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Posts Tagged ‘American pit bull terrier’

If you watch this clip, you can see several things.

First of all, the trainer makes no claim that his methods will reform this dog into a dog that will never fight other dogs, and when you see the dog enter the room, it absolutely is on the hunt. She is looking at other dogs that way many dogs look at squirrels.

Some pit bull strains have a had a deliberate selection for this sort of behavior. It’s not all in how you raise them. They absolutely will throw it down to get to another dog and kill it.

That’s why these training techniques, which include the judicious use of the electronic collar, are effective.  This dog is being trained so that whatever drive she has that makes her want to kill other dogs can be managed, and she can have a life.

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for dog training, but it is not the only way to deal with them.

The foundation of getting this dog under control was set through this session. It will take lots of work and dedication to keep her safe.

Contrary to what people may have thought about my views on this blog, I was never opposed to electronic collars. I was opposed to using them to inflict unnecessary pain on a dog.

After dealing with several pit bulls in my professional and personal life, I can say that many of them do need a firmer hand than most people are willing to give them.  Some of these dogs, once they know you mean business, will absolutely give you their all.

But you have to give them fair and clear leadership signals. You cannot let them walk all over you.

So if this type of dog is going to be popular (and they are very popular), owners and trainers are going to need all the available tools to deal with their behavior.

Electronic collars are now made with so many features and stimulation levels that they are quite humane devices. There are countless trainers doing wonders with them. There are also quite a few jagoffs who are using them for abuse, but we should not punish those good trainers because of bad ones.

About ten or fifteen years ago,  positive reinforcement only became an idea in the dog world.  Positive reinforcement isn’t a bad thing. It’s a great way to teach stylish obedience. It’s also great for teaching commands.

But this good idea took on a sort of unreasoning fundamentalism.  People would often point out that polar bears and orcas could be trained with positive reinforcement alone, so why not dogs?

Well, the problem with that logic is that orcas and polar bears aren’t walked down city streets. They don’t really live in civilization. When they are in captive situations, the public has almost no access to them– and for good reason.

Anyone who has ever walked a dog on a public street knows fully well that many people believe a dog on a public street is public property that must be approached and talked to, regardless of whether the person walking the dog happened to have been in hurry or not.  Can you imagine walking a positive reinforcement only trained polar bear down a street and have some well-meaning stranger walk up to pet it?

Obviously, that won’t ever happen, but we expect dogs to behave with such extreme composure and control.  Most dogs will be able to handle it well, but the dogs that don’t may require different training tools and methods.

And we should, as open-minded individuals living in a free society, be accepting that it’s going to take a lot more than giving a dog treats and ignoring unwanted behavior to make certain dogs safe in public.

If we can’t accept that reality, then we really must accept the consequence that lots of dogs are going to be euthanized for their behavior, because they do require other tools and methods to manage their behavior.

I am not knocking the great strides that have been made in modern behavior modification and training techniques that have come from positive reinforcement/rewards-based training. Those methods are the absolute gold standard in making well-behaved pets.

But they are not the solution for every dog or for every problem dog.

To say otherwise is to be a bit dishonest.

If you’re going to train dogs, the rule of thumb should be to learn as much as you can from as many people as you can, and never stop learning.  An open mind is as useful as an open heart.

And that’s where I come down on the great dog training debate as it exists.  Too much heat has been exchanged by both sides and not enough light.

The truth requires more nuance and understanding than our social media culture can currently handle at the moment. But if you really want to know things, you can find out.

Just keep that mind open.

And for the record, I have trained a dog using an e-collar at low levels. She got so many treats and praise while doing so that she gets quite excited when I pick up her collar and put it on her.  She knows the fun is about to start when that thing comes out.

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muzzled pit bull

For years, I’ve had a long-standing policy of never writing about pit bulls or bull breed mixes.  I oppose BSL, and I think if any breed or type of dog requires compassionate advocates, it is these dogs.

But just because I oppose BSL does not mean that I think that selective breeding is without importance when it comes to dog behavior.

I am also fully aware that there are millions of these dogs that haven’t had fighting ancestors for many, many generations. Lots of these dogs are pretty mild, even more toned-down the typical boxer.

