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Old 08-08-2009, 01:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
Marty
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Part #2...

The 1980’s saw an upsurge in the popularity of American Pit Bull Terriers as “guard” dogs for drug dealers and also as an expression of ego or “manhood” for street kids. Thus, it began - the production of disproportionately large “Pit Bulls”. For all intensive purposes, these were not (and still are not!) true American Pit Bull Terriers - lines of American Bulldog, Cane Corso’s and other molosser breeds were incorporated into the APBT’s lineage to produce massive brutes. In some cases, a large APBT pup was born and was overused as a stock breeder, thus producing highly inbred dogs with serious behavioral issues. It is a myth that an APBT can weigh 80lbs or more - those are not true Pit Bulls and if a pedigree was attained, at some point, there would be molosser (mastiff) blood added or the dog would have come from highly inbred lines.

The majority of APBT breeders scoffed at these “bigger but not necessarily better” lines of dogs (I say majority as the minority would be the people who are actually breeding larger dogs).

Even “professional” (I use that term loosely) dogmen/women (those who fight dogs) were horrified to see the onslaught of massive hulks, for in the pit ring/box, bigger does not mean better performance.

Today, the vast majority of APBT’s do not get over 60lbs (and this is true for AST’s) and the vast majority are household pets. Unfortunately, a minority of Pit Bulls are poorly socialized, chained, abused, neglected or allowed to roam free and inevitably attack a living creature, typically a child. As with any breed of dog, it is imperative for owners to properly socialize their dogs and that means exposing them to everything imaginable: from young to old children, from the elderly to the wheelchair bound, from umbrellas to kites, etc.

Dogs should never be chained outside or left outside in the backyard for most of the day as that is simply creating a dangerous dog by circumstance. The APBT’s that have attacked have ALL been poorly socialized, under trained, and neglected - they never learned appropriate behavioral skills to cope with the outside world. All that these dogs had were the poor social skills that only a chained or neglected dog can receive; since they were never taught to suppress some of their predatory instincts, these dogs inevitably hear a screaming child and see the child running and instinct takes over.

APBT’s are no more or less difficult than any other dog to train or socialize. Owners most certainly need to understand the dog fighting history and take necessary precautions by ensuring early socialization with other dogs and monitoring of their interactions with other dogs. And even with extensive socialization, some APBT’s may never become comfortable around other dogs, so each dog should be treated as an individual with careful consideration. By their very nature, APBT’s strive to be around humans - centuries of breeding have seen to that. They need a kind heart AND a kind hand - physical reprimands are useless and ineffective for any dog and should rarely, if ever, be employed.

APBT’s have been used by the FDA and USDA for sniffing out bombs and drugs and have been used by the military as well as police forces. APBT’s have also been used as therapy and service dogs; in fact, the first certified hearing dog in Alaska was an APBT. APBT’s are great at weight pulling as well as agility, schutzhund, obedience and carting. As far as temperament is concerned, APBT’s have consistently scored an 82% and higher on the American Temperament Test Society’s evaluation, higher than Goldens, German Shepherds and most other breeds. With socialization, training and a kind hand - APBT’s are wonderful companions for all walks of life: from families to single individuals, from joggers to apartment dwellers, and onward.

article credit : Marji Beach
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