Tag Archives: aggressive pitbulls

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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BSL: What Is BSL?

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Breed-specific legislation is a law passed by a legislative body pertaining to a specific breed or breeds of domesticated animals. In practice, it generally refers to laws pertaining to a specific dog breed or breeds. Some jurisdictions have enacted breed-specific legislation in response to a number of well-publicized incidents involving pit bull-type dogs or other dog breeds commonly used in dog fighting, and some government organizations such as the United States Army and Marine Corps have taken administrative action as well.

This legislation ranges from outright bans on the possession of these dogs, to restrictions and conditions on ownership, and often establishes a legal presumption that these dogs are prima facie legally “dangerous” or “vicious”. In response, some state-level governments in the United States have prohibited or restricted the ability of municipal governments within those states to enact breed-specific legislation. It is generally settled in case law that jurisdictions in the United States and Canada have the right to enact breed-specific legislation; however, the appropriateness and effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing dog bite fatalities and injuries is disputed.

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One point of view is that certain dog breeds are a public safety issue that merits actions such as banning ownership, mandatory spay/neuter for all dogs of these breeds, mandatory microchip implants and liability insurance, or prohibiting people convicted of a felony from owning them. Another point of view is that comprehensive “dog bite” legislation, coupled with better consumer education and legally mandating responsible pet keeping practices, is a better solution than breed-specific legislation to the problem of dangerous dogs. A third point of view is that breed-specific legislation should not ban breeds entirely, but should strictly regulate the conditions under which specific breeds could be owned, e.g., forbidding certain classes of individuals from owning them, specifying public areas in which they would be prohibited, and establishing conditions, such as requiring a dog to wear a muzzle, for taking dogs from specific breeds into public places.

Finally, some governments, such as that of Australia, have forbidden the import of specific breeds and are requiring the spay/neuter of all existing dogs of these breeds in an attempt to eliminate the population slowly through natural attrition. A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2000 concluded that while fatal attacks on humans appeared to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers), other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates, and that since fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog bite injuries to humans, there are better alternatives for prevention of dog bites than breed-specific ordinances.

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How Media Hype Fuels Inaccurate BSL Laws

How Media Hype Fuels Inaccurate Laws from Animal Farm Foundation on Vimeo.

 

If you wish to help with eliminating BSL. We do accept donations. Click on Donate below. Anything will help in furthering our cause and saving pitbulls lives. Thank you for your support.




 

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Are Pitbulls Dangerous?

In a word: no. Many people THINK they are, and if you ask them for proof, they send you lists of bite statistics and news reports of Pit Bull attacks.

But that doesn’t prove anything.

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Rarely do the writers perform actual research. One obvious question they could investigate: Was the dog actually a Pit Bull? It’s impossible to determine breed by appearance alone. And given that the CDC non-fatal bite statistics come from counting newspaper reports of attacks claiming it was a “pit-bull type” dog, there are bound to be gross inaccuracies.

No DNA tests were ever done, which are required to determine breed.

This is highly related to the reason why breed specific legislation doesn’t work. And it never will. Even the CDC agrees:

“Breed-specific legislation does not address the fact that a dog of any breed can become dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive. From a scientific point of view, we are unaware of any formal evaluation of the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing fatal or nonfatal dog bites. An alternative to breed-specific legislation is to regulate individual dogs and owners on the basis of their behavior” (JAVMA, Vol 217, No. 6, September 15, 2000 Vet Med Today: Special Report 839-840).

For these reasons, and many others, both the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association do not recommend discriminating based on breed.

The frenzy against Pit Bulls is nothing but blind fear fueled by the human need to find a scapegoat. There is not a single shred of proof that the American Pit Bull Terrier is a vicious, dangerous breed.

What are the facts?

The American Temperament Test Society (http://www.atts.org) perform their temperament tests regularly on popular breeds. You can visit their web site to view upcoming testing dates and location and actually get your own dog tested. The most recent aggregation of all test results was in 2008. Description of the test:

The test simulates a casual walk through a park or neighborhood where everyday life situations are encountered. During this walk, the dog experiences visual, auditory and tactile stimuli. Neutral, friendly and threatening situations are encountered, calling into play the dog’s ability to distinguish between non-threatening situations and those calling for watchful and protective reactions.

The dog fails the test if it shows:

-Unprovoked aggression

-Panic without recovery

-Strong avoidance

-American Pit Bull Terriers passed the test at a rate of 85.3%.

This is higher than Collies, Golden Retrievers, and other dogs generally considered “family friendly”. The average dog population is around 77%.

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As most dog behaviorists and trainers will tell you, a dog is almost 100% a product of it’s owner and the training it receives.

And if the APBT is so inherently dangerous, how come they are so successful as therapy dogs? As search and rescue animals?

Honestly, more people die drowning in their backyard swimming pool every year than die from dog attacks. That doesn’t make it any less tragic, but to call it an “epidemic” is a little far fetched.

Pit Bulls are not the first breed to be unfairly labeled dangerous, and they won’t be the last. Politicians love to act important and pretend like they’re doing something, and media outlets love to sensationalize. Don’t let them get away with nonsense. Learn the history of the breed and educate yourself.

The only thing that can be said about them is that sometimes, they tend to be dog aggressive. But almost every breed of dog is aggressive toward some other animal. Where did foxhounds and wolfhounds get their names from?

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What exactly is a pitbull anyway?

If you wouldn’t know a pitbull if you saw one, you’re not alone. Pit
bull is actually not a breed of dog. Instead, the term “pit bull”
refers to not one, but three dog breeds. Add to that, the fact that
there are over twenty different dog breeds that are regularly mistaken
as being pit bull and you can see how easy it becomes to mis-identify
them.

The three breeds that fall under the pit bull umbrella are the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. One quick way to keep them straight is to think “small, medium and large” in the order listed above. Some people feel that the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier are essentially the same breed. And indeed, many
owners are now getting dual registrations on the same dog. Registering the dog as an APBT with the United Kennel Club and as an Amstaff with the American Kennel Club. Here is a picture of each type of pitbull dog grouped together for comparison.

 

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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American Bull Terrier

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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So what do you think? Are the APBT and the Amstaff essentially the same breed or not? My point is not really to debate that here. After all, if the experts can’t agree, why should you or I lose sleep over it? But, if you ever find yourself locked in a room with a pitbull aficionado, at least now you can perhaps hold your own. Aside from the pretty obvious differences in sizes, there are some very striking physical similarities. And the ancestries of all three breeds are very much intertwin. The pitbull head is often described as being wedged-shaped. But, I think spud-shaped is really more descriptive. The eyes are wide-set. There’s the signature strong jawline and muscular body. The ears when left natural (as they are in the above photos) are either rose or half pricked. Some breeders do still like to crop the ears. It’s a matter of personal preference.
And, personally I prefer natural for two reasons.First, I just think natural ears look better. They look so militant with their ears cropped. Secondly, the cropped ears and docked tail are vestiges of the breed’s fighting days when cropping and docking had practical value because it gave an opponent less to grab on to. Now that dogfighting has finally been outlawed in most countries, there’s just no need to do it.So, do you think you’d be able to recognize a pitbull now? If you want to test your mettle, you can play

Find the Pitbull.

But, a word of caution–don’t get discouraged. Few people get it
right the first time. Here’s a hint: the pit bull you are looking for
in this game is an American Pit Bull Terrier. Good luck!

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