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Pit Bull Terriers   Leave a comment

As a reader of Friends of the Dogs (www.friendsofthedog.co.za) I enjoy their informative articles and profiles. The original article that FOTD used can be found via the link at the bottom of the page.  This Pit Bull profile offers a balanced reflection instead of a rose tinted one as most breed profiles are.  I’d like to emphasize that this breed needs an active strong owner with time for exercise and training, plus time for other activities like agility to burn off energy and keep that active brain occupied.  Not recommended for the faint at heart, but the Pit Bull puppies I’ve had in Rose’s Puppy School have been a lot of fun and generally well able to enjoy the company of other puppies.

BREED PROFILE – THE PIT BULL TERRIER

It is a well known fact that the Pit Bull breed was bred for blood sports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and dog fighting.  What is not generally known is that in the days of organized dog fighting, the dog handlers were in the pit with their dogs while they fought. Pit Bull 3They had to pick up and separate the dogs while in full fight. Before a fight, the handlers had to wash each other’s dogs. After the fight, the badly injured dogs were often treated at ringside by strangers. Any dog that attacked or bit a handler (even if it was the other dog’s handler) or anyone else at any time was culled, often on the spot, and would never have been bred.[1] This little bit of history perhaps explains why the Pit Bull makes a loyal, affectionate family pet but can in certain instances display aggression toward other dogs or animals. . Pit Bull Terrier, during the lifetime of the breed, has been used not only for fights with animals, but also for protection, hunting and as a shepherd. A pit bull is therefore a versatile dog. So is this controversial breed the right dog for you?

1.       Personality

This is a breed that loves people, and has a reputation for being wonderful with children, tolerating their rough play. They are affectionate, loving companions that love to participate in activities with their families, be it a car ride or a walk in the park. Pit Bulls are often described as clowns and have a knack of making you laugh. The Pit Bull is not a guard dog for property as they need to be with their humans but should the need ever arise they will not think twice about sacrificing their life to save yours. An environment filled with love and attention is what makes a Pit Bull thrive.

Pit Bulls can be dog aggressive which is no surprise given their history and this trait often emerges near sexual maturity. A dog that seemed fine with other dogs suddenly becomes reactive toward other dogs of the same sex, housemates or any other dog for that matter.

Adult Pit Bulls should never be left unsupervised with other dogs. Pit Bulls may exhibit “prey drive”, leading them to “stalk” smaller animals such as cats, rats, chickens, livestock, or other pets.They are excellent escape artists and it is imperative that the owner be aware of this and take necessary precautions to prevent escape. These dogs are intelligent and enjoy training which makes them good candidates for activities such as agility, obedience and Frisbee.

2.  Is this the correct pup for you, which is the best home and why?
As an owner of the Pit Bull you will need to have strong leadership skills, be able to read your dog’s body language to help you recognize signs of tension between housemates. You have to be prepared to separate dogs if tension develops. You need to know what “pushes” your dog’s buttons and you need to have control of your dog under any circumstances. Does this sound daunting? The truth is that these skills are needed for most dog breeds but because of their unfortunate reputation you as a Pit Bull owner owe it to your dog to be the best ambassadors for the breed that you can be!

Like most puppies Pit Bulls love to chew and some enjoy digging. If they are bored, they will find a way to entertain themselves. A bored dog is a destructive dog so make sure that you have time to exercise your Pit Bull’s body and to stimulate his mind. Pit Bull 2

Early socialization and training–and lots of it–are non negotiable and should be ongoing throughout your Pit Bull’s life . Pit Bulls are very powerful, active animals who must be taught how to act around both people and other animals. Apartment living is not well suited to this breed as they will often personify the proverbial “bull in a chinashop.”

3.  Where do I get my pup from?
It is important to find a dedicated and ethical breeder who will only produce the most sound, stable puppies.
Avoid the well-intentioned, but uneducated  “backyard breeder” and pet shops. . You WON’T find ethical breeders in want-ads, or “Pit Bull Puppies For Sale” over the Internet sites .
Breed magazines, dog publications and national breed clubs are good resources to find a good breeder.

4.    Which other breeds are most compatible with the Pit Bull?
Although the Pit Bull is not generally recommended as a companion to other dogs, they can get along well with other animals with proper management and supervision

5.    Is it wise to have two or more of the same breed?
Same-sex aggression may present with two bitches and even between two males.
in general same-sex households are not a good idea and nor is getting two or more dogs from the same litter.

6.    Do they get on well with other animals?
As mentioned previously the Pit Bull may show dog-directed aggression, but sensitivity to other dogs will depend on each individual. A well socialized and trained Pit Bull should never initiate conflict but if they are challenged do not expect them to shy away. Pit Bulls can and do interact peacefully with other dogs and animals. Individual dog temperament, early training, socialisation and good management skills  play an important role in determining  whether or not a Pit Bull is capable of getting along with other animals. Many people successfully keep multiple Pit Bulls and other dogs in the same household.

Occasionally Pit Bull Terriers have difficulty distinguishing small pets from chew-toys. They are a very playful and energetic breed and love to chase, chew, and toss. If they are not taught that small animals such as chickens and rabbits are pets to be respected, they may kill them accidentally.

