I’ve dedicated a ton of energy over the past 2 decades to change the public perception of the vastly misunderstood American Pit Bull Terrier.
I’ve been responsible for changing the mind of countless people. I’ve personally been credited with a dozen or so adoptions that would NOT have gone with a Bully breed, had they not met my dogs.
Just the other day, I totally validated a persons irrational fear of these dogs.
I am rehabilitating/socializing a new rescue right now. He lived on a chain for a year and a half. He had ZERO manners. He’s not in any way aggressive….. But he will jump from the floor literally on top of your head in order to kiss you WAAAAY to energetically. And, when he’s all pumped up, he will bite your sleeve, lay down and alligator roll, all with that huge, stupid Bully smile.
Clearly, this is not acceptable behavior. But it’s not “dangerous”, or “aggressive”. I am determined to fix it, and give this dog a second chance. I WILL make him a breed ambassador.
It will be impossible to do that without pissing a few people off. It is literally impossible. There are some people who have it out for dogs, or that breed in particular, and are just waiting for proof. It is impossible not to give them ammunition. I mean, for you to change their mind, you have to have a BOMBPROOF dog. They have to have perfect obedience, and sit right at your side, just waiting for you to ask them which well Johnny fell down.
Sweet, give a few months and I’ll have that. But right now….. Right now, he’s working on it. Cool, peoples answer is to not take them out in public until they are perfect. Problem is….. You can’t get them perfect till you take them out in public! You have to work on a skill, and nail it. Then, add distractions. Then, TAKE THEM OUT INTO THE REAL WORLD. Know what? They will at some point screw up, and lose their manners. THAT’S HOW YOU MAKE THEM BOMBPROOF.
And this is one of the MAJOR hurdles people have to getting their dogs past the “Good in my house, but nuts in public” issue. People are scared of what others may think of them (or their dog/breed). So they don’t take their dogs out in public. And their dogs never get to become those awesome ambassadors they could be. The less dogs that are bombproof, the more validation people have. It’s a never ending catch 22. By trying to not look bad in front of people…. You are doomed to looking bad in front of people for the life of your dog. By insisting you never make a bad impression of your breed, you reduce the number of ambassadors on the street, keeping the average impression low.
If you have a dog in your charge, you have to think more about what’s best for them, than you do anything else.
People will be pissed when you’re teaching your dog impulse control and out of nowhere they get crazy and start barking. They’ll say “why would you bring them here?”. People will be pissed when you say “Please don’t pet them. I’m working on her fear of strangers.”. They’ll say “why would you bring her her?”. The list goes on, and on.
My point is, you have to look first, at what’s best for your dog. Most likely, that’s getting past their issues, not hiding them and being embarrassed. Then, you have to look at the big picture. What’s best for the overall impression society has of dogs, is to show them BOMBPROOF dogs. Not hiding any dog with a problem, making the problem worse and reducing the good examples.
Makes me feel terrible that my dog tugged a guys sleeve. It was a huge handler error. I wasn’t watching his arousal level, because he’d been doing so well. Yes, I immediately, corrected him, and put him in a down while I apologized. Yes, while we I am explaining he’s learning manners, a child was playing 3 feet from us while he held his down. Yes, I allowed the kid to pet him, while he held the down (only to demonstrate his temperament, and show the earlier behavior was not uncontrollable). And no…. None of that made a difference. He was now sure all APBT’s are dangerous, and out of control. He is convinced that I am an irresponsible prick.
And yes, that makes me kind of sick to my stomach. Not that guys feelings, because he’s made up his mind already….. But, because he will now be able to badmouth these dogs, that I have tried so hard to help.
I just have to focus on all the good we’ve done. And will do for them in the future.
Anyway…. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from doing the right thing for your dog.
What’s that saying…… You can’t make an omelet, without making somebody angry.
Or, something like that.