Myth 1: Bully breeds attack more humans than any other dog.
The CDC estimates that nearly 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year, but bully breeds are less often to blame than many other breeds, including chow chows and German shepherds. Another CDC study conducted in 2000 attempted to assess which breeds had been involved in the most fatal attacks from 1979 to 1998; however, researchers found numerous challenges and flaws in trying to make accurate calculations. To date, there is no scientific proof that bullies are more commonly involved in fatal attacks than all other dogs.
How to Socialize Your Bully Breed
The key to all socializing is taking it slow and steady.
Bully breed dogs are naturally social animals who love being around people, but if they aren't properly socialized, they can become timid or develop unruly behavioral issues. As with any new pet, it's important to introduce your bully to all types of people as soon as possible so that strangers won't faze him. Unlike other dogs, however, bullies already have a strike against them due to misconceptions about their temperament, so it's especially crucial that your dog knows how to behave in public. In this article, you'll learn how to get started, tips for easy socialization, and how to introduce your bully to other dogs, too.
Socializing with People
It's essential that you establish a close bond with your bully before you worry about socializing him with other people. Spend the first few weeks getting him adjusted to his new surroundings and giving him lots of one-on-one attention. Once you have earned your bully's trust and admiration, you will have better results socializing him with other people.
To start, consider registering your bully for basic obedience lessons where he'll be around professional trainers who can work on any bad habits, such as jumping. After your bully has had time to learn a few basic commands, start introducing him to men, women, children, people of different races and sizes, men with facial hair, and people wearing scarves and heavy coats. Variety is the key to getting your bully used to different faces, and the more he's around all types of people, the more comfortable he will become. Just remember that safety comes first, and always have your bully leashed and under your control when introducing him to strangers.
Socializing with Other Dogs
Introducing your bully to other dogs is an entirely different matter, since bully breeds tend to prefer people. Not all bullies are going to get along with other dogs, and it's important to know your dog's personal tolerance level before proceeding. If you're adopting your dog from a shelter, ask them to conduct temperament testing to find out how welcoming your bully is to other canines. If he shows signs of dog-aggression, it's best to keep him away from other dogs at all times. If he seems open to a little dog-on-dog interaction, work with an experienced trainer to introduce your bully to other dogs gradually.
If you adopt your bully breed dog when he's a puppy, you might have better luck socializing him with other dogs while he's young. The sooner you begin introducing your pup to other dogs, the more likely he is to accept them when he's an adult.
Dog parks can be chaotic and not everyone is knowledgeable about proper dog etiquette.Dogs are pack animals. Strange dogs interacting with one another are not a pack and as a result scuffles can occur. You can socialize your bully by having regular play dates with his/her own pack. Develop a small group of playmates for supervised fun in a safe and contained, private area. At some point in every dog owner's life, their dog will either initiate or be subject to an attack by another dog. If your dog is a bully breed, one of two things will
happen - he/she will walk away or it will defend itself. If your bully breed dog is involved in a fight at a dog park, whether or not it started the fight, the situation can feed the stereotype of bully breeds and further tarnish their image. While dog parks can be fun with its many different breeds and temperaments, the odds of your dog getting into an unfavorable situation is increased. Taking your dog to a dog park is not worth the risk.
The key to all socializing is taking it slow and steady; never push your dog into interacting with a person or dog if he seems timid or hesitant. Trust your dog's instincts, and he'll trust you.
Do your homework. Be sure a bully breed is right for you.
Tail wagging, tongue lapping and full body hugs are just a few of the reactions you can expect to come home to when you adopt a bully breed. These sturdy, active dogs make wonderful companions. But too often, unaware pet owners relinquish their bully breeds to shelters because they didn't realize the commitment required to own such a dog. Before you bring a bully breed into your life, make sure you know all the facts about these dynamic dogs. Are they good with children and other people? How much time and attention do they really need? What is Breed Specific Legislation, and how could it affect your decision to adopt? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more, plus find out if adopting a bully breed is really right for you.
1. Bullies Are Loyal to a Fault Bully breeds are loyal and faithful companions. You should be one too.
Bully breeds are generally very loving and loyal companions. They normally form very close bonds with their owners and will be a constant presence around your home. As the group Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls (BAD RAP) explains, "Be ready to commit lots of quality time to your pet for life." These people-lovers won't like being relegated to the backyard or left alone for long periods of time. Be prepared to commit at least two hours a day of undivided attention to your bully breed to ensure his happiness. Remember, you can't judge an entire breed by a few negative news reports. If you're ready to adopt a loving and active dog, you will have a faithful companion for life in a bully breed.
