The Truth About American Pit Bulls

With so much confusion and conflicting information surrounding the American Pit Bull breed I decided that I wanted to seek the truth. April Fahr, from HugABull, kindly agreed to answer some of the most common questions that American Pit Bulls face from members of the public. 

Question 1: Could you please give me a brief introduction about yourself, particularly in relation to your connection with American Pit Bulls. 

My name is April Fahr, Executive Director of HugABull Advocacy & Rescue Society. HugABull is a registered non-profit organization that promotes education and rescue of bull breed dogs in BC, and encourages responsible ownership of all breeds. In our 10 years of operation, we have pulled over 400 great dogs out of the shelter system and placed them in loving, responsible homes.

Questions 2: What is a typical personality that you would expect an American Pit Bull to have? 

Active, tenacious and endlessly loving. You can read their breed profile here

American Pit Bull
Photo Credit: Matthew Roth

Question 3: How much of their personality and behaviour is due to nature (their breeding and genetics) and how much is due to nurture (the way their owners raised them)? 

Just like with other dog breeds (or with humans) there's no definitive answer to that question. It's certainly a combination of both. A breeder who is breeding for profit, or by accident, won't be taking temperament or health into account, and those genetics may cause problems down the road. And a puppy that grows up on the end of a [tethered] chain will like have behavioural problems as it grows older. This is true of any breed. 

Question 4: Why do American Pit Bulls often have such a bad reputation, particularly as being aggressive and dangerous dogs? 

Pit bulls have historically been associated with dog fighting activity and culture, contributing to a "tough guy" image and this can attract the wrong kind of ownership. Not surprisingly, poor breeding and ownership set up a dog for failure. There's also no question that the media reports "pit bull" attacks differently and with more sensationalism then when other breeds are involved. There's no evidence that pit bulls attack more often or more frequently than any other breeds, but they are reported much more widely. The National Canine Research Council has a pretty good overview of the role of the media.

Question 5: Would you recommend an American Pit Bull to someone who has never owned a dog before? 

Many of our adopters are first-time dog owners. If you have a commitment to being a responsible dog owner and a good breed ambassador, a pit bull can be a great choice. They are extremely human oriented, respond very well to training, and because all of our adoptable dogs are screened and in foster care, we can generally provide a very good match to the adopters lifestyle and experience. Check out our adoption page on our site for more information.

Questions 6: Do American Pit Bulls make good guard dogs? 

Typically they do not. By their breed standard they are very human loving, outgoing and friendly towards strangers. They are not a guardian breed. 

american pit bull
Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack

Questions 7: Are American Pit Bulls safe to have around other dogs? 

Every dog is an individual. Some do best as only pets, but I would say the majority of dogs in our program are adopted into homes with other animals. Pit bull breeds are a mix of bulldog and terrier lines, and it's not uncommon to see aggression towards other animals in either of these groups of dogs. Again, each dog is an individual, but we do tell adopters that bully breeds may show some intolerance to other dogs, or exhibit some prey drive. This is true of pit bulls and dozens of other common breeds.

Question 8: Are American Pit Bulls safe to have around children, both with supervision and without? 

By their breed standard, pit bull type dogs are extremely human loving and human tolerant - this generally extends to small humans as well. Many dogs in our program are "nanny dogs" to babies, toddlers, and children of all ages. We believe that all dogs, regardless of breed, should be supervised around children. 

Question 9: Is it safe to adopt an older American Pit Bull that you know little about?

Adopting an older dog of any breed can be a wonderful experience. By working through a reputable rescue, you can be matched with a dog that has been temperament tested and in foster care for a period of time, so its personality and quirks are fairly well understood. In fact, adopting a mature dog can help ensure you know exactly what you are getting - unlike adopting a puppy where it may show new and unexpected behaviors as it reaches maturity. 

american pit bull
Photo Credit: Blgrssby

Question 10: What should you do to avoid being attacked, or if you are attacked, by an American Pit Bull?

The same things you should do if you were attacked by any other dog. The Humane Society offers tips on how to avoid dog bites

Question 11: What recommendations would you make for someone who is thinking of getting an American Pit Bull?

Be prepared to be an ambassador for the breed! It can be challenging sometimes, but very rewarding to educate people about the potential of these wonderful dogs. 

Question 12: Is there anything else that you would like to tell me about American Pit Bulls? 

They are one of the most common breeds in North America, owned by many celebrities! For more information please read Top Dogs Across America, 10 Celebrities Who Love Their Pit Bulls and Famous Celebrities Who Own Pit Bulls.

I would like to say a big thank you to April for taking the time to answer all my questions. Please visit HugABull to learn more about this amazing charity and the work that they do. 

Bored Dog Solutions: 5 Ways To Prevent Dog Boredom

It's vital that dogs are provided with plenty of mental and physical stimulation to ensure that they remain happy, healthy and well-adjusted. They are social creatures and you must regularly interact with your dog and avoid leaving them on their own for too long.

If a dog becomes bored they are likely to exhibit nuisance and destructive behavior, such as excessive chewing, digging and barking. If you don't provide them with entertainment, they will create their own. They may also become hyperactive due to their pent-up energy, or they may do things that will grab you attention, such as run off with the TV remote! For more information on how to tell if your dog is bored please read 'Do Dogs Get Bored?'

Whether you need to provide your dog with entrainment while you are out, curb their boredom-induced destructive behavior or you simply want to make their lives more fun, there are plenty of activities and ideas that you can introduce to them to enrich their lives. 

How To Keep Your Dog From Getting Bored
Photo Credit: Jamie Lantzy

Do Dogs Get Bored?

Dogs are highly intelligent and social creatures. Without sufficient mental and physical stimulation, social interactions, novelty and variety, they can become bored. Each dog will have their own limits as to how easily they become bored but some, especially high-drive breeds, can become bored very quickly if they are not worked and entertained. 

A bored dog is a stressed dog. Behavioural issues can result from boredom and they are normally destructive. When dogs are bored they make their own entertainment. Unfortunately for you this tends to involve digging up your garden or chewing your favourite pair of shoes.

If your dog suddenly becomes lethargic or depressed do not assume that they are bored. In fact, this can be a sign that they are not feeling well and you will need to take them to the vets. 

For bored dog solutions, ideas and activities please click here.

Do Dogs Get Bored?
Photo Credit: BuzzFarmers

Top 10 Tips: How To Keep An Indoor Cat Happy & Healthy

How To Keep An Indoor Cat Happy And Healthy
Photo Credit: Puamelia

It's becoming more common for owners to keep their cats strictly indoors. The average life span of an indoor cat is around 15 years, while the average life span of a cat who is allowed outdoors is around 3 years.

A cat that is allowed outdoors has to face extra dangers, such as traffic, infectious diseases, wild animals and poisons, such as anti-freeze, which cats often drink since it tastes sweet. Some cats, particularly those that are elderly or anxious, choose to always be indoors.

However, outdoor cats have freedom and they are exposed to a greater variety of mentally and physically stimulating experiences. If you are going to keep your cat solely indoors you need to provide them with extra enrichment so that they don't become bored, aggressive, anxious or depressed.

Cats are inquisitive, clever and curious creatures. They need to be in a stimulating environment that fulfills their needs.  Indoor cats will also need extra resources, such as scratching posts and litter trays.

America's Best Pet-Friendly Hotel Chain

America's Best Pet-Friendly Hotel
Photo Credit: Ted Eytan

Pets Are Part Of The Family

The majority of pet owners treat their pets as members of the family. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that they want to bring their pets on family vacations. With pet-friendly hotels popping up all over the place it is now easier than ever. Gone are the days when you were restricted to camping trips. 

Pet-friendly hotels are also really useful for owners who need to take their pet to a specialized animal hospital that is located on the other side of the country. They can spend the night at a hotel, which means that they can break up their journey and have somewhere relaxing to stay together.

Although pet-friendly hotels are a growing trend there is one hotel chain that really stands out. They have gone to great lengths to satisfy both owner and pet, and ensure that their trip is one to remember. To me, they are pioneers in the pet-friendly hotel movement. 

Top 10 Tips: How Do I Get My Cat To Use Their Scratching Post?

Cat Using Their Scratching Post
Photo Credit: Jennifer C

It can be very frustrating when you go out and buy your cat a scratching post but they continue to scratch the furniture. "Why won't my cat use their scratching post!?" I hear you cry. 

Well, do not worry. I will share with you my top 10 tips on how to get your cat to use their scratching post and soon this dilemma will be a thing of the past.

If you need tips on how to stop and prevent your cat from scratching the furniture or carpet then please click here

So, how do you encourage your cat to use their scratching post? 


#1: Kitten-Hood

Of course, this tip may be a little useless for some, unless you have a time-machine, but introduce your cat to their scratching post while they are still a kitten, or as young as possible. It's much easier to teach a desirable behavior from the beginning, rather than try to modify an undesirable behavior later on.

