The following are my personal observations about taking on several APBT puppies.
There will be nothing new for people who are knowledgeable about Pit Bulls. In
1. APBTs are not for everyone. Definitely not for a first-time dog owner. Ferraris are not for everyone either. Ownership of an American Pit Bull Terrier demands dedication, a firm hand, willingness to commit to being responsible for every second of every minute, 24/7 of your dog's entire life. If you are a soft-hearted, Pollyanna and just want a dog to sleep with you, forget the Pit Bull. Yes, they are cuddly and many sleep with their human companions. Yes they love people. But they need A LOT of work to be safe, happy, and good companions for you. Also, if you are a cold-hearted bastard and like your dogs chained to a tree in the middle of the yard, don't bother with Pit Bulls. A chained dog CAN get really pissed off and should it ever got loose, I hope they bite you in the ass. If you are cruel to a dog, you will go to Hell, anyway, but I want you punished now, on this Earth.
2. APBTs are NOT guard dogs. Anybody who tells you otherwise is not knowledgeable. If you want a guard dog get one of the following: Fila Brasieliero, Dogo Argentino, Doberman (female), Dogue de Bordeaux, South-African Boerboel, Akita Inu, Rottweiler, Bouvier des Flandres, Cane Corso, Ca de Bou, Belgian Shepherd, Presa Canario, Bullmastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Thai Ridgeback, Giant Schnauzer, and Tosa Inu. But if you don’t know or don’t want to learn how to handle these dogs you are looking for a heap of trouble. So, better understand what you are getting into.
3. Minimum requirements:
a. Time – you should be prepared to spend at least 1 hour a day with your dog. Two hours is even better. Time will be spent:
vii. showing affection
This is for EVERY DAY for the life of the dog. After you exercise your dog hard, you have to cool it down by going for a slow walk and then apply a nice massage so the muscles won’t cramp. Your dog should not be exercised right after he gets fed. Need to wait at least 45 minutes. If you exercise him hard, he won’t want to eat right after, either. Err on the safe side – no food just before or just after exercise.
b. Money – you need to be prepared to spend quite a bit of money on training, food, vet bills, collars, leashes, brushes, nail-clippers, exercise equipment, and toys.
You should have at least 3 leashes, preferably 4:
i. one for training (6 ft)
ii. one for walking (5 ft)
iii. one for street walking (3 ft)
iv. one for long-distance work – I use a rock-climbing 50-ft nylon rope
v. retractable leashes are NOT for APBTs – ask me why, if you don’t understand.
Exercise equipment, per sé, is not necessary, but by exercising your dog you will be rewarded with a healthy dog that is also in good mental health and with equipment it will take you less effort than if you do it by running with the dog. If you are a fitness nut, by all means, jogging 5 miles twice a day EVERY day (come rain, snow, or sunshine) will do the trick. I, OTOH, play racquetball, do Yoga, T’ai Chi, ballroom dance, and walk fast for fitness. Other than walking, the dog can’t participate in my other activities. So I have a doggie (carpet mill, non-electric) treadmill, a mini-obstacle course in the backyard, a springpole, and light weight pulling equipment. And, of course, a lot of throw toys.
You won’t be able to buy just any dog toy. APBTs will EAT them. That includes the baddest and hardest Kong toy (the black one). Join Pit Bull discussion fora and see what people's experiences have been with different toys.
Those of us who take our responsibility of owning a Pit Bull seriously know that you can never be sure that your dog won't get into a fight with another dog. This is genetics. With proper training and good control of your dog, you can minimize "accidents." Still, just to cover your obligation to be prepared for all the contingencies of which you are aware, get a break stick. There are many sites that sell them, or you can look up one of the how-to sites and make one yourself. I hope none of us will ever need one, but if your Pit Bull gets hold of another dog, you need to know how to use a break stick. You also need to have practiced breaking up an impromptu dog fight. Below is a link where you can get a good education and buy a good quality break stick. Personally, I would never buy plastic. Mine are nice, slick, tough birch. I have never had to pull one out of my pocket yet, but I never walk with the dog without one. Better safe than sorry.
c. Knowledge – you will have to read as much as possible about the breed; you will have to become knowledgeable about puppies, generally; you will need to know everything about APBT puppies, specifically;
d. You must have a fenced in yard; the fence will have to be substantial, not shorter than 6-ft, preferably 8 ft. The fence will have to be buried at least 12 inches into the ground; privacy fences are ridiculous – don’t even think about containing an APBT with one. You cannot leave the dog by himself because he CAN jump any fence, will even use a tree next to a fence to climb it and jump off to the other side, will dig under, or even figure out how to unlock the gate(s). Depending where you live, leaving the dog alone, you also risk having it stolen. APBTs don’t handle heat well. If the temperature outside is cold, the rule of thumb shouId be simple.: don't leave the dog outside longer than it's comfortable for you in a shirt. Dogs will overheat in hot weather in no time at all and have to be able to come inside if they want to. When you play in the yard have plenty of water available ad lib.
4. Food. This is a huge deal with me. You have to do your homework and understand what a dog’s nutritional requirements are. Dr. Richard Pitcairn is an authority on dog and cat nutrition and his “Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats” is a must read.
Some people go all the way out there to