As a new pit bull puppy owner, you probably wonder how these dogs acquired such bad press. Your puppy wants to play and cuddle with people, not threaten the neighbors. The negative image of these affectionate dogs ignores their intelligence, their sense of humor and their eagerness for human companionship.
"Pit bull" is a generic term that over history has been used to refer to dogs who come from various bulldog-and-terrier crosses. "Pit bull" isn't the name of a breed, but a term that stems from the use many of these dogs were historically put to. Today, many people lump dogs of several registered breeds together with mixes of similar general appearance under the term.
Typically, a pit bull type puppy does not show protective instincts until he is at least 10 to 12 months old. Even then, that instinct won't mean he is aggressive toward people, though. Far from it. He may look intimidating, but experts know most pit bulls just plain like people too much to be useful guard dogs.
Pit bulls are more likely to show aggression to other dogs. It is important to socialize your pit bull puppy to other dogs from the start, and to teach him how to behave. A well-socialized dog of any breed is less likely than a socially awkward dog to get into situations where a fight may start. It is also important to socialize your puppy around as many people as possible. This helps prevent shyness around people, and helps to ensure you'll have an adult dog everyone is comfortable with.
Your pit bull puppy is a really smart chap. Few breeds are more intelligent. As with any dog, it's important to take a firm and intelligent approach to training your puppy. Poor dog behavior often is a consequence of poor leadership on the part of an owner. Seek expert advice on training and caring for your pit bull puppy. Your puppy appreciates patience and lots of praise during training. If he understands what pleases you, he will want to do it.
Like other highly active breeds, your pit bull needs plenty of daily exercise outdoors; otherwise he gets bored, and this can lead to destructive behavior. Your pit bull puppy requires a time commitment. If you don't have time to exercise a dog for at least one hour a day, this is not the breed for you. Your pit bull loves to be with people. Pitbull Guru recommends that if you have to leave your dog at home alone for more than 4 to 6 hours daily, you pay a dog walker to take him out. Lonely pit bulls may become stressed and develop separation anxiety behaviors, including excessive barking.
Dogs that may be called pit bulls vary greatly in size. Your puppy at adulthood may weigh anywhere from 30 to 100 pounds. You can estimate your puppy's eventual size from the size of his parents. Most healthy, well-raised pit bulls live from 12 to 14 years. In general, pit bulls enjoy good health. Known genetic health problems to watch for include allergies, hip dysplasia, and hereditary cataracts.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.