How to Train Pit Bull and Lab Mix Puppies

Updated November 21, 2016

Some call it a Labrador/pit bull mix. Others prefer a designer name such as "Labrabull" or "Pitador." You can call your mixed-breed puppy whatever you want, but you have some extra research to do to find out what your puppy might be like. Puppies that are a mix between Labrador retrievers and pit bulls can inherit any (or every) trait of both breeds. Because Labradors and pit bulls are both intelligent breeds, your puppy is likely to be smart and quick to learn (if you know how to motivate it). Both breeds are also energetic and family-oriented, so you can be certain that your "Labrabull" puppy will be a loving companion if you take the time to train it properly.

Socialise your puppy from an early age. Your puppy has pit bull blood, which means there is a risk of aggression. Arrange puppy play dates for your puppy to play with other dogs. Introduce it to strangers, children, different types of transportation, other pets (such as cats) and different sights, sounds or smells. Expose it to as many different things as possible in its early life, and always reward it for being relaxed and friendly. This will help your puppy to grow up confident, fearless and sociable.

Observe your puppy closely to see what motivates it. Most dogs love to get treats as rewards, but for some, other rewards can be even better. Labrador retrievers love to play, so your mix puppy might enjoy a game of fetch more than a tasty snack. Pit bulls are motivated by affection (and food), so praise and a good belly rub might be the best way to reinforce good behaviour.

Set rules and boundaries for your puppy and enforce them from the moment it comes home. Be consistent and don't allow it to break your rules (such as getting on the couch or drinking from the toilet). It might have inherited the stubbornness of a pit bull, and will gladly take over your home if you let it. Give your puppy rules to follow to reinforce your position as pack leader and prevent bad habits from developing.

Correct your puppy's mistakes in a positive manner. Don't yell or punish it. Labs and pit bulls are both sensitive breeds, and your mix puppy probably won't respond well to these methods. Instead, interrupt the behaviour with a sound and then reward your puppy for stopping. This gives it an alternate behaviour and shows it what you expect without creating fear and fear-related problems, including aggression.

Schedule formal training sessions every day. Hold two or three 10-minute sessions throughout the day. Your puppy's curious Labrador side won't focus much longer than that. Make training sessions seem like a fun game. Both of its parent breeds crave human attention, play and affection. Keeping training sessions positive and upbeat will motivate it to learn more quickly (and to keep trying when it makes a mistake).

Use treats to lure your puppy into following your commands. It will move in certain ways as it tries to reach the treat. Speak the verbal command as you move the treat around and reward your puppy as soon as it starts to move in the right direction. Gradually withhold treats and ask your puppy to obey a command correctly more and more often before giving it a reward.

Practice your puppy's commands daily by incorporating them into its daily life. For example, require your puppy to sit and stay until you release it to go outside (this will keep it from rushing the door). Ask it to perform tricks to earn its meals. Be creative, and think of ways that you can help your dog practice its commands every day.

Things You'll Need

  • Dog treats
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