You’ve thought for a while about adopting a Pit Bull, but you’ve heard they’re hard to potty train compared to other dogs. Are you in for a lot of messes if you bring a Pit Bull home? I did some digging to bring you more information.
Are Pit Bulls hard to housebreak? Pit Bulls are no more difficult to housebreak than your average dog. Start potty training your Pit Bull at eight to 10 weeks old, choose a spot for him to potty outside, and reward him when he goes there instead of indoors.
If this is your first Pit Bull or even your first dog, make sure you keep reading. In this post, I’ll discuss more on whether Pit Bulls are difficult to potty train as well as give you steps and tips so you can teach your Pit where to go and when!
Table of Contents
- Are Pit Bulls Hard to Housebreak?
- How to Potty Train a Pit Bull
- Step 1: Start Early
- Step 2: Give Your Pit a Space Their Own
- Step 3: Set up a Routine
- Step 4: Reward a Job Well Done
- Step 5: Repeat
- Tips to Keep in Mind When Housebreaking Your Pit Bull
- Always Leash up Your Pit
- Have Patience
- Learn the Signs Your Dog Has to Go
- Get into a Regular Feeding Schedule
- Don’t Leave Food Around
- Have One Spot Outdoors for Potty Trips
- Know the Proper Way to Reprimand after an Accident
Are Pit Bulls Hard to Housebreak?
I won’t dance around the subject here: Pit Bulls have a reputation that precedes them, and it’s not a pretty one. In my last post. I wrote about the Pits Bull’s history in dog fighting and how many people fear Pits and think they’re not suitable pets. (Which fortunately is very much not true! Pit Bulls can be incredibly affectionate).
Then you see posts like this one on Reddit from a frustrated dog owner who just wants their Pit to go to the bathroom where he’s supposed to: outside. The Reddit poster mentions how their six-month-old Pit Bull has upwards of 45 minutes outdoors each morning to do his business, yet he insists on doing that business in the house.
You felt better about the idea of adopting a Pit Bull after hearing they can get along well with children, but now again you have pause.
Will you really struggle to get your Pit Bull to use the bathroom outside? Will a pit bull be more likely to pee and poop all over your nice carpeting?
In my recent post regarding Pit Bull violence, I mentioned the violence is often instilled in the dog through training. With your Pit Bull’s bathroom habits, it’s the same thing. A lack of training or incorrect training can make it seem like your dog is at fault when really, you are.
That’s a hard pill to swallow, I know, but you have to look at the situation objectively.
If your Pit Bull uses your living room as his own personal bathroom, it’s because you didn’t train him otherwise. He gets reprimanded if he does the wrong thing but has no idea what the right thing is.
If you’re making this mistake, don’t worry. It’s incredibly common, especially among first-time dog owners. Fortunately, it’s very much correctable too!
How to Potty Train a Pit Bull
Now that I’ve established that it’s no harder to housebreak a Pit Bull than any other dog breed, it’s time to potty train your Pit right. Doing it correctly the first time will ensure you come home to fewer messes that take hours to clean up (not to mention that unappealing smell!). Here are the steps to follow.
Step 1: Start Early
Dogs are adoptable from eight weeks onward. If that’s when you take home your darling Pit Bull puppy, then you won’t want to delay in potty training him. You can also begin housebreaking up to the 10-week mark, but no later than that. The longer you go without any kind of training for bathroom use, the more your Pit can establish behaviors that will take root and be harder to undo later.
Step 2: Give Your Pit a Space Their Own
I know what you’re thinking comes next: get your Pit Bull a pee-pee pad or two and let him go to town. Right? Yet doing that can establish a bad habit, as it tells your dog that yes, it’s perfectly okay if he pees or poops in the house. You might wish to set up some pee-pee pads overnight, but otherwise, I’d say not to.
Here’s what you should do instead. Create a small nook in your home for your Pit. This isn’t a bathroom, but an area that’s exclusively his own. You might put his bed here as well as his food. If you’re keeping your Pit Bull otherwise contained behind an indoor fence until he’s better trained, then you may already have an area like this set up.
Leave your Pit in this space most of the time. Not all day and night, of course, as he’ll have to go, and you’ll want to give him socialization and playtime with the rest of the family too.
Since his food and bed is right here, when your Pit Bull has to use the bathroom, he’ll think twice about soiling this area. Training your Pit this way teaches him how to hold in his need to poop or pee, at least to a reasonable degree.
Step 3: Set up a Routine
You have to do your part too. You can wait until your Pit Bull begins sniffing around on the floor or ground, as this indicates he might have to go, or you can set up a schedule and take him out every few hours no matter what.
Puppies have smaller bladders than adult Pits, so keep that in mind. A good schedule to get into is to take your Pit Bull out first thing in the morning, after he eats or drinks, after he’s done with a playful romp, and then every two hours otherwise.
