Friday, February 1, 2013

On being breedist...

Sometimes I feel like I am harder on Seppel for behaviors that he displays because he is a Pit Bull.

Looking back at some of the things Seppel has done, I often wonder if Seth and LiLo displayed the same behavior - would I feel the same way? Would it be as bad? Would it make me concerned?

I think it's stupid to not be cautious when you own any breed of dog, but I think it is even more idiotic to not be cautious when you own a 60lb powerful dog that could take down livestock. I'm not saying that being hyper sensitive about things is the way to go - but I feel in most cases it is better to be safe than sorry.

Recently I went for a walk with my dad and brought Seppel along. A neighbor was getting the mail and my dad engaged him in conversation. My dad jokingly acted like he was telling Seppel to attack. They started talking and the guy eyed Sepp cautiously and I stupidly told him Seppel was friendly. When he started talking to him Seppel growled and lunged at the guy. I immediately told him to down and leave it - which he did, and the guy backed off. As much as I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, like he was reading my vibes that this guy freaks me out [because he does], part of me just wants to think he was being an asshole.

Since that night he's been totally fine. He's gone up to several strangers, and one of my coworkers husbands no problem. He's very excited to see them and wants to be loved on. Complete strangers and he's totally cool.

The thing I've started to notice for myself is I am definitely more critical of the things Seppel does. If LiLo had growled and lunged at the guy it would not have bothered me nearly as much - especially since that is totally the kind of dog LiLo is.

I think in owning a Pit Bull I am realizing whenever we go out we are representing our whole breed. If Sepp steps out of line, it isn't just me who looks bad, it's all of the Pit Bulls and all of their owners getting judged - because of how my dog is acting.

Now that I have had some time to cool off and think about the situation I just think the situation was overall just bad. It was getting late, my dad egged Seppel on, I went on the defensive worrying that he was going to go for this guy, this guy was worried about him. I think it was several things that set Seppel up to fail.

In the future I will be more careful with people interactions. I may ask that if the person wants to pet Seppel that they let us approach them. If I have food on me I may ask that they give him a treat. If I have an uneasy feeling or Seppel is looking to be too intense I will just tell them he's either in training or that he's not friendly. Truly people don't have to pet my dog and there's no need to set him up for a bad situation.

I have been keeping up with my new year's resolution and I have been walking Seppel more. Sometimes he's really uptight when we're walking. His tail isn't tucked but it's low, his ears are back, he's concentrating. A few times on walks now I have encouraged him to play tug with the leash. The game seems to break the walk up and he seems to relax and get more confident. I know that he didn't go very many places in his former home. He's definitely more comfortable indoors than outdoors. Pet stores did take some getting used to for him, and he's cautious about the automatic doors, but he's gotten much better as I have taken him more often to buy things. He has always been friendly to the people in the pet stores and usually gets a treat when we go. Same thing with getting coffee or gas - he's practically hanging out the window waiting for a treat.

I know when I first got Seppel I was very critical in terms of his behavior. Hurting the cat, trying to chase my horse? But in retrospect I set him up for failure both times, and in the situation with my horse what dog could resist chasing a running horse? I can't say Seth or LiLo would not have done the same. LiLo has chased my horse before and it didn't freak me out nearly as much as it did when Seppel did it. All I could picture was him grabbing and holding onto her neck and piercing her jugular, or holding on and shaking and no one would get there in time to help me.

The reality is he's a powerful dog. I think I will always be cautious and leery of new or certain behaviors he shows. I think I will always be somewhat critical of him if he steps out of line. However, when I take a moment to cool off I'll definitely ask myself if what he's doing is reasonable dog behavior, or the behavior of a "bad Pit Bull". I'm thinking more often than not, he's just being a dog.

Yes, he's a Pit Bull. But before he's a Pit Bull, he's dog.

1 comment:

  1. It's so easy to think like this - but you're right, he's a dog first. Cesar definitely has that one right! They are a powerful and intense breed. It can be difficult to trust them because of the mass amounts of false information we have all been fed about them.