However, I am aware that there are many of these dogs that still retain instincts to fight other dogs, and some of these dogs are particularly dangerous to people. I used to have strong beliefs that shelters and rescues base their decisions upon individuals and not the breed, and I still largely have this opinion.

But in recent years, pit bull advocacy has turned into a sort of base denial that selective breeding has any effect on the behavior of these dogs. We also are living in a time when people are encouraged to rescue dogs, rather than buy them from breeders.

We live in an era in which people are being encouraged to give up meat, reduce their carbon footprint, and generally do things that are compassionate and responsible. People are told that the best thing you do is rescue a dog. However, what we have seen in the past decade or so, we have seen really wonderful reforms in community shelters across the nation.  Purebred rescues have done a remarkable job in keeping their dogs out of shelters, as have truly responsible breeders. High intake shelters in the South have good relationships with shelters in other parts of the country, so dogs wind up in areas where there are good homes.

These developments are all good things for dogs in the United States. But a new problem has arisen.

Go to virtually any county pound or public shelter, and the vast majority of the dogs there will be pit bulls and pit bull mixes. The best shelters do evaluate these dogs and are careful at screening which homes get them, but not all shelters have the expertise to do the due diligence.

Meanwhile, because these dogs really do need homes, lots of pit bull advocates are encouraging socially conscious people to go to the shelter and adopt a pit bull. In many cases, it’s a match made in heaven, but in too many other cases, a really super hot pit bull winds up in the hands of someone who cannot control, manage, or contain the animal properly.

And this creates a dangerous situation.

Let’s take an absurd analogy to see why this is a problem. I love Belgian Malinois, but I know the most serious people in that breed do all they can to ensure their dogs wind up in the right homes.  These dogs have a lot in common with pit bulls, and because they are generally bred by only serious enthusiasts, they are more consistently a lot of dog than we see in the various pit bull types.

But no one says that Malinois are nanny dogs or that having one is just like having a Labrador.  If anyone were to say such absurdities, they would likely be driven out of the entire Malinois culture.

But in pit bulls, we hear all sorts of things about how docile they are. And yes, a lot of them are quite mild dogs, but the ones that are really aggressive certainly do exist.

So when these advocates are promoting that pit bulls are just like any other dog they are not doing the dogs any favors. Yes, you can get a mild and gentle pit bull, but if you’re getting the dog from the pound, there is a good chance that you could be getting something that is a bit much.

Newby dog owners and potentially aggressive dogs are not a good mix.  Add to this melange a new belief system that says that dogs must be trained and managed without any form of punishment or discomfort, and we’re talking a really dangerous situation.

I know that what I have written is controversial. It is controversial only because of context. No one would jump my case for saying that border collies go into stalking position when they herd sheep because of selective breeding. It is without controversy to say that pointers will hold their points when the see or smell quarry.

The level of dog aggression that some pit bulls have came about because of selective breeding. It is not all in how you raise them.  Most people are ill-equipped to deal with a dog that has that sort of behavior, and if you’re not, you should not just get a shelter pit bull. You might get a mild, gentle one.  Or you could get something that really isn’t a good dog for the typical family.

That’s a hard thing to say, because yes, there is a chance that you could get a gentle pit bull. Further, dogs in shelters may behave entirely differently at the shelter than they will after being at someone’s home for a few months.  When a dog becomes comfortable in its new home, then you can see what the temperament actually is, and it may not be something that is easy to handle.

I am not saying that anyone who gets a pit bull or rescues one is an idiot or that these dogs are universally dangerous. I am saying that there is a good chance that you can get a dog that is too much. And you’d better be prepared to manage and control this animal.

If you don’t know how or are unwilling to get one of these dogs off another dog, then you should look for another breed.

I mean this as no insult to the nice, well-managed pit bulls and bull breed mixes, but I am saying that there really are dogs out there in this general type of dog that will do a lot of damage to another dog. Some are so bad that they are dangerous to people.

Further, we, as dog people, should stop shaming people who get their dogs from responsible breeders. We are unintentionally driving people to get dogs they might not be able to handle properly, and this is not good for any dog anywhere.

Please note that I am not saying that this same problem exists only in pit bulls.  You can get German shepherds are totally dangerous.  Pretty much any large dog can be dangerous in the right circumstances.

But the issue I’m criticizing is the rescue culture that is pushing these dogs, which can potentially have these problems, onto a well-meaning but largely unskilled public. And with this type of dog, this is exactly what is going on.

