Ways to love, train, educate, share information, and revel in being a Pitbull Parent.

Monday, November 3, 2014

An Article Worth Sharing

Even though National Pit Bull Awareness Month is officially over, I was still trolling around the internet, reading articles about the month long celebration, looking for ideas for this blog. I'm happy to report, I found several sources of inspiration for new posts, so more in-depth, lengthy posts shall be arriving soon.

For now, I have to give a huge shout out to Ms. Arin Greenwood, from the She is the author of this amazing article,
10 Stereotypes About Pit Bulls That Are Just. Dead. Wrong. It is one of the most well written, informative, and emotionally stirring articles I've come across in a long time when it comes to pit bulls and their unjust reputation. 

The next time you have 10 or 15 minutes, please give this article a read, and pass it on. 

I learned some new things from this piece, such as the American Humane Association's Hero Dog of 2013 was a pit bull. Her name is Elle, and and she is a therapy dog.  It warms my heart to know that there are good people out there who are willing to give good dogs a chance, no matter what their breed. 

Concobar, half asleep but still loves the camera!
Thanks to you all for reading this blog. Thanks to all the advocates who give their time, money, dedication, expertise, and passion to the pit bull breed. And thanks to writers like Ms. Greenwood, who publicly share their personal stories of pit bull love in order to change some minds and save some lives. 

Cuddly Bunny pit bull, dressed up for Halloween

Friday, October 10, 2014

Peaceful Pit Bull Walk

For anyone in the Milwaukee area, here's an event put on by the BCBC (Brew City Bullies Club). Come on out and celebrate Pit Bull Awareness Month!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy Pit Bull Awarness Month

Happy Pit Bull Awareness Month!!!
 National Pit Bull Awareness Month
I'm so happy to wish you all a happy Pit Bull Awareness Month. That's right, October is the month we officially celebrate our lovable breed of pit bulls. 

There are many things you can do to actively celebrate this special month. Here are some ideas:
  • Take your pit bull for a walk around the neighborhood and show off your Breed Ambassador!
  • Donate some time to a local shelter that specializes in adopting out pit bulls
  • Sign at least one petition against BSL
  • Share as many positive Pit Bull posts as you can on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and other social media sites
  • Attend local Pit Bull Awareness Month events in your area
Have a safe and happy October with your best pal! I'll be back in a few weeks with a post on my experience in my first training class. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

An Inspiring Story

Whenever a person is involved in any advocacy type of program, there's usually more sad and terrible stories than good. This is a depressing reality of fighting for a cause.

However, every once in a while an uplifting story comes along that reminds us all why we keep on going against seemingly insurmountable odds.

As I was paging through my Readers Digest issue from June, I came across a story titled, "I Carried Him Down the Mountain", written by Melody Warnick (2014).  Since the picture included with the article featured a woman hugging a pit bull, I quickly began to read.

The heroine of the story, Andi Davis, was hiking one day and came across an injured pit bull slightly off the trail. Andi described herself as, "a sucker for strays" (RD June.2014) but, having recognized the dog as a pit bull, she was hesitant to approach it because her families German Shepherd had been attacked by two pit bulls recently.

But Andi just couldn't leave a dog there to die, so she gathered her courage and carried the injured animal all the way down the mountain. Carrying the fifty pound dog, it took her an hour to reach the bottom, where her husband and daughter were waiting for her. From there they rushed to do in for treatment, where they discovered it had been shot and left there to die.

Andi and her family adopted that pit bull, and he's become a loving, vital part of their household.

This story made me cry for a few different reasons. Thinking about what that poor dog must have went through made me very sad, but the biggest reasons I turned on the waterworks was because; one, I was touched beyond belief at the kindness this family showed towards an injured and abandoned dog. It would have been easy for them to say, it's a pit bull, our dog was attacked by that breed, so we want nothing to do with it. Instead, they opened their hearts and home and brought the dog into their family.

And two, Andi and her family once believed pit bulls were dangerous dogs who could attack viciously for no reason. I'm happy to say that this experience changed their perception radically. The Davis family is now all too happy to correct those who buy into all the negative stereotypes about pit bulls, and help spread the message that it's not the breed that is dangerous, but the humans who manipulate these dogs into displaying aggressive behaviors.

Included is a link to a YouTube video that features a brief interview with Andi and her daughter talking about what happened that day, and how things have gone since then. I urge you to take a few minutes and watch it. I would also suggest you to find the article in the Readers Digest June issue and read it for yourself.

For me, I know anytime I'm feeling overwhelmed by the odds pit bull advocates face, I'll remember Andi and her family. By doing so, I can remind myself that progress IS being made and that there are many, many people out there who care. It also serves as one of the best examples of how people can change their minds about pit bulls once they are able to have a positive interaction with one. 

This is how we'll make a difference. One dog, one family at a time. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

An Award? Really? Wow.....

In the second week of July I received an amazing email saying that this blog had been nominated for an award.


Okay, that was my first response. I seriously couldn't believe it!! As I continued to read, I learned that the award I had been nominated for is called the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I had been nominated to receive it by a wonderful writer and pit bull lover named Sabrina, who not only helped to found the organization Pits4Peace, but also runs a blog titled Books and Bark over at WordPress. 

