Tips for Walking a Pitbull

8 Mar

Walking a Pitbull can be more interesting than walking some other dog breeds. You may want to use a shorter leash of six to eight feet long, so that you maintain control over the walk and the dog’s great strength.

These dogs are known for their power, and can pull roughly three times their weight with very little effort.  If your Pitbull pulls when you are walking him, you should stand your ground and think like a tree. Stop in your tracks. Don’t move. You can have him sit or come back to you – this is the time for praise.  Tell him “good dog” and offer this positive re-inforcement every time. The pitbull terrier is an extremely intelligent people pleaser, and tends to learn very quickly if they know which behavior you like and dislike.

If you’re just beginning to leash train your Pittie, then keep the leash shorter so that your dog walks beside you.  It’s a good idea to pick one side for walks, maybe another for runs or bike rides down the road.  Make sure to give lots of praise in the beginning, along with treats.  The more positive reward you offer, the better your dog will be!

If your Pitbull is already leash-trained, I find the best collars are flat with metal buckles.  There are a wide variety of collars on the market, with many made of plastic that break or bend to easily as they are not made to withstand a powerful pet.  Some Pitbulls do better with choker chains, but stay away from prongs and anything that squeezes too tight around the neck as this can do permanent irreversible damage on the trachea and affect your dog for life.

Now that you’re ready for the walk, it’s time for socialization.  It’s good for the dogs, but better for people who have an inherent fear of them. If you notice another dog owner dodging you like the plague, ignoring their dog’s incessant barking (this is way too common with little dogs!)  or picking up their dog to avoid interaction, chances are the owner has not trained their pet and its best to keep walking. If your Pitbull is friendly, allow him to greet other dogs, sniff, wag, maybe a little play. Dogs love to make friends. Pay attention to the dogs, you can tell if your dog is interested in meeting just by observing it’s behavior.

Teach your Pitbull about things around him, a lot like you might do with a child. Teach him about things, places, and people. Let him listen to strange noises, and look at new things. He has a lot of energy, and vigorous exercise is a must for these dogs.  It will not be a pleasant walk if your dog doesn’t get out enough.  This could make him jumpy, skiddish, and lead into aggressive reactions if you don’t learn to keep your dog balanced on regular leashed walks every day.

Be sure you are the pack leader and if you hire a dog walker make sure it is someone who has experience with the breed.  It’s also a good rule of thumb to stay away from dog parks, unless you know in advance that you’re going at a time when it is relatively quiet. Many people don’t know how to react even to a well-socialized Pitbull. If your dog has not been properly socialized, don’t go to the dog parks until he is. Let him interact with people and dogs he knows first.

There are many resources in your local area for socialization classes such as the local Humane Society and a bounty of resources at local dog friendly events.  If you’re looking for pitbull gear, there are stores out there just for this wonderful breed!

Looking for a loving dog companion? There are more than 16,000 pitbull terriers up for adoption. Check them out HERE!


8 Great Tips for New Pitbull Owners

6 Mar

If you are a new dog owner there are some steps to follow that will ensure you raise your pittie with love and proper care.  These 8 tips will help you to become a good owner and make for a balanced pet!

