How to Train a Pit Bull to Not Bite

Medium
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Fido is cute and full of life. You know as soon as you open the door your Pit Bull is going to be jumping up and down excited to see you. His excitement is almost uncontrollable, which has led to some rather unpleasant incidents. Fido has ended up biting you and other members of the family. Now it may seem harmless because it is when you are playing, but this type of behavior needs to be tackled swiftly.

In fact, training your Pit Bull to not bite is extremely important for both you and them. Pit Bulls are big and strong so you don’t want this behavior becoming a habit and causing someone serious harm one day. If this does happen, then they may also be at risk of being court-ordered to be put down. Stopping their biting also means you can relax when they are around other pets and children.

Defining Tasks

Training your Pit Bull to not bite can prove fairly challenging. It depends partly on how long the behavior has been going on. The more of a habit it is, the harder it is to break. The first thing you will need to do is introduce a number of deterrence measures to remove the temptation. You will then need to start channeling the dog's energy into something safe and more productive. You will mainly use positive reinforcements to bring their biting under control.

If Fido is just a puppy, then the biting could be for any number of reasons and you may get results in just a couple of weeks. However, if your Pit Bull is older and been biting for many years, then you may need several weeks--and possibly the help of a professional trainer--to get a handle on it.

Getting Started

Before you can start training your Pit Bull to not bite, you will need to make sure you have a few essentials. A water spray bottle will be needed. You will also need to stock up on treats or break the dog's favorite food into small chunks. 

Toys, food puzzles and a clicker will be required for one of the methods below. Set aside 10 minutes or so each day. However, the more you can be around them to react to biting, the sooner you will see results.

Once you have all that, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!

The Attitude Adjustment Method

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Step
1
Obedience classes
Fido’s biting may demonstrate that the dog does not respect you. So start taking him to obedience classes. This will socialize him while increasing your control by teaching a number of basic commands.
Step
2
Set the tone
Sit everyone in the house down. You need to ensure none of you giggle or laugh when the dog tries to bite. This will only confuse Fido. Instead make sure you are all firm and react in the same manner.
Step
3
Food puzzles
Your Pit Bull may be biting because they are simply bored. To remedy that, give them food puzzles and toys to play with when you aren’t around. Both will keep them distracted and content for hours.
Step
4
Cold shoulder
It’s important Fido knows biting will not get him what he wants. So turn your back to the dog whenever he bites. Don’t talk to him or stroke him until he has calmed down.
Step
5
Don’t scare them
Although being bitten can hurt and may make you angry, it’s important you don’t shout or scare Fido. This may only make your Pit Bull more aggressive and the problem worse. So while it can be difficult, stay calm and take control of the situation.
Recommend training method?

The Variety Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Vet checkup
Always remember the possibility of pain as a cause for biting. Arthritis, an injury, or undiagnosed dental pain can all be a reason for biting. Have the vet rule out any medical issues.
Step
2
Safe space
The next thing to do is to make sure the dog has their own private space they can escape to, such as a bed or crate. Their biting may be because they are getting wound up and over excited. So a safe space they can escape to can prove invaluable, especially if you have young children who may pester the pup.
Step
3
Learn body language
Dogs often display a certain stance when about to bite. Your Pit Bull may pin back his ears, narrow his eyes and keep his head straight forward. Once he bares his teeth and growls or snaps, a bite is likely to occur.
Step
4
Water spray
If you do catch your Pit Bull biting, rush over, give a firm ‘NO’ and a quick spray of water near their face. This will get them associating biting with negative consequences.
Step
5
Remove the dog
You can also take your dog by the collar and calmly remove them from the room until they have settled. You don’t want the biting to escalate. Just make sure you remain calm and don’t get angry.
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The Environment Method

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Step
1
Exercise
Pit Bull are large dogs with plenty of energy. Their biting may be because they are simply brimming over with energy and excitement. So take them for an extra or longer walk each day. If they spend their evenings napping, they won’t be biting anyone.
Step
2
Gentle play
Spend a few minutes each day playing calmly with Fido. Stroke them, lie there and whisper. You want to show them that you can spend time together without getting too worked up.
Step
3
Reward
Whenever the dog remains calm and lets you stroke them gently, hand over tasty rewards. This will get them associating calm play with positive consequences. Nothing motivates a Pit Bull more than food.
Step
4
Tug of war
Spend a few minutes each day playing tug of war. This can prove effective for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if your Pit Bull is a puppy, then they may be teething, which could lead to them biting, and an appropriate chewing outlet can offer some relief. Secondly, tug of war shows them when and where it is and isn’t acceptable to bite.
Step
5
Chew toy
As soon as the dog bites, get out a chew toy and encourage them to play around with that instead. Like the step above, this will help channel any aggression into a safe and secure toy instead of your hand or ankle.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Harley
Pit bull/ great dan
1 Year
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Question
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Harley
Pit bull/ great dan
1 Year