Needless to say, I'm honored beyond words that Sabrina thinks this blog is not only award worthy, but inspiring as well. I started this blog with a very specific goal, which was to have a dedicated place of information, resources, training tips, all with a little bit of fun thrown in, for pit bull owners and admirers. Above all, I wanted this blog to be seen in a positive, happy, and friendly light, which is why I do not feature abuse, rescue, or adoption stories.

Being nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award tells me that I've achieved that goal, and that means more to me than words can say.

Now, this nomination did come with a few rules. And here they are!

  • The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger logo on his/her blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.
  • The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) he/she admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it. 
Sadly, I do not follow anywhere close to fifteen (15) different blogs, I just don't have the time to do so. Therefore, I am going to nominate the blogs I do follow that I believe are inspiring. This may disqualify me, but it's the best I can do!

So, on to the blogs I find inspiring!
Pits4Peace Logo

  • Pits4Peace: This organization served as the main influence in creating my blog. Their dedication to pit bulls, and pit bull type breeds, is beyond amazing. Their mission to educate, and advocate, for the breed is inspirational indeed. 
  • Bad Rap: This blog is one of the best resources for pit bull lovers out there. They have some of the best information available, if you have a question, they probably have the answer! They actually have two different blogs, each one with it's own focus. Each blog is worthy of this nomination, so I'm not going pick just one! Bad Rap is very active in their community which is crucial in the quest for spreading the word about pit bulls. Way to go, Bad Rap, you've created an amazing place for pit bull fans!
  • Reflections of a Book Addict: This is a blog I recently started following, but as an enormous book lover, it quickly became a much visited site. The writer of the blog, Kimberly Denny-Ryder, does an excellent job of not only providing detailed, dead on book reviews, she keeps her readers interested with witty, fun language. I've always been the type of reader who sticks to a small list of known authors, but after discovering Ms. Denny-Ryder's blog, I've branched out and stumbled upon some wonderful new authors. 
As I said, nowhere near fifteen! Either way, Sabrina at Books and Bark has made my year just by nominating me for this award. The blogs I mention above are truly inspiring, and hopefully you will all think so, as well. 

Thank you, everyone, for reading! I will continue to use my voice in advocacy of pit bulls, and as long as I have one reader, I'll keep on posting. 

Live happy and love dogs!  

July: The Month of Terror

For those of us that live with my pittie, Concobar, July is a distressing month. For those of you who are wondering why, two words sum up the answer; thunder and fireworks. 

Ever since Con was a pup, thunderstorms have scared her. She shakes, sometimes uncontrollably, whines, follows me everywhere, getting underfoot and making me trip, and finally squeezes herself into a half sitting, half laying position in between my feet. 

As I'm sure you can imagine, or have experienced yourself, that situation is bad enough. Then along came the month of July, and with it, the festivity of fireworks. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy fireworks as much as the next American. Or I did. Now, I spend the entire month of July running on two or three hours of sleep per day, with a pit bull perpetually glued to my feet. It makes for interesting dinner conversation. Especially if we try and eat out. 

But really, this is a huge problem. And sadly, one I don't know how to solve. 

The first dog expert I asked, a man named Frank who owns and operates Rock's Positive K-9 Training in my town, told me I was the problem. That my coddling of Con made her too vulnerable to outside stimuli, and I was turning her into a scardy-pit. Since Frank is an expert dog trainer who's dealt with thousands of dogs, and because I couldn't have that, I took his advice and began to ignore Con whenever she displayed signs of fear. No petting, cooing, or reassurances whatsoever. This seemed to work fairly well, so I enrolled my entire family in the "No Comfort" plan, and soon Con became more accustomed to thunderstorms.  

All was well in McCormack land for a time. Then I made a fatal mistake. I took Con for a walk. 

The fatal walk began as an ordinary stroll around the neighborhood. Con was trotting happily along on her Weiss Walkie, I had my plastic poop baggie and a pair of headphones. I certainly wasn't expecting the neighborhood children to begin throwing firecrackers into the street directly in front of us. As I'm sure you can imagine, neither was Con.

I'll admit, I don't remember every detail of that horrible walk. I remember the incredibly loud popping of the fireworks, and Con's instant and terrified reaction to that popping. She turned and bolted for home. Now, when I say bolted, I mean she almost ripped my arm out of it's socket. I don't believe that's an exaggeration. It felt like my arm was being ripped off. Somehow I managed to hang onto the Walkie, though my wrist was red and swollen for a couple of days afterwards. 

That innocent walk set the tone for Con's reaction to fireworks to this day. Sadly, the progress we had made during thunderstorms was lost, as well. I still abstain from comforting Concobar during thunderstorms or fireworks, although sometimes it's pretty hard to maintain that tough position. But I know it's for her own good, so I stay strong. 

In my neighborhood, fireworks begin the first week of July and continue pretty much through the whole month. I've come to dread July even though it's full of family birthdays, including my own and my twin daughters' (which is on the same day!). 

So, dear readers, I'm turning the tables with this post and asking all of you for some advice. I'm open to any and all suggestions with the exception of the thunder shirt. We've tried that with very poor results. I'm hoping with all of your combined experiences and insights I can begin to give Con a little peace when thunder strikes and July comes around. Her human friends could use a little of that peace, as well! 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why I Do What I Do

A few months ago, I came across this website, It's a Top Ten List of  the Most Dangerous Dogs. I'll give you three guesses which breed the writer of this column brands as the Number One Most Dangerous. I'm betting you'll only need one of those three guesses. 