  1. Vaccinate your Pitbull aka ‘Staffordshire’ Terrier when you first get him, and see that he gets yearly booster vaccinations to maintain his immunity to disease. Consult your veterinarian about flea control products and de-worming your dog.
  2. Feed your American pit bull terrier high-grade dog food. The fresher the better.  The first ingredient should be meat if you want a quality product. Crude protein should be no less than 30 percent and crude fat no less than 20 percent. The fiber content needs to be 4 percent or less.  This balance of nutrition is important to physical health and for optimum energy, a nice shiny coat and a happy dog. Stay away from products with corn gluten meal, dried beet pulp or artificial food coloring such as yellow 5 red 40, or blue 2.
  3. Socialize your pit bull when he’s young to be with people and other animals. Establish your authority over your dog and be sure to take him to public areas, giving strangers the opportunity to pet and play with him. This will help the dog develop an even temper.  Any dog can become fearful or aggressive with bad experience, but there is a known stigma attached to this breed that incites a societal fear in humans.  This fear can and will transfer into the animals, and as a pitbull owner you must take extra precaution by good training and understanding dog communication so that you can make your dog the example of how a good pet should behave.
  4. Start obedience training as early as possible. Because this is a dominant breed, it’s important to be able to control your pit bull by voice alone. Positive reinforcement will go further than physical, as this breed is very eager to please.
  5. Give your pit bull vigorous exercise for a minimum of 45 minutes a day. This is an active breed, and the dog will require a lot of activity.  Pitbulls are best in short sprints at fast speeds, so playing fetch and keeping them challenged is a good idea. Keep him on leash when out in public and avoid dog parks to avoid potential fights or negative experiences with other unbalanced dogs.
  6. Brush your dog’s coat daily with a firm-bristle brush. Shampoo as needed. American pit bull terriers are medium shedders with short hair.  The good news is they dry off easily and if they attract fleas or ticks they are easy to find and get rid of.
  7. Understand that American pit bull terriers are prone to certain health conditions such as cataracts (cloudy eye lens) and hip dysplasia (a malformed ball and socket in the hip joint).  With proper nutrition and daily exercise you can work to keep your dog healthy throughout it’s life, but these are things to be on the look out for.
  8. Expect male and female American pit bull terriers to grow to 18 to 22 inches tall and weigh between 30 and 80 lbs. They come in black nose, blue nose and red nose varieties, with varying degrees of color. The Pitbull terrier will live about 12 years.

Full grown adult female Pitbull aka 'Staffordshire' Terrier

New Pitbull puppy just a few weeks old

Stay tuned for more Pittie Love to come soon! Keep your pet balanced with regular leashed walks and plenty of exercise daily.

Quiz: What kind of Dog Breed are you?

3 Mar

There are more dog breeds than almost any other species on the planet.  And thanks to human science, specialty breeding and consumer choices of what we look for in a choice member of the family, dogs come in every shape and form.

So dogs are not too different than humans? Well the truth is dogs are a lot more like their human companions than we think.  Sure they are all uniquely different in terms of dog socialization, dog training and experience. But science has put genetics to the test and determined different categories of dogs, depending on looks, temperament, color, markings, intelligence and physical ability.

There are a few ways to look at different breeds, which can change depending upon the observer.  Personal preference, status, and popularity of certain breeds change often with society’s perception.  So what breed of dog do you love the most?

If you were a dog, would you be a Pitbull Terrier? A feisty Chiuaua? An English Sheepdog? A border collie?  I was surprised to find out that I’m a Golden Retriever.

What Dog Breed Are You Most Like?  Take the Quiz

10 Dog Breed Categories:

  1. Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs
  2. Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molossoid Breeds
  3. Terriers
  4. Dachshunds
  5. Spitz and Primitive types
  6. Scenthounds and Related Breeds
  7. Pointing Dogs
  8. Retrievers – Flushing Dogs – Water Dogs
  9. Companion and Toy Dogs
  10. Sighthounds

The Kennel Club (UK), the world’s original and oldest standing kennel club,  organizes dogs into 7 groups.

Learn what wikipedia says about each breed after you take the Quiz. Can you figure out which group you belong in?

  1. Hound Group
  2. Gundog Group
  3. Terrier Group
  4. Utility Group
  5. Working Group
  6. Pastoral Group
  7. Toy Group

Post your Breed in the comments and share the quiz with friends. Let’s see how many different breeds there are of human!

