The blog entry Pit Bulls Outlawed? has created some debate, so I figured I should give everyone some real life down to earth facts about this debate.
First of all, I want to say that I am incredibly sorry to all of you that have lost a dog to a Pit Bull attack. I know it is a really hard thing to go through.
Pit bulls are of great debate because they are a powerful breed. They have strong jaws that lock or clamp down on whatever they target. They can pull an enormous amount of weight. They are quick, agile, and smart. They were originally bred to be working dogs. Because they are so powerful, people began using them for pit fighting. However, this was not the only breed used in this blood sport. Bulldogs, Boxers, BOSTONS, and several other dogs were also used. Pit Bulls, however, became most popular for this sport. Bulldogs, Boxers, and Bostons all have jaws that can lock or clamp down on a target. As a matter of fact, I can stretch out an old sock, tell Oreo to bite, and he will jump up and latch on to it. I can then carry him around the room while he is latched to the sock! Pits are the same way, but they are bigger. The point is that Pit Bulls are not the only dogs with strong powerful jaws that clamp down on prey.
Ok, so what, right? Pits are more dog aggressive than other dogs. Actually, that’s true. Pits were bred to be dog aggressive, but ever since pit fighting was outlawed breeders and fanciers have been breeding Pit Bulls with less of this trait. Most Pit Bulls you meet today are as sweet as can be. Some Pit Bulls still have a bit of this trait left in them, but it CAN be overcome with plenty of socialization as a puppy.
As a professional dog trainer, I find that the general problem with people is that they are uneducated about how to be a dog owner. Dogs require attention, exercise, and discipline. Most people just get a dog thinking they could just leave it in the back yard and play with it at their lesure. This is absolutely wrong. Even inside dogs suffer from this belief. People just expect their dogs to lay around the house all day. Then they want the dog to be active on their terms. They don’t understand why the dog develops behavior problems such as barking, digging, jumping the fence, chasing things, ect. Dogs get bored like we do, they get CABIN FEVER! Ok, so where am I going with this? Pit Bulls are the same way. People just leave them in the back yard and expect them to behave. It doesn’t work that way. Dogs don’t have an on/off switch.
One person claims that a Pit Bull jumped the fence and killed their Shih Tzu. This person believes that the dog planned the whole thing. This simply is not the case. The dog was probably bored and decided to jump the fence to roam the neighborhood. Once the Pit encountered the Shih Tzu, a greeting ritual probably took place. Dogs have a ritual called "T"ing Up when they first meet. One dog will approach the other from the side. The dog being approached will either turn out or in. If that dog turns it’s body in, the dogs begin to circle eachother. This means that the approaching dog is not welcome. The approached dog is trying to claim dominance over the approaching dog. If the approaching dog does not back down, a fight insues. Obviously a Shih Tzu is not going to win a fight against a Pit Bull. Therefor, the Pit killed the Shih Tzu. Then the owner probably heard the fight, ran outside, and found the Pit killing the Shih Tzu and assumed that the Pit jumped the fence and immediately killed the poor Shih Tzu for no reason. Who’s fault is it? THE OWNER OF THE PIT BULL! Not the Pit Bull itself. It’s simply not the the Pit’s fault for being bored and then suprisingly challanged by the Shih Tzu. If the dog that jumped the fence had been a Boxer, or a German Shepherd, the same thing would have happened. This is simply how dogs communicate with eachother when not supervised. Again, to the person that lost their Shih Tzu, I’m really sorry it happened. But please do not blame the Pit Bull, blame the owners.
I’m really not trying to be harsh, but Pit Bulls are simply dogs. Dog owners need to take time out to study and research their breed, and then apply what they have learned. If they do not think they could handle the breed, then don’t go out and by it, or give it to a rescue organization. That would be far better than trying to keep it and letting it develop problems that could injur people and/or other animals. Even better, hire a private trainer like myself to come to your home and help you with the breed. Private trainers can give you information that will prevent and/or solve behavior problems. Classes are also good for socialization and to teach you to teach your dog. 90% of the time its about training the owner, not the dog.
So it all boils down to this. Pit Bulls are not the only dogs that were bred for fighting. Pit Bulls are more powerful than most other breeds though, which just means people who own them need to be even more responsible. Socialization, exercise, training, discipline, and then affection makes for a well rounded dog. Pit Bulls need a job to do around the house. If none is provided, the dog will get bored and develop behavior problems. Same goes for any of the Working and Herding Groups. But because Pits are a powerful breed, they can be a bit more dangerous. Another factor is that the media only seems to report Pit Bull attacks and not any other dog attacks. This makes the Pit look even more dangerous. These dogs are not a plague! Rotts attack, German Shepherds attack, Bulldogs attack, even Bostons can and will attack if prevoked!
The Pit Bull debate is one that may never come to an end. That’s ok, everyone is entitled to their opinions. But outlawing and destroying the breed is not the answer. There are far better ways to solve this problem than to destroy an entire breed of dog. When we hear about a small child on the news who killed someone because they found a gun, who do we blame? The kid for doing the shooting, or the parents for leaving the gun for the kid to find? The same applies to dogs. Socialize your dogs, exercise your dogs, and train your dogs and they won’t "shoot" anyone.