This website, and the subsequent comments, were a vibrant reminder for me. A reminder on the reasons why I write this blog, and why I've dedicated myself to spreading the word regarding the truth about Pitbulls.
Sometimes it's a good thing to get that reminder. It helps reignite that passion, that fire inside each of us that drives the need to share, to educate, and to reaffirm to any and all that animals like pitbulls are the victims. It also gives everyone an opportunity to spread the simple happiness that loving a dog of any breed can bring.

It's also a reminder that WE have to be the voices for this targeted breed, our beloved pitbulls.

I try not to engage in arguments with anonymous people on these types of websites. It serves no purpose and does nothing to further our cause. I simply try to point out facts and get some real, educated information out there so that other visitors to these sites have a positive angle to balance out the negative. 

I encourage all of you wonderful pitbull lovers to do the same. The more our voices are shared, the more people we can reach! Let's change some minds so we can change some lives! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Why a Pitbull?

I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what I would share in this post. In the end, I realized that, while I've shared some really important information with my readers, I've never really gotten personal about my feelings on pitbulls.

I do believe I mentioned in Pitbulls 101 that I, at one point, was one of those people who believed the negative hype about pitbulls. I'd heard stories, a friend of a friend knew someone who had their face mauled, and the like. I'm sure each of you can relate your own similar story. 

So because of what I'd heard, mind you, heard, I decided I didn't like pitbulls. I just knew they were dangerous, killer dogs who would turn on any person who was stupid enough to love them. 

Then I started dating my husband. He is what some of you would call a "hood rat", possibly a reformed "thug". He lived in the part of Milwaukee where you would expect to find pitbulls, and dog fighting rings. And indeed, he did know people who did horrible things to their dogs, including training them to fight, and once they were ready, to participate in fights. He did, however, also know people who had pitbulls as loving pets, and through him I met Spudz.

Yes, Spudz, just like Spudz McKenzie. Spudz belonged to a couple friend of my husbands, and she was the first real pitbull I ever became acquainted with. Spudz was white, with a brown spot on her right shoulder, and she was about four years old. One of the things I remember vividly about Spudz was that she had puppies shortly after I first met her. 

So one would think, a pitbull mom with brand new puppies, STAY AWAY, right? No. Complete opposite! It was almost like Spudz was thrilled to share her little miracles with the world, and with any human who showed an interest. 

After Spudz had her litter, I started to try and get to know her a little better. Attempting to conquer my own personal fear of a notoriously mean breed of dog wasn't easy for me, but my husband and his friends encouraged me to try and connect with Spudz. They really wanted to show me that Spudz was a loving dog. Especially because my husband's friends had a two year old, and I was pretty darn judgemental about that. (I know, boo me later!)

So I slowly began sitting by Spudz, letting her rest her head on my lap. I would sit and just rub her belly while my husband would visit with his friends. And I quickly began to realize that Spudz was just a lover, a wonderful dog who would get that glazed look in her eye if you rubbed her in the right spot. It got to the point where I'd beg my husband to visit his friends just so I could visit with their dog.

I got to the point where I started to wonder what all the fuss was about pitbulls.

When I think back to all the negative things I thought about pitbulls, and people who would own one, I'm ashamed. And I've come to realize how easy it is for people to believe something wholeheartedly even though they have no personal knowledge on the subject. I was, after all, one of those people.  

We've lost touch over the years with Spudz owners, but they, along with the loving dog they owned, helped to open my eyes about pitbulls. My husband most of all deserves credit for exposing me to a breed I had closed my mind about. He forced me to look at them as individual dogs, and dog owners, instead of a lumped together group of ferocious beasts and horrible people.

So when people ask me, Why a pitbull? Can't you get another breed of dog? I ask them, Why should I? What's wrong with a pitbull? I love pitbulls. They are loving, loyal companions, just like many other breeds of dogs. 

I didn't really start to educate myself about the breed until my husband brought me home a pitbull puppy who was going to be drowned by her owner. He knew by that time I was ready to own one, and the sad story was the clincher. But I never would have been open to owning a pitbull if it hadn't been for his friends, and their dog, Spudz. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

To Fix or Not to Fix?

The topic of today's blog is one I've been thinking about for a while now. It's a fairly serious subject, and it's one that, I believe, should be considered by every pet owner.

Spaying and/or neutering your pets.

Some of you might cringe at the notion (particularly those of you reading who are males), but it's an important topic that has consequences beyond your own particular pet.

Spaying or neutering your pets has quite a few benefits to your companions health. The ASPCA's website details a few of the reasons why it's important for pets health. Some of those reasons include:

  • It will help your pet live a longer, healthier life because fixing your pet helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer. These diseases are fatal in 50%of dogs and 90% of cats. 
  • By neutering your male companion by the age of six months,you can actually prevent your companion from getting testicular cancer.
  • By spaying your female companion, you stop the animals heat cycle, preventing her from leaving blood spots all over your house!
  • A male dog who isn't neutered will do just about anything to find a willing mate, including running away from home. By neutering your male, the chances of him roaming away from home are reduced drastically. 
There are other reasons for spaying/neutering your pets, and you can go to multiple websites to go over those reasons before you make a final decision. 

