Pit Bulls in bite sport

Weight pull, Protection, Agility, Flyball... you name it!

Postby jasonfarrish » July 11th, 2007, 2:37 pm

In my limited exposure to bullys I have found the Pit Bull (especially the smaller ones) to be the only bull breed I actually like (from a training and trialing perspective).

What are typical Pit Bull working traits and challenges and what types of Pits make the best protection sport dogs?

I'm sure this is a hugely vague question so hugely vague answers are forthcoming I am sure but I do have the odd person show up with a Pit Bull or wants to get a Pit Bull and I honestly don't have a lot to talk to them about.
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Postby mnp13 » July 11th, 2007, 4:00 pm

I think one of the challenges is their reaction to advertisy. I have had this problem with my dog; someone I trained with had me using a prong to try to "force" him to out. The harder I corrected him, the harder he held on. Chokeing him off the bite didn't make a dent, he held on just as long the next time. It's bred into them - the harder you fight the harder they fight back. Pit dogs continued the fight with broken bones, even after being separated from an opponent (i.e. not "in the heat of battle"), once they have their mind set on something, it takes a good deal effort to get them to do something else.

I spent a lot of time very frusterated with him, and Greg pointed out to me that treating him like a herder was what was making me nuts. lol

On the other hand, I think you are far less likely to find a "handler sharp" Pit Bull than you are to find a handler sharp Malinois, Dutch Shepherd, etc. As a breed, they tend to be far more tolerant overall.

Just my thoughts.
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Postby brooksybrooks1 » July 12th, 2007, 12:41 pm

that was a good answer. mals and shepards are really flashy and schutzhund is specifically designed to and for them (at least in the beginning), you're gonna see a lot of fire out of them, however i feel like pitbulls, like michelle said, are a lot safer. first of all, i have found them to be a lot less jumpy and reactive and sharp than the mal (although this is a general statement, i feel like mals believe in ghosts!), and while i love the way they look and how drivey they are, i feel like pits, once you get past the stubborn thing, are more consistent and certainly calmer with regards surprises, loud noises, etc, not to mention they have big muscles and are powerful!

as far as working lines, that's something i'm still trying to get a good grasp of, so far i've found there are far less breeders that breed specifically for it, but most of the ones i have found work in schutzhund and have multiple dogs with sch III's. another thing is that pits have been poorly bred a lot and bred for the wrong thing (looks, dog fighting, etc) and that's something to be careful of.
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Postby brooksybrooks1 » July 12th, 2007, 12:45 pm

and as far as challenges- they don't want to let go and there's no way you're gonna get a forced out! i think that pits are more resilient and less likely to get stressed during protection as well, and less naturally suspicious and defensive. more secure overall, i guess, in general of course. and sometimes its' hard to get through that big thick skull of theirs-but once you do you're in and you can count on consistency and predictability i think a little bit more.
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Postby katiek0417 » July 12th, 2007, 3:35 pm

My only disagreement with Michelle's argument comes with what she said about handler sharpness. She and I discussed this this morning...

Herders are not, necessarily, more handler sharp...there are just more herders in dog sports...more herders means that there are more to be handler aggressive (if there are fewer pitbulls in dog sports, then there are fewer overall that could be handler aggressive)...

You're comparing apples to oranges...the only way to make it a good comparison is to turn each into a percentage (find out how many pitties are in dog sports and are handler sharp, divided by the total number of pits in dog sports; same thing for herders)....

Overall, there might be more handler sharp herders, but this is only if you include EVERY SINGLE herder in the world (protection dog sports competitor or not)....

Brooksybrooks, I'm not sure I agree with what you are saying....granted there are fewer of the pits in dog sports as compared to mals, even in the "surprise scenario" sports, you almost never see a bully breed in the upper levels (where there are more surprises). How do you explain that? It's not simply that there are fewer pits...If pits were able to do it, I'm sure there'd be more there (b/c there are many pits who I have seen compete in the lower levels - but never make it further). As an example, in the past several years, I have seen many bully breed compete in PSA for a PDC or Level 1 (in fact, I was at one trial where they were all bully's), but only 1 who is currently in the level 2's....And in PSA history, there was only 4 (including the one I just mentioned) who were in the 2's, and 1 who made it to the 3's (and it's b/c these dogs had exceptional trainers)....

