How to Train a Pit Bull to Not Run Away

Medium
4-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You are out on a walk with your Pit Bull and their leash slips out of your hand. Off they go like a shot, sprinting down the sidewalk away from you. Panicked, you call and call their name but there's no convincing them to turn around now. Whether your pup is scared or just thrilled with the idea of freedom, the act of running away turns into its own reward. But you know, now that your dog is off-leash, they are in danger. Training your Pit Bull to not run away is the only sure method of ensuring your furry friend stays safe.

Defining Tasks

There are a couple of aspects of teaching your Pit Bull not to run away. One of the crucial parts of training this behavior is limiting the temptations to run off. Create a familiar environment for your pup, give them lots of social interaction with other dogs, and make sure your Pit gets plenty of exercise. Pit Bull are social and energetic dogs, so they may run off simply for a bit of fun. You should also make sure you always reward your dog for returning to you, even if you are annoyed at them. While your instinct may be to yell at your dog for scaring you, all that teaches them is that coming back from fun time running around means punishment. Coming when called always merits a big reward.

Getting Started

Figure out what most motivates your Pit Bull. Some dogs are mainly food-driven, while others will learn quickly only getting physical praise as a reward. Be patient with your pup during this process. Incorporate fun games and play into your training sessions. The idea with any of these training methods is to have your dog associate you with fun and safety. Positivity and patience are the keys to training your Pit Bull not to run away.

The Reliable Recall Method

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Step
1
Gather some special treats
You want to start off this method by showing your dog that something really good happens when they answer the "come" command. Your pup may already be familiar with this command. However, for a reliable recall to work even when your Pit Bull is making a break for it, you will need extra practice.
Step
2
Associate the word with the good reward
To teach your dog that "come" means good stuff, simply say the word and give your dog a treat. Do this several times, and your dog will start to get really excited and move towards you whenever they hear the word "come."
Step
3
Hold off the treat until they actually obey
Choose a small room in your house without major distractions. Say the command "come" once in a firm voice. When your Pit Bull starts coming towards you, say "good." Once they reach you, give them the treat and some love.
Step
4
Add distance and distractions
Keep practicing the 'come' command from further and further away. The more confident you are with your Pit Bull's ability with the word 'come', the more distractions you should allow into your training environment. Once you're fairly confident in your dog's ability with the 'come' command, move to an outside area with your dog on a long leash.
Step
5
Practice off-leash
Starting in an enclosed yard, use the 'come' command without a leash. If your dog comes to you, give them a big reward and tell them what a great pup they are. It is important to practice this command often off-leash because that is the situation where the 'come' command will be most important.
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The Distance 'Down' Method

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Step
1
Brush up on the basic 'down' command
One of the first commands most dogs learn is "down." Your Pit Bull may already be an expert in lying down on command, or they may not. Either way, brush up on the 'down' command before beginning this method.
Step
2
Work on speed
With your Pit Bull on a leash and a treat in your hand, run backwards away from your dog and hype them up by sounding as excited as you can. Once your dog is properly running, say "down" suddenly and firmly while lowering the treat to the floor. Only give your pup the reward when they are fully in the 'down' position. Practice lying down at high speed several times before moving on to the next step.
Step
3
Teach your dog to lie down from a distance
Tether your Pit Bull using a flat collar or a harness, nothing that will constrict on their throat or cause discomfort. Then, give the 'down' command from as far away as you can while still letting your dog succeed. In the beginning, this may be less than a foot. Your dog probably understands "down" as "come over here and lay down near me" so it may take a few tries to get them to lay down from a distance.
Step
4
Reward your pup for listening
When your Pit Bull lies down, walk back over to them and give them a treat. You may want to say "stay" before moving towards your dog to maintain the position. If your dog stands back up before you get back to them, give the 'down' command again. Only reward your dog when they are in the 'down' position.
Step
5
Add in more distance
Keep practicing the 'distance down' from farther and farther away. While it is a little inconvenient to hike back over to your dog each time to reward them, make sure you continue to do so.
Step
6
Try doing an off-leash 'distance down'
In an enclosed area, let your Pit Bull off the leash. Your dog will probably run around, excitedly. Let them have a bit of fun and then issue the 'down' command. Ideally, your dog will drop to the ground immediately. If not, be patient and keep practicing with the tether and leash until they consistently lie down off-leash.
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The Emergency Recall Method

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Step
1
Get a referee whistle or a dog whistle
If you have a dog who consistently runs off and you haven't had much success, training an emergency recall can help give you peace of mind. Emergency recall involves the use of some form of whistle, which can carry farther than your voice.
Step
2
Connect the whistle with something good
To start off, blow the whistle and give your dog a treat. You want to use a high-value reward, such as roasted chicken, that your Pit Bull only gets when you blow the whistle.
Step
3
Take a few steps away from your dog
Put some distance between you and your Pit Bull and blow the whistle. When your dog starts moving towards you, say "good." Wait until your dog comes all the way to you before giving them the treat.
Step
4
Build up your distance
Add more and more space between you and your dog, requiring them to come longer distances to get their reward. Try practicing with distractions as well, such as other people in the room, or outside with your dog on a leash.
Step
5
Go fully off-leash
Just as with the other methods, the final step to proofing your emergency recall is to try blowing the whistle outside with your Pit Bull off-leash. Remember to always start out off-leash training in an enclosed area until you are fully confident your recall method works consistently.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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