The American Pit Bull Terrier, friend or foe?
Few breeds are more maligned than the pit bull. Some people always wonder whether they should be crossing to the other side of the street, and others refuse to adopt puppies of certain pit bull breeds for fear that they will suddenly turn violent. It’s true that pit bulls have been bred to be capable of aggression, but it’s important to have an accurate idea of what you’re going to get into before you adopt a pit bull, especially if your friends and neighbors are going to ask, “Are pit bulls dangerous?” as soon as you get your new dog.
Pit bulls are not necessarily dangerous dogs. In fact, most are not when raised correctly like you would raise any other dog. Here are some factors to consider when adopting or buying a pit bull to ensure the safety of your family and those around your dog.
Is your dog from a good breeder?
Buying puppies from people who just happened to have a litter is dangerous because you don’t know the lineage and temperament of the dogs involved. If you go to a reputable breeder, you can meet or at least get a full description of the dogs in your new puppy’s lineage. Breeders will be aware of any previous temperament problems and know how to raise puppies so they don’t become antisocial at a young age.
Are you willing to be a leader?
Like any dog, pit bulls seek out a pack leader. If you don’t appear to be a leader, they may be more aggressive because they don’t respect you. This doesn’t mean you have to hit or neglect your dog to prove a point – quite the opposite. You must be firm and authoritative but kind when dealing with your dog. Training your dog will involve repeatedly saying “no” when it jumps or barks and being consistent about what it is allowed to do.
Do you have small children?
Some breeds of pit bulls and bulldogs are popular with families because they are great protection dogs and are notoriously patient with kids. If you have very young children, it’s best to avoid dogs until you are sure your child respects the boundaries of other people and animals. Many pit bulls have a high pain tolerance so they won’t be quickly annoyed by unwanted pulls and tugs, but your child should be taught not to engage in this behavior at all.
Will you socialize your dog appropriately?
Some people get a guard dog and proceed not to socialize it in the hopes that it will make them a better guard dog. This may be true, but your dog will also display more aggression towards you and your family and it will not be as healthy. It’s crucial to train your dog, no matter what you’re hoping your dog will do in your household. A well-adjusted dog will still be very loyal and protective when any threat comes up but won’t attack unless there is a dire need.
Will you train your dog from an early age?
People who don’t train their dogs often feel like dogs are wild or loud by nature. They aren’t as long as you are providing proper training. Since you are the pack leader for your dog, you need to set a good example and train your dog from an early age so it knows what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. Training your puppy can be time consuming, however the more you train your dog as a puppy the easier they will be to train when they are adults.
Can you exercise it each and every day?
Like other dogs, many pit bulls become restless when cooped up without exercise. You need to exercise your pit bull vigorously every day by allowing it to go on a long walk. Half an hour is the bare minimum, but an hour is even better. When your dog is tired out, it will be more cooperative and less anxious, and it will get a chance to exhaust itself mentally and physically.
Do you have a bias against pit bulls?
If you have been bitten by a pit bull or have had a negative experience, it’s probably best not to adopt a pit bull puppy. It is hard to be a leader when you feel afraid or jumpy at sudden movements or you aren’t willing to be calmly assertive with your dog! If you aren’t confident that a pit bull dog is right for your family, try another breed you feel more comfortable with.
Are pit bulls dangerous? The short answer is: not necessarily. They are strong dogs, but are very friendly, happy as long as they have something useful to do, curious, and very loyal. If you have a pit bull as your family dog and raise it properly, it is no more likely to be dangerous than any other dog.
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