You say your Pit Bull loves other dogs? That he doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body, and you don't want to deny him of playtime with his buddies at the dog park? Please read the following and than reconsider your view of Pit Bulls and dog parks.
Selectively bred for combat with other dogs, the Pit Bull is genetically predisposed to dog-aggression. The breed was created to be the ultimate fighting machine. Although early socialization and training can make a big difference, it is impossible to erase genetics, and owners must never forget what their dogs were originally bred to do. Not all Pit Bulls will start a fight, but almost none will back down from one. And regardless of who started the fight, you can bet the Pit Bull will get the blame. Because of this, it is imperative that owners always keep their dogs under control and on leash when out in public.
It's also important to be watchful when out with your Pit Bull and aware of other dogs that may be loose in the area. Your well-behaved, on leash Pit Bull may be jumped by another (loose) dog who does not quite know what he is getting in to. It's wise to stay away from areas in which off leash dogs are known to frolic.
By their very nature, dog parks are hazardous. A bunch of loose dogs of all ages, breeds, and sexes, romping together merrily may seem like a good time, but dogs will be dogs, and unfortunately, such places are conducive to aggressive outbreaks. Many times, an owner may not even be aware of their animal's proclivity towards dog-aggression until it is placed in the often-times stressful environment of the park. And because of the wide variety of animals usually present--each with individual personalities, temperaments, and status--the possibility of two dogs clashing is high. Placing your dog in a situation in which he may have to defend himself from a challenging, pushy, or outright aggressive dog, just isn't fair. And when we're talking about Pit Bulls, a fight in a dog park could mean more than just some hurt feelings.
Because of the public's misperception of the Pit Bull, any member of the breed involved in a fight will automatically be the bad guy--deservedly or not. Even if your dog doesn't start the fight, it's not likely that he'll back down, and he probably will be the one to finish it. When small dogs are involved, even a fight that lasts only a few seconds could be deadly. And you can bet that sympathy for the "killer Pit Bull" in such a situation will be nill. When breed-specific legislation is knocking on the proverbial front door in towns all across America, every bad incident involving the Pit Bull serves as more fuel. Our breed is in jeopardy, and as their guardians, it's up to us to make sure we keep them out of trouble. Ask yourself: are dog parks really worth the risk? Are you willing to place your dog in a compromising position?
Many people feel guilty about depriving their dogs of playtime with other dogs at parks. The truth of the matter is, Pit Bulls just aren't a breed that is gregarious with other dogs. People are by far their number one priority! A dog's perceived need for canine girlfriends or boyfriends is more a human trait projected onto the animal than any real necessity. Our dogs are well-served by lots of human socialization, and early *controlled* exposure to other animals (at shows, obedience classes, puppy k, on-leash parks, trips to the pet store/veterinary office, etc)--this sort of socializing is much more appropriate and beneficial than romps in dog parks. So keep that dog safe, happy, healthy--and ON LEASH!
A Day At The Park
He is just like other dogs I would always say;
He loves to go to the dog park to play every day
Everyone loves him there, so it's ok;
My dog won't fight--he wasn't raised that way
But then one day, right before dark,
A troubled young man came into the park
He had by his side the biggest dog I'd ever seen,
And unfortunately for us, both were quite mean
We asked very nicely if they would just go;
The dog answered with a snarl and the man with a harsh "NO!"
Well his dog was a terror, threatening to all;
Then he started a fight with a Lab over a ball
They fought pretty hard and the man would not intervene;
Then here comes my dog and pushes right in between
He grabbed that big dog and thrashed him around;
And with one quick jerk threw him down on the ground
The Lab was able to escape; I heard everyone cheer;
But my dog was now in a frenzy and would not let me near
When he finally let go, what I saw stopped my heart;
That big mean dog had been torn apart
The authorities were called, the big dog was now dead;
But they didn't take the big dog; they took my dog instead
We all tried to explain that my dog saved the day;
But because of his breed he was taken away
You see my dog was a Pitbull and they don't get any breaks;
One small incident is all that it takes
A dog had died; And though he hadn't started the fight,
My dog was held responsible for what happened that night
He was deemed a danger to all and sentenced to death;
And I hold him now as he takes his last breath
It's my fault that my dog is being killed today;
Please listen for a moment to what I am going to say
Everyone warned me about his potential to fight;
I said it won't happen, I am raising him right
And now my dog is paying the ultimate price;
Because I was stubborn and wouldn't take the advice
He only did what he was bred to do;
Learn from our story; don't let it happen to you.
This poignant poem is reprinted here with the generous permission of its author, Sue Gauthier.