Tag Archives: Pit Bull

Is “Pit Bull” A Breed?

Holy shit this discussion pisses me off.

I’ve written and deleted 4 different versions of this, just because they turn in to me ranting unintelligibly.

So…… I’ll try again.

1- Is there a breed called Pit Bull? Yes. Yes, there is a breed called Pit Bull. The UKC started registering the American Pit Bull Terrier in 1898.  So. If you ever get into the discussion of “IS there a breed called Pit Bull?” then unequivocally….. The answer is yes. There is no debate. Yes.

2- Are the dogs people refer to as Pit Bulls actually UKC APBT’s? No. I’d kiss your entire asshole if we ran into a “Pit Bull” on the street that had UKC papers.

3- Does that matter at all? No. Not one bit. And there’s a lot of reasons why.

Pit Bulls were bred for function. That function determined their look. Same reason most Olympic Weightlifters look similar. And most NBA players look similar. And they tend not to look like each other. Function dictates form. The UKC was able to set a standard, because they looked true to type. But….. No pit ref ever asked for papers. And the dog men that pitted their dogs would’ve bred in gopher blood if they thought it would’ve made a better dog. Jesus Christ……. Its a fucking Bull & Terrier cross from day one!!!!!!!!

So…… Even though there IS a registered APBT “breed”. There really is no such thing as a “pure” Pit Bull. They’ve been mixing blood into that breed from jump.

If one more person asks me if my dog is “pure”, I’m gonna punch them in the throat.

4- You will be discriminated against because your dog is a “Pit Bull” whether you have papers saying it’s a French Bulldog/Boxer cross or not.  All “bully” crosses are taking the brunt of the misinformation machine, and complicit shitty owners. So, arguing that there’s “no such breed” still ain’t gonna get you in that apartment.

5- That fucking “Pick The Pit Bull” chart they pull out to prove BSL wrong is so NOT helpful. Trying to convince people that they can’t “find” the Pit Bull, does nothing to change their minds about what they THINK about Pit Bulls. It’s like saying segregating a person based on race is not cool, because of the difficulty in properly identifying their race. NOT that that shit is just WRONG. Stop muddying the water. Want to help defend these dogs…… learn about them. Then defend them. Don’t play the red herring game and say “you can’t even find one….. nanny nanny boo boo”.

Summary: The UKC officially “recognized” the type of dog the pit dogmen created a long time ago. I can recognize that type of dog when I see them outside whether they have papers or not. The fact that your dog doesn’t have papers won’t save you from BSL. The fact that your dog isn’t even remotely that old pit type of dog won’t save you from BSL. The fact that prejudicial douchebags can’t pick a UKC papered Pit bull out of a “leading” line up won’t save you from BSL. Saying there’s no such breed won’t save you from BSL.

You need to understand the “breed” so you can defend it well.

We need to cut down on irresponsible breeders AND owners. (of ALL dogs, not just these)

We need to train our dogs to be ambassadors for this breed so we can start to make a difference.

Ok….. I suppose I’m all ranted out.

For now.

 

 

 

 

Why “Break Sticks” Are Shit.

If you’re a dog trainer with an interest in rehabbing dog aggression……

Please. Throw the “Break Stick” away.

Look, I know why you have them. It’s a logical mistake to make.

You want to break up a fight that involves at least one committed dog. (a concern you NEED to address if you work in rehab). Well….. Who has the most experience in breaking the toughest dogs apart? Dog fighters.

Yep.

If a dog gets fanged in a pit, the ref breaks them. If a dog in a roll (practice fight sparring match) starts to get hurt, you break them. Hell, if there’s a management failure in the yard and two dogs get going, you break them. These guys have hands down THE MOST EXPERIENCE breaking game dogs.

How do THEY do it?

Break Sticks.

Ergo….. You want to break game dogs fighting. You use a Break Stick, no?

NO.

Yes….. They are effective. IF……

You have 3 people to the 2 dogs.

One handler goes in for hind leg suspension (another pass down from the pit) on each dog. This kills their ability to punch back in and re-grip. That’s good. It means, All you have to deal with is the current grip. The 3rd, (and sometimes 4th) person, go in and use the break stick to mechanically separate the grips.  And it works! Well. It breaks the dogs.

So…. Why should you NOT use it?

1- Most people didn’t know that above scenario. They just stick a break stick in their pocket and will somehow utilize it to make things OK. They don’t understand the 3 to 2 principle. They don’t know or practice that teamwork concept of “wheelbarrow” and split. If you aren’t in a yard with multiple trained, people all, of who have Break Sticks in their pockets. All of who, know the drill and can fluently assume one role or the other in rhythm with you…. It’s worthless. Trying to separate a game dog (let alone 2) by yourself with a Break Stick is futile, and dangerous for ALL involved.

