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Pitbulls get a lot of bad reputation because some people raise them as fight dogs. But, are innocent puppies just as aggressive as fully grown ones?
Pitbull puppies are not naturally aggressive. They are more stubborn than other dogs, and they are strong, but it all comes down to training. If the owner trains the dog to be violent, they will be violent. If the owner raises them to be nice and cuddly, they will be.
If you want to know more about pitbulls and aggression, why they have such a poor reputation, and how to train your puppy to be the perfect family dog, read on.
Pit Bulls and Aggression
As mentioned, pitbulls have a bad reputation when it comes to aggressiveness. However, how much of it is actually true?
For one, a pitbull is not a breed. It’s simply a term we use to cover a broad range of dogs like American Staffordshire terrier, American pitbull terrier, American Staffordshire bull terrier, and many mixed breeds that look like a pitbull.
The term pitbull is not very accurate, but most people can’t tell the difference between these breeds, so it stuck.
All of these breeds were raised to be fighters. They were commonly used for entertainment purposes. Early records show that they were fighting with other animals at first before people developed dog fights as we know them today.
Of course, dog fights are now illegal, but they are still a looming danger for any breed that resembles a pitbull. They are used because they have a strong, athletic frame, strong jaw and sharp teeth, and their attacking style. When a pitbull attacks, they bite and shake, injuring their victims’ flesh.
But the fact is that pitbulls are the true victims in this story. Just like any other breed, they are born a blank slate, with a bit more stubbornness than some other breeds have. Then when a wrong person gets ahold of them, they suffer abuse and rigorous training to become fighters.
This is why it tends to be hard to rehabilitate a fighting dog — they are meant to fight for their life, so they will attack anyone that seems like an opponent to them: especially other dogs or animals.
However, when they are puppies, pitbulls have the same chance to be cuddly and loving family dogs as any other breed. For example, if you raise a poodle to be aggressive, they would be just as dangerous as a pitbull.
Many pitbull owners are absolutely in love with their dogs, and they know just how lovely this breed can be, with proper care and training.
Keep in mind that any dog can display unexpected aggressiveness towards the owner — all breeds have an equal risk of this. But the better you train them and the better you are towards them, the less likely they will ever turn on you.
Are Pit Bulls Naturally Aggressive to Humans?
Pitbulls, and breeds characterized as pitbulls, have a very imposing frame, and they look dangerous. Because of this, the media often sensationalized stories of pitbulls harming humans, when, in reality, the statistics are generally hard to come by. People don’t identify the dog properly, they don’t report unless it’s a serious bite, etc.
Plenty of things can affect the behavior of a dog. In its essence, the temperament of a pitbull breed is not much worse than the temperament of any other dog. The training is key here, but some traits are also hereditary.
For example, American Pit Bull Terrier was used as a fighting dog. Those working with them — the owners that trained these dogs for fighting — were careful to keep only those dogs who didn’t bite humans.
So, the trait was genetically erased from these dogs, in a way. An incident here or there is normal, but these dogs rarely bite people without proper cause.
The fact is that the breed doesn’t really matter. Puppies of any breed have the same likelihood to be aggressive. It’s all about their care.
There are several reasons why a pitbull may lash out on a human. For one, they may be afraid. Fear is one of the most common reasons for attacks to happen.
The dog can perceive a human as a threat if they have had previous bad experiences with humans or if they sense that a human is about to harm them.
However, most breeds will attack for the same reasons, and it’s not specific to pitbulls.
If a dog was raised in a good, positive environment from their puppyhood, they would behave well no matter what breed they are.
One of the best ways to train your dog and establish dominance is to use positive reinforcement training. This means that you reward them for any positive behavior that they display or fulfill any request you have for them. This will teach them that all of their favorite things come to them from you if they behave well. Their rewards could be their favorite treats or your attention, a trip outside, etc.
Are Pit Bulls Naturally Aggressive to Other Animals?
Pitbulls, while quite tolerant of humans when well-trained and socialized, are a bit less tolerant of other dogs and animals.
This, of course, can be connected to their fighting background. So, taking a pitbull to an open area full of other dogs and animals may not be the smartest idea.
At the same time, a pitbull can be socialized to accept other dogs that they know and meet often, but they may not respond so well to dogs that they don’t know. Often, they don’t intend to cause any damage; they just want to play.
But, if the play gets a bit too rough for the other dog or your pitbull wants to show that they are the alpha, the game will soon turn into another headline.
Other dogs can also make a problem for you if they start jumping and nipping your dog as a form of play, and your dog responds to that poorly. Try to take your dog out when the parks are not as populated with animals and other dogs as they usually are.
Pitbulls have a similar relationship with other animals too. They may be best friends with your pet cat, but if they see a different cat running around the neighborhood, they will jump at the opportunity to hunt it, especially if it captures their interest.
Plus, pitbulls are known for their tenacity, and they will not stop until they do what they intended to do. So, do your best to socialize your dog from early puppyhood with the other animals in the dog park, neighborhood, house, or family.
Pitbulls are not naturally aggressive, but they can be if they’ve had poor training, abuse, or bad experiences with humans. But as puppies, these dogs will be just as gentle and loving as any other dogs. This will give you a chance to train them and teach them to behave well even as they grow.
It’s recommended to neuter male pitbulls simply because this makes it easier to train them, and they will be more likely to listen. Provide enough love and attention, train them with positive reinforcement, and they will grow into lovely dogs for your family.
- Mercer University: Canine Aggression Dog Bites to People
- The University of British Columbia: Management and rehabilitation of inter-dog aggression in animal shelters
I created this blog to share my passion for bullies, and help current and future pitbull owners with things like diet and education.
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