And these dogs certainly deserve better advocacy. I don’t write these words because I hate the dogs or their owners. I love dogs, but I want dogs to be in homes that can full appreciate and manage what the dog really is.

I don’t think anyone can construe my position with hatred. Just disappointment.

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I know I’m about to break one of my own rules.

I know I said I wasn’t going to write about pit bulls.

But I think I need to make an exception.

I’m not talking about BSL  or anything that controversial.

Instead, I’m going to talk about a particular type of conformation show that pit bulls are now being bred for.

To illustrate my issue, here is G. G belongs to my cousin, Laura Atkinson:

G is a brindle pit.  I don’t think anyone would argue about what he is.

He’s typical of the unregistered pit bull-type that exists throughout the country. (I know that technically there are American pit bull terriers, which are a UKC recognized breed, and there are “pit bulls,” which are not.)

The UKC standard calls for a dog that isn’t vastly dissimilar to G.

Something like this:

It’s not a particularly exaggerated dog in terms of its conformation.

The AKC recognizes another type of North American bull and terrier type, which is called the American Staffordshire terrier. (Not to be confused with the Staffordshire bull terrier, which is an English bull and terrier breed that was derived from bull and terrier types that were not bred from the Hinks strain).

These terms are all highly contentious, but let’s just say that the bull and terrier types that don’t have egg shaped heads aren’t particularly exaggerated dogs.  The official breed standards call for very moderate dogs.

But there are other conformation standards.

In recent years, there have been new “Atomic dog” shows. These Atomic shows actually do reward exaggeration in type.

This is the sort of dog they want:

These shows reward dogs with very wide chests and massive bone.

They aren’t being judged according to any breed club standards, so they’ve written their own.

Now, there’s nothing really wrong with people writing their own breed standards, but when these standards are rewarding exaggeration, then we do have to have some discussion about it.

I have not seen any studies on the health of these Atomic-type dogs, but my guess is they are being predisposed to certain growth-related health problems, like OCD .

It’s also very likely that these dogs are being given growth supplements to build these Schwarzenegger bodies, and in Atomic Dog magazine, these hormones are advertised. If you have to give a dog growth hormones to produce the type you want, then there are definite ethical questions that must be answered.

There is nothing in the bull and terrier’s history that would require the breeding of such beefy dogs.

It’s simple vanity.

And I don’t think we’ve looked closely at the welfare issues associated with breeding for this particular phenotype in this particular breed.

After all, the enthusiasts who breed this sort of dog aren’t operating even within the framework of established kennel clubs.

And it’s relatively new.

But it does need to be examined.

It’s not just the conformation shows within the major clubs that are causing canine distortions.

They are also happening in other places.

The main registry for this sort of “wide stance” pit bull is the American Bully Kennel Club.

They also register a “Shorty Bull,” a wide stance dog with even shorter legs!

They even have a totally bogus breed called an “Old Roman bulldog.” This is what it claims one of these dogs is:

Before all the modern Bulldog crosses of today, there lived a true giant Bull-Dog, the Bull-Dogs of old Rome. We have done the research and have acquired the right genetic makeup to produce what we feel is a good representation of a True “Original Bull-Dog”. A bull-dog that has a great temperment (sic) and can do work or just hang out with the family. The total package!

Um. No.

Bulldogs aren’t from Ancient Rome.

The best history on bulldogs traces them to the dogs of the Alani, but even that information is a subject to debate.

The truth is this sort of dog appeared in northern Europe and the British Isles during the Middle Ages, and over time diversified into a wide variety of breeds.

But if dog breeds didn’t originate in Ancient Egypt, then they obviously came from Ancient Rome!

Breeding for super exaggeration and making up certifiably nutty crap about bulldogs and bull-and-terrier types is not something confined to the Bedlams that are established breed clubs and registries.

The start-ups are often just as bad!

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Some people claim that the American bully is a different breed, but I’m not playing into this game. Even if the dogs do have other blood in them, so do most unregistered pit bulls.

This is a silly argument– on the level of trying to split apart all the different dogs we call Jack Russell.

Keep in mind that Labrador retrievers were the last retriever breed to have a fully closed registry. Some lines of Labrador have the influence of other retriever breeds that others lack. For example, “English Labs” have a influence from flat-coated and golden retrievers, and “American trial Labs” often have an influence from Chesapeakes.

