Although I specifically mention Pit Bulls, I also write for all breeds. They all need homes, leaders, guidance, socialization, training and responsible owners.
I always have wondering thoughts at the end of every day since I have become more engulfed in the dog world. Specifically, over a certain breed that I opened my mind and home up to nine years ago. I volunteer at a local shelter and I have a job to help people work with their dogs, which have developed behavior problems. I teach people how to communicate and develop relationships with their own dogs. I have seen bonds form, and I have seen bonds break when the people don’t want to change their ways. I see the dog walking in with a crying owner, but their mind is made up even knowing there is no room for the dog, so the dog is euthanized.
Over the weekend, a girl, was mauled by two dogs. Now the world is in yet another upheaval and fingers are being pointed to what could be the wrong end of the leash. While a breed ban is the answer for most people, others see it a different way. Some see it as statistics that are far less alarming than the people victimized by drunk drivers, cancer, violence and natural disaster. While some turn a blind eye, others are there fighting for those who don’t have voices, who can’t speak for themselves.
Dog-fighting busts are becoming the headlines more often as well. While some say the dogs are vicious and can’t be trusted, ex-fight dogs are now being used as therapy dogs, giving children confidence while they learn to read.
Shelters, rescues and fosters are at their max with dogs right now no matter where you go. Not just with Pitties, but with all breeds. Where did we go wrong? One is finally adopted out while two more come in. More and more dogs are being surrendered over behavior issues. There is no room, so the dog is euthanized, or another one that has been in the shelter for a year is euthanized because he is getting stressed and depressed, and this will make room for one more dog that could get adopted.
Even knowing about all the homeless dogs, you still want to breed or buy? Back-yard, puppy mill, or work/show? What’s the difference you ask? Back-yard breeders and puppy mill breeders only care about one thing. That’s the green. They will continue breeding whatever is popular at the time and over produce and give these dogs to anyone. Instead of saying what they don’t do, let’s focus on what real breeders do. The goal is to continue a strong line of genetics for work or show. The dogs that are chosen are stable in temperament, healthy and everything the breed is said to be. The breeders will have you fill out paperwork, do a house check, will call for updates, will want to know if something happens and you can no longer care for the dog, what your plans will be. They will want to make sure the breed you are looking at will fit in with your lifestyle. They will take the dog back even to ensure it goes to another responsible owner. They will encourage you to work or show your dog as well, as this is what they were breeding for. The temperament and health of the next generation is more important than breeding for size, color, or quantity. Really, not caring about temperament and health of the dog are where many genetic problems begin.
Socialization! Puppies need to learn how to communicate with other dogs. They need to learn how to behave around people and not be overly shy or fearful. If they don’t learn when they are puppies, they will not learn when they are adults. When presented with a new situation, as adults, they didn’t learn how to handle when they were puppies, the result will be a fight or flight response. I question every news story I read and wonder if the dog was properly socialized.
Dogs are dogs! They are prey animals, which means they will chase after anything that runs. It’s instinct to them, and that’s something you cannot take away. Not letting them get this energy out, not giving them an outlet for their instincts create behavior problems.
Dogs need leaders and get stressed if they feel the need to take the leader position. It’s our responsibility to be this leader for our dogs. Once again, behavior problems develop if they take this role on. Basic training is a great way to create a bond. Hitting, screaming at and getting frustrated with your dog sends the wrong messages, and you will not be looked at as a benevolent leader.
Dogs are a lifelong commitment. We can’t turn our backs on them or throw them away once we are bored of them, they don’t ‘obey’ you, or we realize they are more work than we can handle. Please research before getting a dog. Find one that fits your lifestyle. Learn about their temperaments to both animals and people, find out how much exercise the breed requires both mentally and physically. Open your mind when it comes to training and accept advice when it comes to crating, housebreaking, and behavior modification.