The Terrible Truth About Training the Pit Bull!

In light of the numerous Pit Bull attacks reported in the media lately, I thought it would be appropriate to examine some of the temperament quirks associated with the Pit Bull and how they can affect training, vis-a-vie dog aggression.

The infamous Pit Bull (a slang reference to certain dogs which may resemble the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, or the American Pit Bull Terrier) actually make pretty darn good pets… even if you have kids (remember Petey, from the Little Rascals/Our Gang series)? Yup. He was a Pit Bull too.

Once you get past the media stereo-type of the “Pit Bull,” something becomes glaringly apparent; the dogs themselves aren’t bad dogs. But unfortunately, low-lifes are often attracted to these dogs and can be held accountable for poor socialization. But the same could be said about a Poodle that isn’t socialized properly either. So when you really get down to it, the Pit Bull is a pretty darn good dog.

Some of the traits that these dogs commonly share are; a strong prey drive, hard-headedness, toughness, eagerness to work, speed, above average intelligence, and many of the qualities of a big dog in a little (or at least medium sized) package. Personally, I like “Pit Bulls” because they are generally a 50-60 pound dog which will deter crime just by their looks.

In most cases, for a dog to work well as a crime prevention asset, it must be a large (80 pounds or more) dog. But thugs and criminals know the Pit Bull’s reputation… and they give these dogs much respect! As for training, these are dogs who, in general, will require the use of the pinch collar. They are just too pain insensitive for anything less. And because they have such short coats, choke collars tend to rub and irritate the skin. Care should be taken to continually socialize these dogs.

Strong corrections should be administered at any sign of dog aggression. Some strains tend to possess more dog aggressive traits than others, but I’ve personally owned Pit Bulls who got along fine with other dogs, big or small. Because of their strong prey drive, a ball can be incorporated to increase motivation and speed in performing exercises. These dogs are extremely agile, and it is my feeling (as well as the late William Koehler’s) that they have the courage and tenacity to be used for almost any dog sport.

This breed has received a lot of undeserved bad press from the media. In many cases, dog bites reported as coming from Pit Bulls have actually been from other breeds mistaken as Pit Bulls. I’ve personally witnessed Rottweilers and even Doberman Pinschers referred to in the press as “Pit Bulls”. Furthermore, there have been several cases where Labrador Retrievers were labeled as “Pit Bulls” by narrow minded animal control officers or lazy reporters. In sum, the Pit Bull makes a great dog if you’re a fairly dominant person who can handle a fairly dominant dog.