Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 6 May 2003 Issue
WHAT JILL KNOWS
Is My Dog A Pit Bull? Help!
We adopted a dog from someone 4 months ago. Sassy's a tan girl dog (spayed), about 3 years old, with white on her paws, short hair and a big brown nose. She is well-behaved, playful and gentle. We thought she was a mutt, you know-- a "mix-breed". Sassy's been an angel, she's housetrained and she only chews on her toys. We have a 4 year old boy and Sassy loves to kiss his face and sits beside him most of the time. She has never snapped or growled or anything. The other day we were out walking the dog when our landlord approached us and said we would have to plan on moving out since we got a PIT BULL. We told him, no way, this is a mutt, but he was adamant about Sassy being a purebred pit bull. Her ears are triangular and somewhat floppy. Jill, we've looked at dog breed books at the bookstore and most of the American Pit Bull Terriers have little stubby ears that point up. How can we convince our landlord that Sassy is not a pit bull and isn't going to attack and shred our neighbors??? She would never hurt a fly! We know this dog and she doesn't have a mean bone in her body. Please help us, we are very distressed over this!
Dear Jameson Family,
Hmmm.... Sassy could be part pit bull terrier -- but that's doesn't mean she is automatically aggressive or a bad companion! As I have never seen your dog, I cannot determine her breed. Pit bull terriers come in a range of colors, sizes and body shapes. Their natural ears flop downwards. When people cut the tops of the ears off ("crop"), this creates an unnatural, small stubby ear, which points skyward and makes the dog look "meaner".
For all we know, Sassy could be a true mutt without an ounce of terrier in her.
Do not despair, there are a number of actions you can take to resolve this situation. First of all, I suggest that you try to find the former guardian of Sassy and have them sign over the dog to you. The paper could read something like, "I John Smith relinquish my 3 year old, tan with white paws, female/spayed mixed-breed dog "Sassy" to the Jameson Family on this day of -----."
Next, I recommend you have your vet verify, in writing, that your dog is, indeed, well-behaved/non-aggressive and a mixed breed "mutt."
Bring your dog to reputable dog trainers and have them temperament-test Sassy. Also, ask them what kind of dog they think Sassy is. Request that they put it in writing. Offer to compensate them with cash for their time. Put this paperwork in Sassy's file.
Obtain a dog license from your town or city, and on the paperwork list Sassy's breed as "mixed," or simply guess her heritage (i.e. "shepherd/hound/boxer"). Save a copy of this with other important dog papers.
Do the same with Sassy's vet paperwork, when she gets her annual distemper vaccinations and her rabies shot.
Look in your local phonebook for animal training facilities and find a reputable, kind and gentle dog trainer who teaches dog obedience classes. Perhaps your local animal supply store and/or veterinarian could suggest a good instructor and class.
Only take Sassy to a dog obedience class where she will be awarded a certificate or "diploma" when she "graduates." Start attending dog obedience class immediately --- it's a fun bonding and learning experience for both you and your canine companion. What you learn in the class you can practice, practice, practice at home and before you know it, Sassy will be The Most impressively well-behaved and Officially trained dog on your block! Frame her diplomas.
Armed with a well-behaved, well-trained canine companion, and written documentation from professionals stating that your dog has been temperament-tested and is non-aggressive, you will be better able to convince your landlord that your Sassy is a suitable resident.
Best of luck to you and Sassy!
Love and paw pats,
Companion Animal Behavior Consultant
What Jill Knows, Copyright 2002
Think you know a Pitbull? Visit this link, take the test.
Click here: Find The Pit Bull Game
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