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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
Positive Reinforcement
Pure Consistency
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:
sanitation workers,
Construction workers,
mail carrier,
UPS delivery person,
police officers,

Even little things like someone wearing the below items are important to expose pups to while you are out and about:
- a hat
- tie
- holster
- cape
- scarf
- gloves
- boots

* 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.

Mouth/snout -
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.

Nail cutting-
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.

Using clickers-
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
- whistles
- hair drier

When they start to walk and are not like weebles but them onto different surfaces
- Counters
- the tub
- various flooring
- wooden planks
- mattress
- blankets
- pillows
- crate pans
If it is warm enough outside:
- the grass
- sand
- dirt
- concrete
- black top
- gravel
- stones

Expose them to a variety of items. Such as:
- bikes
- umbrellas
- fans
- balloons
- shopping carts
- crutches
- canes
- wheelchairs
- rolling computer chairs
- cars
- wagons
- garden hose
- baby pool
- the bath tub
- ironing board
- crib
- car seat
- stroller
- 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
- nylabones
- stuffed Kongs
***Never leave them unattended with toys they can break pieces off of and swallow such as stuffed animals and plastic chew toys

Bite inhibition:
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.

Car rides-
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.

Leash training-
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:
- parades
- festivals
- fairs
- 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!!!!
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1,690 Posts
Very good post. I have a question though, about crate training. I already have my puppy used to using his crate as a place to relax, and sleep of course, but my question is. How long can I keep him in there? We leave for work at 5 am, and get home around 6 pm. He's 6 weeks now, and no longer with mommy (since last Saturday). Yesterday was the first day he was alone all day. I left him outside in the yard, and placed his crate inside his Dogloo Large doghouse. So I'm wondering should I continue leaving him loose throughout the day?

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4,321 Posts
A pup can't hold it at that age for so many hrs so you really can't due true crate training during that time unless someone is able to come let the pup out.

3-4 hrs max and then he'd need to go out. At night he may go longer while they sleep.

I never crated my pups at night they were bed trained LOL I only crated when I was at work and then I had someone let them out a couple times before I got home to potty and play.

I'd be afraid to leave such a young pup outside. Not only because he is not fully vaccinated, but so many adult APBTs are stolen and a pup would be easy pickings for a thug . Be very careful.

1,690 Posts
I know what you mean about him being stolen, that's why I don't want to leave him outside, but I don't want to come home to torn up house either, hahahaha. I'm going to have to invest on a full size locking kennel I guess.

So then on the weekends, when we're home, I should leave him locked up in his crate for about 3 hours, and then only let him out for play time, eating, and potty needs? And meanwhile he's in there, if he's crying and whining, and I know he doesn't need to pee or anything, I should ignore him, right?

Thanks in advance.

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4,321 Posts
If you can't monitor the pup and you don't think he has to go out "for real" LOL, yes, you have to ignore it or they learn really fast to manipulate their owners.

Premium Member
4,321 Posts
Hi everyone!

im new here and I really enjoyed this thread! thanks patch-o-pits!! This was really useful info.

I do have a more specific question, unsure if i should have made a new thread? but I have a 6 month old male neutered pit and i have been trying to socialize him and its so incredibly hard!!

He loves people, he just gets extremely excited and he always jumps up on everyone at first meeting, and he is about 50 pound now and really tall when on his hind legs. when he jumps I just tell him 'down' and push him off he usually stops after doing it once or twice. SO there isnt a problem with people, he loves every human. but with dogs its a different story...

I have taken him to be groomed at petsmart about 3 times so far and everytime he barks like crazy! Even when i took him to be neutered he barked insanely the entire time he was there ( they told me). Also at petsmart hes barking the entire time he's there! I feel so bad for him, he doesnt stop at all, and i want him to get used to it but i feel sad that hes barking the entire time hes there..i dont understand what to do? ( the vet nurse said he stopped barking when she would go open his cage and pet him, so im guessing he just felt scared at the vet)

anyway, im sorry im digressing, but the real issue at hand is the socialization. I have taught him some commands such as sit, stay, and come ( but they arent foolproof yet, although i continue to practice and practice to hopefully achieve perfection one day). I walk him daily, and he sees dogs a lot, although he never has gotten close to one. Whenever he sees one his hair goes up on his back and he starts barking--somestimes even a whimper-scared-bark, which to me makes no sense at all!! since it seems like hes scared but then again seems like he wants to attack them bc sometime he runs towards them and sometimes he runs away. ( i swear ppl need to socialize their dogs more bc they always end up barking at my dog and then he starts)

so i am confused.. twice now while i was walking him on a leash there have been dogs that were not leashed come up and scare the heck out of my dog! one of my neighbors, whom i now know has a hatred for my pitty ( he always used to joke about 'hows ur killer dog ?' which were kind of humorous before this incident are just now incredibly rude. Basically he has an adult golden retriever and while i was just returning from a walk ( had to pass by his house but on the opposite side of the street bc his dog was not leashed), he asks if he wants my dog to meet his, and i politely say no bc my dog has not been socialized yet and doesnt seem to like other dogs yet, he walks on over anyways and his dog alongside ( no leash) and all of a sudden in a blink of an eye his dog runs up to mine and start barking, growling, etc, and i hear the same from my dog--it was incredibly scary, the stupid guy didnt even pull his dog off and some other neighbor had to run over and pull him off, thank god my dog had no serious bites but alot of scratches and he was SO SCARED. the guy even had the nerve to say 'hes a pitbull, what do you expect? !!!! i was soo livid! my dog was merely a 3 month old puppy and his an adult!! i havent talked to them since...

