You’re a responsible pit bull owner.
You take great care of your pit bull.
Your dog is happy, healthy, and sweet as apple pie to everyone in your family.
But does that mean it’s safe—or a good idea—to let your dog off its leash in a dog park?
Pit Bulls Get A Bad Rap
You’re surely read a headline like this at one point or another:
Spate of pit bull attacks puts the spotlight on the polarizing breed
Anytime a pit bull is involved in a fight, it ends up in the media. And all that negative attention gives this wonderful breed a bad rap.
In fact, that’s where BADRAP—the organization dedicated to busting pit bull myths—gets its name.
But the truth is, studies show that pit bulls are not the vicious monsters the media likes to portray them as. And for proof of this, look no further than the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS).
The ATTS runs annual tests on over 240 dog breeds, and in these yearly tests, pit bulls consistently test well in terms of temperament. American Pit Bulls have an average grade of 86.8%, which puts them ahead of Beagles, Collies, Shepherds, and even Toy Poodles.
Properly taken care of, pit bulls are a wonderful breed of dog. They make some of the most loving and loyal companions you can find anywhere.
Pit Bulls Are Bred for Aggression
The truth is, pit bulls were bred for fighting, and they can still be an aggressive breed—especially toward other unknown dogs.
Even if your pit bull is well taken care of, friendly, and well-socialized…it's possible it can still snap.
It’s most liable to happen when your dog is between 2 and 3 years old, and in a state of excitement—like when it’s roughhousing with other dogs…
But it could happen at any time, and without any apparent cause.
Pit Bulls and Dog Parks
So what should you make of these two sides of the coin?
Is it OK to take your dog to a dog park?
Honestly, if you take your pit bull to a dog park, 95% of the time nothing will happen.
But the consequences of a dogfight just aren’t worth it. And it’s unfair to expect a pit bull to go against its nature.
The cues that indicate a dogfight might be brewing can be subtle…and people in dog parks don’t usually pay close enough attention to their dogs to be able to pick up on these cues in time to stop an altercation.
On top of this, most people have no clue how to stop a dog fight (let alone the proper tools to do so, like a break stick).
And if a fight breaks out between two dogs at a dog park, guess what? Chances are good that several other dogs will join in, too. If breaking up a dog fight between 2 dogs seems hard to stop, imagine a fight between 5 or 6 of them.
The fact is, when you take a pit bull to a dog park, you’re setting your dog up for failure—and setting the stage for a potential disaster.
The Consequences of a Dog Fight
Don’t underestimate how serious a dogfight can be.
Your dog could face serious trouble, even if the other dog started the fight. After all, if a poodle picks a fight with a pit bull…guess who’s going to get blamed for it?
The consequences of a dog fight go even further than that. Every time a dog is in a fight, that dog becomes more aggressive and more likely to fight again in the future.
And we haven’t even mentioned the social impact of owning “one of those aggressive pit bulls.” If your neighborhood comes to believe that your dog is a monster, then you’ll find yourself the outcast of your dog-owning neighborhood.
People will refuse to come near your dog.
In some neighborhoods, residents will even petition for a pit bull ban after a dogfight.
And in the most serious scenarios, if your dog attacks another dog—or even worse, a human—your pit bull may well have to be put down.
What Can You Do To Reduce The Odds of a Dog Fight?
There are things you can do to help prevent your dog from getting in fights:
- Get your dog obedience classes to train it how to resist the urge to fight.
- Socialize your dog in places where the dogs are leashed, like at a pet store.
- Invest in a break stick, so that if a fight breaks out you can stop it quickly.
Finally, and most importantly of all, put your dog in a position to succeed. And that means not taking your pit bull to a dog park where it will be around other unleashed dogs.
As the dog’s owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog out of harm’s way. And that means protecting it from itself as much as from other dogs.
Make sure to also feed your dog quality food. Doing so is the first step to a healthy and happy dog.