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No such thing as a mean dog

Greg Moffatt's picture

Two street thugs were being arrested in Atlanta and canine control was on the scene taking possession of a vicious-looking pit bull, apparently owned by one of the men being arrested.  It took more personnel to control the pit bull than it did to detain and arrest the two grown men. 

 Pit bulls have a reputation of being vicious.  Indeed they can be.  They are very powerful, muscular dogs and when they bite down, they can apply over 3,000 pounds of pressure allowing them to maintain a grip that has spawned the myth that their jaws lock shut.  But pit bulls are not mean dogs.  They are aggressive by nature, but they are mean when they are mistreated, ignored, or deliberately trained to be mean.

Every breed of dog has its own personality that is exhibited in its behavior.  Beagles are friendly, but they bark a lot and they love to run.  Beagles are not good dogs for apartment dwellers.  On the other hand, pugs are affectionate, small, and excellent dogs for people living in apartments.  Labs are very good with children and they love to play in the water, but they have a reputation for chewing on everything.  Bassett hounds tend to be very laid back dogs, but are also known to be stubborn.   

Whether a dog is loyal, affectionate, active, or aggressive is descriptive of what it is by nature.  These traits, however, can be managed by training.  Even a passive dog can and will bite if mistreated by its owner.  Aggressive dogs can be trained to control their aggression.  The key to picking the right dog is having the right environment and providing plenty of love, affection, training, and attention to the animal.

People are like dogs in a way.  There are all types of personalities.  Some of us are aggressive by nature and some of us are passive or affectionate.  Some people are quiet and well-suited for apartments while others are range-roving individuals who need lots of space. 

But children are forced into an environment regardless of personality.  They go to a school that requires them to do certain activities in certain ways at specific times.  They have no choice in how they are allowed to express themselves.

As long as a child’s personality type matches what is expected of her, she probably will get along OK with minimal trouble, but for the many children whose personalities don’t match their forced environments, they have trouble.  Parents and teachers think of them as difficult children when, in fact, they are simply trying to learn to manage their personalities in environments that aren’t hospitable to them.  In essence, they are land-roving children stuck in apartments.  One can easily recognize the foolishness of an apartment dweller getting a beagle or a lab and then complaining that it tore the place up.  But for some reason we don’t as easily see a child who isn’t well-suited for his environment and who needs a little extra attention and training.

Many of the children I work with are like that pit bull in Atlanta.  They have been mistreated or allowed to pursue their aggressive instincts without correction.  They are not bad kids.  They just haven’t been trained properly or worse, they have been mistreated.  But even when they have been mistreated, they can be retrained if the adults in their lives take the time to love, nurture, and teach them.   

Training a dog is easiest when training starts when it is a puppy.  It is much harder to correct bad habits in a grown dog than it is to teach good habits from the beginning to a young dog.  Children are the same.  Likewise, almost any dog left unattended for hours at a time, ignored, or mistreated, will get into trouble.  In a similar way, children can be trained to be mean and disruptive when they are repeatedly frustrated, abused, or ignored. 

I’m not suggesting that children should not go to school or learn to accommodate to various environments as needed, but I am suggesting children have innate drives and personalities.  When that personality is allowed to blossom, they flourish.  Your job as a parent is to determine the innate personality of your child and teach him how to cope with life using the skills that come along with his personality and supplementing skills where they are weak or absent.  This comes through patience, time, observation, and nurturance.


"Pit bulls" (the term pit bull is one which encompasses several breeds that are a TYPE of dog, not a breed itself) are NOT "aggressive by nature". They have a breed TENDENCY to be ANIMAL aggressive. They were, in fact, long bred to NOT be human aggressive, even as fighting dogs, as handlers had to be able to get between fighting dogs without being bitten. A breed TENDENCY means that they may or may NOT be animal aggressive but many are. German Shepherds have a breed tendency to be fear biters, that doesn't mean they all are. Please be more careful in your wording, the bully breeds (as breeds having any descendancy from bull dogs are commonly referred to) already have enough problems with reputation without careless reporting by even well-meaning people.

your way off the scale with the 3000lbs per square inch bite force of a pit bull. its actually about 230lbs per square inch and can be seen on youtube when discovery did a study of animals and bite force. the alligator has the strongest at about 3000lbs, followed by the hyenia. wrong information on these wonderful dogs is half the reason of there stigma in the first place.

You are so wrong about pit bulls being aggressive. They are not aggressive towards people at all. Yes, sometimes they can be dog aggressive but that's because horrible humans breed them to be this way. I am a dog psychologist/behaviorist and this is one breed of dog that I rarely go to a home to work with because it isn't aggressive towards humans. It just doesn't happen. I go to homes every week where Goldens,labs and other breeds that are attacking their owners or friends. The American Pit Bull is the most loyal,loving and kind breed. I also rescue this breed. Many of these dogs have been so mistreated and have lived in terrible conditions, but they are still loving toward humans. Articles like yours are what creates fear in people. You need to retract your statement because it isn't TRUE. Don't judge a book by its cover and don't judge a dog by its reviews.

The only good pit bulls are the ones you bury. Then why is it the only dogs attacking humans weekly are pit bulls. Every heard of a Maltese attack. One easy injection by a vet and its over. Put them to sleep

its not the breeds fault---its ignorant people like you who dont have proper knowledge who are the ones to blame. Without understanding the nature & needs of a pit bull or disregarding these needs, they can turn out to be on the aggressive side. I have a pit of my own who is far more timid than my lab mix when it comes to dog aggression etc--I would warn you first of my lab mix before I ever thought to warn you of my pit bull. Also, I have taken in FULL GROWN pit bulls that I have no background on off the streets into my own home and re-homed them and never once had an issue. I have been attacked by a german sheperd, a great dane and another mutt--never once have I been attacked by a pit bull.

Ever gone to the pound and seen the dogs in quaratine? I have, and majority of them are little dogs, so yes I have heard of a maltese attack and other various small dog breeds---get your facts straight "normal"

The only good ignorant people are the ones we bury.


PTC Observer's picture

Ever wonder why they call them "Pit" Bulls?

Not "Pit" Labs or "Pit" Collies, but "Pit" Bulls.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in 2000 a study on dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) that covered the years 1979-1998. The study found reports of 238 people killed by dogs over the 24-year period, of which "pit bull terrier" or mixes thereof were reportedly responsible for killing 76, or about 32 percent, of the people killed by dogs in the attacks identified in the study. The breed with the next-highest number of attributed fatalities was the Rottweiler and mixes thereof, with 44 fatalities or about 18 percent of the study-identified fatalities. In aggregate, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and mixes thereof were involved in about 50% of the fatalities identified over the 20-year period covered by the study, and for 67% of the DBRF reported in the final two years studied (1997–1998),

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