Pitbull Training Tips
Pitbull training tips for a reactive dog
We have had Ruger since he was about 9 weeks old. He was so small and my husband looked at him and said "he's gonna be bad" LOL! He is our new addition as we have 6 year old APBT.
Ruger has been the bane of our existence! I have spoiled Ruger from day one as our son is 11 y/o and I was craving "baby-ness". So now we have this 50 pound semi-aggressive pup.
He is good with our kids and us but watches outside and barks at everyone. We walk him 3 miles a day. He is aggressive towards other dogs, certain people, skateboards, motorcycles, running children, birds, people on bikes...etc.
We are looking for some tips on training. He will sit, high five, come and "up" onto things. However, stay or lay down or no barking or leave it is a huge problem! Any tips?
This reminds me of something I read on the Pit Bull Rescue Central website: "Pit bulls are a little bit more of everything a dog can be". That is to say--more affectionate, more mischievous, more adorable and more of a pain in the you-know-what.
So if I'm understanding you correctly, you spoiled Ruger when he was little. And now, at six months and 50 lbs, he's a bit out-of-control. He decides which commands to follow and which to ignore. And that, along with his reactivity to moving objects is causing you some concern.
'Spoiling' is one of those catch-all words that can mean different things to different people. Since you didn't specify, I'm going to make some assumptions that you're free to correct if I'm wrong. I imagine that what you mean by spoiling is that you let him get away with things and perhaps indulged his whims.
Here's my take on spoiling--it's ok as long as it's on your terms, not your dog's. Let's say Ruger decides he wants to cuddle. He comes up lays his head on your lap and gives you that 'pet me please' look. What do you do?
Now, with some dogs--including many pibbles-indulging them doesn't create a problem. But if you have a 'pushy pittie', every time you comply with his 'requests' you are actually reinforcing his pushiness.
In that case, it would be time for a minor course correction. In the above example, instead of Ruger deciding when you will pet him, you need to be the one to decide. In other words, when you want to pet him, call him to you. Ignore attempts on his part to be petted on demand.
If this is the kind of thing you have going on, it won't be easy. But, be strong! Your reward will be a dog that comes to understand that you are the boss--not him. A great little booklet that is a quick read and one I regularly recommend is :How to be the Leader of the Pack - and Have Your Dog Love You for It!
Establishing yourself in the leadership role is especially important as you have a multi-dog household. And, you will probably find that everything--including obedience training--gets a little bit easier.
Realizing that you are in charge (so he doesn't have to be), you may notice that Ruger's reactivity lessens. But, if he continues to display pseudo-aggressive behavior, you'll need to address that. It's the kind of thing that could land him in trouble down the road.
If you decide to enlist professional help for that, look for a trainer or behaviorist who understands classical counter-conditioning. Alternatively, you can learn the techniques yourself. In my opinion, the best book on this subject is: Click to Calm - Healing the Aggressive Dog
As far as obedience training goes, I'm partial to clicker dog training
. But, there are lots of good programs out there. Victoria Stillwell's materials are also excellent.
Good luck and feel free to post back with more questions or to let us know how things are going.
For more information on obedience training, check out our pit bull training
For help with behavioral issues, visit our dog behavior training