog-friendly public areas like pet stores. Continue with these experiences throughout puppyhood and well into adulthood.
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The Reinforcement Method

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Know your dog’s boundaries
If your Pit Bull is skittish around other dogs, do some testing to see how close another dog has to be before she gets uncomfortable. Do not put your dog in any danger to do this. You should only have another dog get as close as necessary to get a small reaction out of yours.
Step
2
Exercise first
Your dog may be more prone to negative reactions when she has pent up energy. A tired dog may be more lax and calm. Take a long walk or run before meeting up with any other dogs. This can help eliminate stress.
Step
3
Reinforce good behavior
If your dog is displaying signs of welcoming behavior like a happily wagging tail, play stances, or polite sniffs, offer her a treat. These reactions to other dogs are good and you want to attribute them with good things.
Step
4
Meet on neutral grounds
Some dogs can be territorial and less likely to be nice to another dog if it approaches the house. Bring your dog to neutral territory such as a pet store or another safe pet-friendly area where she can meet other dogs.
Step
5
Keep things fun
Make sure your Pit Bull is in a good mood to be meeting other dogs. If she is showing signs of being stressed or afraid, take a step back to where she was last relaxed and try again. Offer treats every time she is behaving calmly and provide plenty of praise before working your way towards other dogs once again.
Step
6
Never punish bad behavior
Verbal reprimands or physical corrections may create negative associations with other dogs. Never use punishment to address your Pit Bull’s responses to other dogs.
Step
7
Be cautious of dogs with behavior issues
Introduce your Pit Bull to dogs that are well mannered and friendly with the owner’s permission. Never allow your dog to approach another without permission from the owner or without knowing how the other dog will react. Avoid dog parks for this reason.
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The Tolerance Method

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Recognize your dog’s limits
Not every dog will love other dogs. But you can teach him to tolerate them being nearby. Know when your dog is done socializing and know when to remove him from the situation.
Step
2
Keep your distance
If your Pit Bull isn’t overly fond of other dogs, try not to approach other dogs too closely. Maintain a good several yards between you at all times, or more if your dog is still uncomfortable.
Step
3
Work on obedience
If he needs a distraction, ask your Pit Bull to perform a few obedience commands while other dogs are nearby. Reward him for keeping his focus on you.
Step
4
Work your way up
Start with very little distraction such as a dog that is many yards away. Reward your Pit Bull with treats or praise when he ignores it. It may take a few days, but gradually get closer and closer to other dogs, rewarding each time your dog focuses on you instead. If he begins to lose focus, move back to where he was last successful and try again.
Step
5
Accept your dog’s personality
Some dogs are just meant to be people lovers instead. Never force your Pit Bull to interact with other dogs if he is clearly uncomfortable. Consider consulting a behaviorist or trainer if absolutely necessary, but if not, be ready to accept that your dog may never get along with other dogs. Encourage socialization with people instead, if that’s what he prefers.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Blu
Pittbull
3 Years
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Question
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Blu
Pittbull
3 Years