2. Adopting a Bully Breed May Take Time The process to adopt a bully breed may be more rigorous than for other breeds.
Any reputable rescue will put you through a thorough screening process before allowing you to adopt a dog, but the process is usually more rigorous for someone looking to take home a bully breed. Don't be offended if a rescue really questions your motives in adopting pit bull mixes and other breeds that have a history of abuse or dog-fighting. A reputable rescue could request a list of references along with a home visit to see where your adopted bully will live. You should also be prepared to answer a detailed questionnaire in which you will be asked things like why you want to adopt a bully breed and your history as a pet owner.
Consider the experienced rescue group as your own pet matchmaking service. The more they know about your life, the better they can match you with the perfect pet. For example, an adult bully breed might make a better fit than a puppy, since adults are more settled. Always tell the rescue if you have small children, how active you are and other factors that might help them pair you with the right pooch. This will ensure every adopted bully finds a permanent home with a loving family that understands the unique needs and personalities of these breeds.
3. Bully Breeds Are Socialites Bully breeds are very trusting and naturally gregarious.
Bullies are very sociable animals and generally love being around people. They enjoy making new friends and are typically trusting of strangers. Their fondness for human contact and gregarious personality really makes them a perfect companion for someone who is a people person.
If you've heard that these breeds are malicious or overly aggressive, you should know they're always at the top of the class in temperament testing. The American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS) conducts annual evaluations for all dog breeds, and pit bull mixes consistently rate higher than some of their more popular counterparts, including the Golden Retriever and Collie. Bully breeds also excel at the American Kennel Club's (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training, which is a program that teaches good dog manners and responsible pet ownership. Dogs who become certified as CGCs might also qualify for reduced insurance rates, so it's an extra bonus to take this course with your bully breed.
4. Bullies Have Breed-specific Laws to Follow Some cities and counties have specific laws for owning bully breeds. Get to know them.
It may be surprising to know there are actual laws on the books in many cities and counties regarding dogs, but thanks to fear and irresponsible pet ownership, many local governments have enacted breed specific legislation (BSL) to curb perceived issues with bully breeds. The easiest way to find out if your town has passed BSL is to contact your local animal control facility. The shelter where you plan to adopt should know the regulations also, but if you're adopting out of town, it's best to check for yourself first.
Another thing to consider is your long-term living arrangement. Is there a move in your future? If you think you might be moving to another city or state, check to see what BSL is on record in the city to which you plan to relocate. Besides total breed bans, some cities have specific regulations for owning a bully breed, including muzzling in public, mandatory micro-chipping and carrying liability insurance. Do your research before you try to adopt, and be a responsible pet parent by following any rules established in your area.
5. Bullies Need Your Love…Amount Other Things Like any other dog consider the time, space and attention needed to care for a bully breed.
You've got lots of love to give a bully breed, but what about space, time and money? Most bully breeds will do OK in an apartment and can succeed in an urban setting, as long as they get plenty of exercise and at least 30 minutes of outdoor activity on a daily basis. Pit bull mixes are especially notorious for escaping, so if you have a fenced-in yard for playtime, make sure it's secure and that there aren't any loose boards your bully could use as an escape route. Consider the height of your enclosure too, since some bully breeds are excellent jumpers.
The annual cost of owning a bully breed will be about the same as with any other dog, plus a few extra considerations. Before you adopt, find out if your homeowner's insurance includes an exclusion on pit bull mixes or other breeds; you may need to pay an additional premium to call one of these dogs part of the family. Likewise, if you rent, check with your landlord to make sure you can have a bully breed in your building.
6. Bully Breeds Love KidsBullies are good with kids. Train your bully and your child on how to play together.
Bully breeds such as the Staffordshire bull terrier have a long history of being good with children and are often called "Nanny Dogs" in England thanks to their sweet and nurturing demeanor around kids. Bullies that are well-socialized and properly cared for are generally wonderful pets for children, as they are able to handle any rough-housing and are drawn to kids' carefree dispositions.
When you introduce a new dog into your home, you should not only train the dog how to treat your child, but also train your child how to treat the dog. One thing to note, bully breeds are typically of stout build so they could knock over young children and therefore, need supervision. Regardless of breed, dog trainer Victoria Stilwell says you should never, under any condition, leave a child unattended with any dog for any length of time.
