Owning a Pit Bull can be one of the most rewarding and challenging relationships you will ever have. The zest for life, boundless energy, and endless entertainment can be both fulfilling, and completely exhausting. I know this first hand as an owner of two Pit Bull type dogs, and a lifelong advocate.
At what age do Pit Bulls calm down? As a whole Pit Bulls will be most active between the ages of 3 to 12 months old. After the first year you will notice your Pit Bull will calm down slightly, typically Pit Bulls will be highly active and not begin to calm down noticeably until after the age of 2.
Every dog is different. Some Pit Bulls mature and calm down sooner, other Pit Bulls may seem like they will never calm down. In order to manage your Pit Bulls energy more effectively and promote calm behavior, you need some tricks.
During my years working with dozens of Pit Bulls and owning two Pit Bull type dogs, I have picked up a handful of useful techniques. In this post I will cover how you can manage your Pit Bulls energy as well as encourage calm behaviors. Let’s dig in.
Why Are Pit Bulls So Hyper?
The American Pit Bull Terrier along with other Pit Bull type dogs come from a heritage of working dogs. Unfortunately most know for the brutal history of bull-baiting and pit fighting in the early 1800’s. Pit Bulls were bred to be highly energetic, strong, athletic and tenacious family dogs.
In modern times the Pit Bull has become a wonderful companion animal without the demands of working farms or providing barbaric entertainment for the masses. The lack of having a job to perform can lead Pit Bulls to become hyper and occasionally destructive when their needs are not being met.
Young Pit Bulls especially puppies between the ages of 3 months to 12 months old are highly energetic. Like most puppies of any breed, Pit Bull puppies can be hyperactive and need constant stimulation and attention.
Learning how to manage and direct this energy into productive, healthy activities is the job of any responsible owner. Knowing how to calm down a hyper Pit Bull, as well as prevent out of control behavior from starting will be a big part of the first 2 years of your puppy’s life.
How Do You Calm Down A Hyper Pit Bull?
Pit Bulls have a tremendous amount of energy, especially in the early years. Providing your dog with enough physical and mental stimulation is crucial. Along with properly managing their environment, reinforcing positive behaviors, routines, and remaining a calm and consistent leader.
One of the most effective ways to calm down a hyper Pit Bull is exercise. This may seem like common sense but it is often the cause of many hyperactive behaviors. Pit Bulls need a lot of exercise. Lack of exercise can result in pent up energy leading to frustration, hyperactivity and destructive behaviors.
Giving your Pit Bull the right amount of exercise each day will reduce hyper behavior. Brisk walks, games of fetch, flirt poles, hikes, running, and even sports like agility are excellent options. An adult Pit Bull will need at least 60-90 minutes of physical exercise every day.
Puppies should be getting plenty of exercise as well, but not to the same degree as an adult. As puppies develop and their growth plates are forming, strenuous exercise can be harmful. Walks, running around freely to explore and sniff, as well as some less intense games are recommended in shorter amounts of time.
Physical exercise will burn off much of a Pit Bull’s energy stores and leave them in a more calm and content state. I have always said a tired dog is a happy dog. Get your Pit Bull out a few times a day for some exercise and you will see a calmer dog.
Physical exercise is important, but equally important is mental exercise. Providing a Pit Bull with enough mental stimulation throughout the day can also reduce hyperactive behavior. Pit Bull are intelligent dogs that require a job to perform. Lack of mental exercise will result in boredom which can be expressed in hyperactivity and destructive behaviors.
Playing games and providing challenges for your Pit Bull is something that should be a part of your daily routine. Sniff and search enrichment games, obedience and trick training, food puzzles, and stimulating chew toys are all activities I use with my dogs.
Games that involve levels of physical activity as well are excellent options. Fetch for example provides a clear task for your dog, and can be used to work on training. Basic commands such as “wait”, “fetch”, “come” and “drop” can all be practiced during this game.
Work in a variety of activities for your Pit Bull each day. I like to give my dogs a food puzzle for one of their meals, practice some tricks, play a bit of tug of war and fetch, and search games for food and toys. This leaves my Pit Bull mentally exhausted and content every day.