My dog had been around other dogs since he was 10 weeks old. Apparently somewhere along the way he started to body bump other dogs. I’ve tried a few different trainers all with no luck. He loves other dogs but he cannot control his excitement and seems to runs at them and bump them. Most dogs will hotnout up with this behavior and taking him to day care has been a problem. How can I stop my too happy 100 pound pittbull from slamming other dogs?? Help I want to keep him social!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nancy, Some dogs use body bumps as a way to control the movement of other dogs or pester them into playing with them. I suggest teaching an "Out" command (which means leave the area) and working on it around high distractions. Use the "Out" command whenever he starts to get too excited while playing, to give him a cool down time, before letting him return to playing once he is calmer. You want to teach him to recognize his own excitement and learn how to have more impulse control. This might need to be done with an e-collar on a "working level" - which is a lower level that is specific to your dog. You would need to find a trainer with experience using e-collars and finding a dog's "working level". If a trainer doesn't know what a "working level" is don't use them! They probably are not very familiar with e-collars and isn't the person you want. The goal of this training is for the collar to be used on the lowest level that you dog responds to, as a way to interrupt his excited state and help him pay attention to the command you gave him and move away from the other dogs. It's not just a random correction. Training must be done first so that he will understand what to do and not associate it just with the dogs. You would start by simply teaching him "Out" command without the collar so that he learns what the word means and is rewarded with treats for obeying. To teach him an "Out" command, first call him over to you, then toss a treat several feet away from yourself while pointing to the area where you are tossing the treat with the finger of your treat tossing hand and saying "Out" at the same time. Repeat this until he will go over to the area where you point when you say "Out" before you have tossed a treat. When he will do that, then whenever you tell him "Out" and he does not go to where you are pointing, walk toward him and herd him out of the area with your body. Your attitude should be calm and patient but very firm and business like when you do this. When you get to where you were pointing to, then stop and wait until he either goes away or stops trying to go back to the area where you were standing before. When he is no longer trying to get past you, then slowly walk backwards to where you were before. If he follows you, then tell him "Out" again and quickly walk toward him until he is back to where he was a moment ago. Repeat this until he will stay several feet away from where you were when you told him "Out" originally. When you are ready for him to come back, then tell him "OK" in an up beat tone of voice. Practice this training until he will consistently leave the area when you tell him "Out". When he will consistently leave, then practice the training with other areas that you would like for him to leave, such as the kitchen when you are preparing food, a person's space when he is being pushy, an area with a plant that he is trying to dig up, or somewhere with something in your home that he should not be bothering. You would then progress to finding his "Working level" for the e-collar and let him wear the e-collar for about a week whenever you are home to simply get him used to the feel of it to so that he doesn't realize it's the e-collar interrupting him later. Using a long leash, you would then practice "Out" and if he does not immediately leave the area he is in, you would reel him in with the long leash while stimulating the e-collar, until he moved a few feet away from where he is. By doing this you are showing him with the long leash that moving away is how he can make the e-collar stimulation stop. By practicing this, he should learn to move away before he feels the stimulation, right when you say "Out". If he doesn't start to move away within a second, the stimulation should start and the leash should pull him in the direction he should go. You would practice this all under the guidance of a qualified trainer who can help you use the e-collar properly, and you would reward him when he obeys "Out" without depending on the leash or e-collar stimulation, but simply does it on his own, obediently. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Queeny
Pit bull
4 Years
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Queeny
Pit bull
4 Years

My dog is a fear aggressive dog. She has bit people (it's been 2yrs) She needs to meet people first a few times in order to be comfortable with them. Then she's loveable. She was raised for the first two years by someone else who had a large male dog. I have two cats that she is basically afraid of and avoids them. She's played with other dogs a couple of times inside of my own. She wasn't 100% comfortable with it, but she let another female dog, a French bulldog spend the night, play with her toys, eat her food, they played a little, sat with each other. The other dog was the aggressor and dominant dog. Now my daughter is rescuing a male pitbull who is not neutered and about a year old. I'm terrified of this. I'm terrified of leaving them at home while at work. What do I need to do? This dog is coming from Germany on a plane this Friday and I have had no time to prepare for this. My dog is not crate trained and she will break through any barricade to get upstairs if I try to confine her to one space. Help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kristin, First, both dogs need to be crate trained right away. You will probably have to follow a firmer method to stop the escape attempts with queeny. Find a trainer who can help you train both dogs in general. Be sure the trainer knows about her past human aggression to keep everyone safe. Use a stimulation collar (called an e-collar) that also has a vibration mode and at least thirty levels. Find her working level, which is the lowest level that she indicates she feels the collar. Finding level: https://youtu.be/1cl3V8vYobM To make the collar more effective and the least stressful, follow the Quiet method from the article linked below also. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Have Queeny wear the collar around for a couple of days while it is turned off (if there is time before the other dog arrives. If not skip this part). Once she understand what "Quiet" means, put her in her crate with the e-collar on, tell her "Quiet", pretend like you are leaving and go outside. Have a video monitor set up so that you can spy on her with her end on mute. An easy way to do this is with two smart phones or tablets with FaceTime or Skype on mute on her end, or a video baby monitor or GoPro camera with the Live app. When you are outside, when she barks, push the button to correct her right when she barks or tries to escape. When she gets quiet and stops trying to escape for at least two minutes, go back inside, drop a few treats into her crate, tell her "Quiet" one time to remind her to be quiet when you leave, then leave again. Practice the training for up to thirty minutes the first time, going inside to reward whenever she is quiet, then leaving again. You can increase the 30 minutes when she starts to show signs of understanding what she is supposed to do. After 30-60 minutes of practice, go back inside while she is quiet and not trying to escape, reward her with the treats, then do things around the house for ten minutes while she stays in the crate. If she barks, correct with the collar while ignoring her. When she is calm, after ten minutes calmly let her out of the crate using the method from the video linked below: https://youtu.be/mn5HTiryZN8 Doing the training that way helps her understand what the correction is for (disobedience to your quiet command in this case), and the treats help her realize that being quiet equals good things (and is what she is supposed to be doing), which helps her avoid the correction and gives her a choice (you can be frantic and be corrected or be calm and avoid the correction). Doing it this way means less corrections in the long run, and her not working herself up barking/attempting to escape for long periods is also better for her mental and emotional state and teaches her to relax better. Also, be sure to give her interesting food stuffed chew toys in the crate to alleviate his boredom. At first, while she is adjusting to the training and crate she may not eat the food, which is fine, but as she is taught how to be calmer in the crate she will be more likely to want it. For her and the other dog's relationship you need to hire a trainer. That is beyond what I can write here, but crate training both is a vital first step to make sure both dogs are safe. Even without a history of aggression I would never recommend letting two dogs that do not know one another stay in the same space unsupervised, and definitely not one with a history of aggression or an unknown temperament (the new dog). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Michee
Boxer, beagle, pit mix
4 Years
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Michee
Boxer, beagle, pit mix
4 Years

