Posts Tagged ‘pitbull’

There are approximately 18 million Pit Bull-type dogs in the United States, (or 20% of the dog population). The “Pit Bull,” however, is not a definitive breed, but rather a catch-all term for any dog that exhibits the appearance of this bully breed (not necessarily its genetic makeup).

In general, there are four breeds widely referred to as the “Pit Bull.” These include; the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

These breeds are similar and do share some common characteristics, which could be why they are commonly confused for one another.

In this post, we will explore the American Pit Bull and answer the question of; can a Pit Bull be a Service Dog?

General Traits of the American Pit Bull

Unfortunately, over the years, unscrupulous people have given the “Pit Bull” a bad name. These dogs have gained the reputation for being vicious killers out for blood. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A well-bred “Pit Bull” is friendly, loving, and a devoted companion. They have no idea of their size and believe that any lap is an opportunity for love and affection.

Although the Pitty is very keen on its surroundings, it does not make a good watchdog. Yes, the Pit Bull will alert you to someone at your door, but only because it is eager to greet its “guests.”

The Pit Bull is a sturdy, energetic dog, that is very tolerant of children. However, as with any dog, early socialization and exposure to different sights, sounds, people, and other dogs is highly recommended.

Because of its need for love and affection, the American Pit Bull does not do well when left alone for extended periods-of-time.

American Pit Bull Terriers have a great need to chew. They also have powerful jaws that can (and will) make quick work of cheap or flimsy toys. Be sure your Pitty has only tough, durable toys that can’t be chewed up and swallowed.

American Pit Bull Terriers are best suited to owners who can offer firm, fair training, and gentle, consistent discipline.

Fast Facts About the American Pit Bull

Height: Up to 19 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 30 to 85 pounds

Lifespan: 12 to 16 years

Characteristics: Pit Bulls are known for their loyalty and eagerness to please. This makes them a wonderful candidate to be trained as a service animal.

The American Pit Bull as a Service Dog

 

Despite the stigma attached to the Pit Bull, they do make excellent Service Dogs. They are large enough and strong enough to pull a wheelchair, as well as offer physical support for those with balance or mobility issues.

Their loyal, dedicated, and intuitive nature makes them a natural for offering emotional or physical comfort for those individuals with psychological or psychiatric conditions like PTSD, depression, or social anxieties.

The American Pit Bull can also be trained to be a Medical Alert Service Dog. These animals respond to various health issues such as low blood sugar, oncoming seizures, or low oxygen levels. They can also be trained to remind people to take their medications.

Click here to Register your Service Dog Breed Legislation and the Pit Bull Breeds

Due to the misconceptions of the Pit Bull breeds, many regions have imposed a ban on owning these dogs. However, according to the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against a person owning a Pitty breed when it is used as a Service Dog.

There are also two organizations on a mission to change the stigma of the Pit Bull breeds.

The Animal Farm Foundation’s Assistance Dog Training Program (New York) trains shelter Pit Bulls to push wheelchairs and to help people regain their mobility and avoid falls. It’s believed to be the only American training school that exclusively trains shelter Pit Bulls to be service dogs.

Another group in Chicago, Pits for Patriots, trains rescued Pit Bulls as comfort, therapy, and support dogs for veterans, police officers, and firefighters. The organization’s co-founder, Kelly Yearwood, says;

“veterans and first responders identify with bully breeds because they’ve both seen a lot of trauma.”

Can an American Pit Bull Be a Service Dog? 

The American Pit Bull (and all the Pitty breeds) can make excellent Service Dogs. However, like any other dog, early socialization, proper training, and positive reinforcement all work together to create a well-rounded canine.

Service dogs are entitled to public access rights with their handler. This means that you and your service dog can go anywhere that you are allowed to go – like office buildings, stores, no-pet apartments, etc.

If you think a Pit Bull is a breed that will work best for your disability, be sure to seek out a reputable breeder or rescue organization. Get all the information you can on the specific dog, then go to work training it up in the ways of service.

You will be happy you did.

When we say “Pitbull,” it may unfairly conjure up images of a blood-thirsty beast out to destroy anything in its path. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Pitbull has gotten a bad reputation over the years due to cruel people using them for illegal dog fighting rings. These dogs are victims of animal abuse like any other helpless canine that finds themselves in the hands of an unscrupulous individual.

The term “Pitbull” is also a misnomer. There is no recognized breed of Pitbull, but instead, four registered Bully breeds that get lumped into one category. These include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

All of these “Pitbulls” are battling their way out of an unfair image. Some are even finding their way into the world of therapy work.

In this post, we will explore the question; can a Pitbull be a therapy dog?

General Traits of the Pit Bull

All of the “Pitbull” breeds share similar traits. They are all blocky in build with square heads and muzzles. Despite their shorter stature, the Bully breeds are also deceptively strong.

They all have very short, straight coats that come in a variety of colors.

Personality wise, the Bully breeds tend to be on the stubborn side (this is their Terrier” nature coming into play). However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t highly trainable. With the right techniques (a gentle, yet firm hand, positive reinforcement, and a willingness to help the breed overcome its lousy rep) these dogs do make wonderful companions.

The Bully breeds have a strong need to please, and therefore are very loyal, loving, and devoted animals. They crave human attention and do not do well left alone for long periods-of-time.

When it comes to exercise, your Bully will need 60 to 90 minutes of vigorous exercise once or twice a day. This can include long walks or hikes, jogging, playing in the park or getting your dog into agility or flyball activities.

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What is a Therapy Dog?

Unlike a service dog that must provide a task for a disabled individual, the therapy dog is used for comfort and support.

There are three types of Therapy Dogs;

Personal Therapy Dog (aka Emotional Support Animal) – a dog (or other species of animal) that provides general comfort and unconditional love. It does not need to be specially trained for a task. Requires an ESA letter and can travel and live with you. Assisted Therapy Dog – one that joins the handler (typically a doctor, therapist, teacher, etc.) at the workplace to help clients, students, etc. with stress and anxiety. Visiting Therapy Dog – one that is brought into hospitals, schools, hospices, nursing homes, etc. to interact with the people. They are only there for a short period-of-time. The Pit Bull as a Therapy Dog

Despite many communities imposing breed-specific bans on the Pitbull, there are just as many regions trying to break the stigma.

It is a fact that the “Pitbull” makes an excellent Therapy Dog. Their natural love for people, their eager-to-please attitude, and their ability to withstand pain give them the innate ability to be tolerant in situations where some dogs may not be so.

According to Pitbull Lovers;

“Some people have a hard time getting around, and it’s not altogether unlikely their toes might get stepped on or run over by a wheelchair. I worked a session where a woman had a sensory problem, and she had a compulsive need to pinch things extremely hard once she got a hold of them.

While she never pinched Angel, she could have if we were not paying attention and the outcome would have been Angel having discomfort but not reacting with aggression.

Another breed might have been driven to biting or growling at a person like this.”

All these qualities are what’s making the Pitbull a popular choice in the world of therapy work.

Can a Pitbull Be a Therapy Dog? 

Pitbulls do make excellent therapy dogs, but as with any breed, early socialization and obedience training are vital to having a well-rounded dog. If you want to fly or live with your personal therapy dog (emotional support dog), you must get a letter from a licensed therapist to verify your need.

If you want to get into therapy work or think a canine would be the perfect solution to your emotional issues, then be sure to seek out a reputable breeder or rescue organization.

We all deserve to have a happy, healthy life. The Pitbull is no exception.