Step 1: Vaccinate your American pit bull terrier when you first get him, and see that he gets yearly booster vaccinations to maintain his immunity to disease. Consult your veterinarian about flea control products and worming your dog.
Step 2: Feed your American pit bull terrier high-grade dog food. The first ingredient should be meat if you want a quality product. Crude protein should be no less than 30 percent and crude fat no less than 20 percent. The fiber content needs to be 4 percent or less.
Step 3: Socialize your pit bull when he's young to be with people and other animals. Establish your authority over your dog and be sure to take him to public areas, giving strangers the opportunity to pet and play with him. This will help the dog develop an even temper.
Step 4: Start obedience training early. Because this is a dominant breed, it's important to be able to control your pit bull by voice alone. Positive reinforcement will go further than physical, as this breed is eager to please.
Step 5: Give your pit bull vigorous exercise for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes a day. This is an active breed, and the dog will require much activity. Keep him on leash when out in public to avoid fighting with other dogs.
Step 6: Brush your dog's coat daily with a firm-bristle brush. Shampoo as needed. American pit bull terriers are medium shedders.
Step 7: Understand that American pit bull terriers are prone to certain health conditions such as cataracts (cloudy eye lens) and hip dysplasia (a malformed ball and socket in the hip joint).
Step 8: Expect male and female American pit bull terriers to grow to 18 to 22 inches and weigh between 30 and 80 lbs.
Step 9: Know that the American pit bull terrier will live about 12 years.
Bringing Your Pitbull Home
When you get your pitbull puppy, you should also receive from the breeder: either the puppy's Registration Certificate or its Application for Registration (blue slip); a copy of its pedigree; a record of its immunizations (exactly what shots and when given) and wormings; assurance that the puppy has been examined by a veterinarian and the name and telephone number of the veterinarian. If you do not receive one of these items you should get a written, dated and signed statement from the breeder stating when you will receive that item or why you will not.
You may also receive: a sales contract (if the puppy is sold on a Limited Registration you should received a sales contract which includes the terms, if any, under which the breeder will lift that restriction); a health certificate from the puppy's veterinarian; written care instructions; a supply of the food the puppy eats. You may even he given the puppy's favorite toy.
When you arrive home with your puppy, remember - your puppy is a baby Pitbull. Like all babies, he needs lots of love and cuddling, lots of rest and sleep, lots of love and cuddling, lots of good, nourishing food and more love and cuddling.
Moving to a new home, leaving his dam and litter mates and the only humans he has ever really known is a very traumatic experience for the puppy, so try to make the move as easy as possible for him. For the first couple of weeks, try to change his life as little as possible.
Follow the breeders feeding routine. The same times, the same amount, the same brand of food, the same supplements. Feed him in the same place at each meal. Be sure he has a special area all his own for his bed. Give him lots and lots of cuddling and petting. Do not let him play so long and hard that he becomes exhausted.
Sometime during the first week, you should take him to your veterinarian for a check up and get to know you visit. Take along the record of his immunizations and wormings and a stool sample.
Once the puppy is settled securely into his new home, you can hegin 10 introduce him to your way of doing things.
if you want to change the brand of puppy kibble he is eating, the change should be slow and gradual. Substitute a small amount of the old food with the new brand and slowly increase the ratio of new to old until the old brand is completely replaced with the new.
A rocking chair or a really comfortable big chair you can sit in and cuddle your new Pitbull puppy.
A food dish with straight sides and flat bottom. The best material is stainless steel - avoid plastic.
A water dish, stainless steel is best.
A collar and a lead. A light weight, small link "choke" collar is best. It should be long enough to slip ovr tlie pup's head with room to spare but should not have more than a six inch "tail" when around his neck. His first lead should be a light weight one, you'll need a strong leather lead as he grows.
Nail clippers or grinder.
There are several things which will make life easier and more enjoyable for you and your Pitbull.
