|Barked: Mon Oct 8, '12 2:53pm PST |
|I would agree with Niki, first be sure that you are living in a place where you can keep a pit bull. Not just where it's legal, but also where insurance companies will insure you and your neighbors will not throw a fit. Most people here actually like pit bulls, but there are a few people who don't, and trust me, you would not want to live next door to them with a pittie. They would spend every waking minute trying to figure out a way to make you move or get rid of your dog. They don't care that your dog is not aggressive, that you have a CGC, that their dog bit someone and yours never has - it's a pit bull, and they don't want it in their neighborhood. And if they have the right connections and you don't, it can make your life very difficult.
The second thing I would suggest, is either find someone who is very pit-savvy to help you or work with a rescue that really knows the dogs. Especially if you will have children or other animals in your house. Pit bulls are a great breed, but many in rescues are mixes of several breeds (not purebred AST or APBT), and some dogs labeled as "pit bulls" do not have any AST or APBT in them at all. So you really have to be able to evaluate the dogs individually, because many of them will not fit breed stereotypes.
Pit bulls are amazing dogs. One of the first thing that strikes me about them is their (generally) undying devotion to humans in general. I've seen pit bulls come from terrible situations, where people did unimaginable things to them, and yet when someone else takes them in, they still greet the new person with a friendly wagging tail. The way they work is remarkable, you can see how hard they are trying to do everything right; and the look on their face when they know they haven't pleased you, makes your heart sink too.
One thing you should know about pit bulls, is that many of them are leaners and/or lap dogs. They want to be as physically close to you as possible. They don't sit next to you, they sit on you. And when they can't sit on you, they sit as close as possible and lean into you. This is something to consider because not every dog owner likes this. You also have to be careful when training them around visitors to your home, pitties love everyone and do not understand that some of your visitors will not appreciate being sat on. Many of the pit bulls I know also love to give "kisses," again not something everyone is really a fan of.
Another thing to note, is that most of them are "power chewers." They may or may not chew everything in sight and can be trained to chew only their own toys/treats, but even when they only chew acceptable items, they can destroy them in seconds. We have not found a squeaky toy that lasts more than five minutes. Stuffed animals are out completely. And we even have crumbled Kong toys. Most chewy treats are a 5-10 minute project.
Pit bulls are also smart - in some cases, too smart for their own good. Bianca learned what will get her a treat, and in some cases will start doing tricks spontaneously just to see if you'll get her a reward. She has also learned how to "sing" until she gets what she wants. My dad plays a game called "Later," where you put the treats in plain sight and announce they are to be eaten "later." This results in an all-out pit bull concert, complete with a three-ring circus, until the designated "later" time arrives. You can also put a treat or toy out of sight, but if she sees you hide it, she will not forget that it is there. Not even three days later. Bianca is also smart enough to know when/to whom she has to listen and when she can get away with more. I don't live at home anymore, but I am a lot like my dad (who is "her person"). She seems to have picked up on that and listens to me almost as well as to him, even though she doesn't listen to other people who spend more time with her.
I think others on Dogster are more qualified to give advice on the animal reactive/ aggression tendencies of this type of dog, but I will say I've seen the whole range - from dogs who think every animal is their friend, to dogs who cannot be on the same property as any other animal. Which is why I think it's especially important to work with people who know the dogs and can help you pick out one that is the best fit for your family. Different people can manage different degrees of reactivity.
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