The other night he tried to attack my cat. My husband popped him on the hip. He came and laid beside me. My husband came in to move him and the dog started growling and acted like he was going to bite him. We love this dog but a little scared of him

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
914 Dog owners recommended

Hello Patti, I suggest hiring a professional trainer who specializes in aggression and behavior issues and comes well recommended by previous clients. It sounds like there is probably a combination of fear-aggression as a response to the pop on the hip, but there could also be some other types of aggression going on too. You would need someone to evaluate pup's body language and general demeanor around you and your husband to get an idea of how to proceed. I wouldn't wait to get help. When a dog displays aggression and it gets the dog what they want, they can quickly learn to continue acting aggressive to get what they want in the future. Getting into a direct confrontation with pup isn't a good route to go either though because it will likely lead to a bit. You need someone to help your husband desensitize pup to touch again, reestablish respect through the use of obedience commands, structure, boundaries, and having pup work for what he gets in life by having to preform a command first - like telling pup to Sit before petting him or Down before tossing a ball for example, opposed to physically using force. Some breeds have a strong defense drive, which will lead to them fight back instead of retreating when physically pressure is applied. It better to gain respect from these dogs through the use of intellect and structure. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Collies have been bred for hundreds of years to herd sheep. If you kick a soccer ball in front of a collie that’s never seen a sheep in its life, it will nonetheless less herd the soccer ball. Pitbulls have been bred for hundreds of years to be catch dogs. This means they were bred to chase down large animals and bite down on them until the hunter arrives to dispatch the poor victim. When a pitbull encounters another living thing, it’s instinct is to bite and kill it with its powerful jaws. Sure, you can train a collie not to herd and a pitbull not to bite and kill, but you always run the risk of the animal reverting back to its breeding-created instincts.

Yes, I had a beagle that was never used for hunting, and was an inside dog. Every chance she got to escape to the great outdoors she would take it, and make the classic beagle hunting sounds when "on the trail" of something she smelled. Dogs are not individuals as stand alone beings, they are products of genetic engineering over hundreds of years by humans. Breeds demonstrate traits they were bred for, not a difficult concept to understand, but difficult to accept for those ruled by "emotions" and having been subjected to pit bull propaganda and save them all. Are trainers who suggest one can manage aggressive behavior or even eliminate it willing to accept the consequences and liabilities of these recommendations should the outcome end badly? I think they should be held ACCOUNTABLE, along with the owners should all the "train the meanness" out of them not work out. Most trainers are no more than self proclaimed dog experts and Cesar Milan wannabes who would gladly put dogs before humans, let them suffer the consequences of their recommendations.

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Prince
Pit bull
1 Year
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Question
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Prince
Pit bull
1 Year

He just started trying to bite me & go at me when I try to remove his collar

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unknown
American Bulldog
8 Weeks
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Question
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unknown
American Bulldog
8 Weeks

she is very aggressive but sweet as well. When she is still teething so she likes to bite anything in site. Sometimes she gets confused with hands and fingers. She doesn’t like to be disciplined, if so she barks back and growls. Doesn’t listen to verbal direction ether. She can pee on the puppy pad but does not poop on it unless its where she’s at. Me and my mom are doing everything we can but it just doesn’t work. We also have a 1yr female cat. They do not like each other at all. Sometimes the dog is chasing the cat and then other times the cat is chasing the dog.

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Bud
Pit Bull poodle
3 Years
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Question
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Bud
Pit Bull poodle
3 Years

Bud is weird dog who is only aggressive to other that he hasn't know a lot in his young live I'm guessing he has bite family not breaking skin yet so I wanna know how to stop him before he goes to far he is nice to everybody at the house and 1 friend we do play with him but he only nibbles us he has never but us hard he just really aggressive with other dogs and people

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
914 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brandon, The answer to your question depends a lot on pup's overall behavior around family and the specifics of pup's aggression toward strangers. The aggression could be due to a lack of socialization and thus fearfulness or suspicion. It could be that pup is resource guarding people - like his family, around strangers - which it a respect issue more so. There could also be something genetic or a past trauma that's resulted in the aggression. Without being able to evaluate pup and their history more, I cannot offer a lot of insight. Check out Thomas from the Canine Educator to learn more about aggression in general. I suggest hiring a trainer to work with you in person to address the aggression. Look for someone who comes well recommended by previous clients and specializes in behavior issues and aggression - not all trainers do. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Benji
pitbull
2 Years
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Question
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Benji
pitbull
2 Years

We love Benji,we adopted him from a foster family. He was a stray. Now that he is comfortable in the house, he has taken to eating clothing. We try to not leave clothes on floor. What is most concerning is that we cannot have company over. He growls and barks at our nieces. He has even nipped at 2 young kids in our family. We have immediately corrected and caged him. Not sure what else to do. But we are worried he may hurt someone.