First in importance is a wire crate. This comes very close to being a necessity. It is much easier to house train a puppy if he sleeps in a crate. If you travel at all with your dog, he is safer and happier riding in a crate and if you are staying overnight he has a place of his own to sleep in. It is just as important for your dog to be in a crate in the car as it is for you to wear your seat belt. If you do not have a crate, or one won't fit in your car, get him a dog safety car harness. Pitbulls do better in wire crates than the Veri-Kennel type because the air circulation through the wire crates is so much better. Dogs like to have a special "my place" so If you don't have a crate, try one, you and your Pitbull will like it.
A puppy pen. Even though you have a fenced yard, you may want to confine the puppy to or out of a particular area. Puppy pens are easily portable and very handy for keeping a puppy confined to a small area. They are especially useful for a winter puppy. You can put his bed in his crate, put the crate in a puppy pen, and put his papers in a corner of the pen.
If you plan to exhibit your Pitbull you will need a pair of whisker scissors. These are small, sharp, blunt end scissors which you can purchase from a pet store, a dog show vendor or a dog supply catalogue.
A good brush. You can use almost any brush on a Pitbull but the best ones have flexible rubber bristles. You want one small enough to fit your hand comfortably.
If you travel with your Pitbull you'll need a large insulated water jug so that you'll have "home" water available for him. A small water pan that hooks to the side of his crate is handy.
Never ever give your Pitbull a rawhide toy. Even Pitbull puppies can tear a piece off the rawhide and choke on it.
Puppies like knotted socks to shake and play tug of war with. They also like Nylabone and Gummabone toys. Many like to play with balls, but be sure the ball is too big to lodge in the throat. They like cotton tug toys like Booda Bones. Some Pitbullgers give their puppies and dogs Choo-Hooves and the dogs really like them, but be cautious with these. They are an "only when I can watch you" toy. The only real difference between the toys for a puppy and the toys for an adult Pitbull is size. The puppy gels a fairly small Gummabone, (he adult gets a big one. Just be sure the toy is too big to swallow. Throw a Nyla or Gummabone etc. away before it gets so small the dog can get the entire piece in its mouth.
Most Pitbullgers use stainless steel because it lasts longer. Do not use plastic either for his food or his water.
Most breeders feed a two to four month old puppy four times a day. At this age the kibble is usually softened with warm water. Some add cottage cheese and/or yogurt. There are several good brands of puppy kibble. If you are not satisfied with the kibble he is eating, try another. You want a kibble the puppy likes and which produces a nice coat, keeps the puppy round but not obese, and produces solid stools. Most breeders in this area use Nutro's, Iam's, Eukanuba, Purina Puppy Chow or Science Diet. Check the list of ingredients on the sack. Do not feed your Pitbull a kibble which contains soybeans.
You may feed the puppy on a set schedule, or have food available to him at all times. The pup will flourish under either regimen. The choice depends on which is more convenient for you.
How much you feed him depends on the puppy. If the puppy does become obese, you may need to regulate the amount he eats, but do not put a growing puppy on a severely restricted diet unless it is supervised by a veterinarian who is knowledgeable about Pitbull puppies.
From four to six months a puppy's feeding regimen should remain the same but the number of feedings may be reduced to three. At about six months this number can be reduced to two. In most cases continue feeding the puppy as much as he wants.
How often you feed a dog a year or more old depends on your preference and the dog's. Most dogs do well on one meal a day. Some do better on two meals a day. You may prefer to feed in the morning or the evening. This is up to you. If you like it and the dog likes it, it's the right way.
A Pitbull usually eats puppy kibble until it is at least a year old. Most Pitbulls are changed from puppy to adult kibble at around twelve to eighteen months. The best change is to the adult version of the puppy kibble you have been feeding him. Ii does not hurt your Pitbull to change from one brand of dog food to another and then to another and so on as long as each change is done by gradually, substituting more and more of the new brand for the old.
If your Pitbull is spayed or neutered or as it ages and becomes less active, you may need to start feeding a reduced calorie dog food to keep it from becoming too fat. Most good brands of dog food have such a kibble. Again, it's best if you stay with the same brand you've been feeding and change to the "lo-fat" version.
Whatever its age, your Pitbull should have fresh water available at all times.
