Not a bad dog-just bad dog owners!

From the left: Levubu’s Blue of Free State Blue Family Kennels, Clifford Mark Oliver (owner), GSKs Blaire, Free State Bullies’ Teddy, Eric Hung (Franchise owner), Tavares’ Sage of Free State Bullies. Photo: Supplied

“There is no such thing as a bad dog, it is just bad owners,” shares Clifford Mark Oliver, the founder and owner of Free State Bullies and Free State Blue Family Kennels, when asked about the stigma against Pit Bulls.

According to Clifford, this breed is continuously suffering because of backyard breeding, sensationalism, irresponsible ownership, the lack of knowledge regarding the dog’s bloodlines, and how to care for them, among other things. Pit Bulls are not characteristically aggressive but just as with any other behavioral tendencies, they can be taught that.

Levubu’s Blue of Free State Blue Family Kennels. PHOTO: Supplied

“There are circumstances where they are taught to be aggressive, whether the owner is conscious of that, or subconsciously. For instance, if you lock your dog away every time there are guests around and then let him out when they are gone, the one time you decide to not lock them away, the dog could end up biting because of how it was taught. Many owners do not know this because they aren’t educated on these topics,” continues Clifford.

Clifford says that before getting any dog, people need to understand what it means to care for it. “Often times, people are very careless which leads to the negative narrative that circulates around the media, when the actual problem isn’t the dog, but the owner’s carelessness. If your gate is left open and the dog goes out, it isn’t fair to slam the dog when the issue is the owner leaving the gate open,” he says.

Pit Bulls, just like other dogs, can be a source of emotional support for others, income, companionship, safety and much more. Training Manager, Behaviour Consultant, and Partner at Fetch! K9 Services, Christa Henning, says that Pit Bull puppies are just like any other breed’s puppies. “All puppies must be properly socialised to humans of all ages, other dogs, other animals, and the changing environment because they don’t come into this world understanding how humans think. So, we as humans must learn to understand how dogs think and learn,” she says

Tips from Christa on responsible ownership

  1. The focus should be on preventing breeding by non-registered breeders and not by banning the breed. All dogs, and not just Pit Bulls, suffer because of people buying dogs from these “breeders”. The welfare of all dogs should be the priority. The so-called ‘’backyard” breeding or irresponsible breeding practices are the cause of most rescue dogs in this world.

2. All people should try and attend properly run/ managed puppy classes with their puppies from the age of 8 weeks.

3. They should go to a puppy school where the puppies are safe and where only puppies between the ages of 8 weeks to 16 weeks (for large breeds) and 18 weeks (small to medium breeds) are allowed.

4. People should also educate themselves about the type of puppy they have. Puppy classes are only the beginning of the dog’s life, and more training should be done as the puppy grows up.

5) Puberty starts from the age of 6-7 months in some small and miniature breeds and in some large and giant breeds, from 18-24 months. Going into puberty changes the dog’s personality and most people need help with their dogs in this age group

Bonolo Moloi