All dogs are predisposed to certain behaviors specific to their breed. Pit bulls are no different. Puppies are adorably cute, playful, and seem very typical of a generic puppy. But pit bull puppies do play differently. Even at 7 weeks, you will notice that the pit bull puppy in with lab puppies will rule the roost. Pits play harder than other breeds and usually play longer. It’s easy to pass this off as, “she’s just playing” but honestly, you need to be aware of this. For example, I fostered a 7 week old pit bull puppy. She was about 15 pounds, yet completely commanded play-time with my 90 pound shepherd mix. At times I had to give her a “time out” because she was being too rough with him!
This is typical of pit puppies. It’s not uncommon for animal shelters to have to euthanize perfectly healthy pit bull puppies because even at this young age, they show aggression towards other dogs. On the flip side, most pit bull puppies are wonderful bundles of joy.
The concern here is what happens when he/she grows up? What if this puppy was an offspring of a fighter pit? This puppy will grow and learn and love you more than anything. But then at 2 years old, he starts to bark more at passing dog walkers. Then one day, in a frenzy, he escapes from the yard and attacks the other dog. Or even one day you come home from work and find your cat injured or dead, after a year of living together in peace.
This can happen and sometimes does. To decrease the chances of this, socialize your puppy! Take him/her everywhere, introduce new dogs, cats, kids, everything. When your dog wants to meet new people or dogs, don’t jerk him back – let him smell them. Dogs focus on the sense of smell more than anything else and when their human’s prevent them from doing this, exasperated pits sometimes get worse and associate dogs with bad things.
So every time he sees a dog, he will get aggressive since his people didn’t want him to meet any new dogs to see that there’s nothing wrong with them. I don’t believe that socialization can completely overcome genetic makeup, but I do believe that it can substantially alter it. Most pit bull puppies are wonderful. If you understand that they are different from other breed puppies, you will be able to understand them as they grow up into adulthood.
Most pit owners or enthusiasts recommend new owners to adopt a pit as a young adult. This way you know their final personality before you choose to adopt. And often, at shelters, dogs will have histories so you can read if they have been raised with other animals. Adults have already developed their personalities and if they are going to show aggression, it is usually obvious at this point.
I would never get a pit bull – I have kids…
Pit bulls love kids! Fighting breeds have been known traditionally to be kind to children. Kids are often too rough for many breeds of dogs, but pit bulls were built to withstand pain.
This is a perfect match. No matter how much poking, pulling, pinching, and riding on occurs, pit bulls will take it in stride. It’s no mistake that Petey (a pit bull) was used as the children’s companion in the show, Our Gang. However, keep in mind, like any breed, if a dog has not been raised with kids, he may have trouble adapting to them.
To be on the safe side, you should not adopt a pit bull if you have children under 6 years of age, simply because the breed is a strong, large dog, and because I feel that most families with young children should not add a dog of any kind. It only takes one time for something to go horribly wrong.