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This is where to talk about Pit Bulls!

Postby FAB dogs » December 10th, 2010, 7:51 pm

Some of these may be stupid, some may be obvious/self explanatory, but I’d love any and all input. I’ve only had two puppies in the past 10 years. And both have been rather exceptional dogs in the sense that they were easy to train and didn’t act like normal puppies. Well, except for Brogan’s shoe fetish, that is.

How do you see your dog? Or what do you see when you look at your dog? Meaning, sometimes I look at Fenway and I just see a puppy. Other times I see a pit bull puppy. And I hate that I think that way. Is this common for first time pittie people?

I sometimes feel like a parent with a special needs child wondering what life is going to be like for him and how to deal with what people think/say about him. I know how tough it was with huskies and people telling me they were wolf-dogs or wolf hybrids or “the closest living relative to wolves”. It’s been one thing for me to defend pitties from random people visiting the shelter (and calling them an idiot when they leave), it’s another thing to actually be at the other end of the leash.

What are some common traits in the breed? With the huskies I usually knew when it was a “husky thing” like being vocal when playing, etc. Do they tend to play rough, counter surf, etc. I’m not sure what is normal behavior and what is something I should be correcting.

Which brings me to another question, are they normally vocal dogs? Fenway is very talkative when he plays and when he gets over excited. Tasmanian Devil noises, growling, barking, etc. How much should I write off as normal puppy and how much is something more serious?

How do you deal with the one-track mind? And is that common too? With the huskies, it was “get off the couch” and they’d just look at me without moving to see if I was really serious. We had many stand-offs; which I‘d always win. And once I won, they would respect that I was the victor. Or rather, they’d look at me like “I didn’t want to be on the couch anyway.”

With Fenway, “get off the couch” is immediately obeyed. But before I can even turn around he’s back up there and it starts all over again. This can go on for 10 minutes or more. Same thing with “leave the cats alone” He walks away from them, then turns around and goes right back at them again. He’s not aggressive with them, he wants to play but they’re not interested in that and I’m worried he’ll get overzealous with them at some point.

How do these guys do with/without clicker training? I totally suck at clicker training (my timing is terrible) and tend to not clicker train. Would it be better for me to suck it up or can I try other methods?

Collars vs. harnesses? Always walked the huskies on harnesses and currently walk the mixes on harnesses. I hate pinch and choke collars, but are they more effective? What about Haltis/Gentle Leaders?

Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got (for today anyway). I’m sure some of these questions are on the ridiculous side, but I just want to do right by the little guy.
Tina
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Brogan - Southpawz Mystery Man, CGC - Ephelis Spaniel
Fenway - Southpawz 4 Yawkey Way -Bull Collie
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Postby amalie79 » December 10th, 2010, 9:35 pm

I can only speak from what I've experienced with the one pittie that I have. I've had labs and lab mixes, and it's been almost 16 years since I had a true puppy. Robin was around a year old when she showed up in January, so I was in for a treat.

How do you see your dog? Or what do you see when you look at your dog? Meaning, sometimes I look at Fenway and I just see a puppy. Other times I see a pit bull puppy. And I hate that I think that way. Is this common for first time pittie people?...It’s been one thing for me to defend pitties from random people visiting the shelter (and calling them an idiot when they leave), it’s another thing to actually be at the other end of the leash.


I have loved these dogs for a long time, and have talked for years about getting one, but I think my hesitation was that I was afraid I wouldn't be good enough to do the breed justice-- like I'd slip up and have one of "those" dogs-- and somewhere in the back of my mind the fear that I didn't know what I'd been talking about. But Robin would up in my lap, and I ran with it. And I stepped up my game-- I sucked at clicker training before, too, but I think I just didn't totally "get" it, and once I understood shaping behavior, and saw how quickly Robin responded to it, I was hooked. It also took me a little while to not be jumpy about every little thing she did-- every growl or sideways look. But that went away after I got to know her and remembered all the things I already knew. It was time to walk the walk. Sounds cheesy, but she's not so much a pit bull now; she's my buddy. :mrgreen:

Which brings me to another question, are they normally vocal dogs? Fenway is very talkative when he plays and when he gets over excited. Tasmanian Devil noises, growling, barking, etc.


That is the best description of the sounds Robin makes. These noises with her were complicated by a slight inclination toward guarding and fear of strangers. She growls viciously when she plays, but I know now when it's play and when she wants us to back off; and she sounds like she will cut you when she's in her crate and a person she likes walks in the door-- it's a DEMAND to be let out NOW! :rolleyes2: But she also growls and barks when she's scared. :| I've come to greatly appreciate her vocals; she's giving me a lot of information.

