Pit Bull Training – Phoenix Scottsdale AZ Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]
Do you have a pit bull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bullterrier, Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, or other “bully” breed? What do you need to know about owning and training a bully breed? Are you looking for a trainer that is experienced with these breeds, and someone who isn’t biased against them? And what about some of the other bull dog breeds, such a the English Bulldog, Olde English Bulldogge, Bullmastiffs, Cane Corsos, Presa Canarios, Bully Kutta, Pig Dog, etc.?
I have trained many bully breeds over the years. I’ve been a fan of the bully breeds for many years. Many years ago, for example, I had a very long conversation with John Johnson about his American Bulldogs. I also had a long conversation with Lana Lou Lane about her Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldogs.
The bull breeds are all fairly similar in how they are best trained. Here are some of my observations:
1.) Stress Free Is Best: As a general rule, bully breeds they do best when you focus on making the training fairly stress free. Most bully breeds have a tendency to get more stressed and insecure the more you pressure them. I see many people put too much focus on dominating these dogs, misinterpreting their active and curious nature for being “bad”, or disobedient, or dominant. Just because a dog has lots of curious energy, and is getting into your stuff, doesn’t mean the dog is being dominant. Being harsh isn’t going to get better performance or fewer behavioral problems. Proper training isn’t unduly stressful. Of course, the dog is given challenges, and the dog has to learn to excel, but it isn’t harsh and punishing.
2.) These breeds need lots of ongoing socialization. The bully breeds tend to have behavioral problems because, for some reason, their owners tend not to socialize them enough as puppies, and then given ongoing socialization with other people and dogs throughout their lives. Social isolation is never good for any breed, and it is very frustrating for a sociable breed to be kept in isolation. I also see a lot of problems when people own too many bully dogs on the same property. It is a mistake to have 10 bully dogs in your home. And it is a foolish mistake to pair off a bully breed with another dog that is going to be nasty with them so that the bully breed is forced to have to defend itself every day. If your dog is socially aggressive as an adult, there are still ways to continue your dogs socialization. Ask your trainer for advice.
3.) Bully breeds should not be purchased as “protection dogs”. They should be treated as happy members of the family, and thus trained and socialized as such. Some bully dogs will protect you if the need arises. They can spot a fight coming, and will intervene. But, it is a huge mistake to try and make them mean, to make them bite anyone and everyone they don’t know. Remember, they don’t do well living a life full of stress. It makes them unstable. They also shouldn’t be kept outside as guard dogs, especially in pairs or groups. Bully breeds are more likely to break out of a back yard and attack another animal or person near their territory if they are kept unsupervised, unexercised, unsocialized and unloved in the back yard. It is also stupid to chain them out in a yard… they will feel cornered living this way, and feeling cornered day after day wrecks these dogs. A frustration builds up to the point these dogs become unstable. Further, if you notice, most of these dogs that are left in back yards are kept in miserable, uncomfortable situations. That is inhumane, and then these dogs will look for a way to escape their miserable lives. Besides, the use of guard dogs has always been obsolete. An unsupervised dog of ANY breed can easily be killed or fooled by a human. Protection dogs can only do their job INSIDE the home WITH YOU.
4.) All bully breeds need the basics: house training, manners, socialization, lots of play and toys, exercise, a pleasant home and good family environment, and basic obedience. That is the formula for doing it right. All of these breeds tend to also need a LOT of exercise and play. I love an Olde English Bulldogge, for example. They are super fun dogs, and very trainable. But they need someone who will give them lots of exercise and play. Otherwise they will become a real nuisance. And that is pretty much true of most of the smaller bully breeds. Even Bullmastiffs need exercise. I’ve seen a lot of bored, fat Bullmastiffs. This is one of my very favorite breeds. They are super smart, very trainable, and typically pretty athletic dogs. They need a life… not another dog biscuit.
