If you're at the stage where you're contemplating expanding your family, you could either be considering adding a new human addition or even a furry companion into your home.
This is an exciting time, and whether it's a newborn baby keeping you busy with diaper duty or a new puppy eagerly awaiting a walk, your hands will be full.
Naturally, you’ll be very protective and concerned about the safety of your new baby.
So, is it a wise decision to introduce a pit bull into your family, given its reputation?
Let's have a closer look at the pit bulls and examine if it's safe for your baby to interact with one of these dogs. As with any story, there are two sides. Let's start with the positive aspects before discussing a few concerning characteristics of these dogs.
The Positive Side of the Breed
Many pit bull owners testify to the joy these dogs bring to their homes.
Pit bulls often exhibit a playful and gentle nature, driven by their strong loyalty to their owners. They become deeply attached and are willing to protect those they consider part of their pack.
When raised correctly, pit bulls are fantastic with kids. They display remarkable patience, allowing toddlers to play with them and even gently handling them around the living room.
Whether or not these dogs truly are nanny dogs or not is open for debate, but one can see why some people have referred to them as such. They become extremely protective of their pack; if they latch on to your family, they will care for your kids as though they were their own.
As far as trainability is concerned Pit bulls are actually relatively easy to train. So it should come as no surprise that they are very obedient to their owners. This is desirable if you have a few kids running around the house.
The Concerning Side
Before deciding to adopt a Pitty you need to understand the background and history of the breed.
Initially bred for bull-baiting in the UK in the 1800s, pit bulls have a natural drive to attack and hold onto their prey. They have strong jaw muscles and long canines and know how to use them.
Unfortunately, they gained a fearsome reputation in the US due to involvement in underground activities like dog fighting.
When left untrained, pit bulls can pose a real danger to others, especially to children, as they can become fixated on a target and lose awareness of their surroundings.
Many people today refer to their DNA and will say that these dogs are inherently dangerous, no matter how much training they’ve been given.
Again, that is open for discussion and the purpose of this article is simply to provide the reader with some ideas as to how to prepare themselves and their families for welcoming this breed into their family.
Preventing Dog Bites
With the real threat in mind that an uncontrolled and untrained Pit Bull poses, dog owners need to do whatever they can to prevent a bite.
To ensure your child's safety around your dog, consider the following:
Begin training your pit bull at a young age, around 8 weeks old.
Use positive reinforcement for obedience, including basic commands like "sit" and "wait." While these commands might sound very entry-level, they instill a sense of loyalty and obedience in your dog from an early age.
This will be helpful as it grows older and the threat it potentially poses becomes more real.
Consistency is key in dog training. Ensure that everyone in your household, including your child, follows the same rules and commands. This helps avoid confusion for your pit bull.
Be Cautious Around Feeding Time
Create a designated feeding area to prevent conflicts with your child during mealtime. When your Pit Bull is feeding it will be more alert and protective.
Many dog attacks are centered around food, so keep your kids away from your dog while it’s feeding.
Always supervise interactions between your child and pit bull, especially if you have multiple pets.
You should always be close at hand to help, in case something goes wrong.
Although any responsible dog owner would do anything they possibly can to prevent a bite, there are a number of things to consider that could or could not lead to your dog becoming aggressive towards your kids.
Here are just a few other points to consider:
Pit bulls, like all other dog breeds, benefit from early socialization with both humans and other animals.
Exposing your pit bull to new experiences and people from a young age can help them become well-adjusted and comfortable in different situations.
Seeking advice from professional dog trainers or behaviorists can be invaluable.
They can assess your pit bull's temperament and provide guidance on training and behavior modification if needed.
Creating a stress-free environment at home is important for both your pit bull and your child.
Dogs can pick up on tension and stress, so maintaining a calm atmosphere at home will help your dog stay calm.
Spend Quality Time Together
Spending quality time with your pit bull and child together can help build positive associations. Engage in activities that are enjoyable for both your dog and young child, such as gentle play or short walks.
Be aware of your pit bull's boundaries.
Just like people, dogs have their limits. Teach your child to respect these boundaries to avoid potential conflicts.
