How to Raise Your Pitbull to Be Less Aggressive
Five simple steps you should take to make sure your Pitbull is not aggressive.
There is a lot of poor information out there. Today I read an article on how to use a pack of “bloodthirsty” Pit bulls to guard your property. Websites like DogsBite.org blame all dog on human violence on this breed and list all of the incidences of Pitbull attacks and human deaths each year in the United States.
In 2014 they report that almost 64% of fatal dog bites were because of Pit bulls, or at least by dogs identified as Pit bulls.
All that info, so much _____!
No matter how many Pitbull fans out there try to state the truth about these dogs, there are always going to be detractors. Why is that? Part of the reason is that some of the facts claimed by Pitbull lovers are wrong.
Why So Many People Hate Pitbulls
Here are a few statements made by fans of Pitbulls and what the detractors have to say:
- Pitbulls do not have locking jaws: This one is easy to argue because any person with a veterinary medical background will tell you that Pitbulls do not have locking jaws, despite the false reports on a number of anti-Pit bull websites. Their jaws are no different than any other breed of dog. Many of the dogs do, however, hold on tight when in the midst of a fight, and Pitbull fans sometimes do not acknowledge this.
- The media is biased against Pit bulls: If a small or medium sized dog not known for biting does attack a human, no one cares and it is not going to make the news. Attacks by small dogs do not usually cause serious injury and are unlikely to be reported. Pitbulls, however, always make the news. Thus, whether the anti-Pitbull lobby chooses to accept it or not, the media is biased. When an unidentified breed bites, it may be described as a “Pitbull type” by some writer trying to make the front page.
- It is the owner and not the breed: Although the Pitbull is a powerful and athletic dog, all of the serious attack cases I read about are caused by poor handling and could be avoided by following the steps listed in the second part of this article. Does this mean Pitbulls should be forbidden to all just because some owners do not know how to take care of them? Not in my opinion. It is the fault of the owner, not the breed.
- Punish the deed and not the breed: This is a commonly repeated phrase by all Pit bull supporters but it does ring true. The anti-Pitbull crowd wants to forbid ownership of all Pitbulls since they think it will avoid the deed by eliminating the breed, but before the Pit bull was a common status symbol among gangstas and others, people bought Rottweilers, Dobermans, and before that even German Shepherd Dogs. All of them were accused of viciousness, just like the Pitbull is today. It is not the Pitbull that is at fault—the problem is with people that do not even deserve to care for a large dog.
Pitbulls are not a vicious breed but there are a lot of myths out there that owners have to fight against. In order to crush some of these negative perceptions, every Pitbull owner has to make sure that his dog is always on his best behavior.
Five Simple Tips
So if your Pitbull has to face all of this racism from the very start, how do you make your dog as calm as possible so that he can never be accused of a violent act?
- Obedience train your dog as soon as you bring her home. This is obvious but almost all of the dogs that cause problems are untrained. If you do not know how to train your dog, learn now, and start as soon as you bring her home so that she responds to your hand signals and voice without hesitation. When I walk my dog I always put her in a “down-stay” when we approach anyone else on the beach. The people can see what a well-trained and obedient dog she is and thus she acts as an “ambassador” for other Pitbulls.
- Socialize your dog from an early age. There is a lot of disagreement on how early this should be done since young dogs are more susceptible to contagious disease before their last vaccines. Based on my personal experience, I think socialization needs to happen in the sensitive period before a dog is through with her vaccines. A well socialized Pitbull will enjoy human company.
- Whether or not you believe in alpha dogs and dominance theory, there are a few simple exercises you should always practice at home: Feeding your dog after making him sit, keeping your dog off of the couch, having your dog sleep in his own bed instead of your bed, and teaching your dog to wait for you're okay before going through a door. Even if your Pitbull this type of does not need this type of training, they will become a standard part of her life and make her a better behaved pet.
- Provide your dog with plenty of exercise. It is another cliché, but a tired dog really is a well behaved dog. Almost all of the stories I read about Pitbull attacks happen from people who leave their dogs in the house all of the time, keep their dogs chained up all day long, or do not know how to interact with a large athletic dog. If you want a Pitbull just so that you can keep him chained up in the yard and show off to the neighbors, you should not have a dog at all.
- Keep your dog well fed and in good health at all times. Yes, these things can effect his behavior. A dog that is starving is more likely to bite; a dog that is suffering from a painful illness will have a short temper and be more likely to snap when bothered by a family member or stranger. Keep your Pitbull in good shape, and if there is something wrong take him to your veterinarian for an examination.
What is the most important way to make your Pitbull less aggressive?
More Suggestions for Your Pitbull
The following suggestions will not make your Pitbull less aggressive but will make him a better canine citizen.
- Even if walking your dog off leash, carry a leash with you and put her on it when approaching children. Almost half of the victims of dog bites and fatal dog attacks are less than 13 years of age, and even if your dog is a good citizen many parents are ready to condemn her just because of the breed. Keeping your dog on a leash when a child is close is the best way to avoid any problems.
- If you are walking your dog off leash and see another dog or small animal, attach the leash immediately. Not all Pitbulls are aggressive to small dogs, but if the small dog is aggressive and attacks your Pitbull, your dog is going to be blamed for any damage even if he is only defending himself.
- If you have the opportunity to participate in a therapy dog program, do so. Pitbulls are great dogs and every person that meets a dog in therapy will remember the experience.
All Pitbull owners know that these dogs have a terrible reputation and face extreme prejudice. Do not make things worse. Follow these steps to make sure that your dog is not aggressive.
Questions & Answers
My female pitbull is over two years old and has been with us since she was a small puppy; we found her abandoned on the side of the road. Recently she has been attacking us for doing things we have always done with her. How can we stop this behavior?
© 2015 Dr Mark