If I had a nickel every time someone said Pit Bulls are hard to train, hard or dominant, need a “forceful hand” or need to be “shown who’s boss” I wouldn’t be writing this article right now because I would be lying on a beach in the Caribbean somewhere.
Pit Bulls are not hard to train if you start off on the right foot. As a professional dog trainer who works with different breeds including the American Pit Bull Terrier I can say without flinching the blame falls squarely on the owners shoulders.
Before we continue with this article the most important thing you will ever learn about dog training is you are not training your dog but instead you are training yourself to understand the concepts of training so that you can better communicate with your dog.
In other words, you are in training not your dog. Once you understand how to show your dog something you want them to do the rest is easy as pie. Obviously the more complicated the behavior the harder it will be to communicate what you want to your dog and this is where positive dog training works better than any other method out there.
Why are Positive Training Methods Effective?
The short answer would be because it is hard to make a serious mistake as with other forms of dog training. The long answer would be because you are working with your dog and learning to communicate to them effectively by developing an understanding of canine learning and how to show your dog what you want in an easy, stress free manner.
Positive training is effective because your dog is not under a great amount of stress and is not “pressured” into shutting down, avoiding you, or becoming afraid. Positive training is also effective because you are learning how to communicate with your dog and that is the key to making any training method successful.
Positive training is fun, exciting, challenging, and the pay off for those who stick with it is much greater than the people I call “McDonalds” owners. Or people who want fast food results when training their dog. Fast food results are not possible with dog training because dogs are animals and it takes time to teach them.
Positive methods are easier to use for most people and as I said in the first paragraph positive training is hard to mess up.
Do I Have to Use Clickers and Treats or Other Tools Forever?
No. As with all forms of training you want to phase out their use and only use them to teach a new behavior or to polish up an old behavior. Once the dog understands the behavior you can stop using the clicker and treats. You will always want to periodically reward the dog with a high value reward to ensure the dog retains the behavior.
You might here trainers knocking Clicker (or marker training as it is sometimes called) and saying it doesn’t work or you will have to have the clicker or the treats all the time or any number of other lies. They are doing this to sell you their training information and that is the bottom line.
There is not a dog on earth that can not be trained using marker/clicker training and that includes deaf and blind dogs! I know a blind and deaf dog that is trained and obeys sit, down, come, wait, lie on their side, walk loose, and heel. The dog was born deaf and blind and is trained with touches from the hand and can respond to vibrations (stomping the feet) for coming when called.
Deaf dogs can be trained using a light flash for the click. Hand signals are also highly effective and I have worked and trained deaf dogs in obedience to above average levels using these methods.
I’m not bragging on myself I’m pointing out positive methods work because they work with the dog and not against the dog.
Once your dog understands the behavior then phase out the clicks/markers and rewards.
I also suggest you integrate the behaviors into everyday life to keep them sharp and fresh. Sit for food, sit for being let out, wait to go up and down steps etc…
Positive Pit Bull Training Summary
Pit Bulls are ready to please their people. This is a breed trait and this makes teaching them things easier. That doesn’t mean they will learn something over night or be an obedience champ within a week. That means when you understand how to communicate in a positive manner with your dog they will be ready to learn.
Every form, method, technique, tool, and behavior starts with your understanding of the form, method, technique tool and behavior. If you are unsure, unclear, use the tool wrong, use 10 different methods 5 different ways, and can’t decide on a technique then your dog will be unclear, confused and will show your lack of knowledge and consistency.
A dog that performs “sometimes” is trained by a person who requires their dog to succeed “sometimes.” Positive methods are by far the most advanced methods for dog training and the best part is no matter how hard you try you can not screw your dog up by making mistakes.
If you use a prong collar and corrections you can mess up your dog by correcting at the wrong time. Correcting to hard or not correcting hard enough. Positive methods eliminate these types of mistakes altogether.
I guarantee if you learn how to use positive training methods like clicker/marker training and you understand the why’s and how’s of it you will be able to teach your Pit Bull more effectively than ever.