What to Expect When You’re Adopting a Pit Bull (Part 1)

If you adopt a pit bull, you should expect a certain amount of social stigma. Here’s how to fight back by educating the public.

Adopting a pit bull often brings a social stigma Are you the type of person who looks at a pit bull, ignores all the negative press they often unjustifiably receive, and see a loving and loyal companion?

Good for you! It seems as if the only stories you ever hear are ones of these lovable dogs attacking, without any context surrounding the incident. For the sake of fairness, I won’t pretend for a moment that these attacks never occur, but I speak with confidence that they are very rare.

Because the phrase “pit bull” covers such a variety of breeds, it has quickly become the norm to unfairly lump all dog attacks under one heading. Also contributing to this is the quantity of dogs labeled (sometimes incorrectly) as being an actual pit, as they take up a large percentage of the dog population.

Lastly, as someone who has spent the past four years volunteering at a local animal shelter, I have been bitten and nipped by almost every breed — Labrador, collie, Chihuahua, you name it — yet I have not once felt even remotely threatened by a pit, because most of the time they are far too busy smothering you with affection.

I have compiled some helpful tips for those who have fallen in love with a pit bull, and offer some advice on what to expect when you bring your newest family member home.

You are now a breed ambassador.

I occasionally take pit bulls out of the shelter for weekend adventures and socialization, and by no small margin get the widest spectrum of reactions from people:

  1. You will have your fanatic pit bull fans, who will gladly talk with you about how wonderful pitties are, how they are the most loyal dogs in the world, etc.
  2. You will also get the people terrified to be within 100 feet of one, who will think you have a ticking time bomb strapped to your leash and won’t give you the light of day.
  3. And then you get everyone in the middle. These are the people you will find yourself answering a lot of questions to. Commonly, “I thought pit bulls were aggressive” and “Aren’t you worried your pit bull will attack you?” This is such a great opportunity to try and remove the stereotype from their mind. Even better, if your pittie is well socialized, let your pup do all the work removing the stereotype himself by letting the person experience firsthand the loving playfulness of your pet.

You have to be careful in public dog parks.

No matter how friendly your pit is, no matter how great he or she is with other dogs, no matter how far away you might find yourself from any incident between dogs, you will likely be blamed.

I just do not think public parks are the best place for your lovable pit to roam free, as there have been countless times while at the park a fight would break out among a group of dogs and quickly the public opinion swings negative toward any pit bulls in the area, even if they had little or nothing to do with the incident.

Find other dog owners who might be a better fit for dog buddy time, as a large park filled with countless random dogs just is not a good place. Pit bulls are complete social butterflies, and this exemplary trait might have them sniffing the wrong dog, who might act negatively with little provocation, and I am willing to guarantee people will quickly blame your canine.

You might have fewer options of where to live.

It seems to be a trend as of late with certain cities banning the ownership of pit bulls (known as breed-specific legislation, or BSL), and it is even more common to have breed restrictions in apartment complexes. And despite the best efforts of groups like Bad Rap, restrictions are appearing faster than they can be removed. For now, the best course of action is to make sure you share your opinion with local officials responsible for these laws and keep representing the breed in an esteemed fashion.

You are going to end up with a ridiculously loyal best friend.

We get a lot of pit bulls at our local shelter. They show up more commonly than any other breed by almost double (Labrador mixes are up there, but it’s still not close). If anyone were to ask me to define a pit bull in one word, it would be “loyal.” There is no other type of dog at the shelter that will be more excited to see you than a pit.

If you don’t believe me, these dogs will undoubtedly speak for themselves. Visit your shelter and meet a couple of them; I promise you your opinion will be drastically reshaped if you have any fear of them whatsoever. Pit bulls are looking for a best friend, and will quickly bestow that honor upon you if you return the favor.

While your pet will quickly attach to you, it is important to socialize the dog with other people as well. When your pittie sees you being social with another person, he or she will quickly respond in the same fashion with plenty of licking, tail-wagging and affection, another great way to show someone how great these dogs truly are.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll talk about you what you can expect — not from other people but from your new four-legged buddy. Here is Part 2.

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This featured contribution was written by Rob Toledo on behalf of Embrace Pet Insurance. Rob loves all things pit bull and recommends supporting your local shelter. He lives in Seattle and hopes to one day have a yard big enough to offer homes to at least 10 dogs.

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