It is not really necessary to add to a good kibble. But you may find your dog prefers "goodies" on his food, or does a little better with some. The most common supplements are cottage cheese, yogurt and oil. Cottage cheese is especially good for growing puppies since the Pitbull must grow a lot of heavy bone in a short time. About a tablespoon per feeding. Yogurt helps to keep the digestive system working well, about a teaspoon per feeding. Oil helps to keep the coat and skin in good condition, about a teaspoon twice a day. Corn or canola oil is best - do not give your Pitbull any oil which contains soybean oil.
You may also give your Pitbull a vitamin supplement. Any good vitamin tablet such as Vita-Tabs, Theralin, etc. Do not over dose. If the directions say "one a day", two is not better. You rnay also give a vitamin C tablet 100 - 500 units per day. Supplements to be very careful about are Vitamins E, D and A. Overdoses of these can cause trouble. Also be very cautious about adding more calcium than what about a quarter cup of cottage cheese per day adds to what is in the kibble. If you plan to breed a bitch, vitamin B complex, including folic acid, is recommended, but again be careful not to overdose. Iron supplements should be given with care and caution.
Treats should usually be dog biscuits. It won't hurt your Pitbull to give him an occasional bite of meat, vegetables, fruit, soda crackers, ice cream, etc. etc. But do not give him chocolate or onions.
Your Pitbull should be thoroughly brushed at least three times a week. Most Pitbulls love to be brushed. Use a soft bristle or rubber brush. Start at the rear and brush against the hair. After you've brushed the entire dog against the grain, brush it with the grain. Follow this with a good rub down. This will keep his hair shiny and his skin healthy. During shedding time, spring and fall, you may need to brush more often, give more frequent rubdowns. The idea is to remove the dead hair and distribute the natural oils.
A Pitbull that receives frequent brushings and rubdowns does not need frequent bathing. Most Pitbullgers bathe their dogs when the dog is dirty - when it obviously needs a bath. Of course, if you are exhibiting your Pitbull he needs a bath before he goes 10 the show. A show dog in the ring should be a squeaky clean dog in the ring.
Where do you bathe a Pitbull? Any place you want to and can! Some Pitbullgers have a big deep sink, some use the bath tub, some use the kitchen sink, in the summer some wash the dog on the lawn. You need a place where you can control the dog, where you can easily control the water supply and where you can rinse the dog thoroughly. It's a good idea, especially with a puppy, to take the dog outside to "do his thing" just before you bathe him.
Gather up all the things you will need before you start. You will need: shampoo, any rinses you plan to use, cotton balls, Q-lips, eye ointment or mineral oil, Vaseline, wash cloth, towels. You will want a mild, no tears shampoo. Most Pitbullgers use a dog shampoo such as Lambert Kay or Groom-Rite. Some use a baby shampoo such as Johnson & Johnson No Tears or Avon Tearless. Most use a special whitening shampoo for white dogs (Lambert Kay Snowy-Coat, Bio Groom Super White, etc.). Many use a special shampoo for red dogs (Ring S Burnished Bronze, etc.). You may on occasion need to use a flea shampoo but since these are quite harsh, don't use one unless you really need to.
Put a couple of drops of mineral oil or a bit of eye ointment in the eyes and place a cotton ball securely in each ear before you wet the dog. Wet the dog thoroughly from just behind the ears to the tips of the toes on his hind feel. Be sure his underside is wet, too, not just the top and sides. Apply the shampoo starting at his neck and working back. Work the shampoo in to be sure you get all the way through his hair to the skin. Pay special attention to his paws (wash between the toes), his tail (clean all around the base), and the genital area. On a bitch, be especially careful to clean the vulva. Wet the wash cloth and use it to dampen the dog's face and ears. Put some shampoo on the washcloth and wash the dog's face. Wash the wrinkles over the nose, on the forehead, around the nose and under the eyes. Wash his nose. Wash his ears, inside and out. Now rinse. Rinse until you are sure every bit of the dog, especially in the wrinkles and tight places, is thoroughly rinsed and there is no shampoo any place. If you are applying a rinse, do it now, following the instructions. You can use a dog conditioner rinse like Oster Creme Rinse, Oster Coat Conditioner or Francodex Oatmeal Creme Rinse, or you can use a "people" conditioner like L'Oreal Creme. For a white dog, you can use a rinse of 4 Tbs. Mrs. Wright's Bluing, I qt. water, 1/4 cup baking soda. Mix enough bluing into the water to get a darkish blue (not black). Pour the bluing mixture over him and work in with your fingertips. Do not rinse. Do not towel dry. Let the dog drip dry. For red dogs, try VOS Henna Conditioner.
