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Pitbulls: Fighting Terror or Lovable Friend

Updated on August 15, 2012

History of the Pitbull

The term Pit Bull is used in reference to multiple breeds of dogs. It includes the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The most common of the 3 in the United States being the American Pit Bull Terrier.

They were first bred in the 19th century, when breeders in England, Ireland, and Scotland began to experiment with crosses between bulldogs and terriers, looking for a dog that combined the gameness, speed, and agility of the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the bulldog.

They were originally bred for baiting bulls and bears, but were more often used in ratting and dog fighting.

Eventually many pitbulls were domesticated due to their loyalty, loving and gentle nature with their owners. In America, farmers and ranchers used their pitbulls for protection and to help round up cattle, hogs and even hunt. The dog was even used during multiple wars to deliver messages on the battlefield.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is a working dog. They have high intelligence, energy levels and endurance. They are commonly used as search and rescue, bomb and drug sniffing, as well as general service dogs.

Where do owners go wrong?

Multiple studies have been conducted when it comes to dog bites and attacks. Unfortunately, pitbulls of varying breeds are always a high contributor, between 40%-50% of bites. Due to their size and strength, the mortality rate and the amount of trauma caused, are often much higher than smaller dogs.

Other studies have looked into common traits of pitbull owners. They have determined that pit bull owners are more likely to have criminal convictions and are more likely to display antisocial behaviors. These studies shed more light on the actual problem, the owner.

Basic Tips For Owners

  1. Early Socialization - Your pitbull puppy should be comfortable around people and other dogs. As soon as possible, normally after shot and vaccinations are complete, get your pitbull puppy to meet many new people and dogs. Dog parks, friends, neighbors and puppy classes are all great starters. Make sure that these are positive interactions!
  2. Obedience Training - Formal training from a professional would be your best option, however, even you can begin obedience training on your pitbull. They are intelligent and eager to learn. This will also increase your command presence with your dog and help to create an even stronger bond. Some beginner's commands that anyone can teach are sit, down, name, no and even stay/come.
  3. Potty Training - Do your best to keep a consistent schedule. Letting your pitbull out at the same times everyday will help create a routine which you both can follow. When you can't keep to the schedule, make sure your pitbull is crated to prevent accidents. Make sure the crate is an appropriate size. Dividers are a very good way to keep up with a growing puppy. Also do your best to avoid "rubbing their nose in it." Unless you caught them in the act, they will most likely not even associate the two. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT IS BETTER!
  4. Bad behavior and Barking - Pitbulls are rambunctious and energetic, most times there bad behavior and barking will come from boredom, frustration or fear. The best way to handle this problem is to prevent it from even happening. If you and your pitbull go on frequent walks, socialize often, spend time training and play with toys, your dog will be much better behaved and your life will be easier.
  5. The Perfect Pitbull- Try not to get too frustrated with your dog, remember that although you may have a lot going on in your life, all your dog has is YOU! Don't be too hard on them when they jump all over you after being in the crate all day. Puppies will chew on everything, if you don't want it chewed on, don't leave it on the floor. Close Supervision is key.

LADY

The newest member of my household is Lady. She is a 16 week old, 25lb, mostly pitbull puppy. Her age and exact pedigree are unknown to me. She was abandoned by her previous owner, a young man unable to support and provide her. My neighbor brought her to my front door the night I returned from a Vegas vacation. She had been dumped in the bed of his pickup truck, inside his cracked garage. After a grueling day, trying to survive in temperatures of over 100 degrees with no water, she managed to jump out the back off the truck. That was when she was discovered, dehydrated and sick, but still alive.

We immediately fell in love and decided to adopt her.

In an upcoming post, I will share more experiences and keep you updated with her progress.

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      AmyS 5 years ago

      After having the pleasure of meeting Lady myself, I can honestly say that the owner is fully responsible for the behavior of the dog. Regardless of breed.

      I lost my dog to an over-aggressive pitbull a few years back after finishing a routine walk in my neighborhood. I had a neighbor with a pitt who kept her pent up in a studio apartment every day, with one walk a week at best. This was my first experience with pitts, so I assumed the rumors were true based on her level of pent-up anxiety which later manifested into aggression. Taking a step back, I realize that any animal (or even person) would have increased anxiety after years of being held hostage in a tiny apartment with no social interaction. Though the dog looks intimidating and has the stature to do damage, it really wasn't the dog's fault at all. It was the owner's negligence that forced her to that point.

      I am a dog lover all around, and try to be an advocate for all breeds. Because of my experience, it took a little something extra to coax me into being completely comfortable around pitts. That little something is named "Lady".

      She is so incredibly affectionate and friendly. She is social with other dogs and always up for play time. She is extremely intelligent, and eager to please. I can see now why people fall in love with these muscular teddy bears!

      For the right owner, a pittbull can be a perfect companion. Like any dog, all they need is a little exercise. :-)

    • RennyB profile image

      RennyB 5 years ago from Florida

      I've had Pitts all my life. In the wrong hands, they can be VERY dangerous, but you care and love her, she will bring unyielding love into your life.

      There will be people who say ignorant things. Or even call animal control to be malicious. I've had people try to poison my Pitt just because he's a Pitt. So beware.

    • SemperFitness profile image
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      Dan 5 years ago from California

      Thank you for your interest! After getting Lady, everyone I knew always seemed very concerned that she was a pitbull. She is the exact opposite of what anyone expects!

    • kgarcia1113 profile image

      Kassi Garcia 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV, USA

      Great hub, great information. It is good to see others taking a firm stand on it being the owner not the breed. Most people overlook the fact that every dog, regardless of breed, can bite or misbehave. But as you pointed out because of the size and muscle structure of Pit Bulls when they bite the damage is worse. Your new puppy, Lady, proves that the fight in these dogs isn't always bad, some are just fight to survive when dealt a rough life.