INDIVIDUALS. The most important thing that we can tell you about dogs described as pit bulls is that their personalities vary as much as our own individual personalities vary. Just as within our human families, there are striking similarities as well as wide differences between our siblings, cousins and other blood relatives, the same is true for any large and loosely defined group of dogs such a pit bulls. This page points out some of the more common traits and tendencies that we see.
Pit Bulls tend to form very strong bonds with their owners
Ever have a fan club? Get ready, because you'll have a loyal and devoted comrad for life.
This friendship does come with a price tag. You'll have to honor your dog's loyalty and devotion and commit to giving him quality time every day for life. Most dogs enjoy at least two hours of attention a day, so you'll want to do a personal inventory before adopting to make sure you're ready for the time plunge. To banish your dog to the backyard or leave him alone for long periods for weeks on end can cause him to become depressed and even destructive. On the upshot, the more time you spend with your dog, the more you'll enjoy him. And isn't that why you wanted a dog in the first place?
Pit Bulls tend to be agile, athletic and FUN
Oh yeah, bigtime fun. Are you ready to give your dog the work outs he wants and needs?
Many are natural born show offs and drop jaws wherever they compete in dog sports including agility, flyball, dock diving and frisbee fun. Even if you don't compete, your dog's athletic talents will amaze and entertain you.
Make sure that your dog doesn't use his track star skills to weasel out of your house or yard, though where he can be stolen or forever lost. If you have a yard, you'll want a secure fence and then you're best to keep him indoors when no one's home. If indoor accommodations are not possible, we recommend a roomy outdoor kennel run with a good lock, or a well designed cable trolley. Always keep a collar and ID tags on your dog in case he does get lost. Microchip your pet too! Animal shelters can get so crowded that they just aren't able hold lost dogs for more than a few days, and yours could be meet an unhappy fate before you can find him if he isn't tagged and/or microchipped.
Dog Aggression Happens!
Dogs will be dogs. Your job is to set your dog up for success.
In all breeds, a dog's individual tolerance for other dogs can range from 'dog social' to 'dog aggressive,' depending on the circumstances of his interactions. In our experience, most well socialized, well managed pit bulls fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
Even with the big help of socialization and obedience training, these confident dogs can be pushed to fight if sufficiently challenged by another dog. This bravado can bring you trouble if not understood and not managed well, especially in areas that have an anti-pit bull climate. To make things even more confusing, dog tolerance levels can shift. Late maturing puppies can lose their forgiving nature as they grow older, catching many dog owners by surprise. In other cases, dog aggressive adults can become much more dog tolerant with guidance and proper socializing opportunities.
Dog tolerance comes from a blend of nature and nurture and is influenced by a dog's genetics, socialization, training and - important! - owner management ... not "How he was raised." You ultimately hold the key to your dog's success with other dogs.
Confused? Know your dog!
No matter how tolerant your dog may be with other dogs, it's your responsibility to keep him well socialized and properly managed around other dogs, especially dogs he doesn't know. Good management is key and must be kept up for the life of your pet. This includes avoiding rushed leash greets, designing measured introductions with potential dog friends and monitoring play sessions. A pit bull who shows leash reactivity by pulling at the leash and barking at dogs does NOT make a good impression (puh-leez!) and should be handled with training.
To prevent trouble, all dog owners should stay alert to the different types of triggers that can cause conflict between dogs (tug-of-war? chew toys? escalated play? etc) All owners should know how to safely break up a fight. More info on fight triggers and avoiding fights: Multi-Dogs
Pit Bulls can be Butt Heads.
Take me to your leader. It's time to dust off that treat bag and get to class!
While pit bulls have earned a reputation for their gushy, affectionate, even comedic personalities, they can certainly be pushy and willful too. They'll happily make up their own rules if you don't set some in place. This means you'll need to be a fair, decisive leader for your enthusiastic pet. Obedience classes are still one of the best ways to bring out your inner-leader and build great manners in your dog.
