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

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!

Pitbulls 101

Welcome! This first post will give you a brief introduction to the breed of dog generally known as pitbulls. For a more overview of what you'll find on this site, visit my About page.

So, what is a pitbull? One of the first things I learned as a pitbull parent was the the term pitbull refers to several different dogs, including the:

  • American Pitbull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Pitbull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Pitbull Terrier
And most recently, the
  • American Bully
Another commonly asked question is, "where do pitbulls come from"? The most accepted theory goes back to mid-9th century England, where butchers used a dog call bullenbeissers to latch onto a bulls nose in order to subdue it so the butcher could regain control. This practice morphed into a "sport" call bull-baiting. Dogs were put into pits with a riled up bull and spectators would put bets on how long a dog could last and whether it would take the bull down, or not. This is where we get the terms pitbull and bull dog.

Around the 19th century, England wised up and banned bull-baiting. Sadly, this pushed dogfighting underground in the U.K., and English immigrants brought this "sport" with them to America. However, as the immigrants began to spread, the original intent of the breed was brought back into play, and bullies became favorites on farms across the country (Facts taken from Cesar's Way).

In the early half of the century pitbulls were America's favorite dogs. They were:
  • featured on Army recruiting posters
  • included in advertising campaigns
  • stars in Hollywood movies and televisions shows
Three of the Little Rascals pose with Petey the Pitbull
Petey from The Little Rascals was a pitbull
Many people have fond memories of Petey, the lovable dog from the television show, "The Little Rascals". I wonder how many of those fans know that Petey was a pitbull?

In fact, pitbulls were nicknamed "the nanny dog" during this period because of their gentle touch with children. Parents found that the dogs made excellent companions for their small children. There are numerous pictures on the internet from this time frame showcasing pitbulls and their young charges.

From the 1900's to the early 1980's there was exactly one pitbull attack to make national headlines, and it involved a man who sicced a pack of 26 dogs on one woman (Cesar's Way).

Unfortunately, dogfighting made a large comeback in the 1980's, and the pitbull became the dog of choice for their strength, speed, and unwavering desire to please their masters. Pitbulls also became popular guard dogs for drug dealers and gang members, and these dogs were trained to be vicious. This training contributed to the myth that all pitbulls are aggressive and dangerous. A great quote I found on Cesar's Way sums up the issue of pitbull attacks, "(M)any of the pit bull attacks are due to a skyrocketing number of poorly bred and badly trained dogs raised by backyard breeders, who are trying to cash in on the pit bull's growing reputation as a cheap, but deadly effective guard dog, particularly in urban areas."

So there's a brief history lesson on the dogs we call pitbulls. For a great overview on pitbulls check out Hello Bully's website. It features a terrific slideshow that shares a ton of information on our favorite breed of dog! If anyone believes I left out anything important, please fell free to comment. Also, if there's an area you and your dog are struggling in and would like me to write about, or if there's something you'd like more info on, please let me know. I'm open to suggestions! Now, go forth and spread the word about what great pet's pitbulls make!