Caring for a PitBull - Some Key Things You Should Know
Pit bulls usually get a bad rap.
More than any other dog breed, these dogs are often judged and viewed as aggressive and dangerous to people and pets alike.
But that’s not true.
Take the time to get to know a pit bull and you’ll likely discover a friendly, loyal, playful animal that would much rather cuddle up to its owners than fight another animal.
A lot has to do with how the animal is cared for.
Neglect your pit bull and you’re sure to end up with a frustrated dog that needs to vent its frustration on whomever and whatever it sees. But care for your pitty and shower him with love and affection, and you’ll gain a friend for life.
So if you’re thinking of getting a furry companion, here are some important things to remember about caring for one of these magnificent dogs.
#1 Caring For Your Pit Bull Puppy
Pit bull puppies are some of the cutest, lovable ones you can get. They quickly form a loving bond with their caregivers and will display loyalty to their owners as long as they live.
Generally speaking, pit bulls reach an adoption age between 6 and 8 weeks. Here are a few pointers on caring for your new puppy.
Introduce Him To Other Dogs
Socializing a pit bull puppy, as with other dogs, is extremely important.
Introducing them to puppies of a similar age will help them develop good social skills and save you from stress and headaches when taking your dog out on a walk when it’s a bit older.
Pit bull puppies get along really well with other dogs and love to learn through play. They might be hesitant initially, but puppies warm up to new friends and love socializing.
Socializing your puppy could be as easy as taking them to the park and allowing them to explore their environment with their pet pals or arranging a play date with another pup of a similar age.
The more time they spend with other dogs, the better.
Teach Him The Basics
Pit bull terriers are smart dogs. So there’s no need to postpone their training until their adolescents.
Training can start as soon as they reach 8 weeks of age with basic commands.
Start by teaching your pup to sit, stay, fetch and wait. These skills will help him develop a sense of loyalty and make him more willing to interact with others.
Basic skills like knowing its name shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. Make the training sessions fun, and don’t put too much pressure on him. He’ll look forward to training sessions and listening to new commands.
#2 Caring For Your Pit Bulls Physical Needs
No matter what personality your dog has, one thing is sure, pit bull terriers are active dogs.
They have a lot of pent-up energy and adrenaline and are known for their muscular build and stamina to match.
If you’re a couch potato who would rather relax in front of the television than spend time outdoors, you might want to reconsider getting one of these breeds.
Running, jumping, fetching, and pulling is second nature to pit bulls.
So make sure to introduce an exercise routine that caters to all their physical needs and works for different muscle groups. They also thrive under a regular routine.
Take your dog on daily walks or play tug in the backyard - anything to burn some energy.
But the real trick is to keep your dog busy on weekends. If you take up a hobby like hiking, cycling, or jogging, why not include your dog in your routine?
The health benefits of a regular exercise routine cannot be understated. But the problem is that most pet owners don’t realize their pets are obese.
Here’s what one research study has to say (1)
Only 39% of dog owners and 45% of cat owners consider their pet overweight or having obesity. This contrasts with numerous reports indicating over 50% of dogs and cats are overweight or have obesity.
Consider a regular exercise routine as a favor to your dog and as an integral part of their care. Burning fat and exercising core muscle groups are good for pet owners and pets alike.
Their routine doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A simple routine of daily walks can be enough.
Introduce A Healthy Diet
You are what you eat.
We all know the principle behind that saying. And that principle applies to our four-legged friends too.
While low-quality dog food might be readily available and cheaper, a proper diet will benefit your pit bull and save you on vet bills in the long run.
One medical directive for pets puts it this way (2)
“Without adequate nutrition, your dog would not be able to maintain muscle tone, build and repair muscles, teeth, and bone, perform normal daily activities with ease, or fight-off infection. Proteins provide a source of energy and help with muscle function and growth.”
So introduce a healthy, high-quality diet from a young age that will keep your pit bull terrier healthy and full of life.
On a scale from no hair on the couch to grabbing the vacuum - we have a hair problem; pit bulls shed moderately.
They are single-coated short-haired dogs, which means that they shed from time to time, especially during the change of season.
You should purchase a rubber curry brush and give your dog a brush every other day. Brush in the direction of the hair growth to uproot hair that’s dying or coming loose anyway.
