Training and Socializing Your APBT
Puppy The Patch O' Pits Way
By Patch O' Pits ©
(Please do not copy this without permission)
The breeder who brought the pups into the world actually are "supposed to" be doing training and socialization starting at birth. Though of course training and socialization are life long ventures, there are critical imprinting stages that occur early on in a pup's life. Sadly there are so many BYBs, (irresponsible backyard breeders), out there that doesn't always happen. Rescues don't always have the amount of time or staff to keep on top of this, making it so important to get those pups into foster homes or better yet permanent ones asap.This also makes it extremely important for new owners to be right on top of doing it.
These are actually just some of the things I do with all my new pups. Owners of APBTs need to be more vigilant than any other dog owner in showing off the good in their pup at all times. It is a HUGE responsibility.
I hope you find this helpful!
* The P's to Puppy Training
are all very important aspects in working with a pup at any age.
I want to start out by saying that I think little kids really help with socializing pups the best. After all, they make strange noises, often pet in awkward ways, smell funny hehehe so I always borrow some from my family and neighbors since I don't have any of my own! When working pups around children remember to ALWAYS supervise.
Pups should be socialized with all types of people every age, race, size, and gender.
Including those in uniform like:
UPS delivery person,
Even little things like someone wearing the below items are important to expose pups to while you are out and about
- a hat
* They should also be exposed to people with different disabilities if possible.
Touch them all over from The tip of their snout and inside their mouth to toes. This will make help not only at home but while out in public and at the vet's office.
Put some dog toothpaste on your finger and rub it on their teeth and gums; next start using a little toothbrush in their mouths. This will help them get used to you looking and feeling there.
FYI, it is normal for pups to loose baby teeth. It is a good idea to check to make sure they are coming out properly and none are broken or growing in strangely. It is also important to check the adult teeth periodically.
I found was easiest when they were asleep LOL I used regular infant nail cutters on teeny ones then dog nail clippers as they grow and then later a dremel. Dremeling the nails or filing them will keep the sharp edges off. It also helps the quick to recede.
Start touching and cleaning their ears. Yeast and wax build up can lead to infection and trouble hearing. It can also be painful if left neglected.
People often don't think to do this for some reason.
I used clickers a lot when they were really little and you'd be surprised how fast they picked things up.
This is not necessary, but it's a fun training tool and another option.
If you want to do it:
-Just wait for them to complete the task click treat and praise
- Also get a clicker that has a little hole at the end so you can tie it around your wrist or your neck because they can be a pain in the neck to hold while you are training and you need it handy
Calling by name-
One of the first things mine learned was to respond to their names. This makes all other training 10x easier.
Call them click or praise and uses toys or treat when they are old enough for treats ... mashed up cheddar cheese or liver is nice and smelly and works wonders!!!!!! Use whatever works well for you!
Introduce the pups to a variety of sounds. This will help desensitize them to a variety of sounds and helps to avoid startled reactions to sounds. Since I slept with them They got to hear my alarm clock every time it was time for a feeding LOL they learned what that meant quick. I was up for all of the feedings to begin with to make sure everyone was thriving and getting enough. They also had a TV and radio in that room.
After the first week or so I vacuumed around them usually when they were eating but not right near them. They heard normal every day noises I didn't try to keep anyone quiet.
SOME OTHER good noises/things to get used too:
- opening and closing umbrella's by them when they get to be about 7 weeks and let them stiff and see the umbrella when it is both opened and closed
- clanging dog dishes drop pans
- the smoke detector
- door bell
- car horns
- hair drier
When they start to walk and are not like weebles but them onto different surfaces
- the tub
- various flooring
- wooden planks
- crate pans
If it is warm enough outside:
- the grass
- black top
Expose them to a variety of items. Such as:
- shopping carts
- rolling computer chairs
- garden hose
- baby pool
- the bath tub
- ironing board
- car seat
- high chair
- baby swing
- baby monitors
Once they are ready to venture outside teach them the potty command and treat it as any other training lots of rewards. LOL I used the clicker w/ mine at first for this too. My neighbors think it is pretty funny!
Don't just let your pup out and expect them to go , go out with them make sure they go to the bathroom. Give them time they often go more than once
I find the easiest way to house train is to crate train. The crate will be a safe place for your puppy when you can't be with them.
Some signs that they have to go are, sniffing, circling, pacing, squatting
Crate training overview
Get a crate that they can stand turn around in a lay down , do not give them more room then that until they are trained or they will use it as a toilet.
Many crates come with divider panels so the crate grows with the puppy.
When you can supervise the pup keep them out with you.Take them to potty before and after eating, when they wake up, after they lay and many many times in between
Try to get them on a schedule.
Do NOT use the crate as punishment it needs to remain a happy, safe place for them.
Starting Obedience commands:
With very young pups you should work on basic commands 1 skill at a time, and not for more than a few seconds to 1-3 minutes here and there throughout the day. The time spent will depend on the age of the pup; older pups can work for longer periods of time.
