The Pittie personality is loving, comedic, and full of energy. That energy can often be hard to harness while on-leash, making them a difficult dog to walk if not properly trained. Coupled with their solid and strong bodies, you may find yourself being walked where your dog wants to go. The following training tips will help make sure that your Pit Bull doesn’t pull on the leash, putting you back in control of your walks.
#1 – Start Young
As soon as you bring your Pit Bull home, start leash training. This includes just an eight-week old pup. The sooner you instill those good leash manners, the better. Why wait until he has developed muscle and mass to train him when you can do it while you are still stronger?
#2 – Practice Attention
Pitties love life and experience it to the fullest – it’s one of the things we love about them! But, it can also cause them to want to pull you…everywhere. Maybe they want to greet a stranger, play with a dog or even just to smell the roses. A key to stopping this behavior is to keep your Pittie focused on you during a walk. Working on looking at you when you say her name, offering eye contact without a cue, “leave it” and “drop” are important to leash training.
#3 – Teach Self-Control
Any dog breed with energy is going to be trouble on-leash if they have not been taught to contain all that energy when necessary. Pit Bulls can definitely be energetic, especially when they are young. Teaching self-control can help keep them calm and cool while on a walk. “Stay,” “go to bed,” (mat-stay behavior), sitting for a toy/food/petting, etc., are all good ways to work on self-control.
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#4 – Reward Correct Positioning
Dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced, so the more you reinforce him for being in that spot, the more he will do it. It’s as simple as that! So, whenever your Pit Bull is in heel position – walking nicely by your side with a loose leash – be sure you are rewarding him. You can even turn this into a game – something Pitties love – by trying to move away from your dog and seeing if he stays with you off-leash in your house or in your backyard. Start off easy and get faster/tighter turns as your dog learns the game. Rewards can be anything he likes, including treats, praise, toys, etc. As long as your Pit Bull likes it, it’s a reward.
#5 – Don’t Let Pulling Be Reinforced
As mentioned above, dogs do what gets reinforced. If your Pit Bull pulls on the leash and gets what he wants (to sniff that bush, to greet that person, to play with that dog) then he will continue to do it and it will get worse. Instead, if you feel your Pittie start to pull you in one direction, you can plant your feet and not move, waiting until he returns to you. Or, if he is stronger than you, turn and walk the opposite way. Once he is walking next to you nicely, you can go the way he wanted to. This teaches your Pit Bull that if he wants to go somewhere, he has to keep that leash loose.