7.   Training requirements and grooming.
Grooming for the Pit Bull is relatively easy and fuss free.. They have a short, smooth coat and you will need to brush your dog about once a week to prevent excess shedding. You will also need to clean your dog’s ears regularly and trim his nails. In this regard they are very low maintenance dogs!

A recurring theme in this article is that of socialization. Ensure that you enrol your puppy in a reputable puppy socialisation class as soon as possible. Progress to domestic obedience and if you are adventurous enrol for a dog sport such as agility. Your dog will love you for it!

8.   Health concerns.
Pit Bull Terriers are generally quite a healthy breed.

Health concerns that have been recorded include hip dysplasia , patella (knee) problems, thyroid dysfunction and congenital heart defects. Pit Bull Terriers with lighter coat colours may have a higher occurrence of skin allergies. Good breeders are continually striving to eliminate these health issues.

9.       Life expectancy.
The average life expectancy of  Pit Bull Terrier is twelve to fourteen years.

In Closing I would like to share the results of a study conducted in America.

“According to rigorous testing by The National Canine Temperament Testing Association, the golden retriever, poodle, border collie, English setter, German pointer and numerous other breeds are considered more likely to become aggressive than Pit Bulls. The average score of the 122 breeds tested was a mere 77 percent, but Pit Bulls scored a 95.2 percent on these tests. (The best score possible was 100)

Not only have Pit Bulls scored extremely well on temperament tests, but they have been serving key roles in search and rescue efforts, excel in agility training and work nationwide as therapy and service dogs.  Being intelligent, athletic dogs, Pit Bulls excel in many dog sports, including dog agility, fly ball, lure coursing, and advanced obedience competition. Out of the 25 dogs who have earned UKC (United Kennel Club) “superdog” status (by gaining championship titles in conformation, obedience, agility, and weight pull), fourteen have been American Pit Bull Terriers.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a working dog, and is suitable for a wide range of working disciplines due to their intelligence, high energy, and endurance. In the United States they have been used as search and rescue dogs that save lives, police dogs performing narcotics and explosives detection, Border Patrol dogs, hearing dogs to provide services to the deaf, as well as general service dogs.[1]
Source : y [2] http://pitbullcenterfolds.org/pit-bull-misconceptions.html

If you want a dog who…

  • Is medium to large, muscular and powerful
  • Looks imposing but is usually non-aggressive with people
  • Has a sleek, easy-groom coat that comes in many colours

A Pit Bull Terrier may be the breed for you!

If you are not keen on…

  • dealing with public perception,
  • An extremely careful search to be sure you’re acquiring a stable-tempered dog
  • investing time on extra socialization and training to make sure your dog turns out well
  • Possible Aggression toward other animalsPit Bull
  • Exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Destructiveness when bored

…then a Pit Bull Terrier may not be for you.

Courtesy http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/americanpitbullterriers.html


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So What’s the Fuss?   Leave a comment

Why does it matter if dogs aren’t really wolves in doggie clothing?

There was a subtle shift in my mind set when I began to take this on board a couple of years ago. What we think tends to inform our actions. So if I think my dog is really wolf, and wolves have such a bad rep, then I need to be on top of keeping my ‘wolf’ in check. So even though I love my dogs, I have to be a disciplinarian and strong authority figure. I cannot let my guard slip (especially with large German Shepherds who are way too smart!) and need to sit on any ‘signs’ of rebellion.

But once I understood that the information is flawed (see previous blog “Wolf?”), I did quite a bit of thinking over time about how that would change my relationship with my own dogs and how I would advise owners of the cute little pups who come to Rose’s Puppy School. It was important that my thinking led to responsible advice handed out to trusting humans. The wrong advice could lead to injury and heartbreak further down the line.

So yes, dogs need guidance and leadership from their humans, but they don’t need punishment. Behaviours we find unacceptable can be interrupted and made unsuccessful consistently for a puppy so that that behaviour falls off the possible options the dogs has to pick from in a given situation. Instead we can substitute behaviours that are more acceptable that we reinforce over and over until that option is the dog’s first choice.

I love hearing from owners about how the puppy is learning not to jump because they have made jumping boring by ignoring the bouncing baby and teaching them to sit and greet a hand instead.

A problem owners often come up against is when their otherwise loving pet decides that couches are made for him, and growls because they try and turf him off. He’s not actually telling them that he’s the boss and a higher ranking animal. He’s just saying he likes that spot and isn’t willing to share or move. You’ll need to entice him off the couch and onto his own bed (lots of yummy treats or a delicious stuffed hoof will make that change a much better option) – do NOT punish him for being on the couch or growling – that could rouse his resource guarding instinct and lead to an argument you may not win. For a while restrict access to the couch when you are not there to remind him he has his own bed. Keep reinforcing the correct sleeping spot and cue ‘on your bed’, ‘go settle’.

Jumping and sleeping quarters are just 2 of many areas of possible confusion when bringing up this different species. The more you read and listen and work with your dog, the more you’ll understand and learn about how to adapt her canine instincts to your human expectations.

Posted 20/10/2012 by Rose's Puppy School in Dog Behaviour, Rose's Reflections

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