Taming an aggressive Pitty pup? This might be an intimidating task, but with patience and the right approach, that doggo will yield to your TLC. As paw-rents, our goal is to have a loveable and kind dog. But for some reasons like poor breeding or violence, our pups tend to develop aggression. But as much as this behavior is formed, it can also be re-shaped into something positive. We only have to know how to train an aggressive Pitbull puppy.
Pitbulls can be friendly, loyal, and clingy pets. But to enjoy their affection, you have to do your part as the pet owner. You have to train them as early as possible to dampen their negative behavior.
For first-time Pitbull owners, this can be an unchartered territory. From someone who also went through the same phase, you don’t have to worry. There are lots of resources you can use and help that you can tap to guide you through.
On this post, I’ll share my personal insights and tips on how to turn that aggressive pup into the most adorable doggo.
Why is the dog aggressive in the first place?
First off, we have to point out the cause of aggression.
For Pitbulls, there are two possible reasons: their bloodline or their prior experiences.
When it comes to the bloodline, training can be really challenging. You’re fighting against genetic makeup here, and if you want to succeed, you need the help of a professional trainer.
As you know, Pitbulls are initially bred for blood sports. The aggressive genes can be passed on to puppies during breeding. If it happens that you got a pup from an unreliable breeder, you’d have to deal with problematic behavior.
Another fix for a bloodline-related aggression is to neuter the pooch. With lower hormonal imbalances, your Pitty should be more laid back and toned down. Still, knowing how to train aggressive Pitbulls is required to fully shape their behavior.
As for experienced-related aggression, there’s a chance that rescue Pitties would be suffering from this. If you’re adopting, the rescue center should advise you of the pooch’s temperament. This will give you an idea of where to start with training. Remember, however, that even rescue dogs can have bloodline-related aggression.
Understanding Pitbull temperament
Naturally, Pitbulls are assertive and confident. Still, this doesn’t mean they are innately aggressive. Usually, Pitties become aggressive when their territorial behavior is fueled. The negative behavior also thrives under anxiety and fear.
Take note that Pitbulls are more likely to be aggressive against other dogs than to humans. Nevertheless, it’s still important to rule out this harsh behavior or it will start to cause problems within the neighborhood and your insurance company.
Knowing how to train an aggressive Pitbull puppy is more than just instilling discipline within your household.
You should observe how your dog behaves under certain circumstances. For example, if he’s scared of your cat, it may likely turn into aggression if you don’t do anything about it. Your Pitty should be watchful, confident, and curious but never jumpy and edgy.
If you want to remove the aggression on your Pitbull, subject him to obedience training the moment you bring him home. An untrained dog is a ticking time bomb. Know how to train aggressive Pitbulls by contacting dog obedience schools and organizations. You have the option to either train the pooch at home or enroll him on a formal training school.
Remember, you’re trying to fight aggression here. Always practice positive reinforcement. Any harsh or violent response like punishments and shouting will only fuel the problem.
Be the alpha
Dogs are pack animals. This means that they look up to a member as their alpha. Based on the dominance theory, you, as the pet owner, can be the alpha. But how will you do it? By being in control of his food, toys, and access to parts of the house, your Pitty will start to recognize you as the upper hand.
Teach your pooch that he’s not allowed on the sofa or he has to sit first before he can eat. These little actions will define who runs the house.
However, this isn’t meant for you to boss around. You should allow your pooch some freedom to explore only if he’s disciplined enough.
This is the number one prerogative for owning a Pitbull. You have to socialize this breed so they can grow as friendly and loving dogs. Since they have the tendency to be aggressive and territorial against other dogs, it’s best to let them mingle with other pooches. You can send him to a training school where dozens of other doggos are present.
Walking your new pup in a dog park is a big risk. If you’re not skilled in breaking dogfights, you should stick to obedience schools first.
Pitbulls need more socialization than any other breeds. If you’ve done socialization on your other dogs, you have to double it once you decide to own a Pitbull.
Sending your dog to obedience schools
For owners who want to give their dogs a jumpstart in training, obedience school is the way to go. Puppyhood is a very delicate phase for Pitbulls. This is the time where they develop fears and aggression. You only want to do training the right away; otherwise, you will be hard-wiring negative behavior that will manifest at a later age.
Dog schools have licensed trainers skilled in dealing with aggressive dogs.
Personally, I recommend that you enroll your pooch on the American Kennel Club’s Good Canine Citizenship Program. This is the best training program for a number of reasons.
First, this is a solid starting point for your pooch. The training also includes teaching dog owners how to deal with specific behavioral problems. So when it’s time for you to take over, you’ll know how to train an aggressive Pitbull puppy.
Next, some insurance companies recognize the AKC’s Good Canine Citizenship Certificate as an exemption on their no-dangerous breed rule. It can also be your ticket to a landlord who’s skeptical about your choice of pet.
