The American Staffordshire Terrier, or AmStaff for short, can easily be described as loyal, affectionate, courageous, friendly, devoted, and very intelligent. American Staffordshire Terriers are an amazing family dog, and if you are considering getting an AmStaff and wondering about training. You’ve come to the right place.
Are American Staffordshire Terriers easy to train? The American Staffordshire Terrier is easy to train due to their high level of intelligent and eagerness to please their owners. These traits make American Staffordshire Terriers easy to train. AmStaffs can excel in obedience training as well as agility sports due to their high level of intelligence and loyalty.
The American Staffordshire ranks as one of the more intelligent dog breeds out there. Taking the #48 out of #138 spot in the intelligence ranking charts. Combine that with their eagerness to please, and you have an excellent chance at your American Staffordshire excelling in their learn and obedience training.
How Do You Train An American Staffy?
Like any dog you should start with the basics when training your American Staffordshire Terrier. This means that if you are getting an AmStaff puppy you should begin on day one. If you are adopting an older AmStaff the best time to start training is also day one.
The earlier you can begin training with your American Staffordshire Terrier the better. Learning some of the basic commands like sit, stay, down, come, heel, off, and on, are a good place to start. Proper leash manners, potty training, recall skills, and understanding of some of the house rules and boundaries are important foundations to lay out.
So how do you train an American Staffy? Patience and consistency are the two main keys you must always keep in mind. You must demonstrate leadership with your AmStaff to fully engage them in the training process. A few things to keep in mind while training are:
Keep sessions short
Training your American Staffordshire can be easier when done in short 15-20 minute sessions. This ensures your AmStaff will not get bored with the activity. It gives you a good window of focus for them to learn.
Having multiple short sessions throughout the day to randomly work on specific skills and behaviors is encouraged as well.
Keep sessions fun
Your AmStaff loves to play and enjoy themselves, so keep training as fun as possible. This should not be confused with getting them excited. You want them to maintain focus, but praise and challenges can be a great mental stimulation for your dog.
Keep sessions consistent
Training should be done every single day. Multiples times a day where possible. By consistently practicing new skills, behaviors, and reinforcing house rules, you have a fair better chance of success. This doesn’t stop after they are no longer puppies. Practice even when they are adult dogs.
Keep them focused
Keeping a dog focused can be a challenge, especially if you are working with a puppy. Removing any unnecessary distractions is the best way to set yourself up for success. Removing certain toys, food, and unwanted noise will get your AmStaff focused on you, and not something else.
Keep calm and train on
Never lose your patience with your dog while training. If your American Staffy is not understanding, not responding, or just not interested, keep your cool. If you find that either you or the dog are becoming frustrated, it’s time to end the training session for the time being.
Come back once you are ready to try again with a calm, assertive and engaging manner. Never shout at, or punish your dog during training. This can only harm your future training sessions, and does no good in the short term.
How Do You Train An American Staffy Puppy?
Bringing home your adorable little American Staffy puppy on the first day is one you will never forget. They are so sweet, cute, and a tiny little nugget of love! Remember though, before you know it they are going to be a sweet, cute, and BIG nugget of love. So it’s best to get started on training from the get go.
Puppies can learn remarkably quickly, and practicing patience will be your new daily mantra. Use the above points when working on your basic commands with your puppy just like you would with any advanced training.
Puppy proof all the areas you dog will have access to as well. Those little stinkers will get into everything until they learn otherwise.
One of the first tasks at hand with a new puppy in the house is going to be crate training and potty training. There are many other important things for your AmStaff puppy to learn. But first we need them to learn where to potty, where to sleep and relax, and how we can make that training fun for them.
Crate Training An American Staffordshire Terrier
Crate training can be one of the most effective tools you can use in your puppies training. I used crate training for my Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy, and it was instrumental in potty training. Creating a safe space, and removing separation anxiety.
Not to mention it can be very useful when you are busy around the house and can be monitoring your puppy the entire time. By making the crate an enjoyable place where your American Staffy puppy can be relaxed will drastically reduce accidents in the house, anxiety when left alone, and any puppy collateral damage from being unattended.
Never use the crate as a punishment. This will be the most counter productive thing you can do. This is supposed to be a happy place for your dog.
Ensure your American Staffordshire puppy has enough room in their crate to stand up and turn around comfortably. They will grow fairly fast, so a crate with adjustable dividers to give them more room as they grow is a good economical choice. The MidWest Homes iCrate is a top seller on Amazon
Make sure your American Staffy puppy has nice soft blankets, and very durable chew toys that you can leave them alone with in their crate. A nice warm, comfortable environment for your AmStaff will make crate training that much easier.
