Introducing your Pit Bull to people may seem a bit intimidating at first however it is an important step in creating a well-balanced, happy dog. It also goes a long way in showing your neighbors and community that your dog is just that, a dog.
I have 2 Pit Bulls who I have introduced to many people over the years. I am not sure how it is with your dogs, but mine have very different personalities. They are both fun, energetic, amazing dogs, however one is much more laid back than the other.
Because not all dogs are the same, when you’re introducing Pit Bulls to people, whether it’s in public or inside your home, you should always know how they will react beforehand. You should also be aware of your surroundings. Even the nicest dogs can get nervous and act in unexpected ways if there is a lot of activity going on, so keep that in mind.
We adopted Brooke when she was 5 years old. By the time she came into our lives, her personality and temperament were well established.
She can be dog aggressive at times, I am fully aware of that, however when it comes to people she is definitely one of the nicest dogs I have ever met.
Even if she doesn’t know you, she will greet you with a tail that wags her whole body and a kiss that will get you right in the middle of your face. She literally smiles when she meets people and her excitement makes me laugh every time.
I am honestly surprised that she IS this loving towards people considering her previous family abandoned her. I don’t know about you but if I was left in the middle of nowhere, I would not be so trusting of humans.
But our girl Brooke loves adults and kids; she can’t get enough of either one. And you won’t be able to stop yourself from loving her back. People are immediately drawn to her and I believe she is a wonderful ambassador for her breed.
This is my girl but even I have to admit that she is a bit odd at times.
We raised Riley from a puppy, a few months old, and we socialized her from day 1. We took her with us everywhere; to parades, my husband’s coffee shop, areas where there was a lot of stuff going on. We introduced her to all sorts of people and she loved it.
I took her for training, she passed her Good Canine Citizenship test, and she met many awesome dogs that she really enjoyed playing with.
However now that she is older, she is a bit different and I don’t really understand why.
She gets anxious about the strangest things and even though we raised her to be social and not afraid, I think that maybe she feels like she has to protect me all the time. I can be anxious, I am working on it but I have to own up to it. So, is Riley sometimes reacting to my energy? Many would say yes.
Because of this, I try to be calm around her. When she is acting overly nervous for whatever reason, I don’t baby her. I know that if I ALLOW her to have those feelings, I am just reinforcing them.
Introducing Pit Bulls to People- What If My Dog Is Nervous?
I know we want our dogs to be all around great dogs, and most ARE, however they don’t all follow one set of guidelines.
Because Riley gets nervous around people she doesn’t know, we are much more careful with how we handle her.
There are many people she likes and when she is with them, she is totally fine. She has her close circle of human friends and she’s happy.
Some people say I should make SURE she’s a social dog. Society wants Pit Bull owners to go above and beyond to prove our dogs are normal. I have no problem doing that because I am a Pit Bull advocate and WANT people to know that they are safe animals. However, in Riley’s case, I believe that pushing her into social situations that she hates, just so people can see that Pit Bulls are not aggressive, is not fair to her. Let’s just say she’s a work in progress.
Am I wrong in this or do you agree?
Introducing Pit Bulls to People; Home and Away
So as we have discovered, I have 2 Pit Bulls who are completely different from each other. Even though they are complete opposite dogs, when I introduce them to people they don’t know, I do it the same way with both. I know my dogs will not hurt anyone however I am cautious for the sake of everyone.
- Make sure your guest WANTS to meet your dog. If not, it’s probably best to keep him in a separate room; the dog, not the guest. 🙂 Dogs sense fear so if your guest is nervous, it may not even be worth it right now. Maybe next time.
- Make sure your dog WANTS to meet your guest. Some dogs (like Riley) aren’t too thrilled about meeting new people. If this is the case with your Pit Bull, keep him in a separate room until your guest leaves.
- Let your dog approach your guest first. It’s never a good idea for a person to reach out to a dog they don’t know, regardless if he’s friendly or not. It is best to let the dog come up first and then the new person can offer their hand for him to smell. Once you know your dog is comfortable, then he can be pet.
- Keep him under control. Keep your dog on a leash to begin with and make sure he sits and stays. Obviously, some dogs get excited and jump on people so the leash and your verbal commands should control him during this time of excitement.
- Treats! If you’d like, give your guest a few treats for your dog. Once your dog is comfortable with having a new person in his home, those treats will be the beginning of a long and happy relationship.
- Multiple Dogs. If you have more than one dog, make sure to introduce them to your guest separately. They will be much more excited with someone new in the house and having both of their energy together is not the smartest thing you can do.
- This is your dog’s home. Your dog will be more cautious and curious about people because they are in his space. He may feel that he needs to be more protective than normal. Remember, this is his home. You can have the most well-balanced dog on the planet but if he suspects any sort of threat, he will react.
Away From Home
- No contact. Again, make sure the person does not automatically reach out towards your dog. I will never understand why people do this, but they do. You are in a public area and your dog is meeting someone for the first time. His senses are on overload and he is excited. If a person reaches his hand towards your dog, he could absolutely see this as a threat and react in a bad way.
- Stay in control. This is especially true when you are in a public place with a lot of stuff happening. Since your dog will be on a leash make sure he is listening and obeying your verbal commands. Make sure he stays seated until you say otherwise.
- Be calm. Make sure your dog is comfortable with this person before letting your guard down, especially if it is someone your dog doesn’t know. Even if it is someone he does know, make sure your dog is calm and at ease before letting anyone pet him.
- Make sure YOU are comfortable with this person. If you aren’t, your dog will absolutely sense this and react. This can be a good thing because it may deter a bad person. However, just because you are uncomfortable with someone doesn’t mean they are going to do anything negative and your dog reacting to your feelings could get him in a lot of trouble. Either way, you want to avoid these types of situations if you can help it. If you are uncomfortable with someone, walk away.
Whether you have a completely confident dog or a slightly nervous one, introducing them to people should always be done carefully. I am a firm believer of relying on your instincts when it comes to your dogs, you know them best. If your Pit Bull loves meeting new people then show him off. He is a great representative of the breed.
If you think your dog is not comfortable, that’s ok too, don’t force it. Just as it is with people, not all dogs are the same. It takes time.
For me personally, its hard to understand why my two dogs, raised the same, react to things in totally different ways. I know we didn’t have Brooke for the first few years of her life so we don’t know how she was treated early on, however she is generally more confident than Riley. We’ve had Riley since she was just a puppy and we socialized her a lot, but she’s the nervous one.
It’s fascinating to me.
If you’re interested in different ways to socialize your dog, check out my review of Cesar Millan’s Socialization DVD and let me know what you think.
If you have any other ideas or questions, please drop me a comment below. I would love to hear your opinion on my dogs and yours!