Monday, November 23, 2009

Can Former Fight Dogs Be Friends?

At one time, Leo, the former Michael Vick dog, was grouped in with dogs that were called the "most dangerous dogs in America" Here he is with another "dangerous" dog, Belinda from the Humane Society of Missouri fight bust. Can they be friends? You decide:


  1. Well considering that MALES and FEMALES are not matched against each other in the pit of course they can get along...

    Furthermore... dogs ESPECIALLY APBTs don't need little fur buddies... they need and desire human contact.. they were bred to fight other dogs not play with them



  3. Please remember to seperate your dogs when you cannot supervise them and keep a break stick handy.

  4. Awesome, what a great video! Just goes to show that pit bulls are not innately evil, unable to be rehabilitated, or even dog aggressive. Nice work guys!

  5. Anonymous, you need to modernize your thinking. Perhaps you could actually WATCH these dogs (including one "bred to fight") who are obviously playing so so very nicely. And as well are obviously being supervised. The notion that pit bulls always want to fight and can never be trusted with another dog is.... antedeluvian. Folks like you are about as bad for our breed as the Vicks and HSUS of the world

  6. To all the Anons above:
    No dog's behavior is totally and completely driven by genetics. Sorry but there's no proof of that whatsoever and it's just old dogman mantra B.S. Nor is any dog's behavior completely driven by environment. So to say that APBTs were bred to fight, end of story, is generalizing, breed profiling, setting the dog up for BSL and is not actually evaluating any sort of data or information based on a sound assessment of an individual dog. We have info on the Our Pack site: Pit Bulls and Dog Parks, Pit Bulls and Other Pets, and Fighting Dogs Thes articles clearly talk about proper management and supervision. These videos are not meant to be show an unmanaged free for all, it's to show that dogs need to be evaluated on their own merit, not by a group or generalization.
    I want to make that clear as I see that Rebecca did not give the usual caution sign about supervising, separating etc. Normally we would so I stand corrected on that. However, what should have been said as well is that these dogs are individuals and they were evaluated as such and were found to be ok with this particular dog. That's what I do as a certified trainer - I evaluate first, I try not to group or generalize THEN I make the decision as to whether or not a dog is dog aggressive. In my experience YES some of the dogs coming from dog fighting raids are definitely dog aggressive some aren't. I saw one today owned by couple that has probably never been in a fight that was very dog aggressive, raised from a pup by these people. But many dogs that have been fought don't even really have that desire, they've just been put in the position over and over and over and there's a difference between compulsion to do something and desire. Fighting to fend off something or survive is very different than fighting for pleasure. Dogmen having been saying that for eons probably to sell their lines, if it's "in them" and it's genetic then they can sell their dogs. In our last video we put the disclaimer there that mentions the fact that this situation turned out this way for THIS dog. This may not be the outcome for all dogs no matter where they come from. From now on we will add the disclamer but if you read our site you will see that as well and the point that's being made is that they CAN as Natalie above put it, be dog friendly or they may not be but gawd, let's at least look first before deciding on bans, euthanasia etc. I'm not saying they don't have a history or don't have the propensity as Akitas, Boxers, French Bulldogs and don't even get me started on German Shepards God love'm, the old "Pit Bulls are ALL (as though it's each and every one) dog aggressive" thing is old, outdated, not based on any sort of real fact.

  7. Yes! I just want to back up Marthina and point out that she is not only an extremely well qualified behaviorist and trainer, but also a top expert on handling fight bust dogs. Anonymous, perhaps you have not been reading this blog very long or you're not familiar with Marthina and Our Pack's work. Both are well respected by reputable pit bull rescues around the country. I encourage you to learn more about this wonderful rescue and I particularly hope you will check out Marthina's work with Leo the former Vick dog, now therapy dog.

  8. Wow. I would never, ever leave a bully breed alone with another dog. Too many people have, and came home to face the consequences. IMO, if you care about your animals, you wouldn't set them up to fail. JMHO. I won't take that kind of chance with any of my dogs lives. But thats just me.

  9. anon. NO ONE is saying leave a bully breed alone with another dog.
    Perhaps you missed the fact that there's a HUMAN in there with the dogs.. that would be the person making the video, 'k?

  10. I have never, nor has anyone from Our Pack ever suggested leaving dogs alone. This video doesn't suggest that either. Again, our articles state that dogs of ANY breed be left unsupervised.

  11. Emily S, no need to be snarky, K?

    If these comments don't tell the story of how people really think its okay to leave bulldogs alone together, then I don't know, we must be reading different comments.

    Also saying APBT's aren't likely to be DA, is complete BS. Next youll be telling me pointers aren't genetically driven to point. lol.

    Look, dogs are bred for specific purposes, until it becomes a breed trait. I know most people have difficulty accepting DA, and see it as a negative trait, but there are plenty of dogs out there that don't have such a tendency for it, so they should pick a new breed.

    What is bad for the breed is making people think there are no consequences and that it is rainbows and pixie dust to leave two bullys alone together. Or even that they are going to be fine together all the time when supervised. You want a bulldog? Get a breakstick, know how to use it, and don't fail your dog. Misleading the common public won't do this breed any favors.