No one splits hairs over them.

So I’m not going to here.

There’s already too much stupid splitting among dog strains that I refuse to indulge it any more.

That’s a very weaselly way of operating– and it’s intellectually dishonest.

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Source.

This is so cute. That dog must have very strong parental instincts.

I know this, because Miley would be busy carrying that little rabbit around in her mouth.

Little rabbits might be cute, but they are more fun to carry around.

 

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From the Hur Herald:

A major dogfighting operation in Calhoun County is coming to light, following the death of 87-year-old Edward Barrera.

The Humane Society of the United States says it has been working closely with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation and arrest of an alleged dog-fighter.

Calhoun Chief Deputy Carl Ballengee says 30-year-old Dwayne Smith, a neighbor of Barerra’s, was arrested and charged Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the dogfighting operation.

Smith said, according to a criminal complaint, that hundreds of dogs are buried on the hill behind Barrera’s house, or “numbers he cannot even begin to count.”

In a taped interview, Smith says he buried 27 dogs in one day.

This is the first dogfighting arrest in West Virginia since the state statute was changed in 2003 to list dogfighting as a felony offense.

“It was very clear that the now deceased owner of these dogs had longtime ties to organized dogfighting and Smith was his partner in the dogfighting operation,” said Chris Schindler, manager of animal fighting law enforcement for the Humane Society of the United States.

“The dogs we found were suffering in the bitter cold and bore the scars indicating they were the abused victims of dogfighting. We commend the Calhoun County Sheriff’s department for taking swift action in this case,” said the society.

The HSUS, along with Jo Staats from West Virginia Pit Bull Haven, found many of the dogs had scarring consistent with fighting.

Other evidence of dogfighting such as conditioning equipment, a trailer converted into a dogfighting pit, blood spatter on the walls and blood on the carpet were also found on the property.

Barrera’s computer was also seized following the discovery of his body.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, backed by 11 million Americans. It has been in operation for a half-century.

Both the Humane Society and Pit Bull Haven officials have been in Calhoun this week participating in the investigation.

Deputy Ballengee said the investigation is ongoing.

This area is quite rural, so it would be possible for all sorts of activity to go on without the authorities knowing about it. This is  kind of like “Copperhead Road” country.

The man who died was one of the oldest people in West Virginia to be arrested with possession with intent to deliver.  Drugs and dogfighting tend to go hand and hand.

I wonder what the investigation will reveal, besides the hundreds of buried dogs on the property.

 

 

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This dog must belong to a drug dealer. How do I know? It's a pit bull. Thank you, Mr. Gelzinis, for your insights!

Pit Bull owners, you may tell us that you are upstanding members of community. You may even lack a criminal record. You may or may not be on crack or meth or lighter fluid. You may or may not have a desire to pop a cap in someone’s ass.

But you aren’t fooling Peter Gelzinis. I think it is no exaggeration that he  will be in the running for the Pulitzer after publishing this hard-hitting exposé on who you really are.

You may have fooled me into believing that you are intelligent, compassionate people who actually don’t believe in judging people or animals by the media hype.

You see, according to Gelzinis, you guy are thugs who “intimidation” to get your way. To you, the pit bull is like a machine gun or a pistol armed with “cop-killer” bullets.

Any attempt to regulate you miscreants is met with “intimidation.” You guys just can’t be civil.  I bet you guys just run into meeting and shout everyone down. I bet your brandish weapons and make death threats.

You really are a bunch of thugs, aren’t you?

You see, while we know from reputable sources like Fox News (the only news that tells the truth!) and the Boston Herald that pit bulls are the only dogs that attack people.

And when pit bulls attack. It is bloody. They rip arms off. They can shred beer cans with their teeth. And they can rip off the arms of rival drug dealers.

See, he has you pegged right there.

I didn’t know you guys were involved in the drugs so much.

Who would’ve known?

We can all thank Mr. Gelzinis for his enlightening piece, and we look forward to his future work.

He really did a lot of research on that piece.

I think he may have used the Google a few times.

And talked that that crank city councilor.

Really, really good investigative journalism.

If he’s nominated for a Pulitzer, he’s a shoe-in.

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At For the Pit Bulls.

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