#2: Height

One of the reasons cats like to scratch is so that they can stretch their spines. Make sure you get a nice, tall scratching post that they can use to really reach-up and stretch-out on. If the scratching post is short and awkward they may not use it. 

The SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post
The SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post is the perfect scratching post. 
It is excellent quality and, importantly, very tall. 
Click here for the lowest price and to see 5-star reviews on Amazon

#3: Secure

Is the scratching post sturdy or does it move around when they use it? Either secure the scratching post down, buy one with a sturdy base or buy one that is large and won't move when they use it. Not many cats will enjoy using a scratching post that doesn't offer them any resistance when they use it and just wobbles around. 

The Armarkat Cat Tree Furniture Condo is big and sturdy.
The Armarkat Cat Tree Furniture Condo is big and sturdy.
It provides excellent environmental enrichment for the indoor cat.
For the lowest price I could find, please click here.

#4: Texture

You can buy scratching posts and pads made from corrugated cardboard, sisal or carpet. Sisal, such as the SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post, and corrugated cardboard, such as the Cardboard Scratching Ramps, tend to be the most popular choices amongst the feline community. However, every cat is an individual and will have their own unique preference. Perhaps your cat doesn't like the texture you have chosen for them and they would prefer to try something new. 

The Cosmic Alpine Scratcher
Cardboard Scratching Ramps are made from durable cardboard material. 
Cats love them and they are low cost, with some of the best deals found on Amazon.

#5: Angles

You can buy: 

- Upright posts, such as the SmartCat Ultimate Scratching post 
- Angled scratching boxes, such as the Cardboard Scratching Ramp
- Flat pads that you lay on the floor, such as the Catit Scratcher

Different cats prefer different angles. Some like to scratch and stretch out on a horizontal surface, some prefer to reach up on a vertical surface, while others prefer something in between. 

Infinity Cat Scratcher Lounge
Figure-of-8 cat scratching lounge
for cats who love angles.
This is a popular 5-star item on Amazon.
Catit Cat Scratcher

Some cats prefer a horizontal surface 
to scratch on. The Catit Scratcher  
is extremely low cost and 
has excellent reviews on Amazon.


#6: Imitate

If you are not sure what scratching post your cat would prefer then try to imitate what they are currently choosing to scratch now. Pay attention to what texture and angles they seem to prefer. Are they scratching the carpet, a horizontal surface, or do they prefer to reach up a scratch a vertical surface, such as the walls? 

#7: '1 Each Plus 1' Rule

For every cat you have in your home you should have one scratching post, then you should have an extra scratching post on top of that. Scratching is a way of cats marking their territory. If there is only one post that has already been marked by one cat, the others will choose to mark other places in the house, such as your sofa.    

#8: Placement

When a cat scratches they are, in part, marking their territory. Don't tuck the scratching post out of the way somewhere, not at first anyway. It needs to be in a more prominent place so, for now, place it in the spot where they are currently choosing to scratch. You can move it somewhere more discrete once they are consistently using it. Do they have a spot where they like to nap? You can put a scratching post there too as cats like to have a scratch when they wake-up from a snooze.   

#9: A Positive Introduction

When you introduce your cat to their new scratching post try placing treats on and around it as well as rubbing cat nip over it to peak their interest. You can also try using fishing-rod-type cat toys, such as the Cat Charmer or Da Bird, to play with them around the scratching post. Encourage them to pounce on the toy so that their claws land on the post. They'll soon realize how good it feels to sink their claws into. 

Cat Charmer
Cat Charmer is a #1 best seller on Amazon
Da Bird cat toy
Da Bird is a popular 5-star item on Amazon






#10: Don't 'Show' Them

Please do not insult your cat by 'showing' them how to use their scratching post, either by scratching the post yourself or by holding their paws and making a scratching motion. They will only look at you as though you have gone mad, get irritated and then run away. Not a successful outcome. 

If you need tips on how to stop and prevent your cat from scratching the furniture or carpet then please click here.

Top 10 Tips: How To Stop Your Cat Scratching The Furniture Or Carpet

I love my cat, but I am also very fond of my furniture. In fact, I am very house proud and it upsets me when my furniture starts to looks tatty because my cat has been having a good old scratch on it. 

Scratching is a completely natural behavior and you won't be able to stop your cat from scratching completely. It allows your cat to mark their territory and maintain their claws. Also, many cats seem to simply enjoy it. It is very important to make sure that your cat has at least one scratching post so that you can redirect their scratching away from your furniture and onto their post. They need something that they are allowed and encouraged to scratch.

For tips on how to get your cat to use their scratching post please click here.

So, how do you stop your cat scratching what they're not supposed to?