Establishing solid routines with your Pit Bull can keep them in a calmer state throughout the day. Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. When a lack of structure is not in place for walks, games, meals, and general interaction time, dogs can feel lost and become hyperactive or anxious.
We all lead busy lives, but as a responsible dog owner it is crucial to establish specific times for exercise, meals, play time, quiet time, and bedtime. This structure will help your dog remain calm as they know when to expect certain activities.
I have a set morning routine with my Pit Bulls, a pre-dinner exercise period, a trick training and games time, and an established quiet time and bed routine. Which includes a shorter less intense walk to end the evening.
The times between walks, meals, and games are when my dogs nap, relax, and remain in a calm state. There is no guessing for them or worry of when they are going to be able to play and interact. Routines keep them calm and prevent hyperactive behavior from ever becoming a problem.
Reward Good Behaviors
Positive reinforcement is a tried and true method of behavior modification and basic learning. Rewarding the wanted behaviors with your Pit Bull will teach them what you expect of them and what pleases you. Use this method of rewards to communicate to your Pit Bull that being calm is desired.
Whenever my Pit Bulls are relaxed, or go from a state of excitement to a calmer state I immediately reward them with calm, gentle praise. I am not looking to excite them again, so a gentle “Yes” or “Very good girl/boy” is always used. Sometimes a favorite treat as well.
I use this from day one when I first bring home my puppy. I used it with my 11 year old Staffy, and currently do this with my 9 month old Pocket American Bully puppy. My Staffy is one of the calmest dogs you will meet, and when excited I am able to calm her almost instantly. My American Bully puppy is still a work in progress 🙂
Control The Environment
The environment of your Pit Bull can play a large role in their level of calm and ability to relax. Lots of activity, noises, and smells can over stimulate a Pit Bull and cause hyperactive behavior. Kids running around, adults getting excited at the game on t.v. or the construction work going on in the neighbor’s yard, can all create an environment of excitement.
Manage your Pit Bulls environment if they are easily aroused and become hyper. If your dog becomes over excited when they see people, pets, or wildlife outside, block off their access to the windows. Loud noises prevent them from becoming calm? Place them in a quiet and comfortable room.
Whatever the stimulus might be for your Pit Bull, manage that by providing a calmer setting. You can’t always control the noises outside, or the kids playing in the house, but you can create an environment that will provide a calm space for your Pit Bull
It can often be frustrating when dealing with a hyperactive dog. Many times people’s first instinct is to yell, scream, scold, or physically intervene in the behavior. This can create the opposite outcome of calming your Pit Bull down.
Dogs respond to our behavior and general demeanor more than we think. Yelling at your hyper dog won’t always stop the behavior, in most cases it can escalate things. Your Pit Bull will see you making loud sounds, and displaying excited behavior, and most likely continue to do the same.
Remaining calm, cool, and collected is the key. Calmly take your Pit Bull for a walk, give them a brain game, or remove them from a chaotic environment. Whatever technique you are wanting to use, do so calmly and with patience. Once your Pit Bull begins to calm down, praise the behavior.
Consult The Professionals
There will be situations where consulting with a professional is absolutely needed. Whether that is a professional trainer that can offer a specific program, or a veterinarian that can assess whether your Pit Bull has an underlying health condition.
There are some health related problems that can create hyperactivity in dogs. Usually this behavior begins out of nowhere with a previously calmer dog.
“Some underlying medical conditions, like metabolic disease associated with liver dysfunction, hyperthyroidism, and neurological conditions, can manifest as hyperactivity”
– Karen Overall 1997 “The Relaxation Protocol”
There is no shame in asking for help. We all want what is best for our dogs, our family, and the community. A hyperactive Pit Bull can be a liability in some cases so it’s important we find ways to manage the behavior. Consult a professional if you are at a loss and overwhelmed.
Will Getting My Pitbull Neutered Calm Him Down?
