The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and do not necessarily represent the views of Val Heart & Heart Communication Enterprises Inc. This article was previously published February 22, 2017, and was updated on May 30, 2022.
The first 12 weeks of life are the most important for the development of your Pit bull puppy.
I know that your puppy is cute and you’re bound to think that everything he does is funny and entertaining, but it is important to understand that you have a very short window of opportunity to train your dog, give him the best food and properly socialize him before that cute little puppy becomes Dogzilla, and begins to destroy your home, and cause you much frustration.
Start training your puppy right away.
In these first 4-6 weeks don’t let strangers scare your pit bull puppy. If your pup becomes fearful of strangers you will have a hard time socializing him and he may grow up not trusting strangers. Do not nurture any fearful or anxious behavior. For example, if your pup gets scared and runs behind you do not reward this behavior by petting the pup and telling him everything is all right. This will reward your pup for being scared and he will learn that fearful and anxious behavior is ok. Give praise and treats when he is doing what you want, ie, sit, stay, come, down. Ignore and walk away from, fearfulness, jumping, barking, etc. Your pup will hate having you walk away and turn your back, he will do anything for your attention.
Your new pup will almost certainly have a few nights where he is getting used to the idea that he no longer has his mother and litter mates to make him feel secure.
You will no doubt have to put up with a few nights of crying and whining – after all, he is only a baby. Have patience and don’t go to your pup when he is in this state of mind; this will only reward him and make this a nightly thing for a long time. This sleep-robbing behavior usually stops after a few days. Make sure your pup is in a crate for the first two weeks while you are house breaking him. This will prevent him from peeing and pooping on the floor in the night.
Your pit bull puppy will start to do those cute things that a lot of people find entertaining to watch.
Like tugging on your pants leg, or jumping up on your legs when you walk or move around. Don’t allow this to continue. You must disagree with this by ignoring the pup, and train him to sit when he comes to you. Having the ‘sit’ as your default command will ensure your dog’s good behavior. There are a lot of things your dog can’t do when sitting.
Make training fun for you fuzzy faced little friend by playing games and rewarding your dog for good behavior, not just during training but throughout the day.
If you look over and your pup is lying down chewing on his stuffed toy, go to him and praise him. Give him a treat and tell him what a good boy he is being. Most people don’t notice the good behavior that their dogs display and only get interested in what they are doing when the behavior is unwanted. Even the most problem dogs are good 95% of the time. So reward the good behavior when ever you see your dog doing what you like.
You will want to teach your pup what they CAN chew on.
Puppies need to chew on something and if you don’t provide a chew toy for them they will find things for themselves, ie, your cell phone, remote control, your favorite shoes, or the leg on the coffee table. Use your dog’s chew toy as a play reward, tug, or fetch. This will make your pup love chewing on the toy, and not your other stuff.
Loud and sudden noises can send your pup into a tail spin of fear.
It is important to socialize your pup to loud and sudden noises. Start small, like drop a can of beans on the floor, then when your pup is used to this sudden sound, make it louder and more startling, ie, turn the stereo on with the volume setting up high – not so high as to hurt the dog’s sensitive ears, but you get the idea. You may want to take your pup to the fair, and you don’t want him running away at the first crack of fireworks.
To ensure your pup will grow up liking strange people and children, you should have many strangers play with, feed, and train your pit bull puppy.
You could have puppy parties where you invite a lot of people and children to come and bring their dogs so you can teach your pup that when there are people and dogs around everything is fun and he gets a lot of treats from people he don’t know.
When training your pup you will want to have a lot of patience.
A pup has a very limited attention span, and it is important to be consistent with your methods of training. For example if you are training your pup to sit, and you tell him to sit, and he turns and runs to another room of the house, you’ve got to stay with it until your pup is sitting. If you let your pup get away with not obeying you he will learn that all he has to do to stop training is to walk away.
Keep training sessions short.
Five minutes are plenty to begin with. Make sure you have reward treats at the ready, and teach the entire family the same commands that you use or your pup will only get confused. Practice everyday.
Pit bulls have gotten a bad reputation for aggression, but when you take the time to train and properly socialize this breed, they are gentle, loving and make a wonderful family pet.
They are guard dogs by nature and you will need to have control over them at all times. If you are considering getting a pit bull puppy then do your research and make sure you understand what to do to provide a balanced and healthy lifestyle for you and your pit bull puppy.