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Background info: We got our new dog, Vader, 10 days ago. He is a 8-12 month old pit mix according to the rescue we got him from. But we're convinced he's much closer to the 8 month end of the spectrum. He was SUPER shy, yet friendly, when we got him. He seems overly sensitive to being touched on his rear end (I'm only telling you this as it relates to one of our issues). Anyway, he has come out of his shell more and more every day and now he's friendly as can be an you'd never know he ever had a shy bone in his body. Overall, he's doing GREAT. I just need advice on a couple things as we're new at this.

1. I'm having a really difficult time teaching him to sit. He does very well with "stay". And h's getting better and better with "come". But when I try to raise the treat over his head for sit he just turns around instead of pulling his head back. And because of the aforementioned issue with his backside, he freaks out if you try to touch him there to guide him to sit. I've read that "sit" is the foundation of dog training so I know all of the other training would probably be coming along better if he knew sit. I just don't know what else to do. I know I'll probably get some "just keep at it... it's only been 10 days" responses but I just feel as if we aren't making any progress whatsoever.

2. He's done great with his crate training from day one. He loves it and relaxes in there even when he's allowed out. And up until yesterday, he's done really well at going into the crate when we tell him to (admittedly, he's usually coaxed by a treat and/or toy). And once he's in there he doesn't whine or act up at all.

But last night he would NOT go into his crate. He wouldn't even go near it and he wouldn't listen to our commands one bit. I tried picking him up to put him in there (which I've had to do before) and he just squirreled out of my arms and ran away. It took us about 15 minutes to finally get him in there. We tried treats, toys, commands, physically grabbing him. He just wasn't having it.

Then this morning before I left for work, same exact thing. Is my dog maybe just getting more comfortable in the house and with us so he's being more feisty? I was thinking maybe the dog had too much energy last night but the strange thing is I probably exercised/played with him more yesterday than any of the other days we've had him. Thoughts on what could be causing this and how to remedy?
 

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First, all dogs do go through an adjustment period after coming out of a shelter/rescue. Figure about 3 months for the dog to fully settle in to your home, routine and to show his true personality. At 8-12 months, he is something of a teenager and can be prone to fear periods, moodiness and "forgetting" his training. So just expect to need some patience and take your time being diligent to train with positive methods and create a strong bond with him.

For sit, try this-
Take his regular dog food and have him stand in front of you. Start feeding it one by one. All you are looking for at this point is him to be focused on you and the food. Have some really tasty treat like cheese or bits of hot dog tucked away in a treat bag or pocket (out of sight but easy to get to). Slowly start feeding the kibble pieces higher up so he is gradually reaching for them. Chances are that he will eventually sit on his own. Quickly give him one of the tasty treats if he sits. Don't give a command yet. What you want to do is build the action first and then attach a command to it. Right now "Sit" means nothing to him, it is just noise. Once he knows that you like the action of him sitting down, you can say "Sit" each time his butt hits the ground. Then with repetition, you can connect the word to the action in his mind.

Crate-
He might just have been in a mood and having a little tantrum. He might have gotten overstimulated (like a small child after a big exciting day will be very tired but not want to go to bed).
Try googling "Crate games" and really building up the idea that the crate is a good thing. You will want to get to the point that you don't have to coax him in.

How much exercise he is getting daily?
What types of exercise?
How much training time are you doing?
How long he is crated for daily (both in total and in a single stretch)?
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks for the response and advice! It's much appreciated.

How much exercise he is getting daily?
What types of exercise?
How much training time are you doing?
How long he is crated for daily (both in total and in a single stretch)?
His current schedule look like this...

He is put in his crate just before we go to bed, which is typically about 11:00 pm. I let him out at 6:00 am and take him for a half-hour walk. Then he is allowed to roam around the house and play until I leave for the office, which is 8:30 am. Then my wife comes home for lunch around noon and takes him out for a short walk (I'd say only 15-20 minutes). After that it's back in the crate until I get home between 3:30 - 4:30 pm. Then I take him for another walk of about a half-hour. So that's about 14 hours a day with the only stretch over 3.5 hours being while we are sleeping (7 hours).