Once your Pit grows up, he’ll only have to go out three to five times a day, so maybe every three or four hours.
Keep in mind that he won’t necessarily have to go each and every time, which is okay. If 10 or 15 minutes pass and he’s not doing anything, then take your Pit inside and try again in about an hour, maybe two.
Since I’m sure you have a job and life responsibilities, make sure other members of the family are contributing to maintain this routine for your Pit Bull.
I can’t reiterate this enough, but as a puppy, your Pit will have a hard time holding it in for long. If it’s been four hours since he’d last been out and he has an accident, that’s your fault, not his.
Step 4: Reward a Job Well Done
Make sure you’re rewarding your Pit Bull for doing what you asked. This is a huge, huge part of the training process. Without that positive encouragement, your Pit will feel disinclined to follow the routine.
You want to manage your dog’s weight, so don’t give him treats each time he pees or poops. An exuberant “good boy!” or a few vigorous head pats are sufficient in between treat offerings. When your Pit Bull realizes he’ll get something good for his efforts, you enforce the behavior and it becomes second-nature sooner than later.
Step 5: Repeat
Once you establish a bit of rhythm with your routine, you’ll begin having fewer accidents and your Pit Bull will learn that when he’s outside, this is the time and place to go. Again, he might not always have to do business, but for the most part, he will.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Housebreaking Your Pit Bull
To augment the above five steps, I have some tips that will make housebreaking your Pit Bull that much easier.
Always Leash up Your Pit
A loose dog is a risk unless you’re in an enclosed backyard. You never know if your Pit Bull will see a squirrel down the road or even the mailman and take off running after them. If it’s dark because you’re taking your dog out at night, finding them can be difficult.
Also, let’s be real, if you’re out with your Pit at the crack of dawn before you’ve had your first cup of coffee, you’re not going to be very alert. You don’t want to start your morning having to chase your Pit Bull.
Leashing your dog up prevents them from getting loose if your Pit decides he wants to investigate said squirrel or the mailman. Although it takes a few extra minutes to ready your Pit for his walk, that inconvenience is worth knowing your dog won’t get loose.
Remember that Reddit post from earlier with the frustrated Pit Bull owner who said they couldn’t potty train their dog? They didn’t say how long they had been at it, but it’s possible it wasn’t long enough.
Potty training isn’t an overnight process by far. You’ll have to keep it up for four months, sometimes as long as six months before your Pit Bull is considered housebroken. Be patient!
Learn the Signs Your Dog Has to Go
I mentioned how if your Pit is ready to go out, he might begin sniffing at the floor. That’s not the only indication it’s time to take him potty. If he’s scratching at a door or wall to escape, you need to leash him up and get him outside ASAP. The same is true if he’s barking, whining, or circling an area like the front door.
Get into a Regular Feeding Schedule
Your Pit Bull’s feeding schedule informs his bathroom schedule, so if one is off-kilter, so is the other one. Feed your dog at the same time every day. It doesn’t have to be down to the minute, but the closer to the routine you stick to, the better.
Don’t Leave Food Around
Since a routine is all about maintaining order, you don’t want your Pit munching on his dry food in the middle of the night or in the morning right after you leave for work. Don’t leave food out for him in between feedings, as it could make him have to poop when you’re not necessarily around for it.
If your dog is eating regularly when you feed him, then he won’t need his food around in the hours between. Besides keeping his potty habits on-schedule, taking away his food like this also prevents your Pit Bull from becoming overweight or even obese by overeating.
Have One Spot Outdoors for Potty Trips
No one likes it when their dog kills the grass all over the front yard with their urine. On top of that, that’s actually the wrong approach to take when potty training your canine. You should always guide your Pit Bull to the same general area when it’s bathroom time. The scents here will lure in your dog and get him in the mood to do his business.
Know the Proper Way to Reprimand after an Accident
Listen, accidents will happen, even when your Pit is fully potty trained. How you handle the accident can inform future bathroom behavior, so tread carefully. Don’t yell and don’t waggle your finger. You want to clap at your Pit, which tells him that yes, he’s been bad.
As soon as you can, get him outside so he can finish up. Then tell him what a good boy he is.
This may seem counterintuitive. Don’t you have to yell at your Pit for pooping in the house? No. When you clapped, that indicated to him that he was wrong.
Doing anything more, especially rubbing your dog’s nose in the accident, doesn’t reinforce anything in a puppy since they’re not yet intelligent enough to make the connection. Even if they were, that’s cruel behavior.
When you praise your Pit for finishing outside, he again remembers why peeing or pooping outdoors is preferable. He gets a reward, which he wants, which will set him back on the right track.
Pit Bulls, like any dog breed, require months of potty training before they’re less likely to have an accident in the house. You can help your Pit learn by feeding him on a schedule, taking him out every few hours (or having someone else do it), and rewarding him verbally and sometimes with treats when he potties outside consistently. Best of luck potty training your Pit!