Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Click Bulls!

RPB is firmly dedicated to positive, pain free training methods/techniques, and strongly promotes the clicker training method. Any breed can learn new behaviors through clicker training, but Pit Bulls - with their enthusiastic and human-connected personalities - seem to especially benefit from this humane, hands-off training method that allows dog and handler to work as a team. Clicker training can be used to teach dogs traditional obedience exercises, tricks, and intricate behaviors not readily taught with less-precise training techniques. It can even be used to help resolve behavioral problems.

So what's clicker training? In a nutshell, it is a method which uses a 'marker' (in this case, a small plastic clicker) to 'bridge' (connect) a behavior with a reward (food). The click tells the dog he or she did the right thing, and that a reward for that right thing is now on the way. Because the clicker connects very clearly in the dog's mind the delivery of the food with a behavior, new behaviors can be learned in a very short period (in some cases, in a 5 or 10 min training session). The dog doesn't have to figure out what the reward's for (a problem with some other methods), it's very clear!

What's so great about clicker training is that it allows a dog to be an active part of the learning process. Instead of 'doing' something 'to' your dog, with clicker training you and your dog are both participating together. Clicker trained dogs tend to be very happy, willing participants in the training game. There's no fighting, clashing or conflict - it's all about learning in a pain-free, non-frightening way. Clicker training does not employ prong collars, choke chains, shock collars, or other 'traditional' training tools or techniques like scruff shakes or alpha rolls.

From the angle of breed advocacy, clicker training is a chance to show that APBTs are sensitive, smart dogs who don't need to be manhandled, jerked around, alpha-rolled, or otherwise physically dominated in order for them to learn new behaviors or be under control. Pit Bulls are actually very sensitive, intelligent, deferential dogs who learn best when respectful, non-invasive, and gentle training techniques are used.

If you are interested in learning more about clicker training, and are in the central/north NJ area, you may wish to check out Pit Bull School clicker classes, taught by RPB founder/director Mary Harwelik. If you are outside the area, there are plenty of online resources to help you locate a trainer or even learn online how to train your dog using this scientifically valid, cutting edge training method. Here are some of our favorites:


And please continue to watch our blog for more information on clicker training, Pit Bull School, and positive promotion of our breed through positive training!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The 'Logic' Of BSL


This Bay City Times (MI) article demanding a statewide ban of Pit Bulls is so full of contradictory nonsense that it really makes ya wonder if the editors over there failed to even show up for work the day it was printed. You know that the pushers of BSL discrimination are getting desperate when they point to Rottweiler, American Bulldog, and Aussie mix attacks as good reasons to support a Pit Bull ban.

Aye yi yi.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Your vote could be worth a million bucks....

....to Pit Bulls and the other animals at Liberty Humane Society, in Jersey City, NJ.

LHS is a fantastic shelter doing right by Pit Bulls here in North Jersey. They have made it to the Top 10 in Zootoo.com's Million Dollar Shelter Makeover contest. The top ten! Out of all the shelters in the country! A million bux could sure save a lot of Pit Bulls. Do the dogs a favor and take a couple minutes of your day to do the following:

1) Sign up at Zootoo.com - it's FREE!
2) Upload a pic to your profile - also FREE!
3) Then go VOTE for Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City, NJ -
America Votes! (MAKE SURE YOU VOTE for LIBERTY HUMANE SOCIETY in NJ, as there is another Liberty Humane that made the top ten as well, but it is a completely different organization, in a different state.)

You can keep voting, 10 times a day, through Sunday the 19th.

Can you imagine? A million dollars for Pit Bulls!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fight Bust Dog Summit Results

Last Wednesday, animal welfare groups concerned with Pit Bull issues convened in Las Vegas in order to meet with the Humane Society of the United States. The driving force behind this meeting was HSUS' across-the-board policy which stated that all dogs seized from dog fighting busts were supposedly too aggressive and dangerous to ever be adopted out as companion animals. HSUS wanted to revisit the policy (coincodence this occurred shortly after the huge uproar over the dogs seized from Ed Faron's property were promptly distroyed?), and ultimately revised it to suggest that fight bust dogs be evaluated and placed on a contingent basis.

