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6 Reasons Why Pit Bulls Make Great Pets

You are considering adopting or buying a dog, and one breed you are considering is a Pit Bull Terrier, or one of several breeds that are closely related to this breed. It is important that before you take any steps towards becoming an owner that you thoroughly research the breed so that you understand the challenges of owning this loyal, yet controversial breed.

99% of issues that arise with pit bulls have to do with owners who are idiots. The truth is that this breed has many good traits. A super-dog, if you will. And although the media focuses on the negative aspects, in reality they can be awesome pets for the smart owner. Here are six reasons why:

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1. Pit Bulls are Affectionate Companions

Pitbulls are wiggly, cuddly, affectionate dogs. If you don’t like dog kisses then consider another breed, because most pitbulls love licking. The same goes if you have children and you don’t want them to be a regular target for face washes.

Pitbulls are not aloof – they like to remind you regularly of how they feel about you, and in general this means a lot of tail wagging and kissing.

2. Generally Healthy and Easy to Care For

Yes, pit bulls require a reasonable amount of attention. They do not, however, need a lot of care. They have short coats and are normal shedders, and only need to be brushed semi-regularly.

They don’t tend toward genetic disorders like some other breeds, although they should be inspected at puppyhood for signs of hip dysplasia, but this is a good idea for most medium to large breeds anyway. Most pit bulls do not get larger than 50 to 60 pounds, although there are some larger sub-breeds.

And as long as you exercise the dog regularly, a pitbull can be very comfortable in a small dwelling.

3. People-Orientated, When Socialized Properly

Pitbulls love people. Although this breed frequently gets a bad rap in the media, if you have ever met a pitbull that was raised by a loving, conscientious family then you will understand how much they like to be with people.

The downside of this personality trait is that they can get overexcited when they meet new people, which is something that needs to be addressed through training and positive reinforcement.

4. Pit Bulls are Loyal to their Owners

Your pit bull will be you and your family’s best friend from the day you take them home to the day they pass away. While they will be naturally protective of their family and their property, because pitbulls are so people-orientated they do not make good guard dogs.

Unless you just want them to smother intruders with hugs and kisses.

5. Eager to Please

A pitbull will always do it’s best to make you happy, as long as you are clear about what you expect from them. Many people will mention the fact that this breed is notoriously stubborn, but once they realize that you are the boss, they will work hard to ensure that you were happy with them.

This breed can be challenging, and is not recommended for first time dog owners as you need to be comfortable and confident that you can handle the breed, otherwise they will pick upon the fact that you are less than sure of yourself.

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6. High Tolerance for Pain

Sometimes presented as a negative trait, the fact that pitbulls have a high pain tolerance makes them exceptional family dogs. They easily (and happily) put up with the rough play of children without reacting. At the same time, pitbull owners may have to invest in prong collars, as the shoulder and neck strength of the pitbull means that sometimes an average collar will not do.

It is important that when considering a pitbull as a pet that you carefully screen all puppies and adult dogs to ensure that they respond positively. Dogs of any breed that show fearfulness or aggression towards people or other dogs should be avoided, particularly as a family pet, unless you are willing to put in a lot of extra time and money into behavioural training.

To be a successful and responsible pitbull owner you need to at all times have your pet under control. Dogs should never be left unsupervised with other dogs or children, and should never be allowed to roam off leash except in controlled dog-friendly spaces. Remember that as a pitbull owner you are charged with showing the positive side of this breed, so make sure that you always have a friendly and well behaved pet.

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Dog Aggression in Pit Bulls | PitBulls

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Dog aggression is a common issue in pit bulls. In fact, the UKC’s official breed standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier states that “most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression.” But while dog aggression may be normal in pit bulls, that doesn’t mean it can’t become a problem.

Dog Aggression vs. Human Aggression

When we talk about aggression in pit bulls, it’s very important to distinguish between aggression toward other dogs and aggression toward humans. PETA propaganda notwithstanding, the two are in no way related. The former is common in many breeds, including pit bulls, while the latter is extremely unusual in our breed. A pit bull who displays any aggression toward humans, no matter how slight, is not temperamentally sound and should be spayed or neutered immediately to make sure they don’t reproduce. The owner should also seek out professional help from an experienced canine behaviorist.

Levels of Dog Aggression in Pit Bulls

Instead of defining dogs as “dog aggressive” or “not dog aggressive,” it helps to think of dog aggression in pit bulls as a continuum. On one end of the spectrum, we have the social butterfly. This dog gets along with everyone and is always eager to make new canine friends. He/she is very forgiving of “bad behavior” and seems to tolerate even obnoxious dogs with a relaxed, easygoing demeanor.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the highly dog aggressive pit bull. This dog must be kept separate from all dogs, all the time. He neither likes, nor accepts other dogs, and taking this dog for a walk is highly stressful because he lunges toward anyone on four legs.

