While pit bulls can make excellent family pets, they have been maligned throughout the country for perceived aggressive behavior. However, many dogs are inaccurately identified as pit bulls when they are, in fact, unidentified mixed breeds or different breeds altogether. Today's pit bulls were bred from English bull-baiting dogs and faster terriers for the purpose of dog fighting. It's important to properly care for and socialize your pit bull to make her a good example of the breed.
Socializing Your Pit Bull
Because pit bulls originally were bred to fight dogs and other animals, begin socializing to animals immediately. Pit bulls can have a strong prey instinct, so start socialization on leash. Start by teaching him to look at you on command by rewarding every time you say his name. When introducing to another animal, first say your dog's name and reward him for looking at you. Wait for him to respond to your commands and look at you before allowing him to sniff the other animal. Reward with praise and treats for any positive interaction, such as sniffing or trying to engage play. If he gets too excited, eliciting barks or growls, put him in a time-out space and wait for him to calm down. Keep interactions short and positive.
Training Your Pit Bull
In addition to socializing, your pit bull will need a lot of positive training to ensure he behaves properly. Pit bulls are very energetic and tend to jump on company and pull on their leash. Start by taking your dog to a training class so she is exposed to other dogs during training. Begin all greetings on leash and never let your dog greet while jumping. Soon she will learn she can only greet while calm and polite. If she starts to pull, stop walking. When she makes the leash loose by turning around, praise her and continue walking. This positive training will increase your bond and reduce the chance of triggering negative behavior.
Exercising Your Pit Bull
Like many breeds bred for activity, pit bulls have lots of energy. To control this, plan to exercise your pit bull for at least an hour each day, especially as an adolescent, about 6 to 18 months. While walking is a good exercise, pit bulls love to run and chase, so include at least half of the exercising time for playing with other dogs, chasing a ball or running. This will help your dog learn to be calm in the house because he will have an outlet for his energy.
Feeding Your Pit Bull
As a mixed breed, pit bulls have few common health problems. However, many are known to have allergies, so choosing a high quality food is important. Avoid foods with grains and choose a protein based on your dog. If she is chewing or scratching frequently, try switching the food. The other common health problem facing pit bulls is hip and elbow dysplasia, which can be exacerbated by extra weight. To avoid this, feed the recommended amount, altered based on the amount of exercise he receives. You should be able to easily feel the ribs on your pit bull.