Pit bulls -- whether they are actual American pit bull terriers (APBT) or one of the breeds or mixes that tend to be lumped together under the misnomer "pit bull" -- all have a terrier tenacity and in-bred desire to hold on. This does not make them dangerous, nor is it an indication that they must be handled differently or cannot be trained. These dogs have a fierce desire to please people and a keen intelligence. They can be trained to release objects on command readily. This is not to be confused with trying to get a dog -- of any breed -- to release its victim if it has attacked. In that instance, you should call for help immediately.
Things You'll Need
Buy several special toys that really catch your pit bull's interest. These can be balls, ropes or stuffed toys. The toys should be highly valued by your dog, but not as highly valued as a steak or soup bone might be.
Set up a small area that is free of distractions and put the leash on your dog. Offer one of the toys to your pit bull by holding the toy out in your open hand. It's helpful to teach your dog as many words as possible, so give a command as you offer the toy, such as "take it" or "here you go."
Let your dog play with the toy for a couple of minutes, as you continue to hold the leash.
Get your pit bull's attention and offer one of the treats while saying "drop it" or "release." The wording of the command is up to you. Put the treat right up close to the dog's nose when you offer it. Praise the dog and give the treat immediately as the toy is dropped. The treats should not be little bits of kibble, but real bits of meat, chicken, cheese or some other food that your dog will really love. The goal is to show the dog that giving up whatever it treasures leads to even better reward.
Begin to give the command to "drop it" with the treat nearby (but not in your hand) once your dog seems to have the hang of it.
Repeat this exercise with different toys and different treats. When your dog is really good at it, begin to work on using items that are more "valuable" to the dog, such as bones or other treats. Practice the exercise occasionally for the dog's entire life.
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