Most adult pit bulls fall somewhere between these two extremes. They may be generally friendly, but quick to put a dog who annoys them in his place. Or they might be fine around all dogs of the other sex, while attacking dogs of their own. Still others accept the dogs they know or live with, but aren’t trustworthy around strange dogs. Or they may be okay with other dogs as long as the other dogs clearly accept them as the boss. There are countless variations.

Raising Your Pit Bull Puppy to Be Dog-Friendly

Many pit bull puppies are social butterflies, but this frequently begins to change–often to the great surprise of novice owners who prided themselves on their dog-friendly pit bull–as the dog reaches social maturity around age two, though it can happen as early as eight months or as late as three years. Knowing this, you may wonder if there’s anything you can do to increase the chances that your pit bull puppy will remain dog-friendly as an adult.

The answer is “yes,” but the operative phrase is “increase the chances.” Because the genetic predisposition for dog aggression is strong in some dogs, nothing you do will ensure that your puppy grows up to be a dog-friendly adult. You can, however, increase the likelihood.

The key is to provide your puppy with frequent socialization opportunities with well-behaved, well-socialized, friendly dogs. It is critical that all the dogs your puppy meets are friendly and non-aggressive. The #1 reason (other than genetics) that previously friendly dogs become dog aggressive is that they were attacked or threatened by another dog. That’s why places like dog parks, where you have no control over the type of dogs your puppy will run into, are such a bad idea.

That’s also why it’s up to you to protect your puppy in the event that another dog tries to attack him. You are the pack leader, and your puppy looks to you for protection. Don’t make the common mistake of encouraging your puppy to “stand up for himself,” no matter how small or non-threatening the attacking dog may seem to you. That type of encouragement has created countless dog aggressive dogs.

In order to be effective, socializing your puppy with other dogs must be an ongoing process. Many people spend a few months actively socializing their puppy and then consider her “socialized,” but that’s not how it works. You must continue to provide your puppy with regular opportunities to socialize with friendly dogs as she grows up, including new dogs she hasn’t met before. Joining a training club or dog group in your area is usually the easiest way to accomplish this.

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Can Dog Aggressive Adults Become Friendlier?

But what if you have an adult pit bull who is already displaying signs of dog aggression? If you’re committed to putting in the necessary effort, dog aggressive adults can become friendlier or at least more tolerant of other dogs. Your pit bull’s strong desire to please you works to your advantage here, but it will still take a lot of work to see significant improvements in your pit bull’s interactions with other dogs.

Begin by clicking here . People often say that pit bulls attack without warning, but that’s not entirely correct. What is correct is that pit bulls may not display the classic warning signs everyone associates with an impending dog fight. The warning signs they display are more subtle, so the first thing you need to do is become a master of reading your dog’s body language.

For pit bulls who get along with dogs they know and like, but not with strange dogs, you will want to provide increased socialization opportunities with other dogs. These meetings should be on lead and take place on neutral territory (somewhere neither dog has been before). The first time you and the owner of the other dog get together, you may just want to take the dogs for a walk (try to alternate who’s in front) without letting them sniff each other. The next time, you can briefly let them check each other out.

If there’s any sign of aggression (this is where knowing how to read canine body language is crucial), pull the dogs away from each other before a fight ensues. After several more on-lead walks together, you can try again. If all goes well this time, start increasing the amount of time you let the dogs sniff each other. If the two slowly begin to hit it off, you will eventually progress to an off-lead encounter in a fenced area.

For pit bulls who act aggressively if they so much as catch a glimpse of another dog, a desensitization program is in order. A pit bull this dog aggressive may never like other dogs, but that doesn’t mean she can’t become desensitized to their presence.

If you decide to turn to a professional trainer for help, make sure you select someone who doesn’t employ positive punishment and negative reinforcement methods (see this article on clicker training for an explanation of the terminology). Punishing dogs for acting aggressively toward other dogs is entirely counterproductive, as your pit bull will begin to associate the punishment with the other dog, giving him even more reason for dislike and hostility.

This is not to say that you should reward your dog for displaying aggressive behavior. The key is to begin rewarding before your pit bull’s body language indicates aggression, while teaching him to keep his attention focused entirely on you. Practice getting and keeping your dog’s focus under increasingly distracting conditions until you are confident in your ability to do so.

Eventually you will attempt walking past a dog he would normally try to attack (on lead, of course), but you’ll get his attention (using praise, body language, treats, toys, or whatever else works for you) before the other dog is in sight and keep him focused on you until the two of you have walked passed the other dog. Over time, this will require less and less effort and become almost automatic, as your pit bull learns to focus on you and ignore other dogs.

Even the most dog aggressive pit bull can learn to at least tolerate the presence of other dogs (if only by ignoring them), provided you are prepared to put in the necessary time and effort.

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