Dry the dog with towels. Take the cotton balls out of the dog's ears and clean any wax carefully using a dry Q-Tip or one with a dab of Panalog. Rub a dab of Vaseline onto his nose to help keep ii soft. You can then let him air dry or use a hair dryer to finish the drying. It's best to keep the dog inside until it is completely dry - about two hours.
Most Pitbulls need their toe nails cut on a regular basis - about every two weeks. The nails should be kept as short as possible. You may use dog nail clippers or an electric grinder. Most Pitbullgers use the clippers, either guillotine or scissors type. Which type you use is up to you, but they should be sharp. When the blade begins to dull, replace it or buy new clippers - dull blades can be painful to the dog.
Each Pitbullger seems to have a different way to clip nails. Find the way that works best for you. The important thing is to be able to control the dog so that you do not hurt it. A grooming table is probably the best way. You can put the dog on the floor and scratch its tummy, or hold it between your legs - whatever works. Be especially careful not to cut into the quick. On white nails you can see where the quick begins. On black nails cut just to the curve of the nail. The clippers usually leave a rough edge. Use a good dog nail file to smooth them off. If you use en electric grinder, be very, very careful. It is easy to grind into the quick.
The main thing is to make the experience as pleasant as possible for the dog so be really careful when cutting nails and don't cut into the quick. If you dog takes frequent walks on pavement or such, it will usually wear the nails down, so again, be careful as there may not be very much nail to cut. This is especially true of black nails which seem to wear more than the white ones.
The best way to treat fleas is to prevent them. Some dogs are allergic to flea saliva and can develop really serious skin problems so try to keep the flea population to a minimum. If you do get a bad flea infestation you may need to "bomb" your house or kennel, spray the yard and/or dog runs. Frequent brushing is the first defense. Frequently changed bedding is very important. Flea collars are not very effective and many Pitbulls cannot wear them. If you do use one, do not put one on a wet or damp dog and do not allow the dog to wear a wet collar (this includes letting the dog out in the rain with its flea collar on).
You may need to give the dog a bath with a good flea shampoo or use an anti-flea rinse when you bathe. The chemicals used in these shampoos are harsh so use them only when necessary and follow instructions carefully. Mycodex is probably the most used flea control shampoo. There are various types of dips, such as Adams i4 Day Flea Dip, and sprays, such as Escort Flea & Tick Spray and Mycodex Aqua-Spray. Since these really are medications, it's a good idea to at least begin with ones from your veterinarian or that have been specifically recommended by an experienced Pitbullger in your area. Avon Skin so Soft mixed in the rinse water is an effective, non-irritating flea deterrent used by several Pitbullgers. You can also use the Skin so Soft mixed with an equal part of water in a spray bottle, or, if you feel that's a bit too strong, try two capfuls in a pint spray bottle. This is also reported to repel mosquitoes and ticks. Above all else, a clean environment, especially his bed, is the best flea prevention.
Bedding material used for Pitbulls ranges from straw or wood shavings (for kennel dogs) to special dog beds of all types and prices. The most common is cotton rugs or blankets which can be washed with ease. Don't pamper your Pitbull with a wicker dog bed. He will thoroughly enjoy reducing it to twigs and it really isn't a good thing for him to eat. The fake sheepskin rugs available from most pet stores and dog catalogues make good beds as they are soft and wash and dry with ease. The important thing for bedding is that it be easily washable and provide a soft nesting area for the dog. As long as it meets that requirement, any bedding will do.
