Pitbulls have gained a bad reputation in recent years. With the press focusing on pitbull attacks and underground dog fighting, it’s no wonder that people are afraid of pitbulls and treat them as untrainable, violent animals. This is all very unfortunate because the truth is that pitbulls can indeed be trained to be gentle, loving pets. In short, pitbulls are really not that different most other dogs, and learning how to train a pitbull is rarely any different from learning how to train other dogs.
First of all, you need to be mindful of a pitbull’s size. Although they’re not the largest breed of dogs out there, pitbulls have been bred to be solid and strong, and they can do some damage if they jump up on someone too much. Pitbulls are not lap dogs, so one of the first things you should do is teach them not to jump up on people. This should be taught to the pitbull when he or she is still a puppy before jumping up on people becomes a bad habit.
As with most dogs, you should start training a pitbull with simple, one-word commands. Of course, the most important and useful command will be a firm “No!” when your pitbull tries to do something he or she isn’t supposed to do. Other simple commands include “sit,” “stay” and “come,” much like commands given to most dogs. Always use positive reinforcement for these commands when your dog obeys them with treats and praise. Avoid negative reinforcement whenever possible. Pitbulls are big, powerful dogs, so they can withstand rougher handling than most smaller dogs, but this doesn’t mean that you should handle a pitbull roughly. Pitbulls are reactive by nature, so punishing a pitbull too roughly or too often will only cause him or her to be fearful and wary of you and other people.
The most important thing to remember about pitbulls is that they aren’t vicious by nature. They are actually very intelligent, loving dogs that make great pets when they are treated well. Like almost any dog, a pitbull can be trained, so you should never be afraid to train one and keep it as a pet.