The American Pit Bull Terrier is one of the most stunning and lovable canine breeds. However, it’s also surrounded by misinformation, confusion, and controversy.
Indeed, Pit Bulls were initially bred for dog fighting. This fact, as well as alarming news reports, have negatively influenced our view of this beloved breed.
But are these news articles fair? Or are pit bulls just victims of false rumors and unflattering myths about aggression?
If you’re a doting parent, is it safe to adopt a Pit Bull? Are they even good with kids to begin with?
Before we answer these questions, let’s find out how they got such a bad rap.
Why Do Pit Bulls Get Such a Bad Reputation?
Let’s be honest. Pit Bulls have gotten some bad press. The media considers Pit Bull-type dogs as aggressive, untrainable, and vicious. Not true, of course.
Dog trainers can attest that every dog breed has a temperament. But the behavior of these animals is shaped by their environment, not their breed.
So why the prejudice towards these bright, lovable dogs, anyway?
History of the Pit Bull
Pit Bulls have a bad reputation because of their history. They were initially bred for bull-baiting around 1209 in England. Then shortly before the civil war, some people from the British Isles came to the United States with their Pit Bulls.
People crossbred dogs in hopes of creating the ultimate fierce dogfighter. The result was the American Pit Bull Terrier. From then on, dogfighting became a betting and spectator sport in the US and some parts of Europe.
Dog fighting and bull-baiting were later officially outlawed in England, but the fierce reputation still stuck with all Pit Bull-type canines.
The second reason Pit Bulls have a bad reputation is their intimidating appearance.
These dogs have well-developed facial muscles, broad skulls, and strong jaws. Again, these features result from selective breeding and, unfortunately, may intimidate some people.
This lousy reputation moved leaders of some cities to remove Pit Bulls from the population instead of educating the public on how to coexist and care for these beautiful mixed-breed dogs responsibly.
Are Pit Bulls naturally aggressive?
Any Pit Bull owner would answer, “absolutely not.”
Pit Bulls are naturally affectionate, loving, and sweet when raised in a caring environment. They attack only when they sense danger toward humans. This is because they are territorial.
This doesn’t mean that Pit Bulls reserve their loyalty to one person. Yes, they will show favor to their master, but they can learn to bond with new people. They have plenty of loyalty and love to share with the whole family.
While Pit Bulls can be intolerant of other canines, they are not inherently aggressive towards people.
So, Are Pit Bulls Good With Kids?
Pit Bulls are great with kids if socialized and trained appropriately from a young age, just like any other breed. They are also very loyal, obedient, and affectionate to their owners and human family.
In fact, Pit Bulls really, really like people. They want to stay as close to their pet parent as possible all day long. They are the original “velcro dog.”
Pit Bulls are also primarily known for their love for children. These America’s darlings were once called “nanny dogs” because they have a nurturing disposition.
Of all dog breeds, pits are one of the most tolerant to children. And with their endless athleticism and energy, they are always ready to play.
The story of Roxy the Pit Bull
If you’re not convinced yet that they downright love kids, here’s the story of Roxy.
Roxy has no special training, but she changed the life of an autistic boy, Joey. The 60-pound female Pit Bull Terrier was adopted by the Granados family from a shelter.
Just two days after the blue-nosed Pit Bull arrived, a staff member brought her into a small room where Amanda and her then 13-year-old son were waiting.
Roxy walked right past Amanda and climbed into the boy’s lap, snuggling him as though they were best friends who hadn’t seen each other for years. “Their connection was immediate,” Amanda shares.
Joey has Asperger’s syndrome. A condition that made it difficult for him to give back or accept cuddles and hugs. But children with Asperger’s syndrome can sometimes form bonds with pets.
Since Roxy arrived at Amanda and Joey’s home, the boy has become more loving. The four-legged pal curls up in bed with Joey every night, providing comfort and security.
“She’s opened up his heart,” Amanda said, adding how Roxy completely changed her thoughts about Pit Bulls.
Nothing quite compares to the feeling of cuddling a warm, loving Pit Bull after a long day. Be the most stylish pair as you spend quality together by wearing matching dog and owner sets!
Pit Bulls love their human family
Pit Bulls love to be held by humans. They love to crawl on their owner’s lap, roll over for belly rubs, snuggle, and cuddle.
Pit Bull-type dogs are less likely to attack a human than other breeds, including German shepherds and Chihuahuas. But then again, Pit Bulls have to be trained for puppyhood.
Don’t worry. Training a Pit Bull, regardless of age, is only a matter of smart planning. Sure, there are different training techniques at each stage of their life, but they thrive on patience and consistency.
In fact, Pit Bulls are imminently trainable because of their people-pleasing nature.
And just like you won’t leave any other dogs with children or pets, your Pit Bull should be supervised, especially during socialization training.
Pit Bulls are not more aggressive than other dog breeds. However, their weight, build, and size makes them more likely to pin or knock over smaller animals and children. To them, it may just be another energetic play. But to something weaker and smaller, it can be painful. Therefore, the key is to supervise larger pooches during socialization training.
