Note: This is the second of a two-part series. For part 1, please start here.
So you’re ready to take on the social stigma of adopting a pit bull? Now on to the fun part: what to expect — not from the public, but from your new four-legged friend — for the first couple weeks after adoption:
A pit bull is going to look to you to be a leader. Any pit will quickly stand by your side if you show your confidence and establish that you are in charge. This is why you will often hear of pits being “advanced” dogs; their intelligence can sometimes be hard to understand because the natural reaction when adopting a dog is to shower it with love.
Pits will turn to you and gauge your reaction in almost any situation before taking any action of their own. If they sense you are excited and in a good mood, they will act the same and will be ready to play. If they feel tension, do not be surprised if they act on your defense, as they will quickly do anything possible to try and protect you. In their eyes, you are the best possible friend, and they would be at your side at all moments if possible.
If pitties want something, they will do whatever it takes to accomplish their goal. Are they curious and want to explore your neighborhood while you put them out back in the yard? I can guarantee you they will find a way to escape and roam around for a while. Do they see a squirrel on the trail and want to say hello? I can promise you the force on the leash will be powerful. How about if you leave them at home without anything to keep their mind occupied? I hate to say it, but odds are, you might come home to some less-than-desirable damages to your favorite couch or pair of shoes.
In other words, pits are very smart dogs, and need to be stimulated mentally to keep them from getting into much trouble. This is actually a very fun, rewarding and motivating trait in my opinion, as it keeps you active as well with your new best friend. And when it’s time to wind down, your pittie will be curled up comfortable asleep right at your feet. Besides, if a pittie wants to give you a big kiss, it will stop at nothing to slobber all over you — totally worth it.
I work with countless breeds at our local shelter, and very few pups figure out new tricks as quickly as our pits. We even taught one to salute. Yes, it was completely adorable and something we used to quickly get him adopted.
This intelligence is important to note for two reasons:
One thing I commonly see when training a pit is that they can get discouraged if they do not understand something. Yelling “Sit!” over and over at a pit that doesn’t know how to sit will only make it frustrated very quickly. Start slowly, keep training limited to a few minutes in a row and make sure the treats are plentiful.
The second thing is this intelligence must be encouraged. Keeping your pit active and social, working on training, etc., especially during formidable years, will give satisfaction to your pup, which will pay off in the long run of ownership.
The average pit bull is going to want to say hello to everyone and everything. We recently adopted out a pit to a family that had cats. She was far too quick to say hello to these lovely kittens and got her nose smacked by an unwelcoming claw. Now, according to her new family, she is terrified of the cats, so they’re slowly getting canine and felines on friendly terms.
When you have welcomed guests visiting, your pit will be the first to greet them with lots of licks and tail-wagging. Out in public, your pit will want to say hello to everyone, which for people less familiar with this friendliness might be intimidating, so it is important to be responsible with your introductions.
The truth about pits is that you are going to end up with a best friend, one that will never want to leave your side and will do anything to please you. Once you establish that you are going to take care of them, they will completely give their heart to you. There is no doubt in my mind that responsible people ready to offer pits some dedicated ownership will be rewarded with several fun, active and exciting years of companionship.
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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.