This action will also help distribute the natural oils that keep your dog's coat looking healthy and shiny.
#3 Caring For Your Pit Bulls Mental Wellbeing
While burning off excess adrenaline and eating a balanced diet are both important pieces of the caring for your pit bull puzzle, you also need to pay attention to their mental needs.
Pit bulls need mental stimulation through training and play to keep them happy.
Mental Stimulation Through Toys
Provide your Pit bull terrier with various toys that will keep his interest, such as chew toys, food puzzles, stuffed animals, and rope toys.
These toys encourage their thinking and problem-solving abilities. Figuring out how things work helps keep their brain active and calms them down.
Using toys for mental stimulation also helps to fill a void often left if dog parents don’t have much free time to spend with their pets during the week.
Your pit bull will take out its frustration on a chew toy rather than furniture or plants in the garden,
Give Them As Much Attention As You Can
Giving your pet attention AND affection has benefits that simply cannot be ignored.
Firstly, you’ll build an unbreakable bond with your dog and foster the kind of loyalty you want in a pet friend.
You’ll also help prevent anxiety and depression. Due to their reputation as very active dogs that often engage in dog fighting, some dog owners only use these terrier breeds for guarding purposes and neglect personal attention.
You should avoid this way of thinking. Spend as much quality time with your dog as possible. Whether for a short daily walk around the neighborhood or a morning grooming routine. This attention strengthens the bond between you and your canine friend.
Use positive reinforcement during their training or playing sessions. By this, I mean rewarding your dog with a toy or treat whenever they achieve a desired reaction to your training.
You could, for example, keep a pouch with small treats on you when walking. Whenever you get to a road crossing, command your pooch to sit or yield before crossing the street and reward him on the other side.
This is one of the proper training techniques that many professional dog trainers use during obedience training.
Get Them A Partner
Pit bulls love hanging out in a pack. They play well with other dogs when introduced from a young age.
So if you have a pit bull, get them a partner and teach them to play well together. They can be stubborn and assertive as they try to dominate other dogs, so make sure they know who their partners are from a young age.
#4 Looking After A Senior Pit Bull
Pit bulls can live for quite a long time, depending on the care they receive throughout their lifetime.
Some American Pit bulls can live for anything between 8 and 15 years. And as they get older, they will need some specialized care. Here are just a few things you need to keep in mind when caring for a senior Pit Bull:
Taking your senior dog to the vet for a check-up every few months is necessary for their care.
As they get older, Pit Bulls can display a variety of health problems, including hip dysplasia (a deformation of the hip joints), various types of skin infections (which lead to cracked or dry skin), or even thyroid problems (hormones produced by the thyroid gland often drop).
The good news is that even though many pit bulls suffer from these health issues, they are often treatable if diagnosed early - so don’t skip visits to the vet!
You might notice low energy levels, weight gain, and a dull coat as your dog ages.
These issues can often be attributed to low overall health, activity level, or even their life stage.
Senior dogs simply don’t have the energy to run around like they once did. And the less mobility they enjoy, the less their digestive system works.
Senior dogs simply need a different diet. So when you’re out shopping for your dog’s food, keep the following dietary requirements in mind:
Higher levels of protein - This will help maintain lean muscle mass.
Lower fat levels - This will help maintain a healthy weight, especially if your dog is becoming less active.
Omega fatty acids and glucosamine - Help support mobility and joint health.
Antioxidants - Support a healthy immune system
Enhanced botanical oils, like coconut oil - Help promote mental sharpness
Keeping these points in mind will help your dog benefit from each meal.
Change Their Activities
Senior dogs simply can’t go for long walks. They are less likely to jump in the pool with their owners for a swim and less likely to run around the garden, tugging on a rope.
So change the way you approach your dog's activities. As they slow down, take them for a short stroll in the park, rest up often for them to catch their breath, and provide them with chew toys to occupy their free time - on the couch!
A Final Thought
Pit bulls are generally easy to care for. They don’t have long coats that shed and cling to your furniture and they mostly enjoy long, happy lives.
But their well-being is directly related to the care you, as a dog owner, give them. Buy out a few minutes of your time each day to devote to play sessions or a quick cuddle, and your Pit bull will have a happy and healthy life.
1 - Association for pet obesity prevention