Pit Bulls and Dog Aggression / Game

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Pit Bulls and Dog Aggression / Game

This is a discussion on Pit Bulls and Dog Aggression / Game within the General Dog Discussion forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I posted this same thread in a Pit Bull specific forum I frequent last night. I am curious on what responses I will get here... ...

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Old 11-28-2016, 06:03 PM
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Pit Bulls and Dog Aggression / Game

I posted this same thread in a Pit Bull specific forum I frequent last night. I am curious on what responses I will get here... Please let me know your thoughts. I blanked out the names of the sites as I don't know the proper etiquette on that issue. Thank you.

After I lost my first beloved pit, Weezy, to my wh&%ing, greedy ex wife and obtained Blue, I for the first time looked into pit related forums to learn, teach where possible (rarely I know) and commiserate with individuals who share my love of these great dogs. I found both this site and ________ and didn't realize they were sister sites until relatively recently. I have 242 posts on ____ and 0 posts on ___. For some unknown reason, likely being a holiday weekend after a divorce (those are the times that suck), this weekend I wondered why I enjoy ___ and find ___ unenjoyable and un-relatable.

First, while I understand a Pit Bull is the American Pit Bull Terrier, when I use the term "pit" in my own thinking (as a lawyer I am more careful when speaking or writing) I include non papered dogs which may or may not be 100% APBT. Blue is not papered. Based his lack of papers and on his huge size (8 months and 85 pounds as of yesterday - bone and muscle, not fat), he is clearly not an APBT. He is more likely a classic american bully or a cross between a classic american bully and an APBT or a cross between who knows and who knows since he does not have papers. Regardless, Blue looks like a very large APBT (except that whole other being the color blue thing...), Blue has the self assuredness of APBTs that I love and while likely not "game" he is certainly headstrong, tenacious and tough.

Blue's self confidence is now growing day by day as he is leaving his puppy period and entering into his teenage period. He is loyal and always by my side. When I want him to be chill, he is generally willing (as long as it is just him and me and I put my other dogs in other rooms in the house), when I want him to be playful, he is always game for whatever I ask him to do and he LOVES all people. Every quality about Weezy (my first APBT and papered) that I loved, Blue also has. The one quality about Weezy that I didn't love, he would always jump the fence or dig under it to explore the neighborhood even though fixed, Blue does not have and hopefully never will. I will also note that Weezy was not "game", he loved every dog he ever met. Blue also loves all dogs he has met to date and I hope he stays this way.

Quick funny story about Weezy then I will continue about the point at hand. Before I rescued Sugar, an APBT who is definitely "game" (my other female dog and I both have the scars to show it - Sugar will just not quit once she starts) and I learned that the doggie door MUST be closed at ALL times if I am not home and paying attention, the doggie door was always available for the dogs to go into the backyard and back into the house as they pleased. All my dogs are microchipped and have id tags. At first, to get out of the backyard to "explore", Weezy would silently get out of our bed, go into the backyard through the doggie door, dig under the fence and have a party wherever she went. ALL of my neighbors in my subdivision ultimately both learned to know who Weezy was and LOVED him. One time, I got a phone call at 7 in the morning on a Saturday from one of my neighbors. He politely said "Wade, Weezy is in our bed again." This particular neighbor didn't have window screens and liked his windows open during cooler weather (I live in Austin, TX). Weezie learned that he could go out our doggie door, dig under my fence, jump Jim's fence, jump through the open window into Jim's house, climb into bed with Jim and his girlfriend and get some loving! Quite the dog. I ultimately put limestone blocks around the perimeter of my fence so Weezy could not longer dig under it. Of course Weezy then starts the jumping over the fence. Ultimately I put up chicken wire at the top of the fence at a 90 degree angle using brackets to keep him in. Oh how I miss that dog...

Back to the reason for this post. I view this website as the "pet" pit site and the sister ___ website as the "sport" pit site. I regularly visit this site. I hardly ever visit the ___ site anymore. I am a litigation attorney who wears a suit every day and drives a 2 seater black Porsche. I suspect many of the gentlemen on the ___ site would consider me a p&&&y although at 6'4" and very fit I doubt most of them would do it to my face without one of their dogs by their side. And if any did I doubt they would walk away from it less damaged than me. Let me be clear, I am not saying anything detrimental about anyone who prefers ___ over ___. I do suspect by and large the active posters on each site are very different and have very different expectations of their dogs although I do see certain "regulars" on both sites - typically moderators.

