How to Discipline a Pitbull Puppy

Pitbulls are extremely intelligent, loyal, and loving companions. But they are also a controversial breed.

The confusion comes from all the negative media attention they receive. Some people view them as violent dogs while others view them as loyal family pets. 

Pitbulls are a strong and powerful breed and have been selectively bred for traits such as tenacity and courage. While these qualities can make them great working dogs, they can also be dangerous if not trained and socialized properly. 

It is important to remember that a dog's behavior is determined by a variety of factors, including genetics, upbringing, and individual temperament. 

Therefore, it's vital to begin puppy training as early as possible to mold its personality into a fun-loving family protector rather than a viscous yard dog.

So, let’s look closer at disciplining your puppy to get the best of it.

The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a training method often used by professional dog trainers across all breeds.

You’re dangling a proverbial carrot in front of your dog.

a brown pitbull puppy

Pexels/Justin Thompson

To use positive reinforcement correctly, you must begin by giving your pitbull puppy easy-to-achieve commands. While they’re very smart dogs and eager to please, puppies can still get sidetracked by just about anything.

Some of these basic commands could include sit, wait, lie down, and fetch. You could even teach your puppy to respond to his own name in this way.

Each time your puppy reacts in a desired way or successfully accomplishes a command, use reward it with a snack.

Nothing tells a puppy that something good will happen if they sit, like getting a treat at the end. This makes any training or discipline fun as they begin to associate training sessions with rewards.

But there’s another way of disciplining your puppy, known as negative reinforcement.

What is Negative Reinforcement?

At first glance, you might associate negative enforcement with shouting, scolding, and even a smack. But that’s not quite accurate.

a tiny pitbull puppy on a carpet

Pexels/Jeremy Alford

Negative reinforcement means taking something away when disciplining your pitbull puppy. You might take away your attention or a doggy treat. Leaving your puppy to think about what he did wrong and helping him adjust his future approach.

Negative enforcement can be used to adjust bad behavior, like biting or destroying a toy.

While a pitbull puppy will chew on toys to gain relief from sore gums during teething, you might want to use the negative reinforcement tactic if their biting gets out of control.

When Discipline Triggers Aggressive Behavior 

Disciplining a Pitbull can go either way.

Keep in mind that these dogs were originally bred to enter a pit and grab and hold on to bulls. When this sport got outlawed, Pitbulls were used as working dogs on farms and often cared for herds of animals.

So they’re a strong, muscular, and headstrong breed. And they have the drive to back up their build. They can be extremely aggressive if need be, sparing nothing or no one.

A dog owner can be left with a violent dog without proper training. And to be honest, that’s often their own fault.

You see, violence breeds violence. Hitting a dog with a stick, or a newspaper in the case of a puppy, won’t get you anywhere.

This only teaches a dog to be fearful of its owner and other people. And they often take their frustration out in the only way they know how - through biting.

a pitbull puppy running
Pitbulls are often taken to animal welfare shelters or euthanized when they start displaying aggressive behavior. According to research, this means that almost 40% of dogs killed in animal shelters are Pitbulls. (1)

You might be familiar with the saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. 

That’s unfortunately true of many Pitbulls that aren’t exposed to proper training, as natural instincts to grab hold of, clamp down on and hold onto an object can overwhelm their thinking ability.

Tips for Disciplining Your Pitbull

While you don’t have control over everything that makes up part of your dog’s temperament, like their breed and genetics, there are some things you can do to discipline your puppy when training them properly.

Here are a few key points to remember when training pitbulls.

Establish Dominance

Pitbulls have an alpha mentality. That’s not to say they always need to be in charge, just that their natural instinct is often to take the lead.

This behavior can become problematic as your puppy grows older. If your pitbull sees himself as the pack leader, he’ll want to enforce his own rules and be extremely difficult to control.

So, establish your own dominance from a young age. Your puppy might not like it initially, but growing up and viewing you as the dominant one in the pack will surely pay dividends in later years.

Do this by taking control of training sessions, choosing when play starts and ends, and controlling their feeding patterns.

Stay Consistent 

Consistency is key in training a puppy because it helps them understand what is expected of them and what behavior is appropriate. 

Puppies, like children, learn through repetition and routine. This involves rewarding good behavior and redirecting or discouraging bad behavior.

By doing this, your puppy will begin to understand what actions lead to positive outcomes and which ones don't.

On the other hand, if you are inconsistent in your training, your puppy may become confused and unsure of what they are supposed to do. This can lead to frustration and behavioral problems such as disobedience, anxiety, and aggression.

Consistent training also helps establish a bond of trust between you and your puppy. When your puppy knows what to expect from you, they are more likely to feel secure and comfortable around you. 

This can lead to a happy and well-behaved puppy who is eager to learn and please you.

Keep Training Sessions Short

Losing your cool with a puppy mid-training or disciplining is never a good thing.

And when it happens, it’s often our fault as the dog trainer, not the puppies. That’s because training sessions can often become tedious and drawn out.

So, if you’re one of those dog dads or moms that try to do as much training on a weekend when you finally have that one day to devote to your puppy, refrain from overdoing it!

Extended training sessions can be too much for your pup to handle. Keep training age-appropriate and sessions to a few minutes to an hour at a time, as these puppies aren’t known for having a very long attention span.

Learn to Read and React to Your Dog’s Body Language

Dogs often display their emotions through their body language far before they actually do something that requires discipline.

Seeing them shake and quiver with excitement might seem cute, but this behavior means that once they get on a leash and leave the house they’ll be difficult to control.

a pitbull wearing a collar

Sniffing and seeking a spot to wee on your new rug means you’re going to be reaching for paper towels pretty soon.

So, if you want to start to house train or leash train your pitbull, read their body language and adjust their emotions before they put a paw out of place. This will help with their discipline from the get-go.

Crate Training

Crate training is a method of training dogs where they learn to comfortably spend time in a crate, which is a small, enclosed space typically made of wire or plastic. 

The purpose of crate training is to provide a safe and secure place for your dog to stay when you cannot supervise them or when they need to rest.

Crate training can be beneficial for several reasons. 

It can help with potty training by limiting your dog's access to the rest of your home, reducing the chances of accidents. It can also help prevent destructive behavior when you're away, such as chewing on furniture or belongings.

In addition, crates can serve as a comfortable and familiar space for your dog when traveling or during stressful situations such as fireworks or thunderstorms.

When crate training, it's important to choose the right size crate for your puppy and to gradually introduce them to the crate using positive reinforcement techniques. This may involve feeding your dog in the crate, leaving treats inside, and gradually increasing the amount of time they spend inside.

It's important to note that crates should not be used as a form of punishment or as a way to keep your dog isolated for extended periods. Dogs are social animals and require regular interaction and exercise to maintain their physical and mental health.


In conclusion, disciplining a puppy requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. 

a brown pitbull puppy

Pexels/Phil Botha

As with any breed, pitbulls can benefit greatly from proper dog training and socialization. 

However, it's important for dog owners to understand that aggression and dominance should never be used as a form of discipline. Instead, building a strong bond with your pitbull puppy through consistent training and setting clear boundaries can help establish a healthy and happy relationship between you and your furry companion. 

Treating your pitbull puppy with love and respect and providing ample socialization and exercise can make them great companions for their owners and other dogs and people they encounter throughout their lives.

Article Sources

1 - Petpedia