Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fighting Dogs

Pit Bull type dogs that are found near a fight bust are often inaccurately labeled as fighting dogs. Often times this does not accurately reveal the true history of such a dog. Sometimes the dog isn’t always the perpetrator but rather in many cases it’s the victim. Sometimes neither label is true and it was not used for fighting at all.

This misconception is a direct result of the media hype over pits. Many do not realize that the Pit Bull is not the only type of dog with a fighting background. Many “common” breeds also have fighting breeds in their lineage.  However, we don’t hear about those as much in the news. The sad truth is the misidentification and misunderstanding taints this amazing dog.

What needs to be realized is that just because a Pit Bull may have been fought in the past it doesn’t mean that it’s more dog reactive then one that has not. The Terrier generally has less toleration for other dogs.

This trait is exploited in the dog fighting world. Dogs of any breed and in any setting can be set up to react in a defensive manner. If an owner put them into a setting where they feel defensive they will react. If they are then rewarded for such a reaction they can and will become conditioned to do so. The dog is then trained to always react in a given manner.

However, dogs saved from this way of life may not be anymore dog on dog aggressive then those that have never fought. Much depends on how often that dog has been fought and reinforced for doing so. Also how much the Terrier trait displayed in that dog’s behavior. This is an individual thing. Each dog is different and should be treated accordingly. Good dog management and positive leadership combined with socialization and training are key for curbing negative behavior.

Throughout history dogs used in fighting rings have had close contact with humans. They were often accompanied in the ring by their handlers. During the fights they were routinely pulled from the fray. After the fights they would handle the dogs and even treat their wounds. Therefore if they redirected their attention in an aggressive manner toward the handler or were deemed too aggressive it was not tolerated. They would not be used in future breeding. This type of handling necessitated a very human responsive human friendly breed of dog.

Dog reactivity varies widely within this breed and various others. Therefore they must not be judged by breed but on individual temperament.

It’s common knowledge among the rescue world that there’s some dogs rescued from busts that have no reaction to other dogs.  While others in shelters from non bust backgrounds that have reactivity to other dogs. Some dogs have had such abusive pasts that they’re damaged beyond rehabilitation and are never suitable for adoption no matter the background. This is an important thing to remember. Whether that dog has been put into a fight ring or not it may or may not have issues with other dogs.

For example dogs that are left outside day after day (usually chained) and have had little to no socialization with other dogs or humans can be so damaged that they can and do react in a negative manner.  Dogs that come from these backgrounds or from a fight ring should be assessed properly. Not until they are fully evaluated should it be decided whether they are adoptable.

It has been said that dogs taken from fighting rings can never lead a normal life. This has been proven to be untrue. Pit Bulls are amazingly resilient dogs. Many have been saved from the fighting life and have gone onto live in homes with other dogs, animals, and even children. In fact it’s often said by those that rescue bust dogs that they are some of the best dogs. They are willing to please and love all types of people.

Dog aggression and human aggression behaviors are not related. These wonderful dogs can be loving and safe companions. They just need socialization, training, and responsible owners as does any dog. Pit Bulls respond extremely well to behavior modification. Since they truly want to please their people even dog reactivity can be manageable.

Whether the dog is a Pit Bull or any other kind of dog the same rules should apply.  Responsible ownership is key. All dogs should have supervised play sessions. They should never be left unattended. Dogs of any breed in a multi dog household should always be separated when left home alone.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sometimes the worse things must be faced

Passion For Pibbles originally started as a blog. What better way to share my love for these wonderful dogs then to write about them? A variety of pictures, stories, articles, links and videos are also showcased.

Recently I took this concept a step further and created a face book group by the same name.  I wanted to give other pro pittie fans a safe place to share their passions. We share pictures, stories, links, videos, articles, advice. I have found it to be an amazing experience.

However, I was recently thrown a little when someone made this comment on the group’s page.  “man this site is more sad and depressing! I thought it celebrated the breed not showcase a lot of ignorant humans!”

Without a moment’s hesitation I replied.

“I apologize for you feeling that way... The sad reality is it is sad and depressing and there are ignorant humans... With good comes bad that's why we must take notice of it all... I don't post things that are anti pit and I try not post any anti pit news... However, when I see something I feel is important then I share it... As always people have the option of not looking or reading the posts... I try to get a variety... Everyone is welcome to share and I have encouraged that... I've also said anyone can share their own pits and pix and stories... It's a place for us to be together and share the ups and downs seek advice and learn the good and bad about society's views on our beloved dog... I am sorry if I upset people but my motto is if they don't like it they don't have to look sadly tho it doesn't make it go away... Sometimes the worse things and the toughest things must be faced in order to make it all turn out well... Hope that makes sense... Also hope no one leaves over such posts... That was not my intentions... I wanted a place where we can post things that perhaps our other fb friends on our pages don't wanna see or read or deal with... I have been asked before why I post all the pit bulls... My honest true to the point instant reply was --- Because I'm passionate about pits... Hence how the name for both the group and the blog evolved…”

Even though I replied with the first thoughts that came to mind it still bothered me a little. It reminded me that perhaps we need to remind everyone the importance of educating everyone of the real horrors and tragedies that our beloved Pit Bulls endure. I guess you could that’s why I have been inspired to tackle this topic further.

