Adopting an Abused Pit Bull

Pit bulls are often unfairly assumed to be dangerous.
i pit bull dog image by Danuta Kania from

Pit bulls make great pets. They’re loyal, intelligent and very friendly. But sadly, pit bulls are used for dog fighting due to their size and strength. Dogs used for fighting are regularly abused and abandoned. Abused pit bulls can be rehabilitated, but they require a little extra care and attention.


Before bringing your new pet home, make a few small preparations so his environment is as enriching as possible. Place his basket or bed in an area that is free from foot traffic and activity, such as under the stairs. He’ll value having a peaceful place to go. Because pit bulls are typically watchful and thoughtful, they won’t instinctively dive straight into family activity, so yours really will need a place to escape, especially if he has anxiety problems. Ensure that you have plenty of toys, too, so he can channel his energy into solo play. Pit bulls, like most terriers, love to “shake” their toys. So make sure the toys you get are good and tough.

Other Pets

While great with humans, pit bulls typically are typically tolerant of, rather than instantly affectionate to, other dogs. This means overfriendly pets may become annoying to a pit bull. You can easily cope with this by enforcing periods of separation. Sadly, if your pit bull has been trained for fighting, he will have been conditioned to act aggressively toward other dogs. If this is the case, you must keep the dogs separated, with only brief periods of supervised interaction where both dogs are leashed. Over time, provided you reward calm, passive behavior and correct aggressive behavior, your new pit bull should become tolerant and accepting of other pets.


Well-raised pit bulls are typically affectionate, confident and protective. Abused pit bulls are likely to display varying degrees of suspicion, anxiety and possibly even aggression toward people, depending on the level and type of abuse. Before making them available for adoption, pit bull rescue centers typically carry out behavioral evaluations and rehabilitation, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever adopt an uncontrollable pit bull. But past abuse may mean you’ll need to work a little harder to gain his trust.


Pit bulls are no shrinking violets and require a confident and firm hand during training. When training an abused pit bull, it may be necessary to make certain allowances. For example, he may already have developed aversions to various stimuli, such as the leash. However, it’s essential not to pander to your new pit bull. Correct him with a gentle tug on the leash as you would any other dog. They thrive under confident leadership and will look to you to provide guidance. As with all dogs, a training regimen tailored to appeal to their natural instincts is best. Your pit bull will respond best to training and exercises that enable him to burn off energy and indulge his athletic prowess. So when he does well, throw a ball or play tug of war with him as a reward.

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