Pittie Love to all…

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Top Myths of Dog Aggression Part III

20 Feb

People tend to do away with the things they fear, instead of facing them and overcoming the fear. This incites violence, abuse and inhumane treatment in millions of animals around the globe everyday, many leading to unruly death and ultimately, extinction.  In an effort to dispell myths of dog aggression and replace fear with understanding, here are the final two myths about dog aggression:

Perhaps the farthest from the truth! There is a big difference between a dog that nips at the air and a dog that breaks skin or sends someone to the hospital. Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar has created a helpful and simple to understand bite scale which ranks the severity of bite incidents on a scale from 1 – 6. It does not matter what the size or breed is of the dog.

  • Level 1– Dog growls, lunges, snarls-no teeth touch skin. Mostly intimidation behavior.
  • Level 2- Teeth touch skin but no puncture. May have red mark/minor bruise from dog’s head or snout, may have minor scratches from paws/nails. Minor surface abrasions acceptable.
  • Level 3– Punctures ½ the length of a canine tooth, one to four holes, single bite. No tearing or slashes. Victim not shaken side to side. Bruising.
  • Level 4– One to four holes from a single bite, one hole deeper than ½ the length of a canine tooth, typically contact/punctures from more than canines only. Black bruising, tears and/or slashing wounds. Dog clamped down and shook or slashed victim.
  • Level 5– Multiple bites at Level 4 or above. A concerted, repeated attack.
  • Level 6– Any bite resulting in death of a human.Yeah, little dog bites CAN kill.

Bite inhibition training should begin early in puppyhood and should be cemented both through social interactions with appropriate dogs and direct intervention from the handler.

The moral of the story is that all dogs can bite,  and it’s very important to teach them to use their mouths as gently as possible in case such a situation arises.  Dogs that bite low on the scale can move up levels on the scale if prompt intervention protocols are not implemented – biting, like any mechanical skill, improves with practice.  The more dogs practice biting, the better they get at it.

Let’s face it, people are human, dogs are canine.  We don’t smell like dogs.  We don’t look like dogs.  We don’t play like dogs.  We don’t eat like dogs.  We don’t sniff butts to understand our neighbors better.  There are plenty of dogs who are reactive to people or other dogs but not both. People don’t like everyone they meet, so why should you expect your dog to? The way dogs react to one another is not relative to how they will react to a human. In fact, there are many dogs who only like certain dogs of a specific size or breed. Some dogs are human aggressive but they love other dogs.  Redirected aggression, where a dog cannot physically reach the object of his aggression and so vents his frustration on the nearest available person or familiar dog is not uncommon, so these dogs will need to be monitored when they are around triggers.  Some dogs may be reactive to both dogs and people, but generally, people and dog reactivity are not related and are separate issues needing to be addressed in separate treatment situations for dogs that exhibit both.

This completes the Top Dog Aggression Myths series. Next time we will look at dog fighting more closely and how to channel that energy in a positive way for a balanced pet.

Information in the current post is based on original content that can be found here

Subscribe to my blog feed for great information on dogs, bully breeds, training and especially our beloved pitbull terriers.

Top Myths of Dog Aggression Part II

17 Feb

Dog aggression is a common problem, just like aggression in people.  It doesn’t matter what nationality you are and it doesn’t matter what breed the dog is.  Aggressive tendencies are linked mainly to social environment, upbringing, and training in both people and dogs.  Here are some myths associated with aggression as it relates to dogs. Awareness is key to understanding how to train your dog and teaches us how to deal with other dogs on a daily basis.  So what is all the fear about anyway?

Let’s re-invent segregation and discrimination against dogs because of what they look like. We can call it breed specific legislation. Government agencies, landlords, insurance companies have found a new way to create a virtual holocaust of canine victims. Proponents would like you to believe that only pit bulls, German Shepherd Dogs, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Chows, etc. are aggressive dogs and that Labs, Goldens, Beagles, and other “nice” dog breeds would never bite.  This is inherently and patently false. Socialization history, the ability of the owner to manage the dog, how well the dog has been taught bite inhibition, and the dog’s life experiences are far more likely to determine his bite risk than his breed.  Don’t believe everything you read. Punish the Deed not the Breed.

There are pit bulls functioning as service dogs.  German Shepherd Dogs are famous for their work with law enforcement, as are Rottweilers, Dobermans, Belgian Malinois, etc.  There are also Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Basset Hounds who have sent folks to the hospital for bite treatment.  Dogs of any breed can and will bite.  Some dogs may do more damage than others, some dogs may be more tolerant of the precursors for aggression (see above), some dogs may be more genetically predisposed to having soft mouths, etc., but all dogs can and will bite in a “perfect storm” situation.

People laugh when a small dog growls and bites.  Oh, a Chihuahua?  Biting? It won’t hurt. Small dogs are better around children because they are virtually harmless.  Wrong!  All domestic dogs are equipped with teeth made for biting and tearing prey.  Though a larger dog may have a more powerful bite, small dogs are often times more likely to attack mainly because owners often don’t see a potential threat and fail to properly train them.  It is also easier for a small dog to bite more delicate areas of the body, and attack a child that is more at its level.

Small dogs are picked up and carried around a lot.  This only makes aggression worse! Owners do this to for a number of reasons – they may want to make the dog feel safe or see it as a way of protecting their guests and other dogs from those tiny but razor-sharp teeth.  Little dogs are generally more insecure and imbalanced as a result – think of it as the Napolean complex. If a dog feels insecure, it will bark, growl, and bite in response to its own fears.  Small dogs are often products of puppy mills and inbreeding and poor puppyhood social experience, which makes it even more important to train these dogs and avoid treating them like a child.

Stay tuned for Part III on Dog Aggression Myths coming in a few days….

Information in this post is based on original content that can be found here

Contents are the property of animal lover and proud pit bull owner Angela Bratrud. Reposts and retweets are welcome! Subscribe to my blog feed for great information on dogs, bully breeds, training and especially our beloved pitbull terriers.

Top Myths of Dog Aggression Part I

9 Feb

Myths about dog aggression abound.  These myths put dogs, the people who love them, and the general population at risk. Based on my experience with owning a bully breed I find that this issue needs to be examined further by addressing a few of the many popular myths surrounding dog aggression and reactivity.  I will start this blog with the first myth and will post more in the coming weeks, along with great photos and videos of some dogs who have been put to the test.


A sweet puppy could not possibly grow up to be an aggressive, biting dog, right?  Wrong.  Nurture and nature are generally equally important in the creation of both dog and human behavior and personality.  It is relatively easy to create a reactive or aggressive dog, even in a puppy who has wonderful genetics – even in a puppy for whom grandparents and parents on both sides have been service dogs for generations.

How would you take such a wonderful puppy and create an aggression problem?

  • Don’t socialize the puppy – keep him inside your house or in your yard until his critical socialization windows are closed.  Wait until he is at least six months old before you introduce him to new dogs or people, then wonder why he is “freaking out.”  Wait until he has been rehearsing the behavior for a few years and then contact a trainer, saying “we need to fix this in two days, I’m having a baby this weekend!”  Get frustrated with the trainer when she can’t wave a magic wand and fix it.
  • Avoid teaching him how to use his mouth politely.  When he continues biting without improvement, simply throw him in a crate or relegate him to the back yard, hoping he’ll “grow out of it.”  Do not get help for the situation or reward him for soft-mouth interactions.  Do not hand feed to improve your bond and your dog’s bite inhibition.
  • Use flooding a lot.  If your dog is scared of other dogs, throw him in a room with 50 other large, bouncy, obnoxious dogs.  Keep hoping that “he’ll get over it.”
  • Make sure that the puppy has lots of unpleasant experiences around new people and other dogs.  Yell and jerk him around by his collar a lot.  Avoid setting him up for success, always work with him in environments where you know he will be unable to succeed (over threshold).
  • Ignore the puppy’s stress signals, keep pushing him past the limit of what he can confidently tolerate, thereby teaching him he cannot trust you to keep him safe.
  • Forget that your puppy has the mental functioning capacity of a 9 month old child, treat him like he’s a Guantanamo detainee!  Do lots of things to scare the crap out of the puppy – yell at him, punish him for resource guarding, spank him, shock him, alpha roll him, bite his ears, knee him in the chest if he jumps, etc.  This will teach him early on that the world is a scary place and since his people won’t protect him, defending himself with his teeth is a useful strategy for self-preservation.
  • Stop socializing the puppy the instant he turns four months old.  Avoid introducing him to any new dogs or people until he has reached maturity at 18 months – 4 years of age.
  • Ignore critical periods of development.  Second fear periods would never happen to a “nice” dog, right?
  • Avoid seeking professional assistance at the first sign of a problem.  Hope that it will just “go away on its own.”  Wait until you’re so frazzled by the dog’s behavior that you’re 48 hours away from having him euthanized to seek help, then give your trainer a two day deadline to “cure” him.