The key here is consistency. Take the pup outside, preferably to the same area each time, as soon as he wakes up, about ten minutes after each meal, about every hour when he's awake, just before his nap or night bedtime. The puppy must empty bladder and bowels before he goes to bed for the night. Always praise the puppy as he is going, and move away from the area as soon as he is finished. Very few dogs will soil their beds, so it is best to keep him confined at night and any time you cannot watch him. If you see the pup "hunting" (sniffing and circling) take him outside immediately. If you see him urinating or defecating in the house, say "NO, NO" and take him outside at once. Do not scold him unless you catch him in the act. Praise for correct behavior works much better than punishment for "incorrect" behavior. Remember, a puppy is a baby, his capacity is small, his muscle control limited. Be consistent, be patient, and you will succeed in training him to go outside not inside.
The earlier you start the better, but if your puppy has not had any lead training before you get him, wait a week or so until he's settled comfortably into his new home before you begin.
You will need a light weight "choke chain" collar and a light weight lead. The collar should be long enough to slip over his head with ease and have some room for growth, but should not be more than six inches longer than the circumference of his neck. Put the collar on the puppy 50 that it goes over his neck from his left to right. Fasten the lead to the collar and let the puppy lead you around. If he doesn't move, move a bit and coax him to move after you. Do not ever pull on the lead and drag or choke the puppy. This should be a happy experience for the puppy so give him lots of praise. As he becomes used to walking about with the collar and lead, begin to give little tugs and encourage him to follow you rather than you following him. Always keep him on your left side. Keep his lessons short. Several five to ten minutes sessions a day are better than one half hour session. Do not play with the puppy during his lesson, but do praise him often when he follows you.
Once he is following you with consistency you can begin taking him on walks around the neighborhood. You will probably need to give him several gently tugs the first few times to keep him with you rather than exploring on his own. You may need to stop and talk to him a few times. Again, do not pull on the lead and drag or choke him. A quick jerk and immediate release on the collar is the way to control him. Do not try to rush this. A few minutes a day, every day, lots of praise when he does it right, a quick jerk and release to correct when he doesn't, lots of praise, patience and consistency and he will soon be walking nicely at your side. If you plan to exhibit your puppy, you will also need to train him to stand still and let you hold his head. Start this training along with the lead training as early as possible.
Problems and Treatments
The second best medical advice any one can give you is, "Find a veterinarian who knows and likes Pitbulls." This is one of the reasons why it's a good idea to join your local Pitbull Specialty Club. The members can usually refer you to a veterinarian who is familiar with Pitbulls and who likes them. Believe it or not - some veterinarians don't like Pitbulls, and no matter how good a veterinarian lie is, he's not a good one for your Pitbull.
The very best advice is to know your Pitbull. Check the entire dog daily. Know if he isn't eating, if he isn't playing, if he doesn't seem quite right. Know immediately if something is wrong so you can take appropriate action.
There are several minor ailments you can treat at home. Remember that if a home remedy doesn't cure the problem in two days, it's time to take the dog to the veterinarian. Do not keep trying various methods of home medication.
The easiest way to give a liquid medication is with a syringe. You can get them from your veterinarian or most drug stores. You want at least a 2cc size. Discard the needle. Pull the proper amount of liquid into the syringe, open the dog's mouth and "shoot" the liquid onto the back of his tongue.
Pills and capsules
Open the dog's mouth, push the pill or capsule as far down his throat as possible, then hold his mouth shut and stroke his throat until he swallows. This has been known to work. Or wrap the pill or capsule in a bit of ground beef or cheese and feed it to the dog. This usually works.
For minor upset stomach Pepto Bismol or a similar medicine works best. Dose is according to the dog's weight. If there is hard vomiting or if the upset lasts more than 24 hours, take the dog to your veterinarian.
Kaopektate is most usually prescribed for minor diarrhea. Dose amount depends on the dog's weight. If the diarrhea continues longer than 24 hours or if there is blood in the stool, take the dog to the veterinarian.
These are red, weepy, itchy spots. No one seems to really know what causes them. It could be fleas, food, allergies, etc. Clean the area thoroughly. You can wash with shampoo, rinse and dry. Or clean with Baby Wipes with lanolin and aloe. Or wash with Bigeloil. Then apply a medications such as Panalog, Bag Balm, Sulfadene, Schreiner's Healing Liniment (from a feed store) or 1% cortisone cream (you may need to get this from your own doctor). Clean and apply medication daily. You should see improvement by the second day, if not, take the dog to the veterinarian.