If your pit bull displays problematic behavior, such as aggression or excessive fear, consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
They can assess the situation and recommend behavior modification techniques that will help with your dog's overall personality development.
Training Goes Both Ways
Teaching your child about appropriate behavior around dogs is equally important. Many dog bites and incidents involving children occur due to a lack of understanding about canine behavior.
Here are some tips for teaching your child about social skills with your pit bull:
Respect Personal Space
Teach your child to respect your pit bull's personal space. Dogs need their own area where they can relax without being disturbed. By this, I mean just a couch in the study room or perhaps a crate.
Training your pitty to go for a snooze in their crate is a good idea for a puppy. And teach your kids to leave them alone when they go there for downtime.
Encourage gentle touch and petting. Show your toddler how to stroke your pit bull calmly and avoid rough, sudden movements.
No Tail Pulling or Ear Tugging!
Emphasize that tail pulling, ear tugging, or any form of physical teasing is not acceptable.
Make it clear that hurting the dog is never allowed.
Lead by Example
Children often learn by observing. Set a positive example by treating your pit bull with kindness and respect, and your child is likely to do the same.
The Role of Breed-Specific Legislation
Awareness of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in your area is important. (1)
BSL may restrict or ban certain breeds, including pit bulls, due to perceived safety concerns. Compliance with local laws is crucial to avoid legal issues and ensure the well-being of your dog.
If you are unsure about how breed-specific legislation affects you and your family, consult a legal expert.
How to Build a Safe and Happy Environment
Creating a safe and happy environment for both your pit bull and your child is a shared responsibility. Here are some additional steps to help foster a positive relationship:
Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. Establish a daily schedule for feeding, playtime, and rest. This helps your pit bull feel secure and reduces stress.
Provide regular exercise and mental stimulation for your pit bull. Engaging activities, such as walks, fetch, and puzzle toys, help prevent boredom and restlessness.
Many Pit bull owners will testify to the positive effects of a regular routine of exercise has on their dogs.
Invest in a proper collar or leash that will give you the control and confidence you need when training this beautiful breed.
Keep your pit bull up-to-date on vaccinations, regular veterinary check-ups, and preventative care. A healthy dog is more likely to be well-behaved and happy.
And if you have other dogs or pets, arrange supervised playdates to ensure that interactions are safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Continue obedience training throughout your pit bull's life. This ongoing training reinforces good behavior and strengthens your bond.
You should also have a plan in place for emergencies, such as natural disasters or unexpected situations. Ensure that your pit bull's needs are considered in your family's emergency preparedness.
In conclusion, the question of whether pit bulls can coexist harmoniously with babies and children depends on a variety of factors, including the individual dog's temperament, proper training, socialization, and the understanding of both the dog and the child's needs.
When approached with care, responsibility, and the right training, many pit bulls can become cherished family members and excellent companions for children. However, you need to be aware of breed-specific legislation in your area and prioritize safety and well-being for both your pit bull and your child.
Remember that every dog is an individual, and their behavior is influenced by various factors. By providing love, guidance, and a safe environment, you can help ensure a happy and harmonious relationship between your pit bull and your family.
Frequently asked questions
Are Pit Bulls good with newborn babies?
Pit Bulls can be great canine companions for newborn babies when they are properly trained and socialized. Like any other breed, it's essential to introduce them to the baby slowly and let them adjust at their own pace.
Are Pit Bulls food-aggressive around babies?
Pit Bulls, like any dog breed, can exhibit food aggression if not properly trained. However, this behavior is not specific to Pit Bulls and can occur in any breed. It's crucial to teach them to react properly to food-related situations to ensure the safety of both the baby and the dog.
Can Pit Bulls be considered safe compared to other dog breeds based on dog bite statistics?
Dog bite statistics can vary, and it's important to remember that any dog's behavior is influenced by factors like training and socialization.
Pit Bulls, like other breeds, can be safe and loving pets when responsibly cared for. It's crucial not to generalize based solely on statistics, as individual temperament and upbringing play significant roles in a dog's behavior.