Walk through the Animal Services facility and you will be struck by the number of pit bull mixed breeds being housed and cared for at any given time. This problem has always existed. However, responsible companion owners like YOU can make a difference.
Pit bulls are probably one of the most misunderstood breeds and they have the lowest adoption rate to prove it. The first step in changing this trend is to equip the public with the information and resources necessary to make knowledgeable and educated decisions regarding adoption/ownership of these types of dogs.
Pit Bull or Not a Pit Bull – That is the Question!
There are few breeds of dogs that can create as much controversy as pit bulls. Strong, powerful, loyal and highly energetic are some of the words associated with this type of dog. Aggression is another. And, for decades, pit bulls have been the dogs of choice for the brutal – and highly illegal – act of dog fighting.
The term pit bull actually encompasses several breeds of dogs, including modern American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, and Staffordshire bull terrier, and dogs with significant mixes of these breeds. Since they are part of the terrier family of dogs, they share the same traits as their smaller cousins: assertive, energetic and prone to chase.
A Perfect Partnership – Do You Have What It Takes?
Before you decide that a pit bull is right for you, search and ask yourself – are you right for a pit bull? Pit bulls are powerful, strong-willed animals. Like all dogs, pit bulls need training to learn how to act around people and other animals. They have a lot of energy and require an owner that has enough time to spend socializing and teaching them. Under-exercised and bored pit bulls will find ways to expend their excess mental and physical energy, including chewing, jumping on people, play biting, running, digging, etc. Educating yourself about the responsibilities associated with having a pit bull as a companion animal should come before finding and falling in love with him or her. Click on the following links and see if you have what it takes.
Think You Know How They Compare. . . Think Again
For all of the media sensation that has surrounded the pit bull and their so-called aggressive tendency, take a few minutes to sort through all the hype. When presented with facts, it is apparent that pit bulls make great companions. Click on the following link and you will see that pit bulls are just as great as those “other” family dogs:
Did We Forget to Mention - TRAINING?
As with any other type of dog, proper training of your pit bull can determine whether dog ownership is viewed as a success or a failure. Any breed of dog that is not properly trained or socialized can potentially become aggressive to its owner or family. With so many resources available, why not make the decision to gather as much information and training as possible? Remember, just as we have our own distinct personalities, our dogs have theirs.
There are many pet owners who have very well-mannered pit bulls as pets and they never have a moment’s worry with them. Tragically, others are mistreated by previous owners and raised to fight or be exceptionally aggressive.
If you choose to adopt a pit bull or pit bull mix, it’s important to remember these tips to help ensure that your experience will be a pleasant one.
- Exercise your dog every day. Pit bulls are high energy dogs that need some way of burning off that pent-up energy. Even a short 10-min. to 15-minute walk or game of fetch in the backyard will help burn off energy that can lead to behavior problems.
- Never leave pit bulls alone with other dogs (or any animal). Even if your dog gets along great 99.9 percent of the time with other animals, it’s best to be cautious. Remember, pit bulls are from the terrier family and could pursue other animals.
- Always have your dog on a leash in public. Pinellas County has a leash law for all dogs, regardless of breed. Keeping your pooch on a leash will help people see your dog in a positive light and keep your pet safe.
- Always supervise your dogs and never allow them to roam free. Loose dogs are often hurt by cruel people and accidents can happen as well. Always know where your dog is.
- Supervise your dog with small children. This is a must. Small children are often hurt by dogs - not from aggression, but because dogs can scratch them, step on them, and otherwise injure them.
- Spay or neuter your dog. This will help reduce any aggressive tendencies in male dogs, prevent them from straying, and help address the pet overpopulation problem we are currently experiencing.
- Train your dog. Take your dog to obedience classes or hire a private trainer. This is very important for pit bull owners. If you can not control your dog bad things will eventually happen. Get your dog into training as soon as possible.
- Socialize your dog. Take your dog to as many places as you can, meet new people and while they are young meet as many other dogs as possible. Socializing your pit bull will help curb any future problems that might occur.
- Keep your dog properly confined. Pit bulls are known to be great escape artists. Make sure you have the means to keep them in your yard and properly confined. Installing a 6-foot privacy fence is not a bad idea either.
Are You Committed Enough to Say, “I Do”?
As with any other relationship, one word comes to mind . . . WORK, WORK, and more WORK. If you take the time to carefully research and consider the time, effort and commitment that it takes to own a pit bull, you can have a very rewarding experience. Your hard work, patience and diligence can pay off by providing a loving home to an animal that may not have another chance – and who will provide you love and loyalty and laughter for years to come.
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