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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1 Vote
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 and Success Stories

Question
Zeus
Pitbull cross
14 Weeks
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Question
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Zeus
Pitbull cross
14 Weeks

Zeus is really playful with my 6 year old shihtzu but it’s quite aggressive play in which my shihtzu will nip Zeus back but it’s quite scary at times although at times Zeus licks my shihtzu , do you think Zeus will be ok to leave alone with my shihtzu when he’s older or should I keep them apart

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, it is really hard to say at this point whether you will be able to leave them alone together once Zeus is older. You'll have to see how things go. Zeus will benefit with training right away. Doing so will ensure you have a well-trained dog that you can control. It's likely he'll be big and strong, so a dog who listens is essential. Start here: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-pitbull-puppy-to-listen. As well, read this guide in its entirety for excellent tips: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-pitbull-puppy-to-be-obedient. I would suggest obedience training as soon as the vet gives the okay (once vaccines are up to date) so that Zeus is well socialized with all dogs. That will make it easier to take him wherever you like, and the training will come in handy for interaction with your Shih Tzu also. Good luck and happy training!

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Question
Gypsy
pitbull
5 Years
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Question
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Gypsy
pitbull
5 Years

She’s very good and calm around people. As a puppy she got along with other pups, but as she got older she stared getting aggressive when seeing / approaching other dogs. She does get plenty of exercise and eats well. What can I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shielsy, First, I would see if you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, which is a class for dog reactive/aggressive dogs. Where all the dogs wear a basket muzzle for safety and practice interactions in a structured environment with the trainer's instruction. You can desensitize pup to wearing a muzzle using food rewards, ahead of time, so that the muzzle is viewed more positively and not associated with other dogs and stressful situations around dogs. Check out the video linked below. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s You can also check out trainers who specialize in aggression, like Jeff Gellman from solidk9training, or Thomas Davis the Canine Educator...They both have websites and youtube channnels with videos to see how aggression is sometimes approached. Notice the safety measure that they take and the foundation of obedience that's implemented in the training too to help dogs stay calmer and learn skills like self-control. I would pursue training some professional help - either a G.R.O.W.L. class or private training group that has access to lots of other dogs for desensitizing practice safely. best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Buttercup and Diesel
Pit bull
4 Years
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Question
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Buttercup and Diesel
Pit bull
4 Years

I had these dogs since they were puppies I bottle fed both they are 2 years apart I got them fixed month ago and recently buttercup(4yr old ) on the left has been growling for now reason and the moment he growls diesel(2yr old) on the left takes it as sign of fighting time and when they fight I can’t break them apart . Right now I have them separated two different rooms they take time coming into living room and they spend time with me and my spouse but not with one another I can tell they miss each other because they leave toys by each other’s doors when one is spending time roaming around as the other one is in the room with one of us. My fear is bringing them back together because both me and my wife are terrified of them fighting again because we can’t break it apart and they hurt each other badly . I have no idea where to start .

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
92 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I strongly advise having a trainer who specializes in aggressive dogs and dogs with behavior problems come to the house to give you guidance. This situation could turn into a dangerous one. The money you spend on a couple of effective sessions is worth its weight in gold when it comes to a peaceful and happy home again. Search online in your area for trainers. You can also contact a trainer here who may be able to help online, but chances are, one on one is necessary. https://robertcabral.com/. All the best to you and your dog family!

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Question
Ivy
Pitbull mix lab
2 Years
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Question
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Ivy
Pitbull mix lab
2 Years

We recently rescued Ivy from a breeder. She did not have such a good puppyhood and since has been very aggressive with other dogs. We have tried the tolerance method but can’t seem to progress at all. What do you recommend ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Guadalupe, See if you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class within driving distance of you to join. These classes are for dog reactive/aggressive dogs who are all intensively socialized together in a structured environment under the instruction of the trainer while all wearing basket muzzles for safety. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Belle
Pit bull
2 Years
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Question
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Belle
Pit bull
2 Years

We got Belle from a rescue. We brought our almost 9 year old Spaniel mix to a meet and greet. It went well! Once we got them both home, there was a fight between a toy. The 9 year old ended up busting blood vessels in her eyes. That was the first fight. The second fight happened when my boyfriend went to pet the 9 year olds had the pit I’ll attacked her. This morning Belle was in her cage and the 9 year old dog either layer down next to the cage and Belle got aggressive and barked at Jasmine like she wanted to fight her again. I would appreciate any help. I want them to get along. Jasmine who is the 9 year old spaniel mix is scared of her. I would like to train them both. I don’t know if it’s toy aggression with both or what.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
706 Dog owners recommended

Hello Megan, It sounds like a combination of Belle having resource guarding over objects, possessiveness of people, and simply having a low tolerance for another dog, such as your 9 year old dog lying close to the cage. This is a situation that I would hire a professional trainer to help you with in person. Look for a trainer who specializes in aggression, comes well recommended by their previous clients and has experience with this type of issue. I suspect a lot of management, desensitization, obedience, and supervision will be needed to address the aggression in its various forms and keep your other dog from being hurt or constantly stressed out by Belle trying to intimidate. You need a trainer who can be there to evaluate and tailor the training plan to you based on what all they observe body-language wise, history, and overall behavior. It's also possible since Belle came from a rescue situation where you don't know their past, they either may not have been properly socialized or might have been re-homed for aggression in the past, meaning this may not be specific to your Spaniel but an overall issue with other dogs. The dogs could still do well at the first greeting and there be aggression toward other dogs that's related to resources, dominance, or a low tolerance. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Training Success Stories

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

6 months, 2 weeks ago
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