  12. Correction: as above "dogs of ANY breed should NOT be left unsupervised.

  13. Anon, please read the articles on our site. It doesn't seem like you've read them. As I've said we usually do have a disclaimer stating that dog should be supervised etc. This video did not have that, I've stated that, not much else to say. Read the articles and let me know what you think. Also, have you ever lived with a fight bust dog? just asking, no snark.

  14. Folks, this was just a big misstep on my part. Not the first, just probably the first one Marthina hasn't caught before I hit "publish". Because she's smart about these things, and I'm not. I thought it was obvious that the dogs were supervised (they're being videotaped, right?) and that most readers are familiar with this blog and know Our Pack's solid reputation. Marthina is as experienced and savvy as they come when it comes to Pit Bull behavior, and if you are a regular reader or follower here you know that. I am not, I'm just a volunteer for this great organization, and still learning the ropes. My bad, and my apologies to Marthina for giving any kind of impression that she doesn't know EXACTLY what she is doing.

  15. Rebecca no worries. I don't think we should have to worry about disclaimers each and EVERY single time we do a blog like this. The caution to the wind thing was TOTALLY a joke. Love the blog.

  16. just what's up with those other "anons" jumping to such crazy conclusions lately?!

  17. I enjoyed the video,and agree that dogs of any breed should not be left unsupervised. We have 5 dogs, 2 dalmatians, 2 mixed and 1 pit bull all rescue. My pit bull came from a very abusive home, he is not DA or HA, he has never started a fight with any of our other dogs.

    However the other night two of our dogs got into a fight over a chew toy, it was my male shepard mix and my female dalmatian. The fight was stopped immediately b/c I was in the room.

    these two dogs have been together for years, the fight scared my poor little Pit bull and I had to calm him down. The point is any dog can fight over anything especially toys or food. And a female and male can and will fight if the situation is right.

    I would trust my bully with any other dog more than trusting my dalmatian with another dog if left alone.

    Part of ownership of animals is responsibility, I found the video refreshing b/c I am so tired of hearing about how awful pit bulls are, that they are born to fight etc. It just gets old.

  18. Sorry I own 5 APBTs... and I am caring for another one while its owner is deployed.

    I just can't see allowing ANY of my dogs, (that have all grown up together) to play like that supervisied or not.

    We allow them to play and rough house as puppies... I believe puppies should be fat and happy... But once they hit about the age of 12-18 months depending on the dog... the first signs of dog aggression they are separated and kept that way.

    I don't believe in the need for fur buddies... my dogs are all pets, and they are all rotated between proper chain set ups a big pen and house time... each of them gets one on one attention from my family and they are more than happy dogs.

  19. Rebecca - You have NOTHING to apologize for, neither does Marthina.

    Where on earth did you get that Our Pack RECOMMENDS leaving two dogs together? I don't think there was an article written about that, it was a video of dogs playing. It had nothing to do with supervision, or dog aggression.

    Who ever said males and females "don't fight" because they "get along"? That's just stupid.

    Marthina, I would remove some of those comments, especially the HSUS one. Someone enjoys spamming, and I bet I know who it is.

  20. OH GOOD GOD.

    "they are all rotated between proper chain set ups a big pen and house time"

    What is wrong with you? You thinking CHAINING your dogs is RESPONSIBLE and FAIR to your dogs?

  21. anon, you need to read your history again. The dogmen didn't care about "dog aggression".. a coverall term that can mean fear aggression or prey aggression. They wanted GAMENESS. They didn't care if their dogs were cold outside the pit.. and plenty of gamedogs were.

    Certainly APBTs, like most terriers, and many other breeds, have a heightened "aggression" towards other animals. Perfectly normal, perfectly manageable.

    Making a dog's whole world about fighting other dogs, putting him in a fighting pit, giving him no option BUT to fight, and encouraging him to express his aggression towards towards other dogs.. all of that has NOTHING to do with genetics and it's not natural. It's outright perverse to insist that fighting other dogs is the same as pointing, or herding.

    It's NOT and all the gamedog cultists insisting that it is doesn't make it so.

    Of course ALL dog owners need to learn their individual dog's traits and characteristics. The APBT isn't for everyone. Neither is the JRT or the Dalmatian, or the border collie.

  22. You said it Anon, as soon as there is any dog aggression seen then they're separated. What if it isn't seen, do you creat MORE or ANY dog aggression in the first place because you expect it, then due to lack of proper supervised socialization they BECOME DA? That just sets them up to fail. If you do have to DA dogs then YES by all means, crate and rotate.

  23. Not trying to be an A-hole, but a disclaimer might always be good. Too many new people to the breed, that really won't believe "fido" is capable of any kind of DA. Newbies in this breed make mistakes, those mistakes cost us all. I think we should be very proactive about educating on newbies, even on the stuff that some people are hesitant to acknowledge. JMO. But education can prevent a lot of trouble.

  24. Emily, we were posting at the same time. