Practicing Pit-Etiquette in Puppyhood

Whether you are living under breed bans or not, there are a few special considerations in raising a pit bull puppy that will help you contribute to good Pit PR when your pup matures.

1) Teach a sit stay with eye contact when dogs pass by:

Why: many pit bulls will inevitably become aggressive towards dogs when they reach social maturity. While socialization of pit bulls is very effective at enabling acquired bite inhibition, is much less effective at overriding the breed's typically strong inclination towards conspecific aggression. It is much easier to manage dog-dog aggression at social maturity if obedience routines are learned in puppyhood for potentially troublesome situations.

Example: My pit bull, Charlotte, has been taught to sit and watch me while other dogs pass by at a distance she can tolerate. Charlotte gets cookies for sitting. In doing this Charlotte appears to be well behaved, and well trained - making her a good diplomat for her breed.

2) Teach an "off" command using more friendly words:
Why: many people are afraid of large dogs approaching them - especially pit bulls. Being able to use a friendly word to remind your dog not to approach someone will achieve two goals: telling your dog to stay off them, and telling the person your dog is friendly.

Example: My pit bull Charlotte is very friendly towards people, so she naturally wants to approach them when we are on walks. Even a casual sniff of someone's pant leg can be frightening from an 80-pound beady-eyed pit bull. In narrow spaces, such as sidewalks, I either ask her to sit-stay and watch me as the person passes by, or I give charlotte a command that reminds her not to so much as sniff the person she is passing. My three favourite commands are "make space, Charlotte", "Stay on your side, Charlotte", "and mind your own business, Charlotte". People get a giggle when they hear me instruct her with these phrases, and look MUCH more relaxed than when I used the command "Off".

3) Teach your pup a few tricks that plant all 4 paws on the ground:
Why: people assume that a dog that does tricks is a friendly dog, so tricks are an easy way of helping people feel more at ease in the company of a large, scary looking dog.

Example: Charlotte will roll over and play dead when I point at her and say "bang. She will also hold a very adorable bow: bum pointing to the stars and chin glued to the ground, when asked. None of her 80 pounds looks the least bit intimidating when she is clowning around like this.