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 Tolerance Method

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Step
1
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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The Reinforcement Method

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Step
1
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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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Tine
Pit bull
2 Years
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Question
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Tine
Pit bull
2 Years

We had 2 other dogs, much older and then we got Tina. She was 1 and a half when she bit the one dead. Then a few weeks later she took on the other one. At the end we had to get another home for the one who Survived.
Tina is now 2 years old. We got another puppy yesterday, a male pit bull puppy.
I'm not sure if that was the right decision as Tina seams to be jealous of him as well.
She blocks him with her body if he wants to walk. When she is on the couch and we let the puppy near the couch then she moves away. She doesnt want him near her.
Today he went to play with a toy and she jumped on top of him.

Is there any way that we can train her to accept the new puppy?

Please help me.

regards
Veronica Jones

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Veronica, With a dog who killed another dog in the household, I would actually consider rehoming the puppy, and I rarely advise ever rehoming a dog. With a high level of off leash obedience and safety measures and control of the dog's freedom and careful supervision and constant management, you might be able to get to the point where you can have both dogs in the home but it's likely to be a situation where there is constant need for supervision, ongoing training, and really struct boundaries, without a guarantee that something bad couldn't happen. I would look for a trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and has experience evaluating aggression, to evaluate pup more in depth in person to help you decide. You need someone who can ask questions, get more details and see how the dogs interact - what their body language is around the puppy, to help make this decision. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Georgie Girl
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
2 Years
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Question
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Georgie Girl
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
2 Years

How to socialize her so that she will get along with other dogs. She loves humans and I'm not sure if she'll be ok with dogs. She is a rescue and I don't have an accurate history of her first 2 years of life.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Cecilia, How you go about this depends a lot on how she is with dogs now. If she is aggressive or reactive, I would find a G.R.O.W.L. class to join with her if you have one in the area. That class should help her become socialized more quickly with the proper safety measures and supervision for safety, as well as the resource of other dogs to practice around. If she is fine with other dogs in terms of aggression but needs help learning social cues and calmness, check out the article I have linked below, and I would start with the Passing Approach method then transition to the Walking Together method as pup improves. If pup is aggressive or reactive though, you won't want to do up close greetings yet without safety measures and gradual counter conditioning - like the G.R.O.W.L. class should on. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs It would also be beneficial to spend a little time learning about counter conditioning in general - counter conditioning is a type of training that can help with introducing new things. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Brutus
American Staffordshire. Pitbull
18 Months
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Question
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Brutus
American Staffordshire. Pitbull
18 Months

Has no manners and is very aggressive toward dogs and some people. He is a rescue from dog fight

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lauren, I would hire a professional trainer who is part of a training group and has access to lots of other well trained dogs. A high level of obedience training, desensitization to other dogs and people, and probably ongoing management is likely needed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Fallon
Pit bull
1 Year
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Question
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Fallon
Pit bull
1 Year

We’ve had Fallon since he was about 2-3months old. He was raised with our (currently) 2yr old Lab Beau. they got along great with no issues often cuddled and played together till fallon was about 8-9 months old.he started attacking Beau when my husband gave Beau any attention. Since then fallon has started attacking Beau on sight. We’ve also noticed Fallon will try to attack other male dogs if my husband gives them attention too. No issues with females and the issues with males doesn’t start till my husband shows attention to the other male.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lisa, It sounds like he may be possessive of your husband - which is similar to resource guarding a bone, but instead of pup thinking that the bone belongs to them and trying to keep everyone else away from it, pup sees the person as theirs and is keeping everyone else away from them. Often a combination of introducing a basket muzzle for safety first, working on building the dog's overall respect for the person they are guarding, and building trust is how this type of behavior is addressed. Respect is often build through adding a lot of structure at home, having pup work for everything they want by requiring them to obey a command first, working on obedience commands that help with respect, like Down, Heel, Place, crate training, Wait, Drop It, Off, leave it, and Out - leave the area, and by being extremely consistent about household rules and expectations and following through. The trust is usually build by counter conditioning pup to other dogs being near your husband - starting with the dogs at a distance and rewarding pup for calm responses to that (with safety measures like pup on a back tie leash where they can't reach your husband or the other dog), and repeating the other dog walking past and rewarding good responses, and sometimes interrupting unwanted responses from a safe distance, then decreasing the distance and increasing the amount of interaction your husband would give the other dog slowly over several sessions at the rate that pup's body language indicates that they are ready for. I highly recommend hiring a professional trainer with experience with that type of training to work in person with you for this case. You will also need several other well trained dogs to practice the interactions around your dog over and over and over again with control of the repetition, distance, amount of interaction, ect... in order for pup to become desensitized to them interacting with him. Your other dog will also need to be involved in the training but the trainer may determine that your dog should practice around unknown dogs first since their is a fight history. However you train, make sure safety measures are taken, like keeping the dogs apart, basket muzzles, back tie leashes, and safe distances while training - not only from each other as dogs, but also between pup and the humans involved - since a highly aroused dog can redirect aggression toward whoever is closest when they can't get to what they want to attack - meaning a potential human bite even though pup isn't human aggressive normally. Ask the trainer about their experience with aggression, look into the trainer's referrals or reviews, and make sure you find someone who has had a lot of success working with aggression - most trainers don't specialize in it, so you need someone who has that additional experience and a history of success in that area. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Chico
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
12 Years
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Question
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Chico
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
12 Years