7. Bullies Require Proper Socialization Get social. Test your adopted dog's tolerance for people and other pets.
If you've ever been to a dog park, you've most likely seen a group of dogs involved in a tussle. Dog-on-dog aggression is not a breed-specific behavior, and even the littlest dogs can turn on each other. According to Pit Bull Rescue Central (PBRC), it's true that pit bull mixes do have a history of being less tolerant of other animals due to the way they were originally bred, but every dog is different. Some might love other animals, while others might only be accepting of those they've been raised with or not tolerant at all. It's up to you to learn your dog's patience for other pets and take the appropriate measures to ensure a safe environment.
Most shelters work on socializing and should know the tolerance level of all the rescued dogs in their care. Once you've settled on a dog to adopt, ask the shelter if you can visit with your other pets to ensure they'll get along. After adoption, you should work on socializing as soon as possible.
8. Bully Breeds Are Active Breeds Keep your bully active and entertained.
Pit bull mixes and other breeds that fall into the bully category are generally very athletic and love lots of exercise. They typically excel in agility, flyball and other sports. Look for organizations in your area that cater to bully breeds for group activities that will keep them engaged. For example, a group in Chicago started a skateboarding club for pit bulls, and there are agility groups all across the country where bully breeds are welcome.
As is true with most other dogs, a bored bully is a bad bully. If you prefer slow living, a breed in this category is probably not the dog for you. Also keep in mind that you should never have your bully breed off-leash in public, so finding open spaces where he can run free might pose a challenge. If you don't have a fenced-in yard, but have space, a dog run makes an excellent option, as does a doggie treadmill. Many people mistakenly believe that treadmills are only used to exercise dog-fighters, but many dogs of all breeds get exercise this way when they aren't able to go outdoors. Just remember to supervise all of your dog's activities.
Pit bulls are energetic, agile, and strong. They are also very resourceful and driven. Determination is one of their most notable traits: They put their heart and soul into whatever they set out to do, whether it is escaping an inadequately fenced yard to explore the neighborhood, destroying your new couch if left home alone without a proper outlet to combat boredom, or climbing into your lap to shower you with kisses!
Pit bulls are wonderful, loving animals that deserve the chance to have a good life.
Pit bulls have physical and mental characteristics that make them excellent partners for responsible, active and caring owners. These same outstanding qualities can, however, be challenging for people who don't have a lot of experience with dog ownership or have limited understanding of the breed. Luckily, pit bulls are intelligent, very responsive to training, and, above all, eager to please. Therefore, pit bulls should be enrolled in obedience classes as soon as they are up-to-date on their shots. (Pit bulls are susceptible to parvovirus, so it is important that they receive all their vaccinations before coming into contact with other dogs or entering areas of high canine traffic.) A well-behaved pit bull is the best way to fight breed prejudice and misconceptions.
Myth #2: Bully breeds are prone to locking their jaws, and have a stronger bite than any other dog.
Stories of bullies’ super-strong jaws might make great horror film fodder, but science doesn’t support them. Research conducted by Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin at the University of Georgia shows that bully breeds don’t show any mechanical or morphological differences in jaw structure when compared to other dogs — nor do their jaws come equipped with locking capabilities.
To explore the question of jaw strength, a 2005 National Geographic study measured force of bite for several creatures as pounds of bite pressure. On average, dogs exhibited about 320 pounds of pressure, while humans came in at 120 pounds and great white sharks at 600. The study also included a simulated bite sleeve test with a German shepherd, a Rottweiler and an American pit bull terrier. The pit bull actually registered the least amount pressure among the group, despite rumors that bully breeds can clamp down with an alarming 1600 pounds of force.
Myth #3: Bully breeds are not safe to adopt or rescue because of unknown genetic history.
According to the PBRC, there’s no actual evidence to suggest that bully breeds are a riskier adoption choice than any other types of breeds. While you may not be able to learn as much about a rescue dog’s genetic history as you would with a dog from a breeder, the staff at animal rescues and shelters often have a pretty good idea of dogs’ recent histories and current temperaments. At the very least, they can speak to how a dog has behaved since it’s been at their facility.
Of the many dogs available in shelters, bullies are among those most in need of adoption. PBRC reports that 40 percent of all the dogs across 12 Los Angeles shelters fall into the bully breed category. In general, bullies are loveable, loyal and energetic, especially when given the proper socialization and training. Don’t let a handful of unfounded myths keep you from opening your home to one of the hundreds of thousands of bullies in need.