The fact is, in many of the surprise sports, you have NO IDEA what they're going to bring at your dog until the day of....this means that you just have to make sure your dog has good obedience and that there is great trust between the dog and it's handler....
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Postby brooksybrooks1 » July 12th, 2007, 6:58 pm

i think there's some truth to that but i don't necessarily agree that if pits were able to do it there would be more of them in it. i think that the bitesport world is only recently starting to branch out to more diverse breeds in general and i think until people start thinking outside the box a little more and trying new breeds and developing methods that are successful and tailored to that breed you will see more dogs in it and more dogs being bred specifically for it. there are a million dutchi, mal, gsd working breeders all over the world, you don't have much to choose from with the pits. i don't think that means they can't do it, i think people just haven't really explored it yet.
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Postby brooksybrooks1 » July 12th, 2007, 7:00 pm

i have a lot of faith that the breed is capable of a whole hell of a lot more than what it is currently being used for, and that with the type of well thought out, careful breeding and training that goes into working line herders, pits could do all the same things. i could be wrong. this is my theory!
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Postby amazincc » July 12th, 2007, 8:43 pm

Someone tell me what bite sport is? And what does "forcing him out" mean?
Is that what was in Demo Dicks video? W/the guy and the protective arm cover?
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Postby katiek0417 » July 12th, 2007, 8:52 pm

On July 12 2007, 7:43 PM, amazincc wrote:Someone tell me what bite sport is? And what does "forcing him out" mean?
Is that what was in Demo Dicks video? W/the guy and the protective arm cover?


Bite sport is any dog sport that involves biting: PSA, Schutzhund, Belgian Ring, MonioRing, French Ring, ASR, KNPV, to name a few....

Forcing the out is teaching the out to the dog using force (if you're going to teach a dog to bite on command, you also need to teach it to out on command)....it takes more force on some dogs than others....I've known mals who have needed cattle prods and electric suits to train them to out...and they still didn't learn...other mals need a simple leash correction (with a prong collar)
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Postby amazincc » July 12th, 2007, 9:01 pm

Aaahh... thanks for explaining...

I think Mick would be excellent in something like that... he lets go of anything and everything when I tell him to "drop it", even in the middle of a mean "tug o' war"...
*Sigh* - too bad he hates people... :(
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Postby katiek0417 » July 12th, 2007, 9:24 pm

On July 12 2007, 8:01 PM, amazincc wrote:I think Mick would be excellent in something like that... he lets go of anything and everything when I tell him to "drop it", even in the middle of a mean "tug o' war"...
*Sigh* - too bad he hates people... :(


Jue hates people....it actually helps him...

that's awesome about the out, though!!! That is one of the hardest things I've had to teach my dogs
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Postby amazincc » July 12th, 2007, 9:29 pm

Hmm... that sort of makes sense... like "controlled" biting... but it wouldn't be good to teach it if he hates/bites out of frustration or fear, I don't think...
Oh man - the "drop it" command took a loooong time to teach, but he is rock-solid at it now. Of course he's a dork in lots of other ways... :lol3:
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » July 12th, 2007, 9:47 pm

From my extremely limited understanding, and somebody PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong, sometimes teaching proper bitework to a fear-aggressive dog helps them, doesn't it? Kind of like it teaches them to distinguish the proper time to bite?
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Postby brooksybrooks1 » July 12th, 2007, 9:58 pm

yes and no. sometimes fear aggressive dogs are just to spooky to be able to withstand protection training, it's too much stress, you ideally want a really bold dog, but i've seen fear aggressive dogs gain a lot of confidence through protection training, although i'm yet to see one that's very consistent or a good biter.
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Postby SisMorphine » July 12th, 2007, 10:21 pm

On July 12 2007, 8:47 PM, pitbullmamaliz wrote:From my extremely limited understanding, and somebody PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong, sometimes teaching proper bitework to a fear-aggressive dog helps them, doesn't it? Kind of like it teaches them to distinguish the proper time to bite?

Depends on the dog, but for fearful dogs (not necessarily fear aggressive) doing high end obedience and/or bitework builds their confidence. For dogs who are going to protect you no matter what (which are few and far between, which my Mike was) it is teaching them control and when it is appropriate to bite and when it is not.
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Postby mnp13 » July 12th, 2007, 11:03 pm

I actually continued the "handler sharp" discussion with the person I am training with now and another friend. I view "handler sharp" as different than "handler aggression." Here are examples of how I understand it:

Handler aggression - you tell your dog to do something that it doesn't want to do and it growls at / snaps at / bites you. You don't necessarily need to have any physical contact with the dog for it to try to "put you in your place"

