Owner Responsibilities

While owners of pit bulls have the same responsibilities as all dog owners, they do have some extra factors to consider. Because pit bulls tend to have negative reputations, taking extra care to properly train and socialize them is one of the more important responsibilities associated with owning a pit bull. Keep in mind that pit bull breeders will not necessarily train your pit bull puppy or dog before selling him to you.

In some cases, people get pit bulls so that they can have a mean and aggressive-looking dog. Those who get these dogs solely to intimidate others are generally not responsible pet owners. They often instill aggressive behavior in pit bulls by:

  • catching the dog off guard
  • hitting or otherwise physically abusing the dog
  • teasing or otherwise tormenting the dog.

This is not the dog”s fault, but this is why there are so many pit bulls that are aggressive, stressed and otherwise disobedient. Responsible owners should avoid turning their dogs into these types of pets and, thus, perpetuating negative pit bull stereotypes.

Aggression in Pit Bulls

Pit bulls are often “animal aggressive, ” meaning that they don”t always get along with dogs and other animals. This does not mean, however, that they are “human aggressive. ” Most pit bulls, even those that don”t get along well with other animals, are extremely affectionate towards people.

Supervising Responsibilities of Pit Bull Owners

Because pit bulls are typically animal aggressive, pit bull owners should always make sure their pit bulls are contained and not left alone with other animals. If left to their own devices, pit bulls will often stalk smaller animals and fight with other dogs. Pit bulls tend to “win ” or get less injured than their opposition due to their remarkable strength.

Along with watching your pit bull, be sure to keep him or her securely confined (i.e. in a yard or a pen) when you are not home. Because pit bulls are very intelligent and agile, make sure that your enclosure is inescapable.

Training a Pit Bull

Pit bulls are often very enthusiastic and may jump and play more wildly than some people like. As a result, basic training that includes teaching the pit bull “sit ” and “stay ” commands is vital. Most pit bulls respond well to appropriate training and are very obedient. As with most dogs, training a pit bull is most effective when started in the puppy stage. Training older dogs of any breed can be difficult due to the fact that these dogs are already set in their bad habits.

When it comes to training pit bulls, owners can choose between either aversive or positive training. While aversive training uses punishment to teach obedience, positive training uses rewards to evoke dog obedience.

In particular, aversive training usually relies on the owner using:

  • choke chains
  • praise/correction
  • prong collars
  • shock collars.

Conversely, owners using positive training methods will need:

  • clickers
  • food rewards
  • gentle leaders
  • pure praise
  • toy rewards.

Although both methods will generally result in a well-trained dog, experts recommend positive training over aversive training whenever possible. Regardless of the type of dog training method you choose, be sure to stick to it. Switching methods may confuse your pit bull.

If you aren”t comfortable with training your dog or want professional help, find a trainer familiar with pit bull temperament and who has experience training pit bulls. Make sure you”re comfortable with the training methods used by sitting in on at least one training session.

Toys and Pit Bulls

Toys are a must for pit bulls. They will help your dog release stress while preventing him or her from getting bored. Make sure you get durable, strong toys, as pit bulls will generally destroy their toys faster than other dog breeds.

Socialization and Pit Bulls

Along with proper training, pit bull owners will also want to start socializing their dogs with people as early as possible, preferably while the dogs are still puppies. Early socialization with people will help pit bulls understand how to appropriately interact with people.

Animal socialization is generally not recommended between young and adult pit bulls, though pit bulls can get along with other dog breeds in some cases. However, adult pit bulls should never be alone with other dogs or allowed to roam without a leash where other animals are present. This means that dog parks are not recommended for pit bulls.

Owners can easily prevent their pit bulls from fighting by following those simple guidelines.

Resources

Thompson, Susan (n.d.). Pit Bull Breed Info. Retrieved January 22, 2008, from the Pit Bulls on the Web site: http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/breedinfo.html.