Bully breed advice...
If you are thinking about adding a canine companion to your family - pit bull or otherwise - I have one very important word for you... RESEARCH!
Adopting the right dog for you. Every year, thousands of dogs (not only pit bulls) end up in shelters and are euthanized because their owners didn't take the time to investigate the particular breed they thought they wanted. Please don't add to the already staggering statistics. Taking the time to research a breed will give you an idea if that particular breed is right for you. Every breed has certain typical characteristics and quirks - find out before you adopt if those are things you are willing to adapt to your lifestyle. Also remember that just like people, no dog is perfect.
Pit Bull Ownership 101
First and foremost, pit bull ownership requires a great deal of owner responsibility. Because the media and the public thrive on sensationalized pit bull narratives, its imperative that pit bull owners become breed advocates and model responsible ownership practices in their communities. The more you know about the breed, the better breed advocate you will be. Quite simply, pit bull owners across the country are under fire. We must be responsible owners in order to help overcome the public's negative views of the breed brought about by the irresponsible and careless owners.
Quite frankly, the rules of responsible pit bull ownership are no different than that of any other dog. Unfortunately, because our dogs are the targets of fear, hate and discrimination, we must take it up a notch. The words "pit bull," when used in this paragraph, can be - and should be - easily exchangeable with the word "dog." There is no such thing as being too responsible when it comes to your pit bull... NEVER allow your pit bull to roam freely, ALWAYS walk your pit bull on a leash, ALWAYS supervise your pit bull with other animals, NEVER keep your pit bull chained or tethered for extended periods of time or without your supervision (an unattended pit bull is a prime target for theft), and as with any dog, ALWAYS supervise children with dogs.
The typical pit bull is a unique and wonderful animal. They offer incredible companionship, are amazingly athletic and have a terrific sense of humor. There is truly no other breed like them! Pit bulls are not the breed for everyone... but then again, the same can be said of any breed. Pit bulls demand owners that not only understand the challenges of the breed, but who are committed to negotiating these challenges on a daily basis. Many of those challenges come in the form of discrimination and bias from society. Because of this, not only are pit bulls categorized in a derogatory manner, but their owners are as well.
Many believe that bull breeds are inclined to dog aggression. Obviously, every dog is different and every dog has a distinct personality - a dog's temperament is the result of its socialization and upbringing. That being said, however, I have found through my personal experience in rescue, that many pit bulls tend to have some level of dog aggression - that level can vary from insignificant to severe. I cannot stress enough, however, that I do not like blanket statements that sweep all members of a particular group into one category, and it would be unfair and inaccurate to assert that ALL pit bulls are dog aggressive.
As a sensible alternative to categorizing an entire breed, dog owners need to know, understand and/or be "in tune with" THEIR individual dog's temperament and personality. If you know your dog doesn't particularly care for other dogs, do not take place your dog in situations where he might find himself in trouble. As the dog owner, you are in control and you are charged with making the appropriate decisions that impact your dog. It all boils down simple common sense!
As I initially stated, pit bull ownership is no different from that of any other dog. Quite simply, dog ownership is a responsibility, and all dogs - regardless of breed - require responsible owners. Sadly, it is when people don't follow the rules of responsible dog ownership, it is pit bull owners who suffer the greatest consequences. Therefore, I encourage all bull breed owners to be advocates for the breed, as well as role models for other dog owners. By doing so, pit bulls can once again become an American icon in society.
One very important characteristic of the Pit Bull dogs, is their amazing love of people. Human aggression, severe shyness, and instability are not traits typically found and accepted in the Pit Bull breed. Pit Bulls thrive on human companionship. They are friendly, silly, happy dogs and typically never meet a stranger. Unlike the myth propagated by the media though, human aggression is not a trait associated with the Pit Bull breed. In fact, Pit Bulls tend to do better than average in temperament tests.
Dog-on-dog aggression is a common issue with pit bulls. In fact, it is a common issue with all TERRIER breeds, in general. I encourage you to research any terrier breed - including the tiny Yorkshire Terrier - and you will discover the majority of terriers tend to be "scrappy" with other dogs. Owners must recognize and accept this fact or they will not be able to provide competent ownership and have fun with their dogs. As stated above - KNOW YOUR DOG.
Proponents of pit bull bans argue that because SOME pit bulls were once bred to fight other dogs, that ALL pit bulls are "dangerous" animals and, therefore, not acceptable pets or even domestic animals. Current scientific research renders that train of thought as outdated. The latest research indicates that environment plays an even more significant role than genetics in dog behavior. In essence, breed ban proponents play the genetics card selectively. They want you to believe that pit bull were bred to fight, ergo, they are vicious. However, they conveniently leave out the fact that pit bulls have always, from the beginning, been bred to be EXCEEDINGLY human friendly.
In addition, the dog fighting argument fails because there is a distinction between dog aggression and human aggression. The simple fact that a dog displays aggression toward another dog does not mean it will display aggression toward a human. There is a distinct difference between animal aggression and human aggression, and the two should never be confused. When speaking of pit bulls specifically, in my own personal opinion, you will not find a more friendly, loving or affectionate breed out there. One common saying about pit bulls is that they "never meet a stranger."
With respect to dogs that tend to be dog-aggressive, a higher level of responsibility on the part of the dog owner is necessary. You need to recognize what upsets or aggitates your dog and remove your dog from those situations and/or don't put your dog in situations where those circumstances are likely to occur. You have the ability to control your dog's environment and keep him safe, secure and happy.
Finally, pit bulls can and do interact peacefully with other dogs and animals. Individual dog temperament, early training and socializing, all play an important role in whether or not a pit bull is capable of getting along with other animals. Many people successfully keep multiple pit bulls and other pets in the same household. Success is based on careful supervision, proper management and training, and the individual animals involved.