Handler Sharp - if you yell at the dog it generally "acts sorry," it also responds well to fair and properly timed physical corrections. but if you give that same dog too hard of a correction, or an unfair correction, it comes up the leash or does the "air snap" at you

I think this goes beyond bitework and to any activity involving drive. I was told (i.e. don't have first hand knowledge) about people who train weight pull using cattle prods. When you release the collar and say "pull" the dog gets nailed in the rear end if they don't start pulling immediately, much the same as they teach race horses to burst out of the starting gates. You teach them to "out run" the shock. Not that I condine either practice, but if I "had" to zap a Malinois in the butt with a cattle prod I would make sure I was wearing a suit of armor. :wink:
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Postby DemoDick » July 13th, 2007, 1:54 am

I think the real trick to train bulldogs in bitesports is to recognize the general differences in temperament between "our dogs" and "their dogs".

Our club trainer (mal guy) worked my dog for the first time and then said "You know, these dogs were never bred for this, they're GAME animals." I answered by saying "They are GRIPPING animals...they've just never been bred to grip YOU. That's what we're teaching." He seemed to agree with that.

In a later session he was putting light pressure on the dog with the stick and Connor's grip was mungy and he screamed into the jute. The traditional thing to to here would be to take a few steps back, maybe to a tie out, because the dog isn't ready for that yet. Instead, I outed him and told our decoy to remember this is a dog bred for combat that might kill him before he quits. So just pour the coal to him and see what he does. On the next bite Darrel yelled, drove and hit him HARD with the stick multiple times and the dog's grip got deep and hard, the screaming went away, and he started violently shaking the sleeve with his stump of a tail wagging. Darrel got a big smile and so did I. The bulldogs like to know there's a fight in it for them.

I've also noticed that pit bulls are very, very soft, when they're soft and very hard when they're hard. If I drop a pan and yell in anger Connor will run away and hide because he thinks I'm yelling at him. However, when drive is added into the mix it's a whole different dog (and that low-drive to high-drive switch seems more severe in the bulldogs I've seen).

What are typical Pit Bull working traits and challenges and what types of Pits make the best protection sport dogs?


Traits: Very easy to motivate, high prey, unbelievable fight, defense can be inconsistent, bond to humans very quicky. Mine has stupid high hunt drive and I've seen a lot of others that are the same way.

Challenges: Breed prejudice, finding a decoy to work your dog the way you want them to, dealing with dog aggression (Connor tore the throat out of Greg's 3D foam archery deer target because he thought it was a big ass dog challenging him), finding a way around using force

I think the best type of pit for a protection dog sport is one that is clear in his head, balanced in his drives, and true to his heritage as a bulldog.

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Postby mnp13 » July 17th, 2007, 1:32 pm

I asked another breeder/trainer what she thought of handler sharpness, and this was her reply:

Handler sharpness is where a dog doesn't tolerate stupid, late, or unecessary corrections.... Much more a typical trait of dogs that can make huge logic jumps like Malinois can.... don't confuse handler sharpness with dogs that are left at one level of training for too long... which a lot of trainers do, leading to frustration biting in dogs with good to excellent drives.


I think the "logic" part is interesting. Malinois are definately very smart, and they don't put up with much crap, especially when they are in drive, so that makes sense to me.

The other part of the equation may be that more experienced handlers will not experience their dogs being handler sharp because they aren't giving the late/unfair/unnessary corrections that cause the sharpness in the first place.
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Postby amazincc » July 18th, 2007, 8:11 am

On July 13 2007, 12:54 AM, DemoDick wrote: On the next bite Darrel yelled, drove and hit him HARD with the stick multiple times and the dog's grip got deep and hard, the screaming went away, and he started violently shaking the sleeve with his stump of a tail wagging.
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Someone actually hit the dog HARD w/a stick??? :shock:
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Postby katiek0417 » July 18th, 2007, 8:43 am

On July 18 2007, 7:11 AM, amazincc wrote:
On July 13 2007, 12:54 AM, DemoDick wrote: On the next bite Darrel yelled, drove and hit him HARD with the stick multiple times and the dog's grip got deep and hard, the screaming went away, and he started violently shaking the sleeve with his stump of a tail wagging.
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Someone actually hit the dog HARD w/a stick??? :shock:


This is pretty common in bitesport...I think there was at least one scenario with stick hits in the vids that I posted, though maybe not...they figure in a Level 3 the dog should be able to take that...

It's to agitate the dogs, and test the nerves...

And this is nothing...in KNPV, the stick has to break over the dog's back...of course, you have to live in Holland to compete...
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