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American Pit Bull Terriers


Part Four: What About Other Dogs?
Complete text copyright ©Marji Beach.

Pit Bulls And Other Dogs
Can Pit Bulls get along with other dogs and can I take them to the dog park? There are some Pit Bull owners out there who answer a vehement NO! I happen to disagree. Any dog can be trained to tolerate the presence of another dog and ALL dogs should be socialized around other dogs. All well socialized dogs should be comfortable meeting and interacting with new dogs. Owners of multiple dogs should never leave their dogs unattended and alone together as behavioral cues may escalate causing a full-blown fight while the owner is gone. Understanding the cues of other dogs is imperative for an APBT to learn and that should be provided as often and as much as an owner can.

Unaltered Dogs
If a dog is left intact (not neutered), male-male aggression may be inevitable but this is not unique to the APBT. A male, unneutered APBT would do best with females or neutered male dogs and a male, un-neutered dog APBT (and most other male, un-neutered dogs!) should not be brought to the dog park or allowed around other un-neutered males.

Unspayed females tend to be more aggressive to other unspayed females, learn the behavior of the dog and avoid the dog park where there is a chance of other un-neutered males or unspayed females being present. Some APBT’s are only aggressive towards same sized, same sexed dogs while others are only aggressive towards other APBT’s - again, intense training can teach the dog how to tolerate other dogs; however, even with the tolerance level increased, this APBT should not be brought to the dog park as it can be even more stressful for the dog to be forced around other dogs.

My Pit Bull goes to the dog park and does fine - the dog park is a great way for a dog to learn proper social interactions and generally have a fun time. If a dog park feels unsafe (or you, the owner, feels uncomfortable), find some doggie friends and let them go off leash in a safe environment (like an enclosed backyard - NEVER let your APBT’s off leash in an unenclosed area if they are not comfortable around unknown dogs).

Responsible Pit Bull Ownership
Every Pit Bull owner’s motto should be “My Pit Bull may not start a fight, but will not hesitate to finish it”. This simply means that, as a responsible dog owner, all of your dog’s interactions should be monitored and if things seem to be getting out of hand, simply leash your dog and have others do the same, giving every dog a timeout. This has never happened with my APBT but I always keep a close eye on her antics, so to speak. I also have spent considerable time intensely socializing and training her.

Socialization Is Essential
I think the biggest problem with many Pit Bull owners is that they hide their dogs away from the world - it should never be shocking, then, that these poorly socialized dogs end up attacking another dog. The owner goes away thinking, “I knew he was dog aggressive” when it was really the owners fault for not properly socializing their dog. Every APBT owner should be responsible with their dog and take every precaution to prevent any type of agonistic encounter, but hiding the dog away will not help. The dog park may not be the best place for every APBT out there and each individual dog’s personality and tolerance level should be taken into consideration.

However, this is true of ANY and all dogs - there are plenty of Jack Russell Terriers who are also more than willing to “end” a fight as well as start one, that makes them no more or less aggressive than an APBT. Those who would argue that the APBT has a stronger bite are treading on thin ice - a puncture wound, regardless of how big or large, can kill a dog and the vast majority of breeds out there are much larger, some even more muscular, than an APBT and can inflict just as much, if not more, damage than an APBT ever could.

Cautious, not anal retentive or restrictive, is how every Pit Bull owner should be. Owners should be cautious around new dogs and new situations but should also allow their dog time to adjust and investigate. Owners should also be cautious around the ages of 1-3 as that is when hormones are at their peak and the likelihood of dog-dog aggression is highest. If a dog cannot properly interact with other dogs - that dog needs remedial training and socialization to at least tolerate other dogs; this does not mean the APBT has to like other dogs but must act in an appropriate manner.

American Pit Bull Terrier Continued:
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