As we enter the month of October, pit bull lovers everywhere observe Pit Bull Awareness month. For the longest time, pit bulls were always considered aggressive, untrainable and greatly undesirable dogs to have as pets, despite being formerly considered as the perfect family dog. However, various international organisations have worked tirelessly to not only break the stigma surrounding pitties, but also educate people about pitties and what they have to offer.
Like any other breed, pitties are deserving of loving and committed homes and families. That being said, pit bulls are not a breed for everyone. In fact, organisations like the Pit Bull Federation of South Africa (PBFSA) or Underdog SA, whose main purpose is educating the South African public about pit bulls, believe that pit bulls should be owned by and cared for by devoted pit bull lovers. In this article, we explore some important facts everyone should know about pit bulls.
1. The Stigma surrounding Pit Bull ownership
The American Pit Bull breed evokes fear in many people. This fear stems from a history of exploitation, abusive treatment by human beings and a lot of one-sided reporting. From dog fighting pits, to being used to hunt other animals and even people, the reputation of pit bulls has followed them long after dog fighting was outlawed throughout a large majority of the world. In some states across the globe, there is even breed specific legislation that was written into law so as to restrict the ownership of pit bulls in residential communities.
However you slice it, as a pit bull owner, the chances are that you will be faced with lots of backlash and judgement, even if your pittie is well behaved and well trained. Many people have had bad experiences with pit bulls, so keep that in mind.
2. Technically, pit bull is an umbrella term
The American Kennel Club does not recognise the pit bull as one specific breed. Many years of cross breeding have led to a variety of mixtures that include some terrier types as well under the term.
3. They are highly trainable
Like with any dog, pit bulls need to be trained, and the sooner the better. The good news is that they take to training very well, so much so that they were once the dog of choice for television and movies. Pitties are also quite intelligent, and have been trained to work as service animals in K9 units, as therapy animals, or as emotional support dogs.
When training your pit bull, remember to stay firm and be clear when giving instructions, and understand aggression. Any signs of aggressions should be dealt with as soon as possible. It is also very important to do sufficient research into effective training methods, like food motivation. If need be, get in touch with a breed experienced trainer or a dog behaviourist so as to not get overwhelmed.
4. They’re not that great with other dogs
Pit bulls tend to not play well with other dogs, which is why it is highly recommended to socialise them with other dogs as early and as often as possible to counter this. This seems to be more a terrier trait than solely a pit bull trait. In fact, dog to dog aggression can show up in various other dog breeds as well, and should not be ignored. It is important to keep your pit bull social with different kinds of dogs that vary in breed, size and even temperament.
5. They love people
In spite of the bad reputation that the breed has received over the years, pit bulls are actually very loveable creatures. When given enough love and proper training, pitties are essentially big babies with loads of energy who just want to play and receive cuddles.
Pit bulls also make for great family dogs as they make very strong bonds with their humans, and tend to thrive with active families. While every dog should be behaviour tested before being adopted by a family with young children, they do get matched frequently.
Like with any other dog breed, we always recommend that you do your research before adopting a pit bull. These dogs require loads of attention, commitment and love, but you can rest assured that they will love you back tenfold. Reach out to other pit bull lovers and organisations in your community for advice, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
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