Dogs are a vital part of our community. Over the years, their existence has proved to be of great significance. To date, not only are they considered excellent domestic companions, but they are also seen as police and military partners, and invaluable service dogs to duties and people that need them the most. 

Service dogs are canines that underwent extensive special training for conditions brought about by human disability. They assist people who have or suffer from Blind, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia, Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and many others. 

In the field of canine service, some dog breeds are more preferred than others. Special service training requires dogs to be physically fit, trainable, and friendly. Breed backgrounds are often thought to have something to do with these prerequisites. Hence, the abundance of Retriever dogs and German Shepherds. 

Due to the majority of the public relating Pitbulls to disobedience and aggression, whether or not they can be of service to people with disabilities is still in question. Do Pitbulls make good service dogs? Let’s find out. 

The Pit Bull Family Background

Unknown to many, Pitbulls have an interesting and impressive history and attributes. To give you a brief insight on what this commonly misunderstood breed has to offer, we have compiled the must-knows of the breed’s background below. 

History

Pitbulls are the progeny of the famous Bulldogs and Terriers. This family is divided into four types, namely the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. In the early times, breeders wanted to combine the alertness and intelligence of Terrier dogs, with the Bulldog’s muscularity and power. This led to the human perception of Pitbulls as ideal fighting dogs. 

Physical Traits

You can identify a Pitbull-type in various ways. For one, Pitbulls have square-shaped heads and heavy-built bodies. Most Pitbulls also have a huge white portion on their chest down to their stomach. They are of medium size – smaller than Retrievers, and bigger than Pomeranians. 

Train-ability

Pitbulls are smart dogs. They are easy to train as they can pick up a command or signal quickly. They are always eager to learn and try new things. When this breed wants something, they do everything in their power to fulfill a certain task or desire. 

Temperament

When talking about dog energy and activity, you can say that Pitbulls are one of the high-energy breeds. They want to be able to release their pent-up energy by running around a yard, jogging with their owner, or playing with another companion dog. However, just like any other breed, they can be destructive around the home when they lack exercise and stimulation.

Human Compatibility

The love and attachment they have for their owners or handlers are extreme. Contrary to popular unpleasant opinion, Pitbull-type dogs are affectionate and kind-natured. They are observant animals and can easily sense sadness and pain from their humans. Moreover, this breed is loyal and devoted to the person who is taking good care of them. They also have an affinity for children. 

Stigma

With the common knowledge that Pitbulls are hostile and ferocious, the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) has conducted numerous tests on Pitbulls. These tests determined the breed’s aggressiveness, stability, friendliness, and protective instinct.  A surprising, yet gratifying result revealed that the aggression level of Pitbull-type dogs is no different than that of the Retrievers’.

The Future of The Breed

As decades passed, the breed’s fate has constantly changed for the better. They used to brawl in a ring with their fellow canines, and are banned from certain cities for their formidable background. Today, more and more people around the world show that Pitbulls are not dangerous. In fact, they are one of the sweetest and most intelligent breeds to ever exist. 

How Does A Canine Become A Service Dog? 

Service dogs are traditionally trained by charities and organizations that partner a disabled person when a dog has completed its training program. Nowadays, there is an increase in the number where a disabled person trains their assistance dog.

However, there are several stages a potential service dog needs to pass to become a certified assistance dog.  There are four stages a service dog needs to complete: Selection, Socialization, Task Training and, Obedience, and Public Access. Each stage prepares the dog for the huge responsibility he is going to bear as a Service Dog. 

Other trainers and training schools have varying takes on Service Dog Training. You can also learn more from here

How Do Pitbulls Fit Right Into The Role?

Pitbulls are one of the best breeds to train to become service dogs. They are friendly and have the ability to stay calm in public situations. They are brilliant and are very easy to teach. They enjoy being surrounded by people because of their eager-to-please attitude.

Pitbulls also have the incredible ability to withstand pain, which makes them more tolerant in situations where other dog breeds might not. They offer great physical support because they are large enough and strong enough to help with balance and mobility issues.

Have Pitbulls Successfully Fulfilled Service Dog Training In The Past?

Despite their reputation, they have proven time and time again that they are one of the best breeds to become service dogs. According to the Animal Rescue Foundation, they have found tremendous success in training pitbull-type dogs as emotional service dogs within its Pets and Vets program. 

Animal Rescue Foundation’s results echoed the American Temperament Test Society outcomes testing approximately 30,000 dogs of every breed on skittishness, aggression, and differentiation between threatening and non-threatening humans. Pitbull type dogs reached an 86% success rate, making them the second most tolerant breed. Golden retrievers were the most tolerant. 

Just like any other dog breed, pitbulls are loyal, alert, and dedicated. They offer emotional or physical comfort for people with psychological or psychiatric conditions like PTSD, depression, or social anxieties. Pitbulls can also be trained as Medical Alert Service Dogs. They respond to various health issues, and they can also be trained to remind their handler to take their medication.

So, Can Pitbulls Be Service Dogs? 

Yes. Despite the stigma attached to the Pitbull, claiming they are aggressive and unpredictable, they make excellent Service Dogs. But just like any other dog, early socialization, proper training, and positive reinforcement are needed to have a well-rounded canine. 

They are mostly trained as mobility service dogs, but once people get to see them for who they are, they quickly become emotional support dogs.  Pitbulls can make excellent candidates to train as support animals, performing specific tasks, or providing general comfort and support. They will always give their human 100%. They are energetic, sturdy, and very tolerant of children. 

Their reputation for being violent and savage killers could not be further from the truth. They are easy to train, patient, and loyal. A well-trained pitbull is friendly, loving, and a devoted companion. They have no idea how big they are and believe that any lap is an opportunity for love and affection. 

They have a generally calm attitude and low reactivity to changes in their environment, so it’s easy for them to stay focused on their handlers. Pitbulls will give their human their full attention because they crave the same from them. 

Conclusion: The Promising Contribution of Pitbulls To The World

Pitbulls, known for their loyalty, dedication, and intuition, are well suited to support emotional well being and more serious psychiatric conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Their bad reputation is entirely misguided. Pitbulls are loving and relaxed, making them great candidates for support animals of all kinds. But every dog is unique, no matter the breed. 

It is important to always treat your dog or support animal as the individual they are. They are just dogs, and all dogs are individuals. We need to look at each dog as an individual. Breeds shouldn’t matter.  

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