My dog was a rescue. Looks cute but plays very aggressively. Loves to chase and be chased and nip at other dog's legs. Has had successful socialization. New neighbor moved in with rescue brown pit, 3ish years old about 50 pounds. Nala seems so sweet to humans and has socialized successfully with other sweet dogs. We both have huge back yards and would love for them to interact and be friends. She and Michee were aggressive. barking initially through fence. We walked them together on leash and they were fine. Tried to get them to play off leash and they sound as if they are going to kill each other.Any hints on acclimation between two strong dogs. (Michee has a strong bark, but literally no bite, having inherited the bulldog underbite!)

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Betsy, Continue doing what you started with the walks. Also, practice obedience with them on long leashes in the same general area, but where they cannot reach each other. Practice Come, Heel, Stay, Watch Me, and so forth so that both dogs are focused on humans, earning rewards for being focused on you and calm around the other dog; doing that ensures that the other dog is automatically being associated with those types of calm emotions and pleasant rewards, and the other dog becomes boring (which you want to avoid over-arousal). The walks together should also be focused; with the dogs heeling and following you and Nala's owner, instead of competing to be in front. The dogs need to interact this way for a good while, until the dogs are very familiar with each other and pretty calm and bored around each other (like sibling dogs). Once the dogs know their place with each other, you can try letting them play together again in neutral territory first. Like a fenced-in area that isn't either dog's backyard the first time. If you feel either dog is endanger when you get ready to introduce them again, either do not introduce them and just continue getting them together during walks and training, hire a professional to help you, or get both dogs used to wearing soft silicone basket muzzles ahead of time and having them wear those during the introduction - by pairing the muzzles with the dogs' kibble food and making the experience positive, gradually introducing sniffing, touching, then wearing the muzzle overtime, as they become relaxed around it. Expect the training to take weeks to a couple of months and not days. Enjoy the time together with your neighbor and the chance to mentally stimulate and exercise both dogs as a fun activity in the meantime. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bodie
Pit bull
4 Years
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Bodie
Pit bull
4 Years

We rescued Bodie from the pound. We are his 3rd or 4th home in his 4 years. He’s a Pit Bull Cane Corso neutered male. We don’t have much info on his behavior only that he bit another dog he lived with over food. We just getting to know him and get him to follow basic commands as we have only had him for a couple weeks. He is super sweet to people ant the only annoying behavior is he appears t be a Velcro dog as he never leaves our sides but we hope this fades some in tone and built trust. But yesterday when the neighbor came over with their leashed border collie Bodie went immediately to attack. So it is apparent he is extremely dog aggressive. Our last pit we adopted was as well and learned to work around it as it was mostly towards other males only. How can I safely break him of this behavior at this stage???

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello Trisha, You need to hire a professional trainer who specializes in aggression to help you. Unfortunately that level of aggression can take a lot of commitment and time to address, and is more comprehensive than I can get into here. You need hands on experience. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training. He has a YouTube channel with hundreds of dog training videos. He can be a bit gruff but specializes in aggressive dogs and is very experienced. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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