Experience with pit bulls?

asked 2016-06-28 14:52:17 -0500

I am the main caretaker of our dog guests and we have gotten requests to take pit bulls. My wife is very much against it because of their reputation. We have two dogs of our own and two pre-teen children. Do any of you hesitate to take this breed? Have you ever had any issues with it? If you do take them, what types of questions do you ask to properly screen them and make sure they are not aggressive? Or at a meet and greet, is there a good way to unveil any aggressive tendencies?

If you do take pit bulls, do you find that any of your other clients are hesitant to leave their dogs with you at the same time?

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I take pit bulls all the time, they are actually one of my favorite breeds. I have fostered over 33 of them and I have never had a single incident. I have had a few fosters with my when I have booked stays and not a single client of mine was bothered by the pit bull.

LuAnn D.'s profile image LuAnn D.  ( 2016-07-07 12:01:06 -0500 ) edit

I agree. Well, I have not sat on Rover, I have a friend who owns 2 lovely pits, and i see several at the off leash park. Maybe you and your wife can make regular truips to your local dog park and she can get to know some lovable pits

Jamie R.'s profile image Jamie R.  ( 2016-07-18 14:57:08 -0500 ) edit

1. Find out if your homeowners insurance is against insuring bully breeds. There's a chance your apt or landlord forbids the breed. 2. All pitbulls and pit mixes are different, just like people. Not good to generalize. I would meet the dog in a neutral space first like the dog park...

Vanessa C.'s profile image Vanessa C.  ( 2016-07-19 16:33:28 -0500 ) edit

to see if you and the dog are a match. If so, then take them to your wife to show. 3. I have owned a pit for 13 years and she was the sweetest dog I ever had. They just get really bad raps.

Vanessa C.'s profile image Vanessa C.  ( 2016-07-19 16:34:39 -0500 ) edit

We fostered a boxer/pitbull mix & a few weeks after we got her, she attacked/bit me one night during routine play. Had to get plastic surgery on my face. I say this not for sympathy (I'm OK!), but to make sure you know the dog very well before taking it into your home.

Kelley S.'s profile image Kelley S.  ( 2016-08-10 18:30:36 -0500 ) edit

I am a new sitter to Rover. I am bully breed and pitbull friendly so if you have any clients needing services please send them to me. Thanks

Adesjola T.'s profile image Adesjola T.  ( 2016-11-03 11:31:36 -0500 ) edit

Pitbulls, like many dogs, can snap. The issue is the size of their jaws and compact neck means they will do more damage. As PP said, some insurance companies and landlords will not allow Pitbulls so check first. I looked after 2 once and while they were angels, i sensed menace in the air.

David W.'s profile image David W.  ( 2019-12-31 15:27:52 -0500 ) edit

6 Answers

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answered 2016-06-29 11:31:19 -0500

I have a large number of pit bull clients, as my wife helps run a pit bull rescue. We have found that pit bulls are no different than any other breed of dog dog. The difference really exists only for the people with negative perceptions about the breed. Like any dog, poor socialization or maltreatment will result in unwanted behaviors. There are some physical characteristics of pit bulls (barrel chests, round heads, stocky and muscular torsos, etc) that have made them an attractive choice for people with poor intentions.

I think that if you are going to do any "special screening" procedures specifically for pit bulls, it would be best to just not take them. Meaning, if the dog's breed alone makes you take extra precautions, it might be best to let the owner find a sitter that is more comfortable with pit bulls.

That being said, I think it's always VERY important to very cautiously screen dogs that will be in your home, whether they be pit bulls or yorkies. Typically, I ask the owner to meet me at the dog park. If the dog doesn't do well with stranger dogs, they'll usually tell me at this point. Since I have dogs of my own, this is a red flag that I need to ask more questions regarding the dog's behavior. Perhaps they just don't do well with puppies. Maybe they don't do well with dogs of a certain size. These are things that owners might leave out of their initial contact that are important to tease out. Since you have children, ask if their dog has ever been around children. I have found that many owners don't carefully read sitter profiles.