Pit Bulls can be great with babies too
Pit Bulls make great canine companions not just to children but to babies too. Any quick Google search will show you thousands of testimonials of Pit Bull owners with their babies at home.
There are also photos online of babies curled up on their pitbull playmate. These pictures and stories aren’t lies. There is no reason why Pit Bulls would be unsafe around babies. If it is treated humanely, adequately trained, and properly socialized, it can be a trustworthy baby companion.
However, Pit Bulls are medium- or large-sized dogs. Most are assertive, confident, and have high energy levels. Like all canines with high energy levels, they need consistent and firm discipline to avoid being destructive if their needs are unmet.
For safety, never leave any dog alone with a baby. A baby could provoke a dog and make it respond in fear.
How to Train Your Pit Bull Dog to Be Kid-Friendly
Pit Bulls and kids can be a fantastic combination, especially if your pet is trained on how to behave around kids. They naturally know how to act around kids but still need socialization and training.
9 Tips for childproofing your Pit Bull
1. Start socializing early
Make socializing your Pit Bull puppy a top priority. Your puppy must learn to be comfortable with various situations and people from an early age. Expose them to men, women, children, and other animals.
Get your Pit Bull pet used to being handled while keeping things upbeat. Remove them from the situation or people at the first sign of stress.
2. Keep the sessions short
When training your Pit Bull, keep the sessions between 15 and 20 minutes. This ideal period ensures you get their full attention before they get distracted or bored.
3. Teach the proper behavior
Pit Bulls were originally bred as fighting dogs, so they’re not always tolerant of other breeds. Keep control over your Pit Bull in the presence of other people and dogs by teaching them to focus on you. Use the “look” command or other commands, like come, stay, and the emergency recall.
Practice different commands in a variety of situations and settings. This is a crucial step of dog training called proofing. Another thing you may want to teach your dog is not to jump up on people. You may not mind as their dog owner, but not every visitor feels the same way. What more if that visitor is a young child, who can be hurt if your Pit Bull knocks them over?
What you can do instead is to give your dog lots of praise and attention for keeping their four paws on the floor as you walk through the door. Soon, they will learn that not jumping up on people is more rewarding.
Pit Bulls protect little people with dedication. Return your dog's love by going for a walk. Just make sure to use a dog collar for easy acclimation to a new environment.
4. Practice handling exercises
Teach your Pit Bull puppy that your and others’ touch leads to good things. You can start brushing their coat or trimming their nails. Stay positive and work slowly until your pitbull puppy is comfortable being handled.
Give it plenty of praise or a few treats as you gently pull their tail, check out their ears, hug them, or hold their paws. If your Pit Bull exhibits anxiety or fears even at gentle prodding, it is best to keep children at a distance for a while.
5. Act like a kid
Introduce your dog to how kids behave. Teach your Pit Bull dog to stay in one spot while you yell in a childlike and high-pitched voice or while you run around your yard.
6. Keep it positive
Your Pit Bull can be a little sensitive at the start of the training. Negative reinforcement can be a completely useless method. So, avoid scolding, shouting, or yelling at your dog. Instead, keep things positive.
The good news is that most Pit Bulls are eager learners, meaning they’ll be happier and respond well to rewards.
7. Remove distractions
Remove distractions, like food, loud noises, and toys from the environment to ensure you have their full focus during the training.
8. Don’t force your dog to accept kids
Pit Bulls can be incredibly people-oriented. Most dogs, including the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, even want to live in a loving home surrounded by people.
However, dog owners should remember that a dog afraid of children can growl and become aggressive to escape from the source of its fears. Give the pitbull as much time as it needs to approach children on its own terms.
9. Give children rules
Most children don’t think a cuddly dog could ever hurt them. Still, it’s best to always supervise your children around a Pit Bull as you would around other animals. This will reduce the risk of dog bites.
So, set rules for children on how they should behave around your pets. Once they enter your home, be sure children pet the dog gently, not force the dog’s attention. Teach them not to approach the pet while chewing a bone or eating, that the pitbull’s crate is off-limits, and to leave the pitbull alone when it's sleeping.
All in all, once a pitbull becomes well-trained, it will be able to take cues from the owner than react to the presence of other dogs.
With strong legs, thick necks, broad chests, and hindquarters that could compete with a weightlifter, Pit Bulls tend to pull the leash during training. Check out our military-grade collar suitable for strong and large canines.
The Bottom line
Pit Bulls make lovely family dogs. They belong in homes with kids and can help teach kids compassion, patience, and responsibility. They’re not aggressive but are exceptionally sweet.
With such a loving breed at home, your family members won’t be able to imagine a life without their Pit Bull fur-ever friend. Their faithfulness and loyalty are unshakable, and children will have them standing by their side for the rest of their lives.
So, if you’re looking for an affectionate and loyal dog who will be your child’s best friend for life, choose a Pit Bull.