Friday, July 11, 2008

Diffusing Tension

Let's face it. People are scared of Pit Bulls. People get tense, nervous and downright panicky in their presence. Nasty looks and haughty one-liners may be the natural response to those who voice their disdain for our breed, but these negative reactions to negative encounters only breed more negativity. And we sure have more than enough of THAT to go around!

While a well-behaved, under control dog does more for the breed than character space limits would allow room to say, Breed Advocates can employ a number of additional tactics that go the distance to dispel fears.

Besides typical polite dog guardian behavior (leashing, picking up poop, keeping your pup from leaving pee mail in the wrong 'mailboxes', and avoiding crowding of apprehensive passers-by on sidewalks), here are a couple of other neat tricks to try that will wow while also helping to shape new perspectives:

  • Ditch the chain leashes and spiked collars - sport fancy, fun wear by companies like Collar Mania (a proud supporter of rescued Pit Bulls!) and humane training gear by Premier & SofTouch Concepts, slick leather leashes by Raw Dog, and excellent martingales by Schafer Kennel.

  • Cute-up by dressing your bulldawg in dog t's or coats (in the colder months), bandanas, or silly collar accessories.

  • Teach your Pit Bull a goofy trick or two. How can you be a'skeered of a dog that waves at you, 'sits pretty', or sneezes on cue!

  • Have some stock responses for typical comments or reactions from the general public. Instead of shooting a dirty look or a cranky comeback, smile and emphathize with the fear while also acknowledging the fallacy of the belief. Something like, "I am sorry my dog frightened you, it is really a shame that people have been led to believe Pit Bulls are mean. My dog is actually very friendly and loving". Then add, "Look! I think he likes you!" as you cue your dog to wave. Imagine the impact on the person who experiences such an encounter!

  • Keep in mind that you are always, always an advertisement for the breed - and how you act reflects upon the breed as a whole. When you're out with your Pit Bull or parading around town with that "My Pit Bull is my best friend" t-shirt, always keep in mind that your behavior matters as much as your dog's!

    The goal isn't to 'hard sell' the breed. We know these dogs aren't for everyone and aren't all fluff and cuteness. The goal is to jar people into a new reality, one that does not include the idea of Pit Bulls only as killers owned by thugs and criminals. A reality that reflects a bit more accurately the life the average Pit Bull lives with the average owner.

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