This is another problem that no one seems to be sure what the cause is But you'll know one when you see an angry red swelling pop up between the dog's toes. First examine the paw carefully, especially the underside between the pads to be sure there is no foreign matter (a thorn or such). If there is, take it out. Clean the area. Remedies include: (I) Soaking the paw in warm water and Epsom Salts or Massengale Douche solution, dry and rub in Panalog. (2) Desenex foot powder. (3) ,Preparation H. (4) Division 5 Bulletin formula. Have your veterinarian make this up for you One part 60% DMSO, one part Gentavet solution 50 mg. per ml. Apply one drop per day; rub in with a Q Tip. Do NOT use more than one drop, do NOT apply more frequently than once a day. If you start application at the first sign, this solution will prevent the cyst from developing. With all these treatments, it's best to continue the treatment for two to three days after the cyst is gone.
These are somewhat like hot spots, but they are not weepy. Be sure you clean away all the "scabby" material. Wash the area and treat with Panalog, Keflex, or any good anti-fungal ointment. You can use Demorex shampoo or a sulfur based soap for the washing.
Facial Acne or Eczema
Pitbulls are forever putting their faces into all kinds of strange places. Some are susceptible to topical bacterial infections. The dog gets pimples on his face and chin. Usually you can clear these up just by washing and rubbing in an anti-biotic ointment. Or you can try OXYIO (benzoil peroxide) which you can purchase at a drug store. If they persist, you will need to get an oral anti-biotic medication from your veterinarian.
Dust, wind, pollen, the things that make your eyes burn and water have the same effect on your Pitbull. You can rinse the eyes out with a solution such as Clear Eyes. If the eyes are badly irritated, use a contact lens ointment such as Bausch & Lomb Duolube. For any other eye ailment, take the dog to your veterinarian.
The gland which normally resides under the lower eye lid at the inside corner of the eye will sometimes "pop" out. This is not as horrible as it appears to be and does not require emergency treatment. It does require treatment at the earliest possible time by a veterinarian recommended for "Cherry Eye't. The quicker the dog gets treatment the better the chance for successful treatment without removing the gland. Removal of the gland often results in a "dry" eye.
Some Pitbull's have their tail set in a pocket. If yours does1 you will need to make a special effort to keep that pocket clean and dry. Wipe it out frequently. You may need to use cotton balls rather than a wash cloth if the pocket is tight. Be sure to dry it thoroughly and apply an ointment such as Panalog, or a drying powder.
You take his temperature just as you take a small baby's - rectally. Use a good rectal thermometer, lubricate generously with Vaseline, insert gently, hold onto the thermometer dogs have been known to "suck" them in!, wait about five minutes, pull out and read. Normal temperature for most dogs is from 100.5 to 101.
Start giving your Pitbull pieces of ice to eat when he is still a small puppy so that he learns to like it. Luckily, most Pitbulls do. This is a great way to cool down a hot dog. Blocks of ice make a great summer time toy. A pan of ice in or on top of his crate helps keep him cool.
If your Pitbull is stung by a bee or other insect, give him Benadryl (either capsule or liquid) and watch him closely for the next half hour. You may also apply an ice pack to the area where he was stung if you know where it is. If the area around the sting swells and hardens, if hives appear, if he seems to have difficulty breathing - rush him to the veterinarian. This is no time to dally, your dog's life depends on quick treatment.
"Ten commandments for a responsible pet owner"
1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you will be painful.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me.
4. Don't be angry with me for long, and don't lock me up as punishment, you have your work, your friends and your entertainment. I ONLY HAVE YOU.
5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand the words, I understand your voice when it's speaking to me.
6. Be aware that however you treat me, I'll never forget it.
7. Before you hit me, remember that I have teeth that could easily crush the bones in your hand, but I choose not to.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me, perhaps I'm not getting the right food, I've been out in the sun to long, or my heart may be getting old and weak.
9. Take care of me when I get old, You too will grow old.
10. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, "I can't bear to watch it" or " let it happen in my absence". Everything is easier for ME If you are there. Remember, I LOVE YOU.