But this blog is focused on pitbulls, and I believe pitbull owners should have an entirely different reason for spaying or neutering their pits.

Pitbulls are currently the most bred dog in the country. The website, The Truth About Pitbulls, tells us that there are approximately 3 million pitbulls now living in the United States, but only 1 out of every 600 of those pitbulls will have a "forever home", meaning they won't end up in a shelter, or euthanized.

Two pitbulls with the slogan Do the Deed Help the Breed Spay and Neuter
All across the country, there are shelters, some that are designated no kill, but most of them not, that are overflowing with pitbulls who are in need of a good home. Pitbulls can be especially hard to adopt out because of the undeserved stereotype that follows them. As a result, the breed known as pitbull fills animal shelters more than any other breed of dog. An example of this can be found on the website, Pawnation, which tells us that in Chicago, pitbulls make up 40% of the animal shelter population, the breed also represents 2/3's of the dogs that are euthanized each year. These are troubling numbers, and that's only in one city.

In other cities in the U.S., still more pitbulls are euthanized. Every year about 3.4 million animals will be euthanized at shelters in the US, and of those, 1 million of them are pitbulls.

There are shelters that are designated as no kill shelters, where they do not euthanize the animals in their care. Such places are expensive to run, and space is extremely limited. It can be very hard to get a dog into a no kill shelter.  While most shelters are well run by people who care deeply about animals, there are shelters that do not take great care of the animals in their custody, and some pitbulls live in places where they are hungry, cold, and starved for affection.

In either case, whether a dog is in a well run shelter with people who care or not, animals deserve to be in a home, with a loving family. But when there's an overabundance of dogs, like we have now with pitbulls, the chances of that happening start to get slim. 

I stated on my About page that this blog was not going to focus on abuse/adoption stories, and I still feel that way. However, given this topic, I will share that my Concobar is a rescue. I'm sure that many of you readers also rescued your dogs. We know how easily our pitties could have had a worse fate. 

Responsible pitbull parents should be dedicated to making sure no more pitbulls end up in shelters. We can do this by spaying and neutering our pitbulls so there's no chance they can reproduce and make more puppies. Puppies that can end up in shelters instead of homes.  

I realize cost can be a factor in whether some dog owners fix their pets, or not. If you are in a situation where you cannot afford to take your dog to the vet, I encourage you to do some research. There are organizations all over the country that have established programs so that low-income families can get their pets spayed or neutered. I live close to Milwaukee, WI, and a group called The Brew City Bullies Club, or BCBC, has such a program. They also offer training, socialization, and several other resources for pitbull owners in their area.
The ASPCA has a tool on their website that will search for such a program in your area. 

Getting your companion fixed can be a big decision for some, and if you're not sure if it's the right thing for your dog, you should definitely do some research, call a vets office and ask questions, and talk to other dog owners who've had their pets spayed/neutered. In the end, I hope that you make the choice that's not only right for you, but also for your dog, and it's breed, as well. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Failing the Well Behaved Dog Guidelines and Why it Doesn't Matter

I have heard from many different experts that dog owners should not treat their dogs like children. That seems like sound advice, and relatively easy to follow, as well. And It makes sense, your dog is your pet, not your flesh and blood, right?

However, if any of you lovely readers are like me, your dog is kind of like your baby. You're bonded to him/her almost as intimately as you are to your own children. Your dogs mood affects you; if your dog is happy, playful, and smiley, you become happy, playful, and smiley. And your moods seem to be reflected in your canine buddy. I know when I'm sad and weepy, Con comes to me and snuggles, and it makes me feel better.

So in the opinion of many dog experts, some famous, some not, my pittie fails, in an extraordinary way, their well behaved dog guidelines.

Those guidelines include things like:

  • Not allowing the dog onto the living room furniture
Con loves, loves, loves laying on the couches! She's so spoiled about comfort that she, literally, will not lay on the floor without some sort of cushion. She's been known to drag a blanket off the couch, and work it with her paws until she's satisfied with the comfy lump she's formed on the floor. Then she lays on it and takes a nap. 
Con sleeping on top of pillows on the couch
Con, the Queen of Comfort, sleeping on top of pillows on the couch. 
  • Not allowing the dog to sleep in the bed with you
Again, the Queen of Comfort, as I affectionately call Con, loves her soft and comfy bed, A.K.A. my bed. While she usually won't go lay on the bed until I call it a night, she races me up the stairs and is waiting, not so patiently, for me when I reach my bedroom. Her favorite place is underneath the covers, so I spend a portion of my night  holding the covers up as she goes back and forth between going under the blankets, and laying on top of the blankets. I think she gets a little toasty under there after a while and needs to come up for air!
  • Not allowing the dog to play tug-of-war
Yeah, tug is the only game Con really likes to play, and during the winter months it can be the only exercise she gets. Without regular exercise my pitbull turns into an explosive bundle of energy that drives me crazy. So I think tug stays.
  • Not allowing the dog to lay on your lap
This no-no actually makes sense to me. The theory is that your dog is claiming ownership of you when he/she lays on top of you, therefore stopping anyone else from getting too close. Since Concobar gets a tiny bit jealous when anyone, and I do mean anyone, tries to hug or kiss me, I can see the truth in this theory.