2- Even IF you understand AND practice the above method with ALL your staff (shut the fuck up, no you don’t)…….

YOU STILL SHOULDN’T USE BREAK STICKS!!!!!!

When you use a Break Stick you are mechanically separating the dogs. Ever hear of “Restraint Frustration”? “Barrier Frustration”? Well, when a dog is in HIGH DRIVE, and wants to get at something and can’t, it’s drive goes UP!!!!!

Think about it. Leashes make dogs more reactive. Fences make dogs more reactive. On, and on. Those are things preventing them from accomplishing their goal. And it makes them want to go at it more.

Hell, that reaction is so strong, that trainers utilize it. We tease dogs with food to increase drive for it. We try to wrestle the tug out of their mouth to make them want to grip it harder the next time!

When you pry their mouth off that dog….. Guess what they want to do MORE now?!?!?!

Yep…… Bite.

And THAT’S why the Pit men used them. It’s the only way to reliably separate a game dog and NOT DIMINISH IT’S WANT TO FIGHT!

Hell, it increases their drive to fight through frustration. And for Pit men, that’s a good thing.

For you, in your home. Or daycare. Or rehab facility……. Not so much.

So unless you’re looking for a tool that takes more dogs than handlers acting in coordination, that INCREASES aggression after the fight…….

Please.

Throw the Break Sticks away.

(How TO break a fight is a tricky and dangerous subject that can’t really be done in an article. But check the services page for avenues of instruction.)

 

Winning in Tug

So….. Do you let the dog “win” while playing tug or not?

Do you EVER let the dog “TAKE” the toy?

That, is the question.

This is such a readily answered question in dog training, that even folks without dogs have an answer for it!

So….. Where do I stand on the issue?

There is no “winning” the toy!

I think the question itself shows a misunderstanding of tug!

It’s like playing Frisbee with your friend. If you suddenly “let them have it”, it’s not a reward. It’s a bummer. They don’t want the Frisbee. They want to play with YOU WITH the Frisbee!!!!

And THAT is the fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of tug. It is not truly competitive. It’s “cooperatively” competitive. And there is a huge difference.

For people that aren’t into contact/combat sports, this may be a difficult analogy…… But……

If you’re into wrestling, and you’re having fun and wrestling with your favorite team mate…… It may LOOK competitive, but it’s not. It has elements of competition. You’re pinning them. They’re throwing you. But, if your practice session was over the first time you scored a point…… You’d be bummed. Not excited.

Yes. In tug you will make them miss sometimes. And yes, you ARE trying to rip it away from them. And they ARE trying hard to keep possession of it.

But this is where perspective is important!

If you let them have it…… They should be bummed. They should punch it back into you! If you throw it they should grab it and bring it back. Not cause they know how to “fetch”. But, out of sheer frustration! They want “The Game”!!!! Not the toy!

It’s like looking at a kid playing a video game. From the outside it may look like they are playing with the joystick. But they aren’t. They are playing the video game WITH the joystick.

The tug toy is the joystick.

YOU ARE THE GAME!!!!!!!!

“Turning off” the game isn’t “winning”!

It sucks.

Look at your game as developing engagement with you, NOT the toy.

Test your theory by letting go! If they get frustrated and punch it back to you….. You’re engagement is solid! Your game is strong.

If they think they “won” and leave with their “prize”…..

Your game needs some work!

The only winning in tug is the handler grabbing that damn thing!

Now go make your dogs day and teach them to play tug with YOU!

 

 

Spring Pole: Good Or Bad?

I’ve gotten this question a few times in the last couple of days. Thought I’d share my response here since a few other people may have the same question. Enjoy:

Question:  “What are your thoughts on people who tie a tug and let the dog hang?  ……..What’s the purpose?”

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(old school shot of a tree Spring Pole)

My Answer:  “Back in the day Spring Poles were just ways to develop grip and drive. They would put dogs on them and let them rip. Most dogs didn’t have an out so they would break stick them off the hide/tug. This is CLASSIC agitation. Take the dog up pulling on a 2 inch collar going apeshit. Let them get it and go NUTS. Then….. Literally pry them off! Makes a ton of drive. Not to mention physically conditions their wrestling, and biting musculature. That said….. There were a lot of stuff in old school Keeps/Pit Dogmanship that can be super useful if done a little different. Spring Poles are one of them. Typically everyone now knows that tug can be a great way of training your dog. Builds great obedience, and impulse control. Develops relationship. And, satisfies a very biologically appropriate style of play. Spring Poles have all those same benefits…… AND……

1- MORE impulse control. The tug is being directly controlled by you. Which means “some” of what keeps them from early strikes is spatial/social pressure. And “some” of what makes them out is you “deading” the toy (-P) to enforce the command. Well….. If the toy is inherently self reinforcing and not being controlled…… Their impulse control must be SOLID. And their out must be BOMBPROOF. Because, when you say out, they “can” keep going. That’s a HUGE jump in impulse control.

