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Questions Answered
by Richard F. Stratton

I have two pitbulls, one is a two year old American Rednose Pitbull Terrier, weighing approximately 90lbs, and the other is a one year old American Pitbull Terrier, weighing approximately 45lbs. Both of them are males and I just recently had the 1yr old neutered.

I consider normal discipline as raising my voice in a stern manner when they aren't paying attention, pulling on their choker and if needed pulling them to the ground or lifting their front legs off the ground so they make eye contact. When they get tangled up I pull them back around the way they came so they will learn. I also have a rolled up newspaper that has tape around it and I will smack it on the ground to startle them or smack them on their hind quarters.

When I play with them, I play rough. This type of breed plays this way! I will swing them around when they have a rope or a stick in their mouth and naturally they hold on and get airborne. When they let go they go flying and they come back up for more. The Rednose can jump four feet in the air and reach eight feet to grab sticks and balls out of the air, he will also go as far as catching four sticks one after the other. He knows 12 tricks and can follow a scent trail. The Pitbull can't jump as high but can do 4 or 5 tricks. I also grab them by their jowls and swing them around. I also smack them pretty hard but they like it. I will also kick them between the front arms and they like that as well.

People are questioning my training and say that I'm abusing my dogs. I could use your help by sending any information you think may be helpful in establishing the common practices with this type of breed. I'm looking for information regarding the pain tolerance in this breed compared to other breeds and the fact that they do like it rough. Also any documents regarding the difference in disciplinary technique this breed requires in comparison to a "regular" dog type and the amount of force needed with this breed compared to "regular" dogs. I would also like some information supporting this breeds intelligence level.

I would like to request your assistance in validating my beliefs and my dog rearing practices. Would it be possible for you to respond in writing on the behaviors, discipline and nurturing of this breed of dog. In this area, pitbulls are viewed as a useless, mean and aggressive animal and it appears to me that very few people understand what it takes to raise this type of dog.

I thank you in advance for your anticipated assistance, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

I can be contacted at the following e-mail address: [email protected]

Ryan Anhorn
Hi Ryan,

This is Richard Stratton here. For some reason Bill thought I should be the one to answer you, and Iím not sure why because he is the one with a background in dog training. But I do have some experience with the breed and have written some books. I think most people feel that they are a good basis for understanding the breed.

First, as to terminology. The term "dog breed" means a race within a speciesĖalthough there is considerably more variation between dog breeds than human races. All dog breeds belong to the species known scientifically as Canis familiaris. Now, a strain is a race or variation within a breed. The American Pit Bull Terrier is a breed. The Old Family Red Nose is a strain within a breed. It was once a renowned fighting strain about fifty years ago. Today it more often is a larger-than-average Pit Bulldog bred for pet purposes, although there are some pit strains, too. The point is that both your dogs are Pit Bulls, but they have different bloodlines.

The Pit Bull breed is pretty much misunderstood everywhere, but it is not an opinion gleaned from genuine knowledge. It is a result of the high profile of the breed in the news media as a killer dog. The hunting and fighting history of the breed can make them a danger to other animals. Because of that, they should be kept confined in a yard or on leash at all times, but this is the law for all dogs in most areas. Individuals of the breed should have responsible ownership. Unfortunately, their appeal is to the opposite.

As for your training methods, Pit Bulls thrive on rough treatment as long as they know that it is play. As for discipline, they actually need milder correction than other breeds. Just a harsh word is enough to correct most individuals in the breed. Strange, isnít it, that this image is directly contrary to the public mentality?

In regard to intelligence, it is difficult to ascertain the intelligence of a breed. With a long life timeís experience with a number of breeds, it is my opinion that Pit Bulldogs are one of the smartest breeds of dog. In fact, they are a contender for the number one spot. I donít try to push that opinion too far, as it is the stock in trade of every breed adherent; however, it is certainly true that the breed has its share of intelligent individuals. Not that there arenít dumb dogs in the breed, but on average, they are quite smartĖeven if this, too, goes against their public image!