Unfortunately, owning a bully breed dog such as a Pit Bull, American Bulldog, Bull Terrier, etc. often means that you don’t catch any breaks. One small incident is all it takes to jeopardize the life you share with your pet. YOUR dog may not be trained to fight, but the propensity for fighting exists throughout their lineage, and it is in your dog’s best interest to protect them from situations that may escalate into trouble.
Keep in mind, while dogs are pack animals, the history of the Pit Bull and related breeds have created a dog whose pack is human in nature, not animal. They do not always do well meeting other dogs they do not already know, and in most instances it’s preferable to avoid it all together. Most of these dogs really can’t be bothered with making new dog friends, so do them a favor and always do introductions in a neutral zone, when both dogs are calm, and with owners who have a solid knowledge of their particular dog’s behaviors, mannerisms and preferences.
I have compiled a list of tips to help keep your beloved bully out of trouble. Before everyone fills this posts with comments as to why their dog doesn’t need to do this, I will concede that you know your dog best. If you are blessed to have a well-socialized, dog aggression and prey drive free Pitty, that’s great! Take the tips for what they’re worth, and adapt them to your particular situation. The best thing you can do as an owner of a bully breed dog is to respect and heed the advice laid out in articles like this one.
1) No Dog Parks
I really dislike the atmosphere of dog parks for ANY dog simply due to the amount of chaos. In situations like this it is very hard to keep a close eye on your dog and read their body language. Even the most submissive bully will defend themselves in a fight. They also thrive on excitement and rough play, which can escalate into a loss of control (or even fight) in seconds.
2) Public Situations
Your bully can be under control, well behaved and have excellent manners, but you have no control over other people’s dogs. If you see someone being pulled, their dog not listening AND walking towards you, do what you need to do to get out of there. Go in another direction or politely say, “my dog is in training and I’d rather not have them meet”. Remember, a Pit Bull’s “pack” are their humans, not other dogs, and they shouldn’t be expected to like every dog they see.
3) No Retractable Leashes or Chain Leashes
Using a retractable gives you absolutely no control of your dog while walking. These types of leads are not meant for bully breed dogs, and they are simply much too strong for this type of leash. Chain leashes may seem like a good idea because of their strength, but I can tell you from personal experience that you are going to be in for a world of pain if you dog decides to chase the squirrel across the street. Chain leashes also prevent you from being able to properly correct your dog. A leather or hard nylon leash is a much better choice for this type of dog because it has strength and durability, while being strong enough to provide correction when needed.
4) Do Research on Collars
Collars that provide correction are often necessary for these breeds. There are a variety of collars available including chain/choke collars, prong collars and flat collars. No matter what type of collar you choose, you should be properly educated on how to use it without hurting your pet. Martingale collars are the best because they tighten as the dog pulls, which prevents them from being able to back out of it, while preventing unwanted forward motion because of the tightening.
5) Use a Harness
The best harnesses to use are the type that hooks the leash to the front of the chest. This type of harness can really help to prevent pulling, whereas the harnesses with the leash hooks on the back teach your dog to pull.