Once at the dog park, I very carefully observe both the dog and the owner. Does the owner seem to be rushing through the meet and greet or trying to really sell me on their dog? This is a red flag for me. They may try to minimize issues they know the dog exhibits so they can find a sitter. Does the dog seem to be persistently invading other dogs' personal spaces? Is it exhibiting any sort of reactivity that could present an issue with my own dogs? These are good things to look for that could indicate that a dog hasn't been well socialized.

All in all, I've had more bad experiences with labs than pit bulls. It's unfortunate that the reputation of the breed has continued to propagate, as its largely unfounded. However, most pit bull owners are very aware that the stigma exists. Many places exclude "bully breeds", forcing owners of such dogs to be confronted with this time and time again. More often than not, they try to be very understanding and accept the risk that people may be uncomfortable around their dogs based on their appearance alone. If you decide not to take pits, I would advise adding that to your ... (more)

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I agree. If you feel you need special screening, you may be bringing prejudices into play that will negatively impact that stay. If you're nervous or unsure, any dog can sense that and *that* can create a problem faster than anything the dog may or may not do

Serina R.'s profile image Serina R.  ( 2017-01-06 01:09:10 -0500 ) edit

I would not recommend Pitbulls to inexperienced handlers or if you have children. The dogs can snap, and whilst a chihuahua can also snap, they won’t take an arm or a leg in the processs.

David W.'s profile image David W.  ( 2019-12-31 15:29:16 -0500 ) edit
answered 2016-06-28 16:13:47 -0500

I don't hesitate at all to take care of pit bulls, but they do have a reputation and I understand why. I have pit bull type dogs of my own and if I were to ask for someone to sit for me, I would make sure I was very upfront about them and their tendencies because that is just me being a responsible dog owner and I know how people look at them. You want to make sure the owner is being completely honest. One of my dogs is dog aggressive and the other has never growled at any other animal or person at all in her lifetime. Every dog is different, and not just pit bulls, this goes for any dog...they are all unpredictable. It would help to ask the owner if their dog has had any altercations with other animals and people. Are they used to children petting them? Are they aggressive towards strangers? Have they ever growled at the owner? These are important questions to help make your decision. But those are questions you would ask any dog owner, at least I would, regardless of what kind of dog it is. If you are looking for signs of aggression during the meet and greet, look for any stiffness of the tail and gaze. If the tail is stiff and the eyes are locked, back off. Just trust your gut...you would be surprised how many sweet pit bulls there are in this world, good luck!

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I’ve seen Pitbulls become more aggressive if they are not neutered, the aggression seems to jump in later years. There are plenty of dogs needing sitting on rover, so leave these ones to the experienced handler. For $50 you shouldn’t take the chance.

David W.'s profile image David W.  ( 2019-12-31 15:58:37 -0500 ) edit
answered 2016-06-28 23:03:58 -0500

I'm a traveling sitter (drop-ins, walks) so I don't know if my answer will apply. I also had reservations regarding pit bulls because of their reputation, not because I've ever met one. My very first client (and most repeat/loyal client) has a pit bull and a pit mix (2 dogs) that I absolutely LOVE! Like any dog, each one has their own personality including charms and quirks. Their pet mom was upfront about them (they are both rescues) and told me exactly what commands to use to get them to respond - which I really appreciated. The older (purebred pit bull) doesn't care for other dogs much, but doesn't go out of her way to go near them. She LOVES people though! The younger (pit mix) LOVES everybody, but is very skittish and takes a while to let you near her. I have a different client with a pit bull that is the sweetest and most playful dog while in her own home. On walks she struts her stuff, but does not like other dogs, so I do an about face and avoid any confrontations. I was also told about this during our meet & greet. So far, I've had nothing but good visits with all of these dogs. I think the pit bull reputation has ruined the breed, as the wrong type of owner tends to gravitate toward them. Those (bad) owners aren't the type to use any type of pet sitting services, in my opinion; and probably shouldn't have pets of any kind. With the right owner that properly trains and cares for their dog, regardless of breed, you'll always end up with a good dog! I don't see the harm in doing a meet & greet to interview the dog and owner. That being said, if you are uncomfortable after you meet & greet a pit bull, just follow your gut and say "no thanks".