That being said, I still let Con lay on my lap. We have cuddle time. I like it. Sue me!
  • No "baby talk" allowed when interacting with the dog
While I don't really use the cutesy baby talk tone when I talk to my pittie, I do find myself saying, "Who's my good girl? Con's my good girl! Yes she is!" I think she likes it, I think it makes her feel special. Okay, maybe that's me projecting on my dog, but does it hurt her? No, then baby talk continues! 

The point of all this is simple. My co-worker and friend, Cheryl, really put this into words for me one day while we were discussing this topic. Her comment was, "It's all about what YOU find acceptable. If it doesn't bother you, then what your dog is doing is just fine." 

Wow. Imagine that! All those experts, and it comes down to what I want? Now there's a new concept! 

But Cheryl was right. If you don't mind your dog being on the furniture, then let him/her on the furniture! If your dog is as well behaved as you want, then you've done a good job. If he/she listens to you when you order them off the couch, then all is well in doggie/pitbull parent land. Being happy with your dog is what matters. That's the beauty of being the owner, you get to decide what you're going to train your dog to do. If you don't want your dog sleeping in your bed, then don't let him/her in the bed. Done deal. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Still Seeking Your Companions

I'm still looking for pictures of your dogs to add to my Pitbull Parents Showcase. If I get enough pictures, I'll spotlight a different dog each week, accompanied by a story you'd like to share about your favorite companion!

Blogger has added a great new gadget, a contact form. If you'd like to see your dogs pictures on this blog, please use that form to let me know! I think this could add a fun, and personal, element to my blog, and give all of you wonderful readers a chance to show off your best bud.

Concobar laying with her belly up
Goofy Pictures

Concobar wearing a graduation cap
Pictures your dog wishes you wouldn't share!

My daughter, Alexa, and Con, snuggling while asleep on our couch
Sweet pictures

Concobar sleeping on floor with only her head buried under a blanket, rest of her body is visible
Pictures that'll make others laugh
I want them all!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Enemy Number One

My staffie, Concobar (Con), jumps. Whenever someone comes to our front door, she crowds the entry way, barks wildly, and then attempts to jump on the person who is trying their hardest to get in the door. 

When we're out on a walk, (aided by our trusty Weiss Walkie!), beware any unassuming passerby who stops to pet Con and giver her a little attention. She laps it up, then reciprocates by jumping up, quick as a snake, and getting that darn lick on the face in.

I tried every training tip and technique I could find to get Con to stop this behavior. Nothing worked. I grudgingly had to give her points for being uber-stubborn. 

Then one day, for reasons I can't even explain, I got a squirt bottle, filled it up, and waited. Of course it felt like I had to wait forever before someone finally came to the door. But eventually someone did, and I got ready. As my daughter let her friend in the house, I grabbed that squirt bottle, aimed it at Con, and gave her the command, "NO JUMPING!". Of course, she didn't listen. So I squirted her. All I put in that bottle was ordinary tap water, but to Con, it might as well have been mace! 

At first she was so startled she stopped moving completely. After a few seconds she regained her moxie, and tried to jump again. Once more, I pointed the squirt bottle at her and gave the command. This time, she was looking at me out of the corner of her eye. And because she was, she saw that squirt bottle pointed at her, and the friend walked into our house without further incident.

Needless to say, I was stunned. Months and months of work and it all came down to a $.99 squirt bottle! Once I got over the shock, I was singing hallelujah! I had found Con's mortal enemy, the one thing she hated so much she would do anything to avoid it, even listen! I used the squirt bottle to train Con further, and now have a very well behaved dog. Visitors can now walk all the way into my home before she approaches them. And the squirt bottle rarely makes an appearance anymore. 

Training Concobar is a never ending project. As I'm sure other Pitbull Parents will agree, for us dog owners who are not "experts" there is almost always a behavior issue that needs to corrected. Whether it's barking at every little noise (as Con is prone to do), practicing the sit and stay, perfecting the "come" command, or trying to get a dog to stop jumping, being a dog owner means that correcting and training your dog is a tireless responsibility. 

If you do some research, as I did, you'll find that there are thousands of websites that offer all different sorts of training advice. And of course, there's the expertise of the famous Dog Whisperer, Caesar Milan. I've found some of his techniques to be very helpful, while others I haven't even bothered to try. Many of the websites also offer sound advice, if you can pick your way through the minefield that is a results list from your search engine. 

However you choose to train your dog, whatever techniques you give a shot, there are several key factors that will determine whether that training will be a success or not. 

  • Patience. You must have a never ending store of patience with yourself and with your dog. It can be trying, especially after you've repeated yourself twenty times and your dog is still not listening. However, if you give up, your dog will never learn the behaviors that can be essential in a happy owner/dog relationship.
  • Repetition. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Pitbulls 101, constant repetition is absolutely key when training your dog. Remember, the actions that don't come naturally to a dog are all learned behaviors. And you can bet that sitting when he wants to run, staying by your side instead of chasing squirrels, and ignoring his instincts to bark at every noise, all fall under the heading of learned behavior. The only way for your dog to learn that behavior is for you to repeat the commands you want your dog to learn, over and over. 
  • Creativity. It's important to try new and different training techniques with your dog. It's likely you'll try several different areas of training before you find what works best for you and your dog. Don't be afraid to be creative. Go with your instincts, and your dogs instincts. If you believe you can get your dog to perform a desired behavior by doing something you haven't read about or seen on TV, that's okay (as long as it doesn't hurt the dog). Give it a shot. You might hit on something that really works for the both of you. 

