Training your pit bull terrier with dog treats is the smartest way to get him to follow directions.
As any trainer worth their salt will tell you, positive reinforcement beats out punishment any day of the week!
If you’re not sure how to use treats as a reward with your pittie, read on for some tips!
FYI, they’ll work with pretty much any breed too, so even if you’re not a pit owner, keep reading!
Related: How To Crate Train A Pit Bull Puppy
Training Your Pit Bull Terrier With Dog Treats
Every responsible dog owner wants a well-trained pet, but when you have a pit it’s absolutely essential.
While YOU know that your pittie is the sweetest and most gentle pup on the block, their unearned reputation leads others to believe they’re a threat.
Think of it this way- you’re not just training your pit to be a great family dog; you’re training an ambassador to show the world their gentle side.
That’s where positive reinforcement (often called “treat training”) comes in super handy!
What is treat training?
Treat training is, quite simply, a reward system that uses food to motivate.
It essentially lets you use small bribes as a form of positive reinforcement for good behavior.
You can use pretty much anything that your pit likes (and that’s safe for him, of course).
Bits of cheese, strips of cooked chicken, or small hot dog pieces (we use turkey dogs since they are lower cal) work well.
You can even use store-bought treats. I’ll share some of my favorites at the end.
Whatever you choose to use should be something he doesn’t get all of the time.
Like all dogs, pits react well to reward training. Let’s find out how to do it.
How to use treats to train your pit
Let’s use the “sit” command to discuss the basic method of treat training your pit bull.
Choose your treats
We touched on this above, but you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing “high value” treats.
Take a look at a few of my favorites (FYI, the list uses affiliate links):
Prep your treat bag
You’re going to start by prepping your treat bag before you begin. That way, they’re ready to hand over the moment your pit follows the command.
If you’re using human food- like hot dogs- break it up into small pieces first.
I also recommend keeping training treats in a plastic zip top baggy. It allows you to put the treats in your pocket while allowing you to keep your pockets from getting soiled and soggy.
Believe me, try it without the baggy and you’ll not try it that way again!
Don’t try to hold the bag in your hand, as this will distract your Pit Bull, and may even get him to jumping up in an attempt to try and grab the entire bag.
Separate your dog from his pals
If you have more than one Pit Bull, or other dog for that matter, take the time to put the other dog away so you can do one on one training.
Other animals in the vicinity will only hamper your training as your Pit Bull will think the session is a competition for which dog can get the treat fastest, rather obedience training.
Now that you’ve prepped your treat bag and have your Pit Bull alone with you, its time to begin.
Give the command
Take a bit of your chosen treat and hold it above your Pit Bull’s head while giving the command to sit.
If you hold the treat high, the dog will have to sit to see the treat. Once he sits, give him the treat and be sure to praise him as well.
The praise is just as important as the treat. Pits are people pleasers for one thing. For another, you’ll eventually want to remove the treat.
You can repeat this four or five more times, but after that give it a rest until the next day.
I know it doesn’t sound like rigorous training, but it is considered a full session.
If you need some help learning how to do it, check out the video below.
Swap out treats for praise & pets
Once your Pit Bull has mastered the sit command, start to gradually offer gentle rubs and praises rather than treats.
You’ll eventually phase out the food treats, and your Pit Bull will continue to sit on command.
Using treat training is an effective and gentle way to train your Pit Bull.
It also allows you to be close to your pet for a session of giving treats and praises. Imagine how much your Pit Bull will enjoy that!
While the command and position of the treat will change depending on what you’re working on, the basic method is the same.
Like all dogs, pits respond really well to positive reinforcement training! Just keep at it and you’ll have a beautifully trained dog in no time.