Would any of you be willing to share your thoughts on this admittedly controversial issue or the more controversial one in the next paragraph? What do you want out of your "pit" however you define "pit" for yourself? To me, gameness is a bad quality. I know it is historically accurate and the initial REASON for the breed, but with the current laws why is gameness needed or wanted? Sugar's gameness has cost me over $10,000, the functional use of my left thumb (first dog fight after we rescued her, I was clueless and didn't know about break sticks or how to split up a dog fight) and makes day to day living with her complicated and difficult. After the fight, Cristal wanted to give Sugar back to the Rescue. I didn't agree. Amazing that we ended up divorced, huh?

My view was that when we rescued her we made a commitment and I felt we had much to learn and try before even considering giving her up. I love Sugar to death and otherwise she is a great dog but if there was a way for me to surgically remove her "gameness" I would pay $10k in a heartbeat to do so. The American Pit Bull Terrier specific rescue group we rescued her from failed to give us any of the information we needed with multiple pits in the house and said nothing about Sugar and our current female, Jasmine, not getting along. Not relevant to this post, but any group who deals with this breed should have accurate information and disseminate it to all adopters.

Do you think "gameness" in an ABPT is a positive or negative in November of 2016 and why? Things change. We had our first African-American president, over half of the population who voted thought it is time for our first female president, many women earn more than men, households are more often a partnership instead of the husband being a dictator. With dog fights being illegal, why keep the "gameness" in APBTs when most who are honest with themselves would agree that this "gameness" has caused injury to both pets and people.

Another, more controversial issue I would love to get others opinions on is do you think dog fighting should still be legal? And if it was legal, would you participate? I suspect most of the active participants on ___ would respond in the affirmative to both of these questions. I am an animal lover and have no problem admitting so, even in the Hill County of Texas. I won't hunt, I don't think animal fighting of any type should be legal and if it was I certainly wouldn't participate. Yes, I eat meat - but I do pay more when possible to purchase meat from livestock raised in humane conditions. I have no problem with animals being raised for other items either such as leather (god how I love a good, soft aniline died leather sofa to relax on at the end of the day while wearing my alligator boots).

Anyway, I look forward to your thoughts on these issues.

Thanks.

Wade
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Old 11-29-2016, 01:01 AM
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My childhood dog/best friend growing up was an APBT, and we ended up with a second eventually who died in '12. I would guess 10-15% of the dogs I see through my work are pit bulls and pit mixes, and despite trying to avoid the responsibility, I've worked with a dozen or so that ended up being dumped off, trying to get them into rescue groups or adopted out. Needless to say, I'm a fan of the breed

That said, they can be powerful, tenacious dogs, and as you've seen, some of them can be quite dog/animal aggressive. There is such variance in the current iteration of the breed(s?) that I feel like it's a bit of a mixed bag today to select one at random and expect breed typical pit bull traits (stoic, great bite inhibition, people friendly, prey driven, dog aggressive/intolerant of challenge). Some pit bull people will say that that's because those aren't "real" APBTs since they aren't registered (but some of the sketchy ones ARE registered), but I don't see ANY other breed pulling that card. If you pick up some random rottweiler from a BYB or shelter, rottie people don't deny that it's a rottie because it's not registered. Same with labs, GSDs, and any number of other common breeds- if it looks and acts the part, that's what they call it. This attempt to pass the buck, or close the circle, or whatever the current term is, doesn't help the breed in any way, shape, or form IMO.