anyhow i only told that story in detail because im afraid it has mentally scarred my dog? is that a reason why he doesnt seem to like dogs now? I introduced him to my cousins dog ( who is significantly smaller- about 18 pounds- but he is a very nice dog a jack russel and bichon frise mix). My dog kept barking like crazy and trying to lunge at him and he did nothing but want to see my dog- it was quite funny an cute that he was so nice tho. ( we introduced them on non territorial ground at the park) I walked him away a few times so he would know that he needs to be good in order to meet this dog. tthen every time he would bark and bark weird-whimper like and his hair would go up. we did this a few times that evening and at about the 5th try he actually didnt bark but he was still hyper ( and when i say hyper i mean he is pulling so hard he is choking himself and he doesnt care! he has a training -gentle choke collar, and my brothers hands were very red after that experience) i had treats for him but when he was face to face with the dog he didnt care about the food ( which is crazy bc he is food driven!!) he almost threw up a few times bc he was pulling so hard) We kept them nose to nose and he smelled him and did not bite him thank GOd!! although the last time when he didnt bark he got on his hind legs ( from pulling so hard) and actually what looked like to me gave the other dog a hug?? like he wrapped his two arms around his chest? this was weird and looked like it was going to go bad so i pulled him off of him and away. and havent had them meet since...any ideas on how i should be doing this and how often they should meet?

someone sugggested me to use a muzzle..but im unsure how he will react to a muzzle and im unsure if it will aggravate him more? but i dont like risking the fact that he could bite the other dog... i had a confident attitude when this meeting happened bc i have heard they can pick up on ur vibe....please any ideas or suggestion would be helpful!!

also i looked into a petsmart training class..but i think my dog is too hyper to sit with 10 other hyper dogs!! i dont think it would be good! and i found another trainer who does it on her ranch( she had only 3 other dogs in her puppy class, and im afraid hes too small for an adult class), but i went to observe once and she seemed like she didnt like my dog too much. she had no experience with pitty's other than one other pitty that was one month younger than mine that she had just started to work with...my dog jumped on her and she looked absolutely disgusted.. =(

i am trying to find a trainer in my area and in my budget..but it seems like petsmart is the only option i really have...but i have heard so many bad things about them as well..

thank you all so much for reading my first yet lengthy post!
Hi and welcome to the forum!

Socialization and imprinting of pups starts when they are much younger which is now part of the problem with your baby being 6 months. This doesn't mean he won't be able to socialize with other dogs but it will be something you have to work a lot more with to see if he is just acting that way from being unsocialized or because he is developing dog aggression.
You have to remember not all dogs will like other dogs and want to play.

Off lead dogs running up on him certainly don't make for the best situation. Honestly I'd call AC on the people who have their dog off lead all the time. There are leash laws for good reason. Most dogs aren't going to be thrilled about a dog flying at them aggressively.

As for the jumping up and barking I would start more consistent obedience and some distraction training.

Personally I would look for someplace better to train than PetSmart where there is a trainer who is APBT savvy.

In the meantime teach a "watch me"/ "look" command to keep his focus on you when he starts the barking and a concentrate on a sit stay more to help with the jumping up. Make sure people do not pet him when he is jumping or he will think it is OK.

Post some picts of your pup!

See you around the forum!

10 Posts
Hi and welcome to the forum!

Socialization and imprinting of pups starts when they are much younger which is now part of the problem with your baby being 6 months. This doesn't mean he won't be able to socialize with other dogs but it will be something you have to work a lot more with to see if he is just acting that way from being unsocialized or because he is developing dog aggression.
You have to remember not all dogs will like other dogs and want to play.

Off lead dogs running up on him certainly don't make for the best situation. Honestly I'd call AC on the people who have their dog off lead all the time. There are leash laws for good reason. Most dogs aren't going to be thrilled about a dog flying at them aggressively.

As for the jumping up and barking I would start more consistent obedience and some distraction training.

Personally I would look for someplace better to train than PetSmart where there is a trainer who is APBT savvy.

In the meantime teach a "watch me"/ "look" command to keep his focus on you when he starts the barking and a concentrate on a sit stay more to help with the jumping up. Make sure people do not pet him when he is jumping or he will think it is OK.

Post some picts of your pup!

See you around the forum!
Thank you Patch-O -Pits. I will definitely try and teach the 'look at me' one..any ideas how to go about this one? Perhaps how you did it? I want to make sure i am doing it right.

Also, I got him when he was around 3 months from his parents...so he was with his brothers and sisters and parents until 3 months...which is good for socialization..right?? I waited so long for him to meet others because of waiting for all the shots to be done with..that seemed to take forever! And then i got him neutered ..that took forever for him to recover a well! so after everything was done he was about to turn 6 months already =/ I really wish i would have waited on neutering just so i could have had him socialized first..
But i cant do anything about that now, just do my best at this point and time...i hope its not too late.

Also, I was also thinking of the AC on those people, but I dont want them to hate me if i do... and thus in turn hate my pitty..

Also, I do have some pictures posted..are you not able to view them? I can when i log on, but Im unsure now if anyone else can?

thanks so much!

113 Posts
great post but I have a question. we have a four month old pit pup along with a few others. she will be playing with the other dogs and if the other dog growls it's a fight. it can be over food, toys, or anything. what can I do to stop this now?

Thanks in advance
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