So this is my advice to you, fellow Pitbull Parents; Find you dog's mortal enemy! Don't forget to be creative while you're doing so. The squirt bottle may work for you, or it may not. I've heard of other dog owners using bells, flashlights, even vacuum cleaner hoses, successfully.  

An important thing to remember is that you're not trying to scare your dog into submission. You don't want to create an atmosphere of fear. You're simply using the mortal enemy as a tool. If used well, you should get to the point where just saying it's name will get your dog to comply. And then, the prize at the end of a long, hard road, your dog will behave without even a mention of his mortal enemy! 

Remember, having a well-behaved pitbull is one of the best ways to become a breed ambassador. And the path to getting a well-behaved dog is proper training. Every time a stranger can walk up to pitbull and come away from that encounter with a positive impression is a win for the breed! And a win for those of us who are committed to spreading the word about what a great pet a pitbull can make. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

BSL: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

Some of you may have heard of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and wondered what it was, but never seriously looked into exactly what it is. Others reading this may already be advocates to ending BSL. And if anyone reading this is in favor of BSL, I hope this article can help persuade you towards changing your mind.

BSL is a form of legislation that bans, or restricts, certain types of dog based on their appearance, those which are generally characterized as a “dangerous” looking breed.  These bans, or restrictions, are typically applied to dogs that look to be part of the pit bull, shepherd, or Rottweiler families.

The website gives readers a wonderful overview on what, exactly, BSL is. If you’re not 100% up on the facts of BSL, you should give this website a once-over to beef up your knowledge.

Some people might think, “hey, let’s get rid of every dog that we think could be dangerous to ourselves and our children”. What a great idea! Let’s keep the neighborhood safe!

In response to that great idea I would have to ask a few questions. Who gets to decide what dogs are dangerous? I think Chihuahuas are vicious little beasts, does that mean I get to ban them from my neighborhood? What happens to the responsible dog owners who already own Chihuahuas? Do they have to put their dogs down in order to stay in this neighborhood? What do we do about a vicious dog who may not meet the BSL requirements? Does that dog get to stay while other, more well behaved dogs have to go?

Those are just a few holes that can be poked into BSL. I’m sure those of you reading this could come up with quite a few more. If so, please post them in the comments section, I’d love to read them!

Communities across the US should know the facts about BSL before they consider enacting it. Much independent research has been done on Breed Specific Legislation, and it all points towards one glaring fact: It just doesn’t work! And as that fact is slowly gaining momentum, neighborhoods across America are throwing out their BSL restrictions and bans.

The ASPCA, The American Humane Society, and The Humane Society of the United States have all come out against BSL, recognizing that it is an ineffective tool when dealing with dangerous dogs.

Recently, even President Obama made public comments against BSL, stating that, “it’s a bad idea”, and a “waste of public resources”.

I understand that some people harbor a fear of certain animals. But instead of trying to ban those animals, perhaps they should attempt to understand them instead.

It wasn’t too long ago that some people feared other cultures, and their perceived effect on our society. If we had allowed that line of thinking to dominate our country, our world would be a much different place today.

Let’s stop that fear from turning our communities into a place where poor legislation punishes responsible dog owners. It’s up to people like us, those who understand and love the breeds that BSL targets, to educate as many people as we can about BSL and why it’s not right for our neighborhoods, or any neighborhood in America. Let’s get our voices out there. Together we WILL be heard!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Being a Pitbull Ambassador

One of the many things that pitbull owners have to deal with is prejudice against the breed, and towards the people who promote the breed.
SI Angry Pit
How many people see pitbulls

Some of you who are not already pitbull parents may question that statement, they haven’t yet felt the hatred, ignorance, and prejudice some people have for an innocent dog, and for those of us who love them.

For those of you who are pitbull parents, you’ve likely experienced:

  • stinging, and untrue, remarks about how “vicious” your dog is
  • the warning that, “One day your dog will “turn” on you!”
  • people crossing to the other side of the street to avoid you and your dog on a walk
  • endless lectures on how wrong you are about the breed and how right “they” are about it
  • horror stories of a friend of a friend who had a pitbull and was attacked by it
How to deal with these prejudices is one of the things that can make you and your dog ambassadors for the breed. Being polite and friendly is an important part of responding to people who have such prejudices.
But the best way to become a breed ambassador is to make sure your pitbull is up to the challenge. Well trained and well socialized dogs make the best statement on what a great breed pitbulls are. The website, Bad Rap has a wonderful list of things you can do to make sure you and your dog are breed ambassadors. 

Three pitbulls drinking from a water bottle   
Socializing your dog is a great way to become a breed ambassador!
 Remember, for every person out there who displays a prejudice for pitbulls and their owners, there are people like you and me who are ready and willing to educate them on how wrong they are! It’s important for us to keep spreading the word on what great pets pitbulls make.