Best way Introducing a 12 y/o Male pit (not spayed) to a 4 year old Male lab (un spayed) to share the same grounds? (Pit owner moving to labs property)

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1126 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lenise, How does pup do when actually meeting other dogs? Are they aggressive or reactive on leash? Check out the article linked below and following the Passing Approach method until they dogs can do well with that, then switch to the walking together method, starting far apart again, until the dogs can finally walk together. I recommend starting this process now if you live close enough, because this will probably take a lot of walks, getting gradually closer overtime to get to the point where they are ready to walk together and greet if either dog is at all reactive or aggressive toward other dogs. If pup's have ever redirect aggression toward people or have aggression issues toward people, I would desensitize pups to a basket muzzle ahead of time and practice with muzzle on and professional trainer oversight in person. Passing Approach and Walking Together methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs For safety, it would be a good idea to get both dogs used to wearing a basket muzzle ahead of time also. If there isn't current dog aggression you may not need them, but it's a great thing to be prepared ahead of time for, and if either does have previous aggression or new aggression once in the home, I would have that dog wear the muzzle when not crated around the other dog early on. Use a basket muzzle so pup can still open their mouth and be given treats through the muzzle's holes. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Once in the home together, the dogs would need to be crate trained and to know a solid 1-2 hour place command. Life would need to be very structured and dogs played with and fed separately, to avoid competition early on. Basically home would be very obedience class-like when they were together, to prevent potential fights. I would work on building trust and respect for you and whoever is overseeing the other dog ahead of time with the dogs also so that they are not making and enforcing rules for each other, but looking to the humans in the home to do so. You want to add in a lot more structure and boundaries for now, working on things like the working method linked below, teaching both a 2 hour long Place, directional commands like Off, Out (which means leave the area), Down, Leave It, and Off, so that you can tell them where they should and should not be in relation to being pushy with you or bullying each other, and both should be crate trained. Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Keep a drag leash on pup when you are present (and crate when not present) if they won't listen to your directional commands once learned well. Calmly lead pup where you tell them to go as needed by picking up the end of the leash. If you see any signs of aggression toward you, pause and get professional help to deal with aggression toward you also. Training will likely need to be mortified to take extra precautions to keep you safe. Don't risk a bite. This is all assuming the dogs will be in close quarters together, like the same house or yard all the time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Success
Bosten
Red nose pit
8 Months

I have had my dog since she was a baby I have been trying to get her to socialize with other dogs. But it seems like since the first time I took her to the park and this aggressive husky bit her as a baby it really hurt her. And from that point on as she has grown she is standoffish from other dogs when I take her. She has her picks and chooses which one she wants to play with but she would rather stay underneath me all day everyday. Someone pls tell me is this a sign of she is going to be over protective of me will she grow out of the scary stage or is she s ared for life and there is nothing I can do. I mean I have a smaller dog that she loves to bully all the time but she doesn't want to interact with other dogs that way someone tell me what I am doing wrong here

2 years, 1 month ago
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