*This does not apply to the potty command, that has to be done as much as needed for obvious reasons.
The most important command in my book!!!! This command can literally see their live! It is a must. The pup knowing its name can also really helped w/ this one! As you might want to first say the name to get the pup's attention before you even give the come command.
This commands should start as soon as they are wobbling around.
An easy way to teach it is,just kneel about a foot away extend your hand and say the dog's name and come with your hand with food as a lure right by their little nose and bring them into you then can say YEAAAAAAAA (heheh) make a big fuss!
As they get bigger, you'll do less luring w/ food and you go up on your feet then you will eventually call them from a little farther away. This takes weeks!!!!!!! You can also call them to come and then run away from them a tiny bit to get their attention and motivate them to chase/come to you.
As soon as the pup plays tug w/ you teach the OUT command
you can also start teaching these below commands as well:
"SIT" use food right above the pups nose and your sit hand signal while saying sit and gentle hands to help get the pup in position then click treat and praise
ONLY SAY THE actual command ONE TIME
"DOWN" similar to the above just the hand signal and food positioning are different.
this time put the food by the dogs nose then down between his front legs and ease him into a down saying DOWN only 1X. When he is there the second he does it click treat and praise
I didn't go into a lot of detail so if you need more just let me know...
Some Appropriate chew toys:
- frozen carrots
- stuffed Kongs
***Never leave them unattended with toys they can break pieces off of and swallow such as stuffed animals and plastic chew toys
All puppies do go through the biting stage as they are teething.
When the pup does play to rough or even nip a little say "NO" in a firm voice or yelp like a hurt pup or say ouch but then also redirect the behavior to a toy like a rope etc. You have to make the toy more interesting than you. You can't just throw it or give it to him and expect him to stop
If you are willing to put the time into training and working with the dog. This is not a major issue.
Happy vet visits
Taking them to the vet when they don't actually need anything just to say hi and get a treat makes for much easier vet visits when they are there for not so pleasant shots and exams.
Definitely get them used to car rides and make it a positive fun experience. Bring treats but not too many you don't want them throwing up. You can first just practice getting in and out of the car without taking them any place then move on to the actual short trips
This behavior can be exhibited by both males and females and sometimes to inanimate objects LOL. It is for the most part a dominance behavior unless a female in heat is around which should NOT be allowed at all. If your pup starts doing this to anyone or anything say 'NO" and redirect them every time it happens. Letting a pup do this to another dog can eventually cause fights and letting them do it to people is obviously just plain old bad manners.
Before a pup has been vaccinated they should NOT be going for walks. However you can start getting them used to a leash, but letting them where one and letting it just drag on the floor by them. Always monitor a pup that is leashed as it can get caught on things obviously. After that you can walk the pup on lead around your own yard and house to get used to the lead being held. It must be kept very positive and in short sessions.
The follow me game can also be played with the pup on or off lead were you pretty much just encourage them to follow you around giving praise and treats or using toys.
After vaccines are fully given you can start taking short walks with the pup on a flat collar.
Martingale collars are a good choice if a correction type collar is needed, but I wouldn't use one until the pup is a bit older. Also No choke type or prong collars should be used IMO until the pup is at least 8 months of age. If you are going to use any type of correction collar make sure you know how to properly use it as not to injure the pup.
Since pups should not be in classes until they are fully vaccinated and young pups are capable of learning so much I developed a free on-line puppy agility class you can do at you convenience at home. It has simple written out lessons w/ instructions to do with your pup. There are also many things listed in the therapy dog section you can begin doing at home. Take a peek.
Puppy kindergarten classes and basic obedience classes are not just good for first time owners, but great for socializing the dogs and getting them on their way to becoming a good citizen and great family member. Make sure to look for trainers with experience with working APBTs and ask people for references. Breed clubs often offer help in this area.
Training classes are a great opportunity for you both to learn together. Again just make sure to find a bully breed savvy trainer. Ask for references and to sit in and watch a class or two. A great trainer will be more than happy to accommodate you.
More Socializing outside the home
Another thing is once they are vaccinated fully they can be socialized around people and also other dogs outside the home as well and brought to a variety of places.This needs to be kept VERY positive as this is a very critical time in their development. They should not ever e allowed off lead in a public area no matter how well they are trained.
Some great events to attend are:
- ON LEAD parks
- pet supply stores
- shopping center parking lots
- stores and other businesses that allow pets (always double check if you aren't sure)
Off lead Dog Parks:
These are a big NO-NO with any bully breed as any incident whether it be your dogs fault or not will always be blamed on a bully breed thanks to the media's stereotype of them. Also many people who go to these places have no idea about dog behaviors and or training. One last factor is for health reasons.
****Most dogs that end up in shelters are great dogs whose owners never Took the time and effort to work with properly. If you expect your dog to be a breed ambassador you have to put in the time and training to do it right!
****WARNING if you do all this the pups and you both will develop a very strong bond much more than you'd even expect!!!!!!
Enjoy your pups they grow up way to fast!!!!