Introducing The Crate To Your American Staffy Puppy
When it comes to getting your puppy used to the crate the best method is to start with very short time intervals. With my Staffy puppy I would invite her to “get in your house” with a toy or a treat, praise her calmly, and gently close the door. Wait for about 10 seconds, and if she was calm, open the door and calmly invite her out with praise.
Once she could do that I would gradually increase the time. 30 seconds, 1 minute, leaving the room with the crate for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, etc.. Each time I would calmly ask her to “get in your house”. Gently close the door, and ONLY let her out when she was calm.
Ensure your puppy is calm each time you let them out. Whether it is a 10 second trial, or a 5 minute. This will teach them that being calm in their crate is a good thing. Not being calm doesn’t get them out of the crate faster.
Before you know it your dog will go to their crate on their own to snooze and relax. You’ll also be able to leave the house with a calm puppy inside their “house” and run a few errands. This will relieve worrying about an anxious dog being at home.
Leaving Your Dog In Their Crate
You should never leave your dog in their crate long term however. Anything more than 4 hours for an adult dog is not recommended. And no longer than your puppy can hold their bladder. The crate is a short term place to house your dog, not the entire day while you’re at work.
Also be sure to remove your dog’s collar when putting them in their crate. This could get caught on something and create an unsafe situation. Also any toys or bones that they might destroy and possibly choke on should be left out of the crate while unattended.
When it comes to potty training, the crate plays an important role as well and that’s what we’ll cover next.
How Do You Potty Train An American Staffordshire Terrier?
Potty training your American Staffy can be made a much easier process if you follow a few simple guidelines to be proactive and preventative in your training. You can avoid a bunch of accidents in your home with these few simple tricks.
Crate train your American Staffy
As I mentioned above, crate training is a great tool to use with your puppy. By crate training your puppy you can greatly reduce the amount of accidents in your home.
Dogs do not like to defecate in their dens. Your puppy will hold out before going to the bathroom in their crate. This is not a fail safe method. If you puppy needs to go bad enough they will. But they are far less likely than if they were left to freely roam the house.
Being proactive in preventing accidents is your best tool. One thing puppies understand is routine, If you are able to establish a routine early with them, that can make potty training go 10x faster. What do I mean by routine? Taking your puppy outside to potty anytime they:
- Wake up from a nap
- Letting them out of their crate
- Finish playing or during play
- Finish eating and drinking
- Before your go to bed for the night
I lived on the 10th floor of an apartment when I got my Staffy, and following these 5 routines made my potty training so much easier.
Your puppy will give you cues that they need to go by whining or pawing at their crate. Sometimes by the time that happens the countdown clock is already running low. Being proactive can avoid these late notice accidents.
It’s Potty Time!
When your AmStaff puppy goes potty where they are supposed to go potty, you celebrate! Make that puppy feel like an absolute champion for doing their business outside. This sort of reinforced positive reaction will only teach your puppy to repeat that behavior.
Even if you are using potty pads as a method of training as well. If they hit the target you let them know how happy you are with that. Working in a cue word when you take them to their spot will also make things easier as they get old and you want them to “go to your business”.
Keep calm, and clean on
Accidents happen, and your puppy is just a puppy after all. You will need to be patient for the first 6 months or so as they learn to control their bladders, and learn the routine of going outside for bathroom breaks.
Never scold, shout, or stick your dog’s face in their accident. This is counter productive as they don’t understand why they are being punished. This can create fear in the dog leading to potential behavior issues down the road.
Just keep calm, and ignore your AmStaff puppy if they have an accident. No shouting, no attention, nothing. Just pick up your stain and odor remover bottle and clean up the mess. This is what you signed up for when you got a puppy. Just deal with it, and try to be proactive next time.
How Do You Train An American Staffy Recall?
Recall training for your American Staffy is going to be very important. Especially if you ever planned to have them off leash. It can also be something you will need to have in emergency situations where your dog could be at risk of being injured.
Here are a few ways how you train your American Staffy to recall
Make the recall desirable
Your recall cue should signal to your dog that coming back to your side is the best thing they could do at that moment. There will be a time when you are competing against all sorts of distractions like smells, other dogs, people and the whole interesting world.
Being by your side when called should be something they love to do.
Practice your recall training at home first in a low distraction setting. Each time your dog comes to your side you shower them in praise and reward with some food or a favorite toy. As they get better at this, broaden the scope of the recall to different settings slowly to ensure they get this down.
Make it a game
One thing I did when my Staffy was a puppy and wasn’t keen on leaving the park was engage her in a game of chase. Once I had her attention I would turn and run away to have her chase me. This also allowed me to introduce a cue word “let’s go”. Once she caught up to me she got praised and rewarded.