I know a decent number of mature dogs which I would call pit bulls or APBTs that aren't dog aggressive, and that doesn't make me doubt that they are pit bulls. I suspect in some of these dogs cases that they've never been challenged, and have never really "woke up" to what they are (much like a JRT who has never been outside and encountered prey), but others are just "cold"- and that's something which has always been present in the breed, so it makes sense that in breeding without dog aggression in mind (or actively selecting away from dog aggression), it would become more the norm. On the other hand, I have seen the aftermath when some of these seemingly "cold" dogs do have cause to get into a tussle, and owners tend to be utterly unprepared to deal with it. Or, their first dog is dog social its entire life, so they get another, or two more, because there are SO many that need homes/they love to play together!/it's all in how you raise them, and next thing you know, they have a veritable war zone in their house, because once the playful adolescent they picked at the shelter got settled in and grew up a bit she's really more interested in beating up her housemates rather than playing with them, or the 2(!) pups they got at the same time are now mortal enemies of either each other or the pre-existing dog. These people usually are not really committed to the breed once they discover what it can entail, and they look to place or euth the problem dogs quickly and get back down to one "good" dog, whereupon they share their sad tale of the others who were too "damaged" to be saved. It makes me sick when I see this, but most of these people are trying to "help".

Regarding gameness in the breed, breed purists argue that the only true way to test for gameness is by fighting, since it is the measure of a dog's perseverance in a fight when near death. If that's the only way to ever see that degree of gameness, then it's useless to me, as I don't have any desire to have my dogs fight, and have gone to great lengths to prevent it. I appreciate the dogs' can do attitude and persistence in doing other activities, but I think the implication that the only way to preserve that attitude is through fighting dogs is a convenient excuse. Either way I guess I'm ok with taking the chance of my dog not being game, as I can't think of too many times I might need them to persist in a task while near death, being just a pet owner so I can accept them just being tougher and more persistent than the average dog. For what it's worth, I think gameness can probably also be proven in hog and some other types of hunting, and other terrier breeds also refer to "gameness" as a breed trait, though in those breeds, it is merely the desire/willingness to work the game (prey) as they were bred to do.

As to my own preference regarding breed traits, both the APBTs I had had some degree of dog aggression, though the first dog's was rooted more in fear than what is considered typical for the breed. The second dog was the quintessential pit bull in temperament, larger than life personality, never met a stranger, but she was always looking for an opportunity to start trouble with another dog. I doubt either was "game" in the traditional sense of the breed, as it's not a particularly common trait even among those tested and selectively bred for it, but neither missed out on the animal aggression aspect. Dachshunds are my other breed, and my female dachshund was pretty dog aggressive as well, so IME it comes with the territory with any sort of tenacious breed. I don't consider it a big deal, BUT it is one reason why I'm waffling on getting another. I've thought for years that my next dog would be another APBT, but now that the time has come, I don't know that it's worth (for lack of better term) the hassle right now. I have 3 cats who I protected so well from my previous cat eating dog that they don't even know dogs HAVE teeth, and Bus, who is mostly indifferent to other dogs, but was friends with Annie, and I don't know that I really want to deal with the separation (at least when not supervised, if not always) and the risk that still remains even with that- the guilt would eat me alive if something happened to one of them because I chose to bring home a dog that could easily harm them. I may have to change our homeowners ins, and the therapy dog group that I volunteer with no longer accepts pit bulls. Most pit bull owners I meet make me want to pull my hair out because they are either happily clueless, or high on their "tough" dog. Many of the breed rescues are as you experienced, happy to let you unsuspectingly take home a dog that may turn your life upside down by not warning you that your pit bull may become dog aggressive, and I can't see supporting that, even though I'm experienced enough not to fall into that trap. Perusing petfinder and the like, I see lots of dogs that don't seem to exude the confident, take on the world personality I consider synonymous with the breed- that makes me sad because IMO it is their greatest and most important trait. If I were to get a dog from a breeder, I would want them health tested (I'm looking for an active pet for biking, etc, though I prefer a young adult, so breeders are actually toward the bottom of my list because they mostly have pups), which has routed my interest in breeder dogs to Amstaffs, since there seem to actually be more of them health testing and working their dogs than APBTs, which is a shame. Luckily, I'm in no hurry to get another dog, so I'll wait for whatever the right fit ends up being, but I thought it would be a slam dunk choice as far as breed, and instead I find myself sitting the fence.
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Old 11-29-2016, 02:16 AM
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I know that in the breed standard gameness is not considered a fault, although human aggression is. To me, unless the dog is over the top, must kill other dogs, aggressive I do not consider it to be a negative trait, it just is the dog being true to it's breeding.

