The American Pit Bull Terrier or (pitbull, Pit Bull) is a breed known for it’s courage and it’s ability to take on other dogs. Dog agression in the pitbull is normal and should not be viewed as a fault or a “problem.” Again, dog aggression in the pitbull should not be viewed as a fault or problem. This article will explore the levels of dog aggression and give you a few tips on how to handle dogs at each level.
For safety’s sake, please understand these are not hard and fast rules and some dogs, despite our best efforts, will never change and your handling of them must be adujusted to protect other animals around you.
Finally, dog aggression is completely different and separate from human aggression. A dog aggressive Pit Bull is more times than not extremely friendly towards people. If you have a human aggressive Pit Bull, this dog should be either confined or put to sleep as this is not normal for the breed and is dangerous to the public.
The Levels of Dog Aggression
1. Submissive. At this level the dog shows no or almost no signs of dog aggression. When a submissive dog is met with a challenge they will roll on to their backs and will not respond to attacks or challenges with equal aggression. If you find yourself with a submissive dog the only suggestion I have is to protect them from other dogs by not allowing other dogs to dominant them or run roughshot over them. However, if you are allowing new dogs to meet, take precautions that the other dog will not full out attack and harm your dog.
2. Joe-Smoe Dogs. At this level dog aggression is not an issue unless challenged for physically attacked. When challenged or physically attacked the dog will respond with enough aggression to repel the other dog. This is a “generic” level if you will and applies to many breeds.
3. The Happy, Healthy, Normal Pit Bull Terrier. Dog aggression is only displayed when challenged or attacked. They dogs will have to be physically separated with a break stick or by other means. Pit Bulls at this level always try to make friends when meeting a new dog. However, they are not tolerant of aggressive behavior or displays by the new dog and will react with aggressive behavior towards them. This is a normal Pit Bull. This is not a crazed dog!
4. Just above Average. Pit Bulls at this level will display aggression towards strange dogs of the same sex quickly while be weary of opposite sex dogs. If challenged or attacked, they will respond with aggression and must be physically separated in order to stop the fight. Pit Bulls at this level will accept other dogs of the opposite sex if they are raised together or if the new dog is brought in as a puppy.
5. A Dog Aggressive Pit Bull. Pit Bulls at this level can live with other dogs but will attack any strange dogs. They must be physically separated and fights are serious. They are okay with puppies, but supervision is required at all times. Don’t think for a minute dog aggression makes your Pit Bull bad. It is normal and it is your job to learn how to manage this common trait of the breed.
6. The Controllable Fool. Highly dog aggressive but can usually live with other dogs if they were raised with them. All other dogs are not welcome and if given the opportunity, a dog at this level will attack any dog within reach.
7. The Uncontrolable Fool. At this level the dog is off-its-rocker and can not be controlled at the sight of another dog. While this level of aggression is not as common as the others it does occur. A dog at this level should never be left along with any dog for any reason. Unless you have loads of Pit Bull experience this dog is not recommended for adoption or ownership. They are a danger to animals around them at all times and one must use vigilance to ensure the safety of other dogs.
Tips for Handling the Levels of Aggression
1. No tips recommended. A dog that is submissive is a non-threat. As I mentioned above, take precautions and make sure the other dog is not going to attack your dog and greet them slowly.
2. Take Precautions. At this level of dog aggression your dog will be happy to meet other dogs unless the dog challenges or attacks them. Watch the dogs for signs of stress and aggression. Stiff legs, hair on their back is rasied, growling, bearing teeth, long intense stares, these are all signs of stress and aggression. If you see them, take the dogs away from one another and try again later.
3. Same as Tip #2. Pay attention for signs of aggression from either dog and separate them if they display one or more of the above signs.
4. Separation. When it comes to strange dogs, I recommend separation at this point in time. In other words, no doggy friends. If you plan on getting another Pit Bull (not a good idea for the average owner, find out why here) you will want to start by introducing them on neutral ground over several short meetings. If you plan on bringing home a puppy, introduce them to the home slowly and allow monitor your current dogs reactions closely.
5. Complete Separation. Managing a Pit Bull with above average aggression isn’t easy. If you have one dog and they are above average I would not bring any other dogs home, including puppies, and I would suggest avoiding other dogs in public.
6. This also applies to 7 too. Same as five but with one exception. I would completely avoid all other dogs, friend or stranger at all times. Never try to meet and greet a super high dog aggressive Pit Bull with any other dog for any reason. You will be setting yourself and your dog up for a stressful time that might end badly for all involved.
The PitBull and Dog Aggression Conclusion
I’ve said it many times in this article, dog aggressive Pit Bulls are normal dogs and should be treated as such.
Precautions should always be taken to protect your dog and other dogs from fighting. As a responsible owner it is your job to protect your dog, not theirs. Read that again because so many people don’t understand this point of pitbull ownership.
Our dogs are not supposed to “protect themselves” from other dogs. They shouldn’t have to. Our job as responsible owners is to ensure our dogs are safe and by using common sense and planning we can avoid 99% of the situations that would cause a situation like a dog fight to occur.
Allowing a normal Pit Bull to scuffle and “protect themself” from trouble only encouarges their dog aggressive behavior and this can result in a dog that while once was normal, is now off the hook dog aggressive. Especially if they come out on top of the situation.
Finally, learning to accept your dogs aggressive behavior is the first step. Your next step is to take the proper steps to manage them safely and keep them safe from harm. Human or animal. Do your job and be their leader and friend.