And then he obviously gets more exercise and much less crate time on the weekends. Do you think this is too much time in the crate? We also have 3 cats so we figured for that, as well as the dog's personal safety he should be crated when we are not there to supervise.

I realize this isn't the ideal amount of exercise for him but we're still working on leash skills so walking for long periods of time can be quite challenging. Especially since there are A LOT of dogs in my neighborhood. And a lot of irresponsible owners who let their dogs just roam around by themselves. Vader loses focus very easily and can be nearly impossible to get re-focused on me. He is getting better each day though. And we will continue to up the walk time as he progresses his leash and social skills.

I also plan to get a flirt pole (just found out about them last night or I'd already have one LOL) later this week and exercise him with that too. And we've already hired a guy to come fence in our backyard sometime in the next week. We have a fairly large backyard so I'm sure that's going to help out a lot with his excess energy. I can only hang with Vader for so long and I'm afraid to let him off leash until the fence is up.

As for the training, we really don't have a set schedule for that. We just do a few minutes here and a few minutes there throughout the day. Maybe that's part of the problem?

Thanks again!
 

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As for the training, we really don't have a set schedule for that. We just do a few minutes here and a few minutes there throughout the day. Maybe that's part of the problem?
You don't really need set times for training so long as you are actually doing training. Five minute sessions 3-4 times a day sounds fine for an 8-12 month old, longer or more as his focusing allows works too.

Having a fenced yard can be helpful for burning off energy as long as you understand the dog isn't likely to do much in the yard by themselves. He'll probably be quite happy to play with you in the yard though, even more so with a flirt pole.
 

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You don't really need set times for training so long as you are actually doing training. Five minute sessions 3-4 times a day sounds fine for an 8-12 month old, longer or more as his focusing allows works too.

Having a fenced yard can be helpful for burning off energy as long as you understand the dog isn't likely to do much in the yard by themselves. He'll probably be quite happy to play with you in the yard though, even more so with a flirt pole.
Yeah, I definitely will be playing with him and don't plan on leaving him out there unsupervised. I'm hoping to teach him to play fetch/frisbee/etc. I.E. games where I can stand relatively stationary while he can run as fast as he pleases. :)

I've tried running with him a few times on leash but he's just TOO fast and ends up choking himself with the collar. I want him to be able to run free without my limitations slowing him down.
 

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You could also try capturing the behavior. Wait until he sits on his own, and then use a marker, like a clicker or a verbal "yes" and treat as soon as he sits. Pretty soon he should start offering the behavior, and you can then put a command to it.
 

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You don't really want to run (on-leash) with him until he's full grown. For a medium sized dog like a Pit Bull, that means about 14-16 months of age. Running off-leash in a fenced area or running for fun on a long lead (like a 50 ft rope to play fetch) is fine, let the dog decide the speed and time.

The crate time is okay during adjustment time, its good to have a midday break. But it is a little long of time in the crate to plan to continue, preferably you can transition him to either being loose overnight or in a room during the day. If he seems to be okay with the cats over time, an option might be a baby gate to divide the house into an area where he can be and a "safe" place for the cats to go (since most cats jump baby gates with no problem).

Can you up the afternoon walk to at least 45 minutes (an hour is better) and add a short walk in the later evening (just before dark?) If there are many dogs, especially loose dogs, in your neighborhood, you may have to drive somewhere else for a long afternoon walk. I have a similar issue, there are a lot of dogs (fortunately not loose, but enough running the fenceline to agitate an excitable dog) and I drive to a park most afternoons to put in about 3.5-4 miles (just over an hour) of brisk walking and its well worth it for a quieter evening :)

take treats with you on your walks and use those to refocus him on you and to reinforce good leash manners. I personally would NOT allow any greeting of dogs while on walks. For one, not every dog is friendly even if their owner says they are and for two, it is a big distraction from leash training and learning good walking manners. Once he has settled in, you can try meeting other dog owners for play time in the yard or hikes with known dogs etc.
Unfortunately, if you have a dog that looks like a pit bull at all, any incident with another dog will be your dog's fault. Even if another dog runs up on him, jumps on him snarling at him and attacking him, if your dog leaves a mark on the other dog (in self defense), he is the one who is going to be blamed. Just a word of caution.