With Fenway, “get off the couch” is immediately obeyed. But before I can even turn around he’s back up there and it starts all over again. This can go on for 10 minutes or more. Same thing with “leave the cats alone” He walks away from them, then turns around and goes right back at them again. He’s not aggressive with them, he wants to play but they’re not interested in that and I’m worried he’ll get overzealous with them at some point.


I can say that with Robin she loves training, and loves repeating the behavior that gets a good response. Life is one big awesome game (which I think has helped make "look at that" games so successful with her fears). And I worry, too, that her play will get over the top; I've just paired a leave it with her recall and then I have to keep working her to distract her.

Raising puppies is always a journey and a lot of "getting to know you" has to happen. I think once you get to know him better, these things won't seem so much like pit bull traits and more like Fenway traits. It'll come as you get more comfortable with him, I think. :)
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 10th, 2010, 9:41 pm

How do these guys do with/without clicker training? I totally suck at clicker training (my timing is terrible) and tend to not clicker train. Would it be better for me to suck it up or can I try other methods?


Suck it up...clicker training is the best. 8)

Collars vs. harnesses? Always walked the huskies on harnesses and currently walk the mixes on harnesses. I hate pinch and choke collars, but are they more effective? What about Haltis/Gentle Leaders?


If you like harnesses, try an Easy Walk harness for him...it'll help with not pulling but will be more familiar for you. :)
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » December 10th, 2010, 9:54 pm

FAB dogs wrote:How do you see your dog? Or what do you see when you look at your dog? Meaning, sometimes I look at Fenway and I just see a puppy. Other times I see a pit bull puppy. And I hate that I think that way. Is this common for first time pittie people?


I think so. I think it may be common for people who have owned it forever, too. Sometimes we all get too caught up in our dog's breed, and forget that they are dogs first and foremost. I used to get freaked out if Inara barked at another dog because I was afraid people would think, "look at that vicious, out of control PIT BULL!" Now I think, yep, she's a dog, and dogs bark. Not a crisis.

I sometimes feel like a parent with a special needs child wondering what life is going to be like for him and how to deal with what people think/say about him.


Grow a thick skin, and grow it quickly. People will be ruder than you ever imagined. When Inara was a baby, maybe 4 or 5 months old, a woman in a pet store came up to us, looked at Inara, and said "dogs like that should be shot on sight." To me. And my PUPPY.

What are some common traits in the breed?


Obviously they're all individuals, but keep an eye out for dog aggression (DA), or just dog selectiveness. This breed wasn't bred to love to play and frolic with every dog it sees. They were bred as gladiators. They may not always be the ones to start a fight but many of them sure do love to end one. I think you'll find that most of them are really good at being couch potatoes at home until you're ready to play, and then it's 100% on. They should love people and be horrible guard dogs!

Which brings me to another question, are they normally vocal dogs?


Inara didn't bark very much until she hit maybe 2 or 3 years old. She still really doesn't unless she's reacting to another dog or letting me know that the mailman has failed to love on her as he should. She's very vocal when we play - lots of growling, which I don't mind, because I know her. Again though, every dog is different. :)

How do you deal with the one-track mind? And is that common too? With the huskies, it was “get off the couch” and they’d just look at me without moving to see if I was really serious. We had many stand-offs; which I‘d always win. And once I won, they would respect that I was the victor. Or rather, they’d look at me like “I didn’t want to be on the couch anyway.”

With Fenway, “get off the couch” is immediately obeyed. But before I can even turn around he’s back up there and it starts all over again.


With pit bulls, life is a game. Use this.

How do these guys do with/without clicker training?


You'll find we're all split on this one. Several of us swear by the clicker and avoid corrections. Others train with the clicker but use corrections. Others use corrections and no clicker. You have to find what works for you. That being said, pit bulls are often very responsive to the clicker because they think it's a game of "let me train my person to give me treats." Do some research on this one.

Collars vs. harnesses?


Again, personal preference. Harnesses are going to encourage them to pull, so keep that in mind. The only thing that is MANDATORY for a pit bull is well-made, well-fitting, sturdy equipment.

Okay, I think that’s all I’ve got (for today anyway). I’m sure some of these questions are on the ridiculous side, but I just want to do right by the little guy.


Good for you for asking questions!
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Postby BigDogBuford » December 10th, 2010, 11:57 pm

For a well balanced young PB everything about life is fun and exciting! Including jumping on and off the couch, climbing trees, barking at stuff.....you get the idea. The trick is to take training and make it fun, too. Most PB's really love to learn and please you. They can be stubborn and seem to lose their minds around a year or so and you'd swear they'd never had a day of training in their lives but they outgrow that.

Dog aggression is common so keep an eye out. I have six dogs in the house and oddly enough the only two full Pit Bulls in the house are my only truly dog friendly dogs but that's definitely not the norm. Most PB's are pretty high energy (especially young ones) so plan on lots and lots of exercise and stimulation. They are great at learning tricks and it's a good mental challenge. I also find people are a lot less scared of my dogs when they can do a cute trick. People seem to like "sit pretty' and 'high five' and 'bang, you're dead' (this is a personal favorite of mine....I even taught one of my dogs to twitch after she was 'dead'!)

For whatever reason, a lot of PB's seem to like wearing clothes. :) I always decorate my dogs when going out. I know I'm pandering to the masses but it makes them less scary to people they don't know and I'll do whatever makes my life easier when we're out and about. I also tend to give them silly and whimsical names for the same reason.

Like was already said, grow a thick skin. Be realistic about your dogs capabilities and limitations and adjust accordingly.

Dog parks are bad, mmmmkay?

My dogs sound like Tasmanian Devil grizzly bears on crack when they play. When play gets too rowdy, I always make them 'take it down a notch'. I don't let play escalate until it gets out of hand. Plus sometimes they are so loud when they're playing that I can't hear the t.v.

I prefer collars to harnesses. I find a traditional harness to just stimulate pulling. I haven't had luck with the Gentle Leaders. My dogs always get raw spots from them and frankly they haven't worked for me but plenty of people like them so don't rule it out.

Most of all, enjoy and have fun with your dog! Be vigilant and responsible and have faith in you and your dog. Ask questions when you need to!
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 11th, 2010, 9:59 am

*psssst*

:lurk:

*clicker training*
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Postby Tubular Toby » December 11th, 2010, 2:23 pm

I don't have a whole lot of time, but if you like harnesses try a Gentle Leader. I used a prong on my boy for the longest time. When I decided to switch things up and try a Gentle Leader, he was so much more relaxed everywhere I went and LESS prone to being leash reactive without a prong on his neck.
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Postby FAB dogs » December 11th, 2010, 4:40 pm

Ah, how I've missed Erin's particular brand of training advice. :D

For gentle leader suggestions, how do they work on dogs with such broad heads? Will they fit properly?

Very happy to hear that some of the behaviors I'm seeing are relatively normal!

Does dog aggression tend to just be with strange dogs? Should I be concerned/vigilant with my own dogs?

No problem with the dog park. I rarely visit the one we have anymore. When I do go, it's just with Avery and I try to go during off-peak hours. She can be reactive with some dogs and a bully with others. The ones she likes, she's fine with.

Speaking of Avery, I've often said about her that she won't start a fight but she'll finish one. Or, if she feels another dog has offended her she'll go all terrier on their @ss. Funny to read something similar here.

One more quick question (since it is happening as I type this). The huskies were never velcro dogs. I'd be on the couch, they'd be on the loveseat, by the front door, in another room, etc. Suited all of us just fine. Now I've got my husky/terrier and terrier/retriever that like to be in contact with me. I often wake up from a nap at the bottom of a dog pile.

As I lounge here with Brogan on my feet, Avery on my knees and Fenway on my hip, should I be concerned that he's going to take this as a sign that he's "over" me? I'm learning to accept having "lap dogs" and am okay with my two sitting on me. I don't even mind Fenway sitting on me if he stays and ends up being over 50 pounds (my current two are 25 & 30 pounds). But I don't want him to think that he's the boss because he can sit on me.

Thanks for all the help everyone!
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Brogan - Southpawz Mystery Man, CGC - Ephelis Spaniel
Fenway - Southpawz 4 Yawkey Way -Bull Collie
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Postby furever_pit » December 11th, 2010, 4:55 pm

I don't really see my dogs as their breeds. If anything I just see them as their traits - nerve, drive, etc. However, I don't think it's abnormal to get centered on the fact that you now own a dog that happens to be a Pit Bull. There's so much negative attention pointed towards these dogs and everyone else is always reminding you what your dog is that sometimes it is hard to forget.

For training, I like to start all my dogs with clicker/marker training in order to build a foundation. I bring in corrections to proof the behaviors once I know my dogs understand them. This has worked well for me so far.

I personally use collars and harnesses for two different things. Harness = pulling and a collar = walking nicely. I do this with all the dogs, not just the bulldogs. For teaching the dog to walk nicely on a loose lead or in a heel I think a collar is more effective.

Dog aggression can be with any dogs, strange or housemates. Housemates may end up not getting along after seeming fine for years. It's just something you have to stay on top of. Don't worry, managing dog aggression is very possible.

While some dogs might take their ability to sit on you as some sign that they can be dominant over you, most probably won't. In my experience, it takes a dominant rank-driven dog to pay much attention to things like this.

Good luck with your new puppy. You sound like a wonderful owner.
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Postby airwalk » December 11th, 2010, 9:04 pm

As I lounge here with Brogan on my feet, Avery on my knees and Fenway on my hip, should I be concerned that he's going to take this as a sign that he's "over" me?


nope. Scooter has been a lap dog since he was 10 weeks old, he know when I reach command voice that he needs to be moving.

Dogs are so situational anyway that the sit on your lap on the sofa, doesn't necessarily translate to I'm higher in the pecking order than she is.

Great advise here..and yes Tasmananian Devil.. :mrgreen: ..that's the best description I think I've heard.
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 12th, 2010, 10:41 am

Tina...I still think you should try an Easy Walk harness (or Sense-ation)...instead of a head halter, like the Gentle Leader. It's much easier to fit them well, and much easier to get the dog to adapt to them. And, since you like harnesses, it'll be easier on you. :D

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I like to use the front-clip harness (EW, Sense-ation) when I don't have time to work on LLW (Loose-leash walking)...I use a regular buckle collar (or off-leash and no collar) when I'm training. It's easy on and off, and doesn't bother the dog like a head halter does. But it keeps them from learning that pulling works.
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Postby Tubular Toby » December 12th, 2010, 12:55 pm

:doh: When I said Gentle Leader, I meant to say Easy Walk.

I am not a fan of head halters, but I love the Easy Walk harness.
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Postby BigDogBuford » December 12th, 2010, 1:16 pm

Tubular Toby wrote::doh: When I said Gentle Leader, I meant to say Easy Walk.

I am not a fan of head halters, but I love the Easy Walk harness.


Actually, me too.

I meant the Easy Walk that I've never had good luck with. It rubbed Joxer's arm pits raw, but then again he doesn't have fur at all there. Poor guy. We have tons of dogs come into Roscoe's that use the Easy Walk and IMHO they still pull just as much. It's like people us them instead of just teaching their dogs to walk politely on a leash.
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Postby Tubular Toby » December 12th, 2010, 1:56 pm

Again, I think it's how you use the tool. I've seen countless people with prongs on and their dogs aren't paying attention at all and I've seen lots of people with regular flat collars and well behaved dogs.

Toby walks politely on a leash, although I trained him on a prong collar. If I slow down, he slows down. If I speed up, he stays right by my side. However, and this is just my own experiences with my own dog, when I had him on a prong he was very tense. If I took him to Petco, he would freeze up before the tile and freak out and he freaked out about different colored tile. When I took him on regular walks his leash reactivity was not really improving even with a steady "look at that" training game. He had gotten loads better, but didn't seem to be improving anymore after that (I'm sure a lot of that had to do with a poor trainer I worked with for a short time that did NOT use a prong collar correctly and fueled his leash problems).

I switched him to an Easy Walk harness and he is so much more relaxed. He strolls right into Petco, regardless of tile, his leash reactivity has improved a lot. We have been working on transitioning to just a plain martingale collar for walks, and he has improved tenfold than when I was trying to transition him off of a prong. Used to be as soon as the prong came off, he was all over the place. So not necessarily trained... he just knew better. Haha

Since I have been using the Easy Walk harness, I can use it at first when he is full of it, and then by the end of the walk I can have him on a flat collar and he is good as gold. Again, a lot of this probably has to do with my own improvement in training knowledge, but I know for my dog with his history, the Easy Walk was the best thing I could have done for him. Yes it's a "crutch" occasionally when he's being a dip, but it's also a valuable training tool. Just as with any training tool with any type of animal, it's all in how you use it.
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Postby BigDogBuford » December 12th, 2010, 2:43 pm

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply people here were lazy and not training their dogs....haha! I'm talking about the 100lb spastastic lab at work. I don't think the owners understand that when we take play groups down we frequently have to walk four or five large dogs at a time. Their completely untrained lab is going to be wearing a prong while I'm working at him. I'm not going to have my shoulder dislocated just because they choose to not train the poor dog and have him wearing some sort of useless harness.

For myself and my dogs I prefer a flat collar or a martingale.
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 12th, 2010, 3:56 pm

The Easy Walk is tricky...because it's so easy to put on and such, people think that they're using them correctly. It's hard to get a GOOD fit, and a loose/poor fit can cause it not to work properly.

When I was with Fidos, we had Premier come in and give a demo on how to put them on and use them properly (as well as the Gentle Leader head halters too). I got a thumbs up from the representative...she said that I was fitting them properly...but almost everyone else had them too loose or something.

It's not a magic piece of equipment...nothing is, and if people don't train their dogs, it's not right to blame the equipment for being faulty. ;)
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Postby BigDogBuford » December 12th, 2010, 4:46 pm

Right. When I said useless I meant because 98% of people seem to use them incorrectly.
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 12th, 2010, 6:27 pm

BigDogBuford wrote:Right. When I said useless I meant because 98% of people seem to use them incorrectly.


I mean, they only come with long instructions...and a booklet...I don't understand why I see so many upside down Easy Walks...lol
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