I have had a lot of clients with American Bull Terriers (ABT).  You know, Pit Bulls?  They are not the vicious, mauling, killers that the media makes them out to be.  This is why I am against Breed Specific Legislation.  I have co-workers who own ABT’s and they are very social dogs who love people.  I have had many clients who need help, not due to aggression issues, but merely general control type issues.  If you don’t take on the leadership and control with these dogs, they will drag you wherever they want to go.  That is where I come in.  I teach control.

The American Kennel Club describes the ABT as “Playful and clownish, the Bull Terrier is best described as a three year-old child in a dog suit. Given his muscular build, the Bull Terrier can appear unapproachable, but he is an exceedingly friendly dog, with a sweet and fun-loving disposition and popular in the obedience, agility and show rings. The Bull Terrier can be all white (markings on the head are permissible) or colored.”

Now this doesn’t sound like the dog we see on television attacking people now does it?  Last week I was at a client’s house that needed help controlling their ABT.  He loves to play with dogs so when he sees one he charges over to say “HI” and play.  Same with children, he runs to them to play.  However, the neighbors who see this very muscular dog charging at their dog or children don’t see it the same way.  Perceptions and prejudice of the breed tend to be in the fore front.  So, my clients need help teaching their dog to have calm greeting behavior, we don’t charge after dogs and children no matter how much you want to play with them.  So our first lesson we introduced some new rules.  We practiced our walk, place, and down commands.  Next lesson we are teaching calm greeting behavior and recalls.  It’s all about taking charge and teaching rules to the dog.

Dogs are followers.  They want the human part of the pack to take charge, be the leader, and set the rules.  If the owner doesn’t set the rules the dog will, because that’s the way their mind works.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a 90lb. muscular dog making the rules!

Since these animals are playful, child-like, sweet, loving dogs, how do they turn into “killing machines”?  PEOPLE make these dogs mean.  Take a human being, tie him outside to a post or cage him, and he will become a psychotic dangerous person.  Do that to a dog, with no human contact, but to watch people come and go.  That would make anyone crazy.  If you want to make a dog mean, teach them no control and tie them outdoors for their existence.

These poor dogs see people, he barks, they go away.  He sees dogs, walk by, he barks they go away.  In the dog’s mind his aggression is making people and dogs go away.  Repeat this scenario 100’s of times and the dog becomes fiercer.  Until the day he gets through the fence or breaks his chain.  He then escapes from the yard and attacks what has been frustrating him.  Someone gets bit or a dog is mauled.  This dog is now a vicious and is euthanized because of what a human did to him.

It seems to be too difficult for animal control to remove dogs from abusive dog owners.  There has to be a dog bite before the dog is removed.  Many times animal control permits the owner to maintain custody of their dog and it’s their responsibility to quarantine it for 10 days.   If government and citizens want to have a positive effect on animal rights and control, increase enforcement of current laws, offer free neutering, and educate the public.   A 2009 study in the Journal of Forensic Science showed that people who own vicious dogs are sensation seekers and more likely to have a history of criminal behavior.

It all comes down to being a responsible pet owner.  Pet owners, who control their dogs, prepare their dogs for the AKC Good Citizen Program should not be penalized with breed specific legislation.  What can we do?  Train, teach, report animal neglect and abuse to the authorities.

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