From everything I've read on the subject the reason that APBT breeders do not breed out gameness is that there's no telling what other qualities, that are desirable, would also be lost, and just how the breed would change. It's sort of like breeding the stare, or the desire to herd, out of a border collie, what else about the border collie would change?

I do wish that rescues and shelters would be honest about gameness that it's in part genetic, and it's not all in how they are raised. There are some that are honest, but way to many are not. I know of one pit bull rescue that will only adopt out two females, or two males, on very rare occasions and then it's only after being as certain as possible that the dogs get along.

Considering that I despise **** fighting, I dang sure don't want to see dog fighting become legal.
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Old 12-06-2016, 03:16 PM
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I have no scientific input whatsoever into what should be consider being a breed trait or not, but in my mind, gameness should not be considered a negative breed trait, since it was one of the traits that were bred on purpose. Would it be nice to see someone successfully breeding it out without loosing other positive aspects of the breed, I am for it, but I would still not consider it negative, more like "neutral".

That's why I totally agree with what was said before: More transparency when adopting or selling these kind of dogs to people. And that also entails more education, because I strongly believe that a lot of shelter or rescue workers don’t know or don’t want to agree on it being also a genetic trait.
Sure, the bringing up is an important point with any puppy/young dog, but the predisposition exists and this should be advertised as well, to let the adopters/buyers know what might be coming up at some point.

When I brought Bri home, an Amstaff or Pitbull mix, who knows, I knew what could and still can happen (she is now nearly 1 Ĺ years old). I have no problem with it. If it comes to that than I will manage. For now she enjoys playing with other dogs, goes to doggy daycare and that will continue if she doesn’t change her mind about other dogs. If she does, well then the access to other dogs will be limited, end of story.
What did go under my skin was when I was at a dog park near my house (I described it in a different thread on this forum before, very responsible and nice people, everyone alert about what their dog(s) are doing) and was randomly talking to a guy while Bri was playing with his dog. And he said he was surprised that she likes other dogs and plays with them and that I did a good job and he hopes I keep it up so she doesn’t get dog aggressive. I was so baffled I couldn’t even say anything to that.
Sure I do my best to keep her social, but if she has a switch and she does switch it at some point, am I the one to blame for that? I don’t think so, since I did my best, but you can’t win against genetics if they’re coming into play you can just manage them. And I sure watching and breaking up play that gets too intense for my taste, to not give a need to lash out.

Would I legalize dog fighting again? Hell no! Why on earth, even if they’re dog aggressive, should I allow my dog or any other dog for that matter hurt or get hurt during an avoidable, stupid “show” for people? I don’t care if my dog would be the best in “killing” other dogs. What does that proof?
Using the gameness and drive to compete in sports like agility, barn hunt, rally, making use of the very obedient and human focused side that makes sense to me, but dog fighting: no thanks.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by TWadeJ View Post
What do you want out of your "pit" however you define "pit" for yourself? To me, gameness is a bad quality. I know it is historically accurate and the initial REASON for the breed, but with the current laws why is gameness needed or wanted? Sugar's gameness has cost me over $10,000, the functional use of my left thumb (first dog fight after we rescued her, I was clueless and didn't know about break sticks or how to split up a dog fight) and makes day to day living with her complicated and difficult.
What I want is good with kids (tolerant with them and enjoys their company), stable overall temperament, healthy, athletic, prefer easy to train while still having their own brain and problem solving skills, good structure (conformation quality if I can get it) and yeah gameness too. This is just a handful of things that I want.

I think gameness is only a bad quality with an inexperienced, unwilling or poor owner (that goes for any breed not just Pits). The quality itself isnít bad but when a person does not have a need for it or give their dog an outlet the dog can be unhappy and is not reaching their full potential either. It is not a bad trait, but the dog is not handled properly. You might also see other problems arise, like the dog escaping the yard, or destroying containment (or cabinetry lol) to get what they want. Gameness can cause some inconveniences but I do not see it as bad, certain aspects of dog ownership can be inconvenient and a hassle.

Gameness is not needed or wanted by all, but in modern day it is still wanted by some for various reasons such as hog hunting, protection, weight pull, even do or die search and rescue. There is plenty of legal work and sports that some people wish to participate in.

