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

How to Train a Pit Bull to Get Along with Other Dogs
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Early Method

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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.

2

Set up playdates

Start with friends who own friendly, calm dogs to expose your Pit Bull to the ideal play companions.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By TJ Trevino

Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Indy

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Pit mix

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2

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Question

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Recently my dog went after my italian greyhound. They have lived together his whole life and have had one previous scuffle over a bone. This one was different because there were no treats around just my husband. How do I fix this behavior?

May 23, 2023

Indy's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, I recommend hiring a professional trainer who has a lot of aggression experience to come to your home and evaluate the environment and your dogs' body language and interactions around each other to determine why this is happening and what the best way to address it is. How you address this depends a lot on observing their interactions in their environments. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 24, 2023

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Jax, Kash, and violet

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Chihuahua violet, jax and kash pit bulls

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jax 4 kash 7 violet 9

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We have our 3 wonderful dogs that all get along great. This past week my husband found a pit bull female tied to the trash dumpster at his work. He brought her home. We took her to the vet and she is in great health and got all her vaccines. All the dogs have been neutered/spayed.She is not aggressive in any way. She is smart and knows commands. Right now we have not brought her into the house but we have made her a nice spot in our garage for now. We would love to keep her but need advice on socializing the dogs together. My one dog jax is very scary and hasn’t been around many other dogs.

Jan. 12, 2023

Jax, Kash, and violet's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, If Jax has a history of aggression toward other dogs, I recommending hiring a professional trainer to oversee the process. Look for someone with experience with dog to dog aggression for Jax. If there isn't dog aggression present that you know of, I would keep things separate while helping them get to know each other out on walks with the help of a second person to walk one of the dogs. 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. Do one family dog at a time. 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 for Jax. Passing Approach and Walking Together methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs For safety, I would get your dog used to wearing a basket muzzle ahead of time also, and have your dog wear the muzzle when not crated around the other dogs early on. Use a basket muzzle so pup can still open their mouth and be given treats through the muzzle's holes. You may not need this with the more social dog, but it might be important for Jax and the new dog, until you know they can safely be together overtime. 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 ahead of time also so that they are not making and enforcing rules for each other, but looking to you 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. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 16, 2023


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