Most Pitbull pups would likely develop aggression on the most mundane things. If your pooch barks and bites the vacuum, you should let him get used to the appliance’s presence. Leave the vacuum around. After that, start turning the vacuum on for a few seconds. Start with the lowest intensity and then increase it slowly. Soon enough, your dog will realize that the vacuum is just part of your daily living and it’s not worth the ruckus.
The same goes for the doorbell, the people around, the other dogs, and other fears your doggo might have. Knowing how to train aggressive Pitbulls can be tricky but, if done right, should serve its purpose.
It’s not enough that your pooch develops tolerance towards the aggression-inducing stimuli you desensitize him with. After you successfully performed the previous point, it’s time to counter condition the pooch.
Counterconditioning is the process of helping your dog develop positive associations with different aggression-inducing stimuli.
You know what’s the trick here? Endless petting. Pitbulls love physical affection and if you pet them in the presence of their “enemies”, they will start to associate this thing to the reward whenever when they are exposed to it.
Make sure that you do this while your Pitty is on a leash. You’ll never know when too much excitement and aggression can take over.
Aggressive Pitties may look intimidating, but they only need more love to soften up. Slowly, get the pooch used to physical stimulation like petting or hugging. Slow your roll on this one to prevent the dog from feeling like you’re invading his bubble.
As you socialize him, teach him to be accepting of strangers’ petting. This will make the Pitbull a friendly dog in the future. Knowing how to train an aggressive Pitbull puppy should always include this.
Aside from this kind of physical stimulation, you should also satisfy the pooch’s activity requirement. Take him to long walks, play fetch with the pooch, and make sure that he’s tired at the end of the day. As they say, a tired dog is a happy dog.
The moment the Pitbull associated your presence with fun and exploration, he will start to be nicer to you. You become the alpha in this situation.
Once your Pitty can respond well to most of your commands, you can take time to hiking, swimming, and more outdoor adventures. You can also bike and let the pooch run on your side.
How about rescued fighting Pitbulls?
Back in 2007, NFL star player Michael Vick pleaded guilty to a federal felony case after authorities discovered a dogfighting ring inside his Virginia property. About 51 Pitbulls were rescued from Vick’s property, some in a much-emaciated condition.
A majority of the rescued dogs were abused, tortured, and forced to fight each other. Those that are yet to be subjected to the same torture witness the violence other dogs went through.
Out of the 51 Pitbulls, 47 were sent to rescue centers and recovery sanctuaries. Some of these dogs are now adopted by their new families and living a happy life as family dogs. Some even became therapy dogs!
So you ask me, can rescued Pitbulls be trained to be non-aggressive? With professional help, these aggressive pooches can turn into total sweethearts.
So stop believing people saying that a dog’s past determines its ability to be a family pet. Like humans, abused dogs can be reformed with tender love and care. It’s all about knowing how to train aggressive Pitbulls.
Why you should never use punishment
Pitbulls are very sensitive dogs. They share the same stubborn temperament with that of Huskies which means they don’t thrive on a highly assertive nature.
If you punish a Pitbull for misbehavior, it would only develop anxiety that will start to border into aggression over a short period.
Instead, utilize positive reinforcement. A pet owner doesn’t have to be a dog expert to know that positive reinforcement is the single way of getting your dog to follow commands.
Use treats and affection to encourage your pooch to practice discipline and restraint. Make sure that the treats are easy to eat like kibble and soft chews. Reserve the jerkies and other tough treats at the end of the training session.
Always use a leash
Remember that Pitbulls’ energetic nature and aggression aren’t a good mix. Always leash your pooch during training and when socializing them. Prefer a short leash with a thick material which will last long. Leashing will ensure that you are in control of your pooch’s movement. If he starts to act harshly, you can pull him away to keep him back on track.
Aside from the leash, ensure that you’re using a harness instead of a collar. Since aggressive Pitties are pullers, regular collars can injure their neck and trachea. Knowing how to train aggressive Pitbulls should include safety at all cost.
Also, some neighborhoods require the likes of Pitbulls to be leashed every time it’s brought in public.
Remember: never use shock collars when training aggressive Pitbulls. This form of punishment will defeat the purpose of obedience training.
The leash is also a way to protect your pooch from other dogs. Some Pitbulls don’t have the ability to defend themselves against bigger dogs. With that, do the pooch a favor and leash him all the time
Don’t rush them with the kids
If you have a toddler or baby in the house, never force domestication with the aggressive Pitbull. You’d want to ensure that the doggo is already well-disciplined, affectionate, and way past his aggressive behavior.
Since toddlers have sudden movements, aggressive Pitties might see this as a threat. It will both be dangerous for both the child and the dog to co-exist at this point in time.
It’s best to seek professional training if you have a child at home. This way, you will have peace of mind that your Pitbull will be more of a protector than a threat.
Knowing how to train an aggressive Pitbull puppy is a challenging task. But if you’re willing to extend your patience and love, these hostile doggos can become one of the sweetest canines you can ever have.