Throughout my live I have had many different breeds of dogs. Training and caring for the dogs was never a challenge for me. I loved raising dogs. But none of the dogs that I’d had ever prepared me for raising a pit bull.
Ball of Energy
The pit bull puppy that chose me only a week into his little life was nothing but energy. I had never met a dog so crazy happy. When I brought him home at 5 weeks old it was all I could do to keep up with him. Between the running, bouncing, getting into things and chewing on everything but his toys, I was exhausted. He would chew apart card bored boxes. Tennis balls didn’t last for more than 5 minutes. And I was afraid that he was going to leave ruts in the floors from all of his zoomies.
I’ve heard horror stories about potty training any breed of dog. I never had any potty training issues with any of the dogs that I raised. My pit bull was no exception. Sure he had accidents from time to time, and most of them were my fault. For months it seemed that I lived for potty time. As soon as he would wake up from a nap… out we would go. I tried to make sure to bring my boy out every 30 to 45 minutes and about 10 to 15 minutes after he ate or drank something. It definitley added up to a lot of outside time, but so few messes to clean up in the house.
Socialize, Socialize, Socialize
Through experience with other dog breeds, I learned that proper socialization is key. Since my boy was meant to be my support companion, and I was often times with friends who had children, my boy needed to be great around people. Since he was born into a house with a large family, he came to me with love for children. I brought him places where his love for children would shine. Although he pretty much liked everybody that he met. He would great anyone that we came across on our walks with a wagging tail and offer a paw for a shake. If he came across anybody sitting down he would climb onto their lap and cover their face in kisses. Young or old, my boy didn’t care, if you had a face he would kiss it.
I had never used a crate for anything other than to bring my dog to the vet. I learned real fast to use a crate with my pit bull. There were a lot of sleepless nights. My boy hated his crate and would cry all night. Eventually he learned that once it was day time he would be out of his crate and leaving the house with me. Once I said ‘it’s time for bed’, in his crate he would go.
I knew a head of time that there was going to be a change in my routine in the near future and that I would have to leave my boy home on certain days. I needed to start day time crate training. After almost a year of having him by my side everyday I had to start leaving him behind. It was a very difficult transition for both of us. I started by putting him in his crate for only 5 minutes at a time several times a day. In the crate, give him a treat, say good bye, walk out the door. As soon as the door closed behind me, he would start to cry. He would cry the entire 5 minutes, while I stood outside. Eventually I was able to leave him in his crate for longer and longer periods of time. It finally got to the point where he would not cry at all. I would leave the radio or TV on for him. He seemed to take comfort in the noise.
Through every stage of training and raising of my pit bull, I used positive reinforcement. There were many treats and words of praise, and gentle pats on his side. I received many head butts on my leg as if he was saying ‘good job’ to me. Or maybe he just wanted another treat.
Though there were some things that I couldn’t teach him, like how to play fetch, the one thing I didn’t have to teach him was how to love. My pit bull never hurt anyone. He was too gentle and kind. I don’t know if it was just his nature, but I like to think that I raised him right….