HSUS and Best Friends - who helped organize this meeting - issued the following statement:

Animal Welfare Groups Announce New Collaboration to Save Pit Bulls

Best Friends Animal Society and The Humane Society of the United States announced that a summit meeting held this week in Las Vegas to discuss the disposition of dogs seized from dogfighting operations has led to a coalition of groups working together to help the canine victims of organized violence.

Among the outcomes of the meeting:

* The HSUS has a new policy of recommending that all dogs seized from fighting operations be professionally evaluated, according to agreed upon standards, to determine whether they are suitable candidates for adoption. Dogs deemed suitable for placement should be offered as appropriate to adopters or to approved rescue organizations. The HSUS will update its law enforcement training manual and other materials to reflect this change in policy.
* The groups agree that all dogs should be treated as individuals, and they are the true victims of this organized crime. They also agree to support law enforcement and animal control agencies when decisions must be made regarding the dogs deemed unsuitable for adoption and in cases when rescue organizations and adopters are unable, within a reasonable timeframe, to accept dogs from such raids that have been offered for adoption.
* The organizations will form a working group to develop future protocols for cooperation in addressing the needs of dogs seized in raids, such as how to assist with the housing of fighting dogs, how to conduct professional evaluations, and how to screen potential adopters.

The summit meeting was convened to address the matter of dogs seized as a result of cruelty investigations, particularly due to the increase in HSUS-led enforcement actions against dogfighters. Participants at the meeting included Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States, BAD RAP, ASPCA, National Animal Control Association, Maddie’s Fund, Nevada Humane Society, and Spartanburg Humane Society.

Whether or not the new HSUS policy will significantly impact the lives of fight bust dogs remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain - the fact that these issues are finally being discussed on a broad scale is a win for the dogs in and of itself. It's our hope that this summit meeting will ultimately mean more dogs saved from the atrocities of dog fighting and given a chance to live normal lives.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ChatGabGossipShareListenLearnGrow...on The RPB Forum !

The Real Pit Bull Forum is a little over a year old now (we celebrated our One Year Anniversary in January). If you haven't heard about the forum or visited yet, RPBF is a small, tight-knit community of like-minded folks - guardians, rescue peeps, trainers, show people, admirers - gathered together to talk about - WHAT ELSE?? - Pit Bulls, and all relevant topics. What's cool about the folks on RPBF are their friendly, open and supportive attitudes. When RPBF first launched, we hoped it would become a beacon of light in the breed community, and ya know what? It's shinin' bright thanks to the fabulous people who participate! We are SO proud of this forum and its members, and hope you'll come check us out and get involved. We promise it's a lil different than what you're used to in a Pit Bull forum. And a whole lotta fun.

Check it out at RealPitBullForum.com!

Come join the Forum! Everyone's doin' it!

Pit Bull School's Now in Session!

Introducing Pit Bull-specific classes! These classes are to be held in Union County NJ, each Saturday morning at 10am, starting April 18, and taught by Mary Harwelik, CPDT.

The goal of these classes is to create well-behaved, desensitized dogs that can respond to cues despite distractions, while simultaneously molding confident, capable handlers. Since the classes are drop in, they are designed to allow the handler/dog team to go at their own pace, work on the exercises they want, and enjoy the benefits of controlled socialization. Feedback, support and instruction will be a big part of these classs, however the format will be casual.

The curriculum will be based on a variety of programs, including Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed and Emma Parsons' Click to Calm (these books are recommended to ALL owners of reactive or 'feisty' canines). We will be working on lots of creative, fun exercises meant to build confidence and rapport between dog and owner.

These classes are meant for Pit Bulls (American Pit Bull Terriers/APBTs/AmStaffs), PitMixes and pseudo Pit Bulls (those dogs of unknown origin likely to be mistaken for Pit Bulls and breeds commonly mistaken for Pit Bulls). Dogs may be reactive towards other dogs, BUT human-aggressive dogs or dogs who are reactive to humans won't be able to attend this class.

Rescues and shelters, send your volunteers and foster homes to class for FREE!

Visit: Pit Bull School for more information.