Pit Bulls are legislated as “Dangerous Dogs” in many states. This professional dog trainer deals realistically with training the Pitbull or any inherently aggressive dog. One of the most authentic and candid TRAINING LESSONS every "fighting breed" dog owner must learn to be safe and responsible.
Obedience Training Pit Bulls
Jack Vance © TheDogPlace - January 2010
Can proper obedience training and owner control make a potentially Dangerous Dog a safe canine companion? What about training a pit bull with inherent dominance and fighting ability?
The Pit Bull is a beautiful, magnificent animal with very powerful physical abilities. Like any animal of this magnitude, Pitbulls demand one’s attention and admiration and in my case, concern and absolute respect for their capacity. Respect is a little word with many connotations. From what I see, most people are not worthy of this dog’s respect much less obedience.
I have handled only a few Pit bulls; so I do not consider myself an authority on that breed. But I am competent and understanding of the psychological makeup of the average dog, which allows me to train them. Any good trainer can train any dog to perform what that dog is physically capable of. A trainer cannot change the breed characteristics a dog is born with nor can the trainer insure that training and control will be properly maintained by the owner.
The Pit Bull is fearless and relentless in combat whether in self defense or initiating the opponent. Pitbulls can weigh in at a formidable 100 pounds. They can be a serious threat to the safety of owners, other people and dogs, unless the owners accept their responsibility. Owners must change the way they think of their dogs. They must learn to recognize and understand how a dog communicates in addition to understanding their dog’s attributes, ability, and capacity.
A dog is like a small child; and we must constantly be aware of what they are doing and thinking if we are to keep them from harm’s way. Both will learn with or without our input so there must be a strong leader to protect and train them. Without that leadership, respect and obedience will not happen. Respect is not an innate attribute of a dog or a child; it must be learned and earned. A dog or child who does not respect humans becomes empowered and becomes the leader in that relationship.
When in public all dogs should be on leash. The leash and collar (capable of restraining the dog in times of stress) is the most valuable piece of equipment one can own. The leash will keep your dog from going towards trouble and it enhances handling the dog safely, should trouble come to them. If a person handling a 100 pound dog was jerked to the ground and retained hold of the leash, it would be very difficult for the dog to drag the average 150 pound person for any great distance in an effort to get to another dog or person.
I am a practicing trainer of dogs for obedience and horses for riding and driving. In my travels across the USA, I have retrained aggressive dogs and they adjusted well. When I take a dog to train, I work with the owners also. I try to enhance their understanding of what they must learn and practice if they want to maintain a good relationship with their dog.
Not all dogs are good natured and compatible with the average person. I see a lot of good natured animals, but also ill natured animals being handled badly. Most of the time, the owners were lacking in communication with their dog, which allows the dog to regress back to its former undesirable behavior. This is one of the reasons I do not train Pit Bulls. I do not want my name referenced as the trainer, should a mishap occur.
The Pit bull is an animal, and like any animal, he is subject to good training but I personally cannot train him to the degree of reliability to which I can train most dogs. There are approximately 65 million dogs in the U.S.A. Every one of these animals; think, perceive, interpret and react. Although we can train our animals to respond only to our personal directive, they can and do respond to circumstances beyond our control.
Aggression in any breed is a concern. With Pit Bulls, the consequences of an attack are paramount. I do not trust any person or animal until they have proven trustworthy. I give both the same respect I would give a person with a gun in their hand, that being I do not place myself in a position where that person’s carelessness will cause me harm.
Safety in handling dogs can only come from recognizing, understanding, learning, and using the mediums of communication the dog uses which are Visual, that being physical movement of their extremities individually or in correlation, therefore we must be in a position to see those communications, such as the dog’s tail and/or ear movement. Sound, being barking, growls, whines, moans, therefore we must be in a position to hear the communication and Tactile, that being; physical touch, therefore we must be in a position to feel the communication, such as the dog pulling on the leash while I am walking him. The dog’s communication conveys his intent or feeling toward something which has got his attention, be it animal, vegetable or mineral.
We breed dogs to develop certain innate features/traits. The Pit Bull and other such dogs were bred for the purpose of deterring threats by aggressive means. These traits remain in the dog today although the average person does not need them for that purpose. The “need” has turned to a “desire” for an aggressive dog but average owners are ignorant of or lack respect for the breeds capacity, training limits, and unreliability as regards obedience. Does this make the Pit Bull a BAD DOG? NO! It makes them dog with traits, just like a sight hound verses a scent hound. They are both dogs, but have capacities and limits that must be respected. Are there exceptions? YES.
An Obedient, reliable dog follows the handlers command, even though it does not want to. This means when there is a threat or other stimulus the dog reverts back to his “innate state” of survival; your “training” which the dog learned to trust, must surface and override his natural instincts to fight, flight, or chase. This type of training requires dedication, which I find the majority and average dog owners do not have.
In comparing various breeds, we must look at their purpose and capacity, much like one would compare guns. A 44 magnum pistol, loaded, laying on a table is not dangerous! A gun only becomes dangerous when someone picks it up, and is careless with it, or intentionally uses it, The Pit Bull in comparison to other dogs is (this may be over simplifying) a 44 magnum pistol; whereas the average dog is a 22 pistol. If the same surface of your shoulder is hit with a bullet from a 22 pistol, it is probably going to hurt, but if it is hit with a bullet from a 44 magnum; your shoulder will probably be destroyed. I am not an expert in guns but please trust my analogy.
Thinking along these same lines of various dogs; I posed a question to myself. The law enforcement agencies use the fear factor of a growling snarling lunging dog. So why do the police not use Pit Bulls in their every day work? The police use other dogs in high public profile to support their law enforcement efforts, so why not the pit bull? A dog growling and lunging at the leash is a powerful image and certainly is a deterrent to any hostile approach to that officer. If it were a Pit bull; with my perception and understanding of that breed; my fear and concern would be much greater. The pit bull is rarely used because it isn’t as reliable to obedience as the other breeds used in law enforcement. And let’s face it, I would not want to be in a crowd of people where a Pit Bull is on aggression leash and I am restricted from moving away from him.
In closing; Do a group of citizens with a vested interest; have the right to ask for protection through legislation restricting certain animals and where they may be housed and what materials and specification must be used for such housing? YES Should animal owners be required to ensure their dogs remain on their property, and not place me and mine in peril? YES. Should Animal owners be held accountable for injury and mayhem their animals commit intentionally or unintentionally? YES
Rights of Americans” it seem are no longer “inalienable”, but must now be legislated. That is not the way it should be. We have enough legislation but irresponsible, ignorant, and selfish people require or cause more legislation. Therefore; we must be diligent and prudent in writing such legislation, and in requiring responsible ownership. Can we require owners of put bulls or certain other breeds to train them? Perhaps not but we can and must educate their owners.
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