Train a Pitbull to Listen on Walks in 3 Simple Steps

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 4, 2024

Train a Pitbull to Listen

Train a Pitbull to listen on walks was the request we received from the parents of Daisy, a 1 year-old Pit who was recently adopted in Venice.

Daisy is still adjusting to her new home. When I arrived, she was upstairs and didn’t see me enter. When she came down the steps and saw a stranger in her home, she became slightly unnerved. It took a good 15 minutes and a lot of Dog Behaviorist tricks, but eventually we became the best of pals.

We spent the first part of the session going over a number of dog behavior fundamentals. This is important if your goal is too train a Pit Bull or any other breed of dog. Especially if you want to train a dog to listen in a distracting environment.

I always go over these fundamental points with my clients in my first session. Those findamentals play a big roll in my clients’ high success rate.

We introduced a marker word, practiced using it while we taught her hand targeting, went over the best way to introduce a command cue, discuss the importance of celebrating desired behaviors to teach manners and went over some creative exercise tips. Celebrating at home is particualily helpful if you need to get a dog to listen better.

Physical exercise and mental stimulation are important parts of any dog’s daily routine. This is especially important when you have a high energy breed or a young dog like Miss Daisy. Some of these tips are really easy to introduce, like feeding out of a snuffle mat. But don’t be fooled, just because something is easy doesn’t mean it can’t be highly effective.

We spent some time doing some basic obedience. Daisy didn’t understand the command to sit, so I used a clicker to guide her into the right position. I walked around her house, encouraging her to sit, and rewarded her when she did it correctly.

It took a little bit of effort to get her to lay down at first. I recommended that the guardians add two or three short obedience training sessions to her daily routine. This will strengthen the bond between you and your dog. It will boost her confidence and help her learn important skills for everyday life.

Difficulties When You Train a Pitbull to Listen

One of the main issues the guardians wanted to work on was getting their Pitbull to listen to them when on walks. Many dogs have difficulty listening on walks because of the amount of stimulation (distractions).

When we are inside, our dogs have already investigated everything and because the environment doesn’t change a whole lot from one day to the next, dogs arent distracted. This is why many dogs listen better when inside.

But as soon as the door opens, there is often a sensory overload; new smells, sights, sounds, etc. These make it difficult for dogs to listen to people on walks. It’s not so much that the dog doesn’t want to listen, it’s all those interesting new things. Dogs, people, birds, sights and sounds all become overwhelming; making it hard for a dog to pay attention.

An Easy Way to Train a Pitbull to Listen

Many people have a tendency to get Pitbulls and other dogs overexcited before walks. They talked to the dog in a super excited voice, repeat thr word over and over and continue when the dog communicates that it’s overexcited. This makes it hard to get any dog’s attention.

I started explaining how to keep a dog calm before a walk before I recognized that this would make a great training video.

I pulled out my camera and handed it to one of the guardians so that I could go over a few secrets of how to train a Pitbull to listen outside or on walks. if your dog ignores you on walks or your struggle to capture your dogs attention, you definitely want to check out the free positive dog training video below.

Before we shot the above video, I walked to the guardians through a desensitization exercise about putting on the leash. Often we just keep powering through when our dogs get too excited to listen. This compound the dogs excitement until it reaches such a crescendo that they’re almost out of control.

A better method is to think about the process of leasing your dog up as having multiple steps. The first step is walking over to where the leash is. If the dog recognizes what you’re doing and starts to get excited, you should stop at that point. And instead of picking up the leash, sitting down and waiting for Dog to return to a state of mind is the best approach.

Once you walk to where the leash is without your dog becoming overstimulated, the next step is to reach for it but not touch it. As soon as the dog starts to show a little bit of excitement, the humans need to stop. This can be frustrating if you’re not prepared for it. But stopping when it gets excited is a great tip to get a dog to listen.

I always suggest my clients practice this exercise at times when they’re not going on the walk. by doing part of the activity but not culminating in a walk, we can help a dog learn to stay calm

I recommended the guardians practice this method of keeping dogs calm before leash them up. Even if they only practice once a day, they should notice a difference.

It was wonderful to see how much attention they were able to get out of Daisy. Teaching a Pitbull to pay attention on walks isn’t hard, but it requires good attention, timing and some tasty treats.

3 Tips to Train a Pitbull to Listen on Walks

  1. Teach the dog to stay calm when being leashed up
  2. Stop periodically and wait for your dog to check in, then mark and reward them
  3. Play the treat toss game when your dog makes eye contact.

After we finished filming the video above, the guardians both took turns leading Daisy on the leash and were quite pleased at how well she responded. At first she was doing a lot of sniffing which is fine, but as we progressed, she started checking in more and more frequently. Check ins are the start of getting a dog to listen to us.

By the end of our walk, Daisy was checking in with her guardians every couple of steps instead of pulling them down the street. I was happy to see the humans smile as their formerly distracted Pitbull was paying attention to them with a ton of check in’s.

The great thing about this tip to get dogs to listen is you dont have to be a professional Pitbull dog trainer to do it. And it works no matter what kind of dog breed you have. The key is rewarding attention and creating opportunities for the dog to give it. Mix in a little practice and voila, you learned how to train your Pitbull to listen!

Daisy is really a lovely dog and I’m sure that as she settles into her new home she’s going to become even better. Now that her humans know quite a few dog behavior tips and tricks, I’m expecting to hear progress reports.

To help them remember all of the dog behavior tips we shared in this Venice Beach in-home dog training session, we filmed a roadmap to success summary video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr