Truth About Pit Bulls
Pit Bulls are phenomenal animals that deserve a chance to have a good life like any other dog. However, it is important to remember that Pit Bulls are not just any other dog—they are a little more of everything a dog can be.
Pit Bulls have superior physical and mental characteristics that make them excellent partners for responsible, active, and caring owners. On the other hand, these same outstanding qualities can make them a little difficult to handle for people who don't have a lot of experience with dog ownership, or for those who do not understand the breed very well. Luckily, Pit Bulls are very responsive to training and eager to please.
It is therefore strongly recommended that you take these dogs to obedience classes as soon as they are up to date with their shots. A well-behaved and obedient Pit Bull will be a great ambassador for the breed and help fight prejudice and misconception.
Pit Bulls are very adaptable and will thrive in urban living provided they have enough exercise or other positive outlets for their energy. Many Pit Bulls are easygoing couch-potatoes but can also be somewhat rambunctious until they mature. Maturity occurs relatively late with this breed (2 to 3 years old in some cases). Pit Bulls remain playful and active their entire lives. These dogs are real clowns at heart, but are also very sensitive to human emotions and needs.
Pit Bulls are strong, energetic, agile, and powerful dogs. They are also very resourceful and driven. "Determination" is one of their most notable traits. Whatever they set out to do, they put their heart and soul into it...whether it is escaping an inadequately fenced yard to go explore the neighborhood, destroying your new couch when left home alone, or climbing into your lap to shower you with kisses! They do not give up easily!
Stahlkuppe (1995) writes "The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), or the AmStaff, is certainly not the right pet for everyone. Being a powerful dog, it will require sufficient and adequate control. Some prospective elderly owners or children, will not be able to supply that control... A first-time dog owner, in the minds of many experienced dog breeders, should not buy an APBT or an AmStaff!. An insecure person who wants only an aggressive dog to bolster some personal human inadequacy should never become an owner of one of these dogs. An uncaring or negligent person should not buy an AmStaff or an APBT (or any other dog for that matter)."
Another very important characteristic of Pit Bull dogs is their amazing love of people. Many people are surprised by the loving personality of these dogs the first time they meet one. Pit Bull dogs are indeed remarkably affectionate and truly enjoy human attention. They are wonderful cuddlers, and nothing beats a belly rub. In fact, most Pit Bulls think they are lap dogs!
Dunbar (1999) writes: "Today, a properly bred Pit Bull is so exuberantly happy upon meeting her owner's friends (or even friendly strangers) that new owners sometimes worry that their dog is too sweet and fun-loving to protect their home and family... A multitalented companion, the well-trained Pit Bull is suited for a variety of exciting activities. He excels at obedience, agility and weight-pulling competitions, events which showcase intelligence, trainability and strength. In addition, the Pit Bull's pleasant nature makes him an ideal candidate for therapy work with people."
Human aggression, severe shyness, and instability are not traits typically found or accepted in Pit Bulls. Dogs with these traits are not good representatives of the breed and should not be placed into adoptive homes.
Like any other breed, Pit bulls can develop behavior problems if poorly bred, mishandled, abused, not properly socialized, and so forth—and these behavior problems could result in inappropriate aggression. Any large, strong, and powerful dog that attacks can do a lot of damage.
Unlike the myth propagated by the media, human aggression is not a problem specific to the Pit Bull breed. In fact, Pit Bulls perform far better than other breeds in temperament tests.
The American Temperament Test Society provides temperament testing around the country for dog breeds, and gives a passing score for the entire breed based on the percentage of passed over failed within total number of the particular breed tested. As of December 2003, the American Pit Bull Terrier has a current passing rate of 83.9%, and the American Staffordshire Terrier passes at 83.2%. In comparison, The Golden Retriever passing rate is 83.2%
Pit Bull-type dogs are wonderful, loving, and very loyal companions. It is important however, to understand the breed's nature, to provide a structured environment, and to establish a positive leadership role. In order to do so, Pit Bull owners must understand the original purpose of the breed, and respect its potential.
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