5.) Bully breeds need to learn to be obedient on and off leash. I cringe every time I see someone walking their bully breed down the street in a harness, with the dog just dragging the person along. That is a formula for a dog that will be out of control once off leash. Look, these dogs are what you make of them. Train and raise them properly, and they are great dogs. Let them go and be as they please, not accountable to the owner, and they will be no fun. Most bully breeds are never trained enough. People will go to a few pet store classes when the dogs are pups, and that is that. That is NOT ENOUGH. Not enough. These breeds all need full training, from beginning to end, otherwise don’t get one. Go get a cat, or a new TV, or something. You need to get it that these breeds need training, and something to do. A bored bully breed develops neurotic behaviors, some can become aggressive out of frustration and out of having no life, and becomes more and more impossible to live with peaceably. Look around, and you’ll see all those high level titles people have gotten on their bully breeds… when they gave the dogs a chance to learn. Do basic obedience. If you can afford it, go onto advance obedience. Enroll in agility classes. Teach your dog to swim. Teach your dog a variety of service dog skills. Don’t be flake… be a good example of what a bully breed owner should be like with their dog. And get involved in rescue. Donate money, fight breed specific laws, participate in adopt-a-thons, take your dog everywhere possible and be an ambassador for the breed you have, and so forth.
6.) Buy or adopt a good dog. Too many backyard bred bully breeds are available out there. Many such dogs are killed every day because they are unwanted. Of all the breeds out there, it is extremely important to either get a well bred dog (I have an article on Buying A Dog / Choosing A Breeder… read it) from a breeder, or adopt a great dog from a reputable rescue organization. Don’t feed those folks looking to make a quick buck. Poorly bred dogs have a lot to do with why the bully breeds have gotten such a bad reputation: dogs are sold to people that shouldn’t own a dog; dogs are bred to fight on behalf of drug gang members; and dogs are bred without any consideration of proper temperament or health. For example, I know of a pit bull that started getting very aggressive with other dogs, and then started getting very aggressive towards people. I suggested the owner get a full medical exam of the dog. Sure enough, the dog had hip dysplasia, and was in pain. The dog just had one hip replacement a couple of weeks ago, and will get another in a few months. The dog was in pain, and that was driving the aggression. Good breeders screen their breeding stock to try and prevent inheritable diseases and skeletal deformities. Lots of bully breeds suffer from bad hips. Pain stimulates aggression. And that kind of aggression is indiscriminate and can be unleashed on anyone or any animal. And it isn’t the dog’s fault… the dog isn’t well and its natural defenses kick in to protect it from harm.
7.) Get to know the breed. Every bully breed has special differences that you need to know. All the breeds I mentioned above are different in many ways. They are not all the same, and they don’t all train the same way. A Dogo isn’t the same as a pit bull. A Bullmastiff isn’t the same as a bullterrier. You need to find the right dog for your home.
8.) Work with people that like bully breeds. Many dog trainers won’t work with some or all of the bully breeds. I really don’t understand that. How can you call yourself a dog trainer or behaviorist and not know how, or accept and like, these breeds? Many veterinarians don’t like them. Many doggie daycares and kennels won’t take them. I have a rule: If you don’t like my dog, then you don’t get my business. Sorry, but all the bad press has everything to do with irresponsible people and really nothing to do with the breed of dog. Dog trainers, vets, groomers, kennel operators, and so forth don’t have to contribute to the problems… they have their role in making things better if they choose to. Pick the right breed for your lifestyle, get a good dog, raise it right, and all will be fine.
All bully breeds have the potential to be great dogs. A few years back, I was offered a Cao de Bou. It had high level titles, and was living in Spain. It was supposed to be an amazing dog, and had several Schutzhund III titles in European trials. I would have gotten the dog… except I was heading for a divorce, and the dog cost $5,000… which I couldn’t afford. If it had been another time, I might have gone ahead and spent the money. I like bully breeds, even the rare ones. Every one is fascinating it its own way. I trained Bunker the Dog, America’s Cutest Puppy… winning a national contest on TV (kind of like an American Idol for dogs) a few year ago. Bullterriers are very interesting, and very capable dogs. I’ve worked with Dogos, Cane Corsos, Bullmastiffs, and so forth. All very interesting, and great dogs in the right hands.
So, go find a trainer that likes and works with bully breeds, and begin the process.
Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.
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