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

Thank you for the question. I'm not sure how long you have had Benji, but I am assuming it is not that long. I agree that this issue has to be dealt with as it may only become worse the more comfortable that Benji becomes. Perhaps the foster family did not have him around young children and therefore, the behavior was not evident. I can point you toward an excellent guide that may help, all of the methods are good: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-attack-strangers. Please read the guide in its entirety. You can try these training methods in the interim but I really think that one on one training with a trainer who has experience working with aggressive dogs is essential. The safety of anyone who comes over is the most important. I suggest you look for a trainer in your area - it is best for you and for Benji. This site also has helpful videos and possible online support. https://robertcabral.com/. Good luck!

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Question
Zuri
Pit bull
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Zuri
Pit bull
2 Months

My little lady bits on everything. Of course she is teething, however, at time she get to rough and I want to make sure to nip that in the bud asap, but in a positive way. I want her to know love and not be aggressive.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
914 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carlotta, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when she attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Out command from the second article linked below to make her leave the area as a consequence. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The Out method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just playing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area, is also a good command for you to use if pup bites the kids. Check out the section on Using Out to Deal with Pushy Behavior for how to calmly enforce that command once it's taught. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Right now, an outside class may be best in a fenced area, or letting friends' pups play in someone's fence outside. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, she probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help her calm down and rest. Practicing regular obedience commands or having pup earn what they get by performing commands like Sit and Down before feeding, petting, tossing a toy, opening the door for a walk, ect... can also help stimulate pup mentally to increase calmness and wear them out. Commands that practice focus, self-control, and learning something a bit new or harder than before can all tire out puppies. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
chula
bitbull
2 Months
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Question
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chula
bitbull
2 Months

how do i get her to stop biting and to stay calm

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
234 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Rocky
Pit bull
8 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rocky
Pit bull
8 Weeks

he bites all the time. and doesn’t listen to anything. but mainly the biting. he’s teething but when we play he’s also bites or growls if we try to take it away

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
234 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Nero
Pit bull
14 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Nero
Pit bull
14 Months

My dog does not like other dogs

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
914 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nikita, I recommend looking for a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, which is a class for dog reactive/aggressive dogs, where all the dogs are intensively socialized while wearing basket muzzles. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tigre
Pit bull
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Tigre
Pit bull
3 Months

He’s been biting a lot, like really really hard. He’s really aggressive, he doesn’t wanna cooperate with our potty training methods (we’ve been using puppy pads). Any paper he finds he eats and he has ripped 2 beds open already and even went as far as to rip our mattress.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
914 Dog owners recommended

Hello Bethanny, check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. At the same time however, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. The order or all of this is very important - the bite inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. For the chewing, check out the article below. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ If you plan to train pup to go potty outside as an adult and your schedule will allow it, I do recommend teaching pup to go potty outside and simply skipping pee pads altogether, crate training pup, or using a combination or the Crate Training method and the Tethering method from the article below. Crate Training method and Tethering method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If your schedule won't allow you to take pup outside to go potty everytime, I recommend following the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below. If you plan to take pup potty outside to go potty as an adult, I recommend using disposable real grass pads instead of pee pads as well, to help pup make the transition from indoor potty training to outside potty training and have less accidents on thigns like rugs, which can resemble pee pads. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Disposable real grass pad brands - amazon often as well: www.freshpatch.com www.doggielawn.com www.porchpotty.com Check out this free PDF e-book AFTER You Get Your Puppy, which also covers many of the issues you are needing help with. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rhea
Pit bull
6 Months
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Question
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Rhea
Pit bull
6 Months

She always wants to bite and hard even when no one wants to play exspecially with my roommate

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
914 Dog owners recommended

Hello Erin, Is pup biting playfully for attention, or due to true aggression? If the issue is true aggression, I highly recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues and comes well recommended by their previous clients to help you in person. If the issue is puppy mouthing, trying to get attention or play, I would work on teaching a few commands to help pup with self-control, and give pup some more structure. Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Addressing overall attitude - building trust and respect gently: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Example of an older dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcwvUOf5oOg Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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