2- Increased area of influence. For you to send away, out, recall, down at distance etc…. your obedience from a distance has to be solid. Most people can say down and get compliance at 2 ft. At 20…. Not so much. compliance from your dog at 20 ft, in the face of an available, HUGE temptation…… That’s monster training.

3- Real world translation of skill. If you can out and down at a distance….. Or recall your dog OFF a spring pole, you have a much better chance of calling them off a squirrel! 

4- People have adopted  WAAAAAAY to much dog. There are a gang of nice little old ladies that are adopting Pits. Good for them. But they couldn’t play tug with their dog to save their fucking life. That’s a huge bummer. That dog will forever miss out on an amazing activity. And that owner will miss out on a great training modality. a trainer can do a few sessions and get the dog working on a spring pole. Then help them put one up. Get them all set. Then,,,,, Granny can work that dog like a champ! That’s a HUGE benefit. Really fills a hole for new, over their head adopters.

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(modern day Bully on a constructed pole Tell me that dog’s not the epitome of happy)

Here’s one of my dogs during their 3’rd session learning Spring Pole. As he gets better it’ll get higher. (the higher it is, the more it “fights”, the more impulse control it requires)

So…. There you are. Why I like, and teach people how to use the old school spring pole!

Maybe now I’ll put up a “How To Make One” article.

Tug: 2.0

So….. If you’ve read the blog at all, you know I’m a fan of tug.

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Particularly, in the Balabanov tradition, with Ellis making a close second. They’ve always said that it develops:

1. Engagement

2. Relationship

3. Language of training (terminal bridge, intermediate bridge, & no reward mark)

4. Impulse control

5. A high value “reward event” that isn’t food based

But….. If those weren’t enough reason to do it, I now have a few more!!!! And, they’re BIG.

1. This one is practical: It begins to “shape” the Conditioned Relaxation exercise Kayce Cover calls the “Toggle”. The way I teach the “out” is by using a “Dead Toy” out. It’s a form of Negative Punishment. Basically….. You make the toy become less fun. They “restart” the game, by letting go. I always knew that it shaped the idea that a sudden shift in body language could stop play. But once I learned the Toggle from Kayce (shifting from “Alert” to “Easy”), I realized that teaching tug first helps them understand the concept of “shifting gears”. Toggling just takes it much further.

(This little guy picked up the “toggle” much faster after teaching tug. A little bit of shaping, and a little bit of stress relief. Bringing me to #2)

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2. This one is theoretical: Biologically appropriate activity. That’s huge for a couple of reasons. First, it is a big stress reliever. And I don’t just mean in the way that exercise dissipates stress.  That’s totally true. Any exercise alleviates stress. But biologically appropriate activities are more than just an energy drain. Temple Grandin describes the “Freedom to express normal behaviors” as one of the four freedoms that define a healthy lifestyle. The others being freedom from hunger, pain, and fear! Well, for a dog, ripping and tearing with their mouth is as biologically fulfilling as it gets! Hell, developing COOPERATION over a thing we’re both gripping is natural!. Watch a pig hunt…. dogs hunting a pig…. not a pig hunting, that would just be weird. But, of all the activities you can do with your dog it is probably the MOST biologically fulfilling activity you can engage in with them.

Yeah, those are more “realizations” of what the hidden benefits are, than actual technique discoveries. But still….. Way more reasons to do it, if you don’t already.

Not sure HOW to do this?

Let me show you!

 

Jay Jack Pit Bull 101 Workshop!

I have been asked to come to Monaca, PA and give a workshop on my approach to the Bully Breeds!

August 30th, 9am.

Lecture Portion: We will cover the history of the breed, how it truly affects temperament, and my approach to helping the troubled ones. Also, which of the old school methods may still have a place in a modern Pit Bulls life.

Working Portion: My approach to foundation training that I use to work with these high drive game dogs we’ve all come to love. These are techniques that have been developed from my history with game dogs, and the most innovative, effective trainers in the country!

For more info, or to reserve a spot, please contact Paul @ http://www.abcaninetraining.com/

Look forward to seeing you there.