Many people believe that hyper behavior from male Pit Bulls is a result of being intact or unneutered. Getting your Pit Bull neutered will result in calming him down, but only to a certain degree. Factors such as learned behavior and genetics still play a large role in your Pit Bull’s level of calm.
It is true that dogs that have been neutered will show signs of less sexual desire and roaming behaviors. The lack of focus associated with Pit Bulls that remain intact due to their attention towards other dogs as mates or rivals is reduced.
Roaming behaviors such as trying to dig under the fence or escape the yard in order to search out mates is also reduced. These behaviors are some of the benefits associated with neutering your Pit Bull and reducing hyper behavior. This will not however create a calm Pit Bull entirely.
Neutering Won’t Solve All Your Problems
Learned behaviors associated with hyper behavior, as well as genetics will factor into your Pit Bull’s level of calm. Even if your dog is neutered but has tendencies to get hyper around certain people, activities, pets, or environments as a result of training, or lack thereof, neutering will not remove this behavior.
Genetics can also play a role in your Pit Bull’s behavior that neutering will not resolve. Dogs with high energy levels, prey drive, and general hyperactivity can be a result of their genetics. Neutering can do very little to calm your dog when they have a strong DNA blueprint for working dog qualities.
Neutering your Pit Bull will definitely have benefits towards their behavior, but be sure to manage your expectations. This is not a cure all for hyper behavior. Having your Pit Bull neutered can help to calm them down, but there will be additional requirements with training and managing energy that are needed.
One of the reasons many, including myself, love the Pit Bull and Pit Bull type dogs is because of their high energy and zest for life. There is never a dull moment with a Pit Bull in your life. There are ways to harness this energy and find a terrific balance between excited play and calm relaxation.
By following the tips outlined in this post you will have an excellent way to reduce your Pit Bull’s hyperactive behaviors and encourage calmness. Plenty of exercise, routine, positive reinforcement, and managing yourself and the environment is crucial.
The Pit Bull is a breed that is eager to please and can be very easy to train. When provided the right guidance, and when their physical and mental needs are being met, calm behavior can be a reality. Even for younger pups.
Be patient with your Pit Bull in the first couple years of their life. They will calm down as time goes on. Find ways to direct their energy into positive activities. Teach them when it is time to release that energy, and when it is time to just chill.
PIBBLES & BITS TOP PICKS
King Komb DeShedding Tool – One of the best dog brushes on the market. I use the King Komb each and every week with my Pibbles. Easy to use and even easier to clean.
Wahl Dry Skin Oatmeal Shampoo – Smells great, cleans great, and best of all keeps my dog’s skin and coat looking and feeling amazing. Wahl Dry Skin Oatmeal Shampoo keeps my Pibbles skin moisturized like no other.
Earth Rated Dog Wipes – Dog wipes are an essential to keep on hand, and nothing beats Earth Rated. Hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and durable. I keep these dog wipes in the house and the car for everyday use.
Kong Extreme – Kongs are one of my most used tools to give my dogs some mental stimulation and something tough to chew. Kong Extremes are as tough as they come and will give your Pibble the entertainment they crave.
Outward Hound Food Puzzle – Outward Hound food puzzles are the best in the industry. Available from beginner to advanced. These are an excellent way to challenge and mentally stimulate your dog.
BeneBone Dog Chew – The toughest dog chew around. My dogs absolutely love the bacon flavor and peanut butter flavor BeneBone. These will keep your toughest chewers busy for weeks, if not months and years.
BarkBox Super Chewer – Variety is the spice of life, and BarkBox Super Chewer is the perfect way to keep your dog engaged. New treats, toys, and chews each and every month that your super chewer will love.
iCrate Dog Crate – The iCrate is my absolute top recommendation for dog crates. I use this for both my dogs and love the sturdy, easy to store, and versatile adjustable panel. You need the iCrate in your life.
HiKiss Long Training Lead – Recall training and puppy training outdoors requires a long training lead. My favorite to use is the HiKiss long training lead. Available in a range of lengths to suit your long lead training needs.