It sounds more like the "problem" (with Sugar) is fight drive, made worse coupled with gameness, but even without gameness a dog aggressive dog would still cause problems. Might the dog stop fighting sooner, be easier to stop the fight? Sure, but a dog aggressive dog can still cost you money, injure/kill another dog even if they are not the least bit game. I would think your main issue and concern would be the dog aggressive tendencies, which can certainly be a pain. It is possible to manage it though and prevent fights. I have never been injured when separating a fight and I understand how to handle, contain and manage my dogs. It is unfortunate what happened to your thumb but an aggressive dog or one that bites for whatever reason can cause bodily injury, thatís been seen time and again. People get bit by dogs, all sorts of breeds and mixes when trying to stop a fight. So, gameness does not seem to have anything to do with it. At least Pits and certain other breeds are likely to keep their hold and very unlikely to redirect, so getting injured during a fight is uncommon.

Quote:
The American Pit Bull Terrier specific rescue group we rescued her from failed to give us any of the information we needed with multiple pits in the house and said nothing about Sugar and our current female, Jasmine, not getting along. Not relevant to this post, but any group who deals with this breed should have accurate information and disseminate it to all adopters.
Now this I agree with. Rescue groups have a responsibility to give accurate information, just like a breeder or someone rehoming a dog. It is in the animal's and breed's best interest. However, people looking to adopt a certain breed should research and be aware of breed traits. Including any that they might deem negative.

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Do you think "gameness" in an ABPT is a positive or negative in November of 2016 and why?
I feel it is a positive, for myself or with the right owner. Why? Because that tenacity, willingness to continue a task can be put to good use. In other cases maybe you are only doing an activity for fun, but still gameness gives the dog the will to keep going, a competitive edge and the dog gets some enjoyment out of it too in that case. So I view gameness like prey drive, it can be a positive trait. In the wrong hands it can be negative. For a lot of pet owners who want a couch potato it is unnecessary, but that does not make it bad. Should we really obliterate all the working traits and drives of dogs because some people are ill equipped to handle them or they cause an inconvenience?

Quote:
With dog fights being illegal, why keep the "gameness" in APBTs when most who are honest with themselves would agree that this "gameness" has caused injury to both pets and people.
For the reasons I mentioned previously. Dog sports and working purposes. I am sure that it has played a role in harm that has come to pets or people, but that has only been in dogs who are mishandled, unstable, dog aggressive, human aggressive, ect. Those dogs could still cause harm without gameness ever coming into play. Gameness can make an attack by a dog aggressive, human aggressive or unstable dog a lot worse if it causes it to be harder to stop, but there have been plenty of injuries, maiming and deaths of people and animals where gameness was never a factor. Perhaps better focus would be on shooting for stable dogs and handling aggressive dogs properly? Also when some dogs ďsnapĒ (for lack of a better word, I understand they donít just snap) it does not always matter that they are game or not. There are dogs who had to be beat off, seriously injured, shot, ect to stop an attack, they were not Pit Bulls and were not bred for gameness. Sometimes (to simplify) when that fight part of the brain takes over the dog sustains the attack until forcible stopped. It is more likely to happen in certain breeds, but it still happens in others.

Gameness is an integral part of the breed and a defining trait. It can also be beneficial for certain jobs and useful for competitive sports. If coupled with aggression it can be problematic, but not impossible to manage. You would have to manage the aggression anyway right? Regardless, of gameness. There are many dogs who are not the least bit game(Pit Bulls or otherwise) who are aggressive.

To say itís 2016 (now almost 2017) we do not need gameness because of the off chance a pet or person could be harmed is the same as saying we do not need defense drive or prey drive in other breeds since a pet/person could be harmed. Does not make a lot of sense to me.

Quote:
Another, more controversial issue I would love to get others opinions on is do you think dog fighting should still be legal? And if it was legal, would you participate?
Conditions overall might be better if legal, but I kind of doubt it would be better for the dogs at the end of a fight. That is due to the gameness factor and American cultural aspect of this blood sport. So I do not believe it should be legal! I would not participate, the dogs are injured, there is a risk of death. I understand how dog fighting can test deep gameness, but that is not something I need to know because I have no interest in fighting dogs even if legal. Post fight would be hard on the dogs.
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