If you have a partner that can train with you all the better. If each of you stand across the yard or room from each other with some tasty treats, you can have your dog come to each person as they are called using the cue.
This will help reinforce the idea that coming when called equals reward and praise.
Practice your cue daily
Like everything else in training practice makes progress. Work on the recall every single day with the same enthusiasm. Consistency in any area of training is vital to get that training and the desired behaviour to stick.
Never punish your dog for recalling
When your dog does come back to you after you have been calling them for a long time, never ever punish them once they get back. This is teaching your dog the opposite of what you want, which is the desire to be by your side.
Punishing the dog, no matter how misbehaved and disobedient they may have been will not achieve what you want.
Don’t repeat yourself
We have all seen it at the park. The owner constantly yells over and over and over “Fido Come!” and Fido just never comes. This is what we call spoiling the cue. Your dog will treat this as background noise and no matter how much you say it, they aren’t paying attention.
You may need to change your cue word if you have been doing this. Only use the cue when you have their attention to ensure they can respond. More practice at home on your recall with the new cue will be needed to avoid this in the future.
How Do I Stop My Staffy Pulling On Lead?
Training your American Staffordshire to walk on their lead properly is a very crucial skill. These leash manners will make all the difference in how enjoyable and safe your walks can be. If you have an AmStaff puppy all the more reason to start early. They will soon be big powerful adults.
First and foremost before you even leave the house you need to access what state your dog is in. If they are all hyped up and ready to bolt through the door, then you need to take a step back. Your walk with your AmStaff needs to begin calm and with you in control and not a moment sooner.
A lot of dog owners with the problem of their dog pulling on the leash starts by getting their dog all excited for the walk. An excited dog is different from an eager dog.
Start The Walk Right When Training Your American Staffy
Most dogs want to go for a walk, but you are aiming for a calm eagerness. Start by calmly getting them ready, then before you open the door ensure they are ready, but calm.
You want to be able to open your door and have your dog wait for you to exit. Practice this every time you leave the house. If they dart out, start over in the house. Have them stay/wait and follow you out when released from that stay/wait.
This sets the stage for the walk as you being the leader. If this takes 100 times to get it right. Then do it 100 times.
Now that you are out in the world the game is going to be getting your dog to continue to follow you. Your American Staffy should be walking right beside you at your pace. If they begin to get out in front of you need to either stop and recall, or change direction to get them to follow you.
This again may take 100 times to get it right. But they will get it with enough calm, consistent practice from you. My Staffy was a puller when she got to about 9 months old. The one thing that works great for me is just stopping. Recalling her back to the heel position and proceeding forward.
My Staffy has learned that a tight leash means not moving forward. Now she will correct herself if she wanders to the side or in front a little and feels a little tension. She will slow down or return to my side til the leash is loose. Tight leads should never mean the dog continues forward.
Practice this as long as it takes. You will be surprised how quickly they will pick things up. If your dog is especially bad at walking on lead however, it is best to contact a local professional dog behaviorist for a consult.
How Do You Socialize An American Staffy?
Socializing your American Staffordshire Terrier is vital for all areas of training and behavior in your dog. Having a well socialized dog makes everything that much easier when it comes to having a balanced, obedient, and well behaved dog.
You need to start socializing your American Staffy as soon as possible. This means that as soon as your puppy has had all of their shots it is time to venture out into the world and meet as many dogs, kids, adults and other animals as possible.
Expose your dog to all kinds of environments as well. City streets, parks, markets, loud noises, different smells. Everything you possibly can get them accustomed to will ensure anxious and fearful behaviors in the future are greatly reduced.
Your AmStaff puppy will learn all sorts of dog behaviors from being around other dogs, and have less of a tendency to become intolerant, fearful or even aggressive once they reach adulthood.
This can be especially important for American Staffordshire Terriers as they can be less tolerant of other animals then some other breeds. The more positive socialization the better.
The American Staffordshire Terriers high intelligence and eagerness to please make them easy to train for an owner willing to put in the effort. They make excellent family pets and can be a one of the greatest joys to have in your household if you consistently work on their training, socialization, and well being.
These lovable, loyal, and affectionate dogs can excel in their obedience by just applying some of the principles mentioned in this post, but you should also hire a local professional for group or individual classes. Puppy class and one on one training for your American Staffordshire can reap tremendous rewards for your lives.
When you bring your AmStaff puppy home, begin your training right away. Keep it fun, keep it short, and keep yourself calm, and you will have many joyful years of a true companion.