I much prefer a harness for running or for using on a long line; it is dangerous if the dog hits the end of the line on a collar. Some dogs also have better leash manners on a harness, some have worse...

Consider getting into a basic training class. Great mental energy working for him, good learning experience for you. Many basic training classes lead to a CGC test (Canine Good Citizen) which is a good objective test of the dog's manners and sets a foundation up for good interaction with the public when you are out and about.
 

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You don't really want to run (on-leash) with him until he's full grown. For a medium sized dog like a Pit Bull, that means about 14-16 months of age. Running off-leash in a fenced area or running for fun on a long lead (like a 50 ft rope to play fetch) is fine, let the dog decide the speed and time.
Good to know. Thanks.

The crate time is okay during adjustment time, its good to have a midday break. But it is a little long of time in the crate to plan to continue, preferably you can transition him to either being loose overnight or in a room during the day. If he seems to be okay with the cats over time, an option might be a baby gate to divide the house into an area where he can be and a "safe" place for the cats to go (since most cats jump baby gates with no problem).
Yeah, we will definitely have a designated closed off room for him in the future. Just having a gate really scares me. He seems to be fine with the cats already, but you just never know. If he got out of the gated area and killed a cat I'd never be able to forgive myself.

Can you up the afternoon walk to at least 45 minutes (an hour is better) and add a short walk in the later evening (just before dark?) If there are many dogs, especially loose dogs, in your neighborhood, you may have to drive somewhere else for a long afternoon walk. I have a similar issue, there are a lot of dogs (fortunately not loose, but enough running the fenceline to agitate an excitable dog) and I drive to a park most afternoons to put in about 3.5-4 miles (just over an hour) of brisk walking and its well worth it for a quieter evening :)
I actually did just that today before even reading your reply. :) He did awesome. He really is getting better each day. Just sometimes certain dogs really distract him. I like your idea of driving to a different location.

Unfortunately, if you have a dog that looks like a pit bull at all, any incident with another dog will be your dog's fault. Even if another dog runs up on him, jumps on him snarling at him and attacking him, if your dog leaves a mark on the other dog (in self defense), he is the one who is going to be blamed. Just a word of caution.
That has crossed my mind as well. I actually just got back from my first visit to the vet with Vader. The vet thinks he definitely has some Pit in him but also some other kind of smaller terrier, like Boston Terrier. He weighed 29 lbs and she said he likely won't get much over 35 lbs (if healthy).

The two dogs Vader mostly gets distracted by are another Pit and a Black Lab. Both much, much larger than him. But like I said, he is getting better every day. I will give it time and take your advice to not let him socialize just yet.

Thanks for all your input. It's been extremely informative and helpful.
 

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Pits gotta chew. Get him a hard rubber bone and a Kong.

Crate training: Stuff a Kong, maybe freeze it. Let him lick it. Throw it in the crate and let him get it. If he'll let you have it, continue. Otherwise, use a small treat, instead. Let him smell the treat, then toss it into the crate. Let him get it and chew it. Repeat. The third time, toss the treat in the crate and then close the door. Stand back and watch as he tries to get into the crate. When he gives up, maybe sitting, but stopping and turning to look at you, let him into the crate, and close the door behind him...It works much better with a Kong... And, it should be much easier to get him into the crate now on.

Another way to capture Sit:
1. Go into the kitchen with NO distractions, and ignore him.
2. He'll look at you, then look around and sniff. Then, begin to get bored.
3. A bored dog will Sit, then lie, then sleep. When he Sits, say Sit, praise him, and give him a treat. Then, ignore him again.
4. Repeat 2 - 3 times, or for 10 min., if it's still working. Then, stop.
5. Repeat later in the day; then repeat the next day with a twist...
6. On the next day, try saying Sit, before he is bored to see if he begins to get it. If not, repeat as the first day.
7. On the third day, again try saying Sit... he should recognize the cue. Repeat for a few more days, and in different locations.

Dogs need to sleep a day or two for training to jell. While you dog may seem a little slow when it comes to Sit, He'll appear much more alert the next day, after a good night's sleep... Let us know what happens...
 
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