Cesar Millan, a.k.a. "The Dog Whisperer," is a controversial figure in pit bull circles (well, not just in pit bull circles, but that's where our focus lies).
If you're using clicker training to train your pit bull--and we highly recommend that you do--you're going to need treats. But not just any treats. In order to be suitable for training, treats must meet certain criteria.
Dog aggression is a common issue in pit bulls. In fact, the UKC's official breed standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier states that "most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression." But while dog aggression may be normal in pit bulls, that doesn't mean it can't become a problem.
Of all the commands you teach your pit bull, none may be as important as the recall. Not only is a reliable recall an essential component of any off-lead adventure, but one day it could actually save your dog's life.
If you see your pit bull dashing toward oncoming traffic or preying on a venomous snake about to strike, you need him to come when you call--immediately and reliably.
Common Recall Mistakes
Before I explain how to train for a reliable recall, let's talk about what NOT to do.
Never call your dog to punish him!
Even if you and your pit bull started agility training "just for fun," the time may come when you look at the incredible canine athlete jumping and weaving her way through your home agility course, and you begin to wonder about competing and earning titles.
All dogs should be properly socialized. Having a well socialized dog in your home means your friends and family will enjoy coming over and look forward to seeing your dog as well as you, while your furry friend can enjoy the company of other canines and go out into the world with a relaxed attitude.
On the other hand, a poorly socialized dog can intimidate visitors and make going places a hassle. If you don't socialize your dog, both of you will endure a more stressful existence.
You've watched it, you've read about agility, and now you're ready to do it. Great! So how do you get your pit bull started in canine agility?
While all dogs should learn to walk on a loose lead, leash training is particularly important for pit bulls.
First, our beloved breed is incredibly strong; pit bulls routinely pull over a thousand pounds in weight pulling competitions.You really don't want to be dragged down the street by a dog capable of pulling 20-25 times his own body weight.
And second, the unfortunate combination of sensationalist media coverage and irresponsible owners has made many people afraid of--or at least apprehensive about--pit bulls.
You've got your clicker, and you're eager to get started. But before you introduce the clicker to your pit bull, you've got a little work to do on your own.
Clicker Training Mechanics
When someone complains that clicker training doesn't work for their dog or that their dog cares only about the treats, not the clicks, it's usually because the handler is making one or more mechanical mistakes. If you click with one hand while reaching into your treat bag with the other, guess what your dog is going to focus on?