If anyone would like to share their experience with prejudice, and how you handled it, or a time when you were able to change someone's mind about the breed, I'd love to hear about it! Let's teach others how to be wonderful Breed Ambassadors!
A service pitbull laying on ground with his service gear on
Pitbull Service Dogs Make Great Breed Ambassadors

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Myths vs. Reality

When it comes to the breed known as pitbulls, there are many different points of view. People in general tend to form an opinion on any given subject, and when that subject happens to be controversial, like being a pitbull parent, those opinions can get formed quickly and be hard as granite. And while people are certainly entitled to their opinions, I feel that it’s important for those opinions to be based on facts, not myths, no matter how often they may be repeated.
I once was a person who believed some popular myths about pitbulls. Really, it’s true! Before I educated myself on the breed, I believed that pitbulls:
  • had locking jaws
  • would more often than not turn on their owners no matter what their upbringing was
  • were in general a vicious, dangerous dog
Now, of course, I know better. But the sad reality is that there are many, many people who believe those same myths. So let’s take a look at some of those myths and the reality behind them.
  • Myth #1: Pitbulls have locking jaws. Heubach_dog_skull
    • This is a myth that is somewhat surprising in it's popularity.
  • Reality: There is absolutely no way a pitbull can "lock" their jaws. Their skulls, including the jaw bone, are identical to all canines. If pitbulls really did have locking jaws, they would have to be classified as an entirely different animal!
  • One of the reasons for this myth is that the pitbull has a tendency to grab hold of an object and hold on with determination. The ASPCA website does a good job of describing this.
  • Myth #2: Pitbulls “turn” on their owners.
  • Reality: Pitbulls are loving, loyal dogs. They are no more likely to become aggressive towards people than Butt%2520cuddle%2520again%2521any other breed.
  • As the website Bad Rap reports, healthy, happy pitbulls do not become aggressive towards their owners. The dogs that do, no matter what the breed, are usually the result of bad owners, not bad dogs.
  • Myth #3: Pitbulls are aggressive and dangerous dogs.
  • Reality: As I’ve reported in earlier posts, the American Temperament Test Society, or ATTS, puts about 240 different dog breeds through temperament testing each year. The American Pitbull Terrier scored an 86.8% and the Staffordshire Terrier scored an amazing 90.7%. Now, compare that to the:
    • Chihuahua at 69.8%
    • Dalmatian at 82.7%
    • Golden Retriever at 85.2%
    • Border Collie at 81.5%
Surprised? Many people are when they read those statistics, but it’s a good example of myth vs. reality!
  • Myth #4: Pitbulls have a bite pressure of 2000 pounds.
  • Reality: The pitbulls bite pressure has been tested extensively, and as Hello Bully reported, they were found to have an average bite pressure of 320 pounds.
  • This is less than the average bite pressure of the German Shepherd and the Rottweiler.
  • Myth #5: If a pitbull attacks another dog, it’s only a matter of time before it will attack a human.
  • Reality: It’s imperative to understand that dog aggression and human aggression are two completely separate issues. Dogs are pack animals, and a certain amount of aggression towards other dogs can be normal, though if it’s a seriousSharing the water bottle problem with your dog you should seek help from an expert.
  • The best way to avoid human aggression in your pitbull is to socialize them extensively while they are still young. The bottom line is a properly trained, well socialized dog from a loving, responsible home should never become aggressive towards humans.
I hope that the facts provided here will result in more people being educated regarding the truth about pitbulls. Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better an advocate you can become!
The next time you hear someone spouting ridiculous information about pitbulls, hit them with the facts, and only the facts!
Let’s keep spreading the word about what great pets pitbull terriers make!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pitbull Fact Sheet

I wanted to share with everyone this wonderful fact sheet I saw posted on Goggle+ today. It’s a great educational tool, easy to share, and from a trustworthy source! Let’s keep getting this information out to the public so we can spread the word about what wonderful pets pitbulls make!
Pitbull Fact Sheet

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Weary Walker

One of the most commonly voiced complaints among Pitbull Parents is how frustrating it can be to walk your dog.

Why, you may ask? If so, I envy and hate you all at once! Because if you have to ask, you are in the company of the lucky few whose dogs behave on the leash. 

As i've mentioned in previous posts, Pitbulls are very high energy dogs. Exercising them helps to bring that crazy energy down to a manageable level. But, getting that exercise in the form of a walk can be a trying time for both dog and owner.

Con goes crazy as soon as the leash comes out. The whip-tail whacks about, she spins in circles, and runs back and forth like a mad thing. 

I let her do this for a minute or so before giving her our "enough" command in order to let that energy level come down a few notches. Then I attach the leash.

This manic behavior used to continue out the front door and throughout the entire walk. Concobar pulled on the leash so hard I'm surprised she didn't pass out from her collar choking the breath out of her. The whole walk was an act of punishment for me, and unsatisfying for Con. Needless to say, not a lot of energy was expelled during these frustrating "walks". 

I tried many different things as I attempted to gain control over Con's pulling. There were harnesses, extended leashes, shortened leashes, head collars, and finally a pinch collar. None of these items had any affect on Concobar at all. She still pulled like a champion. 

So I started researching training tips. I employed a command, "Con, NO PULLING". The entire neighborhood laughed as I yelled this phrase down the street, while being dragged by my dog. None of the training tips I found on the internet or in books helped, either. 

I was just about to give up, and accept that Con would always have the upper hand on our "walks". Then, I heard about a thing called the Weiss Walkie. One of the pitbull communities I found in my area, called the Brew City Bully Club, was advertising them on their website. I read the blurb they had, saying that many pitbull owners experienced success while walking their dogs with the Weiss Walkie. I was skeptical, having already tried so many different products I was reluctant to spend anymore money on something that probably wouldn't work. But I looked at Con, knowing she needed me to try something else, for both our sakes, and spent the $20.

