Tuesday, February 3, 2009

PitBull Training Advice

If you have ever owned a pitbull then you know just how stubborn they can be. Pits are extremely smart and enjoy a challenge. These are generally good traits when it comes to training, but with pits you need to pay extra attention to their need to be challenged. They get bored quickly, so keep this mind when you put together your training strategy.

Marker Training

Lots of people like to talk about dog psychology and the philosophy behind different techniques. I'm just going to share some of the things that have worked with Dakota. I highly recommend starting with basic obedienceusing markers. Pits are stubborn and seemingly immune to pain.  Correction based training (yank and crank) has prove futile with Dakota. She has responded much better to marker training.

The basic idea behind marker training is to mark the moment your dog does something you like with a word or sound followed by a treat.  Some people like to use clickers, but I prefer to just use the word 'yes' since I won't always have a clicker with me.  Dakota loves the RedBarn Beef Rollswhich can be cut up in to small 1/4 inch pieces to use as the reward for doing something you like. I highly recommend you checkout this video on basic obedience:

Fun and Games

Keep in mind that pits are very smart and will get bored easily.  You need to keep your training sessions very short (1-2 minutes).  Also, be sure to change it up and find ways to have fun.  Dakota loves to play 'find it'.  It's challenging and keeps her entertained for a few minutes.

To play, show your dog the toy and ask her "Is this it?"  You are trying to get her to smell the object you are going to ask her to find.  Once she smells it and/or mouths it a bit, make her sit and stay then hide to toy.  Go stand next to your dog and tell her "good stay."  Wait a moment and then release her with the command "find it!"

It may take some encouragement and guidance the first times, but they generally catch on fairly quick.  Try playing it with a treat if your dog doesn't respond well to its toy.  This exercise is the foundation for search and rescue work. Search and Rescue Dogs: Training the K-9 Hero, Second Editionis a classic book on training search rescue.

Dakota also loves to swim.  We don't have a pool, but we can still have fun with a kids play pool.  Sometimes Dakota will just play in the water on her own, but we really like to make her go scuba diving.  Check her out:


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