Bully Myths

“Dogs have to be trained to fight. If I get one as a puppy and socialize him, he’ll never get in a fight.”

While it’s true that fighting dogs are conditioned to make them better fighters, dog aggression can’t be trained into a dog, and any dog can fight with other dogs. This isn’t limited to pit bulls or similar breeds and all dogs have varying levels of tolerance for others of their kind. It is up to us as responsible owners to always set our dogs up for success, by knowing what their dog tolerance level is, listening to their signals and body language when they say “I really don’t like this” and removing them from the situation.

“If a dog is aggressive towards other dogs, doesn’t that mean they will be aggressive to humans too?”

Not at all. Dogs know the difference between humans and their own species, and put us in two very different categories. A dog who is well socialized to people may be terrified of other dogs, and vice versa. There are many dogs who can’t be trusted around other dogs, but who are the most loving, loyal, and tolerant pets.

“Don’t pit bulls have locking jaws?”

This silly myth has been plaguing pit bulls for decades, but pit bull jaws are no different from other dogs – there is no locking mechanism. They don’t even have the strongest bite of all dog breeds. However, they are powerful dogs with terrier tenacity, which means they do often grab and hold – a skill that is most often directed towards their favorite tug toy!

“Pit bulls are unpredictable and could turn on you at any moment!”

Nonsense! Pit bulls are dogs. No dog, regardless of the breed, goes from happy family pet to Cujo in an instant. There are always warning signs, and there is always a cause. Learn what a scared or anxious dog looks like, and make sure that children are always supervised around animals, no matter how small. It is extremely dangerous to believe that only big, scary looking dogs will bite, when all dogs can and will bite if they are scared enough or in pain.

“Well then, how come you’re always hearing about vicious pit bull attacks on the news?”

There are several reasons:

  • “Pit Bull Attack” makes a better headline than “Undetermined Mixed Breed Attack”, “Labrador Retriever Attack”, or even “Dog attack”. Many times, what was described as a pit bull was actually a different breed entirely, but no one remembers the retraction printed later. They remember the initial headline. Can you tell the difference between a pit bull, a boxer mix, a mastiff mix, or a bulldog mix? Do you think a reporter can (or even wants to)?
  • Similarly, “Pit Bull Attack” is more likely to make the national news, whereas “Golden Retriever Bites Child” tends to only get reported locally (if at all).
  • Pit bull type dogs are unfortunately very popular with criminals, drug dealers, and others who wish to have a large, scary dog as a status symbol. This means there are a huge number of pit bulls who are abused, neglected, and tied out on chains their whole lives. Would you expect a dog in such a situation to be overly friendly and tolerant? Many times, these are the dogs involved in “attacks”. 20 years ago they were Rottweilers, before that they were Dobermans, and German Shepherds before them. Unfortunately, just as the media turned to 24 hour news networks that need to fill their time and get ratings, pit bulls became the status symbol dog of choice.

To sum up – which do you think makes a better headline: “Family Pit Bull Viciously Kills Child” or “Chained, Abused Dog Kills Child”

“Pit bulls in rescue could have come from anywhere – even a dog fighter! It’s unsafe to get a dog whose history is unknown.”

Every dog should be judged as an individual, and an unsafe dog should never be put up for adoption by any shelter or rescue group. We’ve seen over and  over – fight bust dogs moving on to become successful and adored companion animals, even sometimes working therapy dogs.  To be certain that you are getting a dog with the right temperament for your family, hire a trainer experienced with bully breeds to help you pick out your new friend.

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