Pit Bull Info

Dear WOOF:

My fiancé and I brought in a stray female puppy, which we thought was a Lab /Pit Bull mix. She has shown absolutely no aggression whatsoever. We pet her while she eats, she is learning rules fairly quickly, has done no biting or chewing except for occasional mouthing. For a puppy she has been very sweet and fairly well behaved. Upon further research, we have discovered that she may in fact be a full blooded Pit Bull - and we have some concerns about her breed. We've read both negative and positive information. We've read that their full personalities are not known until 1-2 years of age. This worried me some. Do you have any advice on this breed? Should we reconsider keeping her if we plan to have children in the future? I am considering enrolling in your classes if we do decide to keep her.

Dear WOOF Reader:

Unfortunately, the pit bull breed has gotten a bad reputation thanks in large part to the media attention that it gets. ALL dogs have the potential for aggression. All dogs. Although it is a fact that pit bulls are known to be aggressive with other dogs, this is generally not the case toward human beings - and there are no absolutes. We have pit bulls and pit bull crosses that come to daycare that are wonderful with other dogs! Each one is truly an individual, and genetics as well as appropriate social exposure both weigh heavily in shaping adult temperament.

Just because this dog is a pit bull (although sounds like you can't be sure of this) is no reason to fear that she'll become aggressive. More often than not, aggression is learned behavior, so actively doing the correct things with her now like socializing (both strange dogs and humans) and positive reinforcement training, will definitely tip the scales in your favor to have a well tempered, socially happy, and mannerly dog!

Adult temperament *regardless of the breed* is not known until the dog is an adult -between 12-24 months. That is not a breed specific thing, however with pit bulls especially, temperament toward other dogs (aggression) can be seen to "pop-up" suddenly up to the age of 24 months in some cases, but again there are NO absolutes. Begin training as soon as possible, and check into augmenting the socialization process in a well controlled, supervised program such as Trainers Academy, LLC DayCare.

On a final note, I have a suggestion for a book called The Working Pitbull by Dianne Jessup. Although I have not personally read it, it has been recommended by other canine professionals to be a great
resource for learning about the history and behavior of the pit bull breed.

Good Luck!
Lisa Patrona,  Dip. CBST, CPDT-KA, ACDBC, AABP-CDT