That decision forever changed the way I would walk my dog. From the very first walk with my Weiss Walkie, I could finally say that I had the upper hand. Con still tried to pull, but as soon as she felt the pressure around her barrel, she stopped. It was like magic! I couldn't believe it. And from then on I have become a champion for this simple device called the Weiss Walkie. 

If you're struggling to walk your dog without having your arm pulled out of it's socket, I highly suggest you check out the Weiss Walkie. A video featuring the Weiss Walkie, and how to use it, can be found on YouTube. It can be purchased on Amazon, Love2Pet, and Ebay. Also, there's a Facebook page, if you'd like to check it out. 

Happy walking!
Con, waiting to walk in her Weiss Walkie

The Weiss Walkie wraps around the middle and clips to the collar. Totally secure!

This is about as far as Con can pull in the Walkie.

First, clip it to the collar. 

Then, wrap entire leash around the barrel, bringing the handle towards the metal ring. 

Feed leash, handle first, through metal ring. 

Then you're ready to walk!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Seeking Your Companions


I’d like to invite all you wonderful Pitbull Parents to share your favorite photos of the dog(s) in your life. Send me the picture(s) you’d like to see featured on this blog at: Once I receive enough pictures I’ll create a page dedicated to showcasing the pitties that make your world a special place.

Possible Theme Song?

Browsing through Facebook today I came across this video featuring the John Shipe song, “Pit bull Blues”. I’m not embarrassed to admit that it made me cry (more than a little!). I’m dedicated to making this blog more than just a spot to look at cute pictures, but this song, and the video that plays along with it, speak volumes towards breaking the stereotype that pitbulls, and their pitbull parents, live with on a regular basis. I’m thinking about making this the theme song for my blog. Any thoughts on that?

Bullies are Bullheaded

If you already own one of the Pitbull Terrier breeds, then chances are you’re intimately familiar with how very stubborn these dogs can be. A more bullheaded dog I’d love to see! And if you’re considering becoming a pitbull parent, than you should know just what you’re in for.
Before I delve into future blogs on training tips or other behavior modifications, I think it’s important to establish who the boss is in your

My dog, Con, politely waiting for her treat.
home. Is it you? Or your beloved four legged companion?
Pitbull terriers are known for being very intelligent dogs, but along with those brains comes an iron will. These dogs definitely have their own ideas about who is in charge, and more often than not, it isn’t the owner.
As Cesar Milan famously says: You must be the pack leader. Some of you may groan over this reference, but it’s pure truth. Your dog is hardwired to respond to a pack leader, and it should absolutely be you. So how do you become the pack leader? Let’s review.
1. Have an eye duel with your dog.

  • Stare your dog down. This is a tried and true test of dominance. The longer it takes for your dog to look away, the less likely it is that he/she will respond to your commands.
  • If your dog is one that takes a while to look away, continue practicing this, as well as other dominance exercises, until you see improvement.
  • Some trainers will say that this test is to be avoided. I, on the other hand, find that it helps lay the foundation for who is really in charge.
  • Assign one word directives for your dog to follow.
  • Simple ones I find effective include: enough, no jumping, and back up.
  • Stick to those assigned words!
  • Your dog does not speak English! Any words you speak to your dog outside of the established commands may as well be in Chinese.
  • Remember, your dog wants to follow your lead, you just have to show him/her that you’re worthy of being his/her pack leader.
  • When you speak a command, do so in a tone of voice that shows you mean business. You don’t have to yell, but, like with a small child, your tone of voice should clearly say, “I’m in charge here”.
  • This is a standard technique. By giving or denying your dog permission for behaviors you’re reinforcing the idea that you’re in charge.
  • Knowing when to apply this can be tricky because you have to be sure your dog will accept your denial/permission. If your dog behaves the way he/she wants after you’ve attempted to gain control it will reinforce the idea that the dog is in charge, not you.
  • Your dog should always be following you.
  • You should be the first one down the stairs, out the door, into a room, etc.
  • Feed your dog after your meal is over. Making your dog wait while you eat is classic pack leader behavior.
  • I can’t repeat that enough. In order for your bully to learn the commands and behaviors you attempt to teach him/her, constant repetition will be required.
  • Don’t mistake repetition for repeating yourself. Your dog can hear you just fine! You should not have to repeat the same command over and over in one sitting. Each time you say the command and your dog fails to comply, you’re teaching him/her that they’re in charge.

  • Repetition here means that you should continue to strengthen the commands you’re teaching your dog by continually working with your dog. Don’t let a day go by without practicing the commands you've chosen.

2. Establish simple commands.
3. Speak to your dog in a firm, authoritative tone.
4. Give or deny your dog permission.
5. Make sure the humans come first.
6. Finally, repetition, repetition, repetition.
Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. These are the strategies I found useful while I was training my Staffordshire Pitbull Terrier. We still have some duels for power in my house, but with consistency in the commands, tone of voice, and expectations of my dog, I’m winning the war of bullheadedness against my bully! And so can you.
Some links you may find helpful:
These links will take you directly to the training pages of these wonderful websites. Go forth and spread the word about what wonderful pets pitbulls make!