The upshot to all this training: Pit bulls tend to be highly intelligent and typically excel in obedience work. Because your dog loves you completely and wants to please you, he'll very likely end up being one of the most impressive, best trained dogs in the neighborhood. Enjoy your opportunity to be a Pit Bull Show Off!
Note: To help new homes set rules, we offer this hand out to new adopters whenever they bring BADRAP dogs home. Follow these guidelines and you can't go wrong.
Pit bulls tend to love the great outdoors
Have you earned your Outdoor Adventures badge yet?
Finding safe, secure places to run your dog off leash can be tricky. Many areas don't allow dogs to be off-lead and areas that do can be full of dangers for your pet, specifically in the form of ill-mannered or under socialized dogs. If your dog finds himself in a fight with another dog, things could go badly very fast. You may be the one to get into trouble and your dog could end up confiscated by animal control, even if there was no damage and even if he wasn't the one to start the fight. Because there's just no way to completely avoid loose, poorly managed dogs in the parks, most veteran pit bull owners choose to play it safe and steer clear of these places in favor of safer, less populated play options. Look for: Remote beaches, fenced in ball fields with a gate you can monitor, hiking trails where on-leash rules are respected by all, and/or a friends big back yard.
For Important Info read: Pit Bulls & Dog Parks
Pit Bulls tend to be Social Butterflies
It's a tough crowd out there. Role Model Dog Owners encouraged to apply!
Most dogs LOVE going places with their owners to see the sights and visit with friends, family, and strangers and pit bulls are no exception. Heads up though - you'll need to wear a thick skin in some situations. Ever since the dogs fell victim to the careless deeds of reckless owners, pit bulls and dogs that look like pit bulls have taken a hit.
Media driven myths, misdeeds, misunderstanding and hysteria abound. In some places, it can be hard to be anonymous when you walk with your dog. Perfect strangers will want to talk with you about pit bulls - some with friendly comments and some will say the rudest things. It can all seem like a grueling exercise at times..
There's a bright side to this madness. Just by living your life with your dog at your side, you'll be actively working to educate and dispel breed myths every single day. Hanging out at the local coffee shop with your lovable dog by your side will probably bring you more interesting conversations then you ever thought possible. And undoubtedly, you'll be making friends while you're busy changing minds. We thank you for wanting to take on the role as an Ambassador Owner. One productive conversation at a time, and we're turning the tide for pit bulls everywhere.
A family Pit Bull is a kid's Best Friend
Good Enough for Our Gang, Good Enough for Yours!
It's a well known fact: Well socialized, responsibly owned pit bulls are in millions of homes around the country. Not surprising, the American Canine Temperament Test Society lists this breed as having one of the most stable temperaments of any of the purebreds, right up there with golden retrievers. For the stats, check out Pit Bull Temperament Test Results.
Be aware that young, active dogs can knock smaller sized kids down in their exhuberance. * As with ANY breed, no dog should ever be left unattended with a young child. But you already knew that!
Pit Bulls are Clean, Short Coated, Hardy and Beautiful!
With few grooming needs, they're generally easy to care for. However, as short haired beasts, pit bulls are universally committed to their creature comforts and really don't appreciate being left out in the cold. Your dog will want to be where it's warm - inside your house with YOU. She may even insist on sneaking under the covers with you.
When planning for cool weather, you may want to budget in for some dog fashion and bling. These beauties do look fab in dog jackets and tricked out leather collars. Even the biggest naysayers tend to melt when they see pit bulls in clothes - So work it!
Robust and hardy, they tend to be playful and active throughout their lifetime. They can live to be as old as eighteen, although 12-15 is the norm. Because some are born with hip and elbow dysplasia and (more common) faulty knees, you're wise to keep your dog trim to curb the need for expensive corrective surgeries from carrying excess weight. Allergies and itchy skin are common but generally respond well to holistic treatments and a nutritionally balanced diet.