Congratulations!  You’ve created an aggression or reactivity problem!

Original Link to Myths taken from:

Socialize your Way to a Happy Dog

17 Aug

Dogs are individuals just like people. They vary across the world in breed, characteristics, shapes, sizes and social skills. Some look and act alike, others differ like night and day.

Exposing our dogs to a variety of people, animals and environments breeds confidence and control. Dog obedience classes, veterinary visits, walks in the neighborhood, and exposure to off leashed situations are all great ways to build resilience in your pet.

No dog is perfect. It is the rare dog who gets along well with other dogs and people at all times. To raise the best dog possible, it’s up to the master to tame the beast. A little socialization can go a long way in creating a low stress atmosphere for the whole pack. It is each owners’ responsibility to teach our dogs to cope and respond in healthy ways.

dogfriendsHave you ever met someone you just clicked with right away? How about someone you could never get along with, no matter how hard you try? Not all people like each other, and dogs are the same way. This is one reason it is so important to properly socialize your pet. We cannot expect every dog to get along with every dog, but we do have the ability to train our animals with tolerance and proper communication skills. Without socialization, your dog is likely to develop the most serious and hard-to-resolve problems, which include fearfulness, biting and fighting.

As a dog owner of an American pitbull terrier rescue, I’ve had to enforce training measures to ensure a well behaved pup the world isn’t scared of. The challenge is usually in socializing off leash. And it’s not with other dogs, but human intimidation. Dogs have a strong sense of when the master is afraid, and they instinctually respond. Fear can breed ignorance, and one bad experience is all it takes to make someone afraid for life – in the dog or human population.

A common misunderstanding goes along with people who own small pets. They still need to be socialized and walked daily, to maintain balance. Dogs have needs that we don’t have. For example, a dog who constantly barks is an animal who is terribly bored and needs more stimuli. All it takes is one problem dog to rally up an entire pack and cause trouble. Introducing proper social skills to your pet is ideal in puppy hood, but can be taught at any age. It’s also a great way to maintain your sanity, as human stress increases when we have unruly and unpredictable pets.

Here are some tips for Socialization and a Healthy Balanced Pet:

– Enroll in community training classes – they are cost-effective and worth it
– Understand that socialization is a lifelong process
– Walk your dog on a leash daily and try different routes
– Take your dog out frequently to expose him to stimuli
– Set up regular play dates with dogs that get along
– Take a trip to the
dog park –when its’ not crowded
– Ensure your dog has pleasant experiences with people in your home
– Attempt to bring your dog into social situations whenever possible
– Relax – your stress level will affect your pup

Keepin mind that not all dogs are created equal. Chasing, humping and arguing are also very normal in social settings. What makes a dog social savvy is his ability to interact with confidence in unfamiliar situations and resolve conflicts without doing damage.

Be responsible, socialize wisely.

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