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Operation Pit

Looking for a Few Good Dogs

Operation Pit is a Free Spay/Neuter program for Pits and Pit Mixes. Since this ASPCA program was launched on July 15th, 2010 there’s been 583 surgeries. At this time the program is based in New York. Pit Bull owners around the country need to work together to see these type of programs are open for all Pit Bulls no matter where they live.

Pit Bulls/ Pit Mixes
Ages 3 months - 6 Years
Good Health

Operation Pit Offers:
Free Exam, spay/neuter or vasectomy
Free Distemper/Parvo Vacations (optional)
Free Microchip (optional)
Free Pain Meds (three day supply)
K9 Camo Gear [bandana/shirt]
Honorable discharge and aftercare instructions.

Procedures are completed the same day.
Dogs are dropped in the morning.
After the exam they are given a pick up time.
No income or place of residence requirements.

For more information or to schedule an appointment contact::

Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital 
424 East 92nd Street (between 1st Ave. and York St.)
New York, NY
877-900-PITS (7487)

ASPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic
70-25 83rd Street
Glendale, Queens 11385
877-SPAY-NYC (7729-692)

Why should my female Pit Bull get spayed?
prevents ovarian and uterine cancer
decreases risk of breast cancer
eliminates risk of an infected uterus (common in Pit Bulls)
healthier, possibly longer life
never have unwanted pregnancy.
pregnancy and newborn puppies is very expensive.
Pit Bulls have large litters

Why should my male Pit Bull get neutered?
prevents testicular cancer
prevents enlargement and infection of the prostate
less likely to run away or injured by other dogs

What is a vasectomy?
males get “tubes tied”
testicles are left in place
option for those not comfortable neutering
dog’s appearance and behavior do not change
does not prevent testicular, enlarged prostate
only a method of preventing pregnancy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Leash reactivity.

Dogs instinctually greet one another in a “C” shape or side by side. It gives them the ability to smell each other’s behinds. This is accepted behavior in the k9 world. It is considered rude and offensive to meet face to face or stare at one another. In the modern doggie world leashes hinder their natural greeting instincts. This can lead to frustration in many dogs.

For example - a dog will see another from a distance. Perhaps it’s across the street while out on their walk. They will look over to see who that “intruder” is. Unfortunately the dog isn’t able to interact with the newcomer. They can only see the other dog. Their natural instinct to be able to go over and smell the other and have a more close contact has been restricted. The “intruder” may look over at the dog. In some cases this can lead to a “stare down”.

The inability to have a more close and personal greeting may make your dog begin to feel insecure. Being “stared” at may kick in their instinctual dislike for such behavior. Your dog finds the staring rude and offensive and pulls forward on it’s leash. Feeling the restriction of the leash brings on frustration. The dog may attempt a couple more tugs but quickly realizes that it’s not accomplishing anything. After some time this frustration begins to build up in your dog any time they see other dogs while on their leash. This is known as conditioned frustration or leash reactivity.

It’s important to remember that just because your dog reacts this way it doesn’t mean they have a dog aggression issue. If your dog is able to play off leash then this is on leash behavior. It is a direct result to the frustration of not having freedom to introduce themselves in a manner more natural to them. Another important thing to point out - this is a dog issue not a breed issue. Any dog Pit Bull or not may react this way.

This can be prevented.
The key is to reinforce a different behavior. This means that your dog is taught to focus on something else instead of the “intruder”. This can be accomplished a few different ways. Commands such as “sit” or “watch me” can be used. If it’s easier to have them perform an action while directing their complete attention on you then a “down-stay“ could be used. Another successful technique is to continue walking while having your dog’s attention focused solely on you. Doing this avoids a possible stare down with another dog.

Timing is crucial.
Avoid stare downs completely. By distracting your dog it eliminates the frustration and anxiety. If you wait until the dog is already showing signs of frustration, lunging, pulling or any other reactive behavior it’s likely your dog will not hear you. Even “look” or “watch me” would likely be ignored at this point.

Good leash manners are key.
Classes designed to teach both dog and owner how to prevent these frustrating situations in the future can be helpful. You will find that the various techniques taught serve very helpful within every day routines. Be sure you have established leadership with your dog. This is an important building block. When your dog feels that you’re in charge it gives them a sense of security in uncomfortable situations. Teaching your dog to listen and react to only you will help keep them calm and focused, even if the other dog is showing signs of reaction. Not only does this better bond the dog owner relationship It’s an impressive example of a dog ambassador in public.

- More information

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Passion For Pibbles On Facebook

In honor of this blog I have decided to make a facebook group.  This was an idea that had kind of been in the back of my mind.  Knowing that I have many friends that love Pibbles this was a perfect place for us all to get together.  I welcome anyone and everyone that shares the love we have for the breed.  This is a safe place where we can share stories, info, articles, pix, etc.