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answered 2016-07-18 14:25:37 -0500

Although Pits do have a bad reputation, I have boarded multiple pitbulls from different owners and had no trouble with them. They are just like any other breed, and many times it all comes down to how they were raised and how their owners trained them. As for the pitbulls I watched, they were all non barkers, never snapped or bit, listened to commands, and got along with other dogs just fine. The best way to know if you are planning to watch a pitbull, or any other dog for the matter, is to spend time with them during the meet and greet before their stay. If you are watching other dogs or have other dogs during their stay, it's also a good idea to introduce the dogs as well on common ground during the M&G to make sure they get along. It's best to ask the dog owner upfront if the dog has had any tendencies of aggression, tends to have separation anxiety, gets along with people, gets along with other dogs, and etc. It could also be a good idea if you would like to take extra precaution to have a second meet and greet at your home to make sure they are comfortable there as well. If the dog does happen to snap or show signs of stress, they are most likely having separation anxiety or aren't used to their new surroundings. If the dog shows aggression , make sure to give them a lot of space and let them decide when they start to feel comfortable.

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answered 2016-07-18 21:24:38 -0500

I agree strongly with the answers you have already gotten and don't have much to add, but thought I might as well share my most recent pit experience - just finished up a stay with a very, very sweet pit bull female who, prior to her current home was adopted from the Humane Society where it was unclear where exactly she was rescued from, but it was definitely not a great environment. The most challenging part of her stay was just to get her feeling confident -- there were no problems with my resident dogs, no issues with walks, she greeted everyone she could at the Farmer's Market over the weekend very kindly and calmly - but any loud noise, any sudden movements, and she would sink to the floor with anxiety. This was one of my first experiences with the breed, and I was struck by the things people on her walks would say -- "Oh that's a pit -- get that thing away from my yard." I understand completely if you see a dog being actively aggressive, but this was a dog who was simply enjoying a walk in a quiet neighborhood! Never have I ever been told to walk away from someone's yard because of the dog that I was walking, simply because the dog looked "scary" -- and this poor dog was more terrified than the people!

Anyway, rant over, it just made me so upset! This was an overly sweet dog who crawled under the covers in bed with me just to get as close as possible -- not an aggressive stereotype. That being said, none of this really answered your question -- definitely agree with what the others said about screening each dog carefully as no dog is just their breed.

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I also foster and run into this stereotype all the time. And whats even more horrible is I have had MANY people say "oh thats a pitt" and I have to grit my teeth, smile and say "Her? Not even close! She's..... mastiff/bulldog/boxer/pointer/Shepherd/lab etc"

Serina R.'s profile image Serina R.  ( 2017-01-06 01:06:27 -0500 ) edit

Like any dogs, Pitbulls can be fine one minute and then “snap” out of the blue. Is this a chance worth taking. Some say yes, some day no. But people should know what they are getting themselves into. Especially if there are young kids in the house.

David W.'s profile image David W.  ( 2019-12-31 15:31:04 -0500 ) edit
answered 2017-03-21 10:56:34 -0500

I say no to a number of breeds, pitbulls, rottweilers, and any breed that has been bred for aggressive behavior or hard bite. In fact it's a selling point to my customers, to tell them that is my policy. It's in their genes people.

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It is fine to have this as your policy, if that's what makes you feel comfortable. But it is sad that you are judging every dog in a breed category based on your ideas about them. That's like saying every American is selfish or every German has anger issues, every person and dog is an individual.

Elizabeth S.'s profile image Elizabeth S.  ( 2017-03-28 12:30:27 -0500 ) edit

So no to chihuahuas, right? :D Statistically they bite the most....

Serina R.'s profile image Serina R.  ( 2017-07-20 11:50:37 -0500 ) edit

It’s not about bite frequency it’s about damage done. These dogs can maul you to death. I’ve boarded hundreds of dogs and this is the only dog that has had an air of menace about everything, from sitting on couch, to playing ball, to walking.

David W.'s profile image David W.  ( 2019-12-31 15:33:35 -0500 ) edit

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