Asking for help is tough. Most people have difficulty publicly admitting that they don't know something and need the advice of others. In the Internet age, everyone is expected to sound like an expert, so to say "I need help" is commendable. Unfortunately what often happens next doesn't lead to any kind of resolution, because the person really wasn't asking for help at all, rather validation for what they are currently doing.
We get a lot of new members who come to PBT specifically asking for help with problem behaviors in their own dogs, help dealing with new dogs that for whatever reason fell into their lap and present them with new challenges, etc. Despite what some training gurus like to parrot, there really is no "right" answer. There are usually several approaches that can all be successful, depending on the particular problem, the ability of the person giving advice to articulate it, and the ability/willingness of the owner to implement the final strategy, and most importantly access to a competent trainer who can work with the dog and handler.
What we sometimes see here is that some folks need help, and are smart enough to ask for it, but unfortunately they aren't always ready to change what they are doing, even if what they are doing puts people and dogs in real physical danger. Instead of asking questions with the intent of finding workable strategies, it seems like they are really seeking assurance that what they are doing will somehow turn out all right. They aren't open to the possibility that everything they think they know about Pit Bulls, and dogs in general, might be flat-out wrong.
Here's a hypothetical example of what I am talking about. We have all seen it played out before.
"Hi, I've had Pit Bulls for ten years and my new rescue Buster is great. I've had him for four months and he is just over a year old. He is neutered and I got him from a local shelter. He's super friendly with people and has a lot of energy, is very outgoing and loves treats! My question is regarding a recent problem that has been developing. Unfortunately for the past few weeks he has been getting into arguments with other dogs at the dog park. Last week he actually ended up biting another dog and it had to get stitches. How can I teach him to get along with other dogs? I've been going there with my other Pits and Pit mixes for years and never had a problem until now. Thanks!"
(summary response from 99% of PBT members)-"Before we talk about ways to work on socialization you need to understand a few things first. Dog parks are a bad idea for most dogs, but for Pit Bulls in particular. Stop taking him there for now, and be prepared for the possibility that you might never be able to take him back. Accept that he might be dog-aggressive and that if you want to keep him, you might end up on a permanent crate and rotate schedule. There is a possibility that he may never be able to interact with other dogs safely, including the dogs in your own household. Play dates may be a thing of the past. Have you looked for trainers in your area? And incidentally, what do you do with the dogs when you're not home?"
"What's crate and rotate? I don't use crates. When I'm gone I just leave them loose in the house. You guys make it sound like Buster is mean, but he's a good dog. I really need advice because I'm not willing to stop bringing Buster to the dog park. He has so much fun and I'm not going to deprive him of doggy friends. He just needs more socialization."
"We know, we've all been there. Sounds like you've been lucky with your previous dogs and not had any dog aggression issues. But you might be dealing with them now, and that's part of owning a Pit Bull. If he really is dog aggressive, which we can't really tell over the internet, the last thing you should do is try to socialize him. He will end up tearing another dog up. If he is dog-aggressive in the particular way that Pit Bulls can be, then there is no 'fixing' that problem. It doesn't make him 'mean' or defective or unstable. It's just part of the breed. By the way, you have to stop leaving your dogs loose in the house when you aren't there. Crate training would be a very good idea, or at least put the dogs in different rooms. When you are there you need to supervise them closely and it would probably be a good idea to limit yourself to two loose dogs in the house at a time in case a fight breaks out.
(Here is where we have lots of detailed personal anecdotes of Pit Bull Talk members cowboy-learning about dog aggression in our breed.)
"Buster isn't my first Pit Bull and I know what I'm doing. I'm not willing to leave him home while I take my other two dogs to the dog park and what's with this 'dog parks aren't a good place for socialization' stuff? I've never had a problem before and my dogs love it. I've had Pit Bulls for years and I've never heard any of this 'be prepared to isolate your dog' stuff. You people make it sound like Pit Bulls are ticking time bombs waiting to explode. It's all in how you raise them. You've been drinking the Anti-Pit Bull Kool-Ade the media sells. I thought this was a Pit Bull board!"
"You just said that Buster sent another dog to the vet for stitches...that indicates a problem. No one wants to see any dogs get hurt, and no one wants to see you broken-hearted either. Again, dog-aggression is part of this breed, dog-fighting is part of its history, and you need to accept that. If your dog is truly dog-aggressive and you persist down this path of dog parks, play dates, unsupervised loose dogs in the house and unrealistic thinking in general you are going to end up with a disaster. Please reconsider what you are doing."
"I thought I could get help here but all you people want to do is judge. You guys have some funny ideas about Pit Bulls. Get educated before you go off spouting untruths!"
Then the person goes on a search for a forum whose members will provide strategies to "socialize" the dog aggression out of Buster, tells her that there's nothing wrong with dog parks, etc. Eventually she finds enough enablers to make her feel like she's got everything under control. Then one day, Buster severely injures or kills another dog. Then guess what? "Buster was unstable and had temperament issues."
Pay attention to those that have gone before you, *especially* when they tell you things you don't want to hear.
"My first priority will be to reinstate the assault weapons ban PERMANENTLY as soon as I take office...I intend to work with Congress on a national no carry law, 1 gun a month purchase limits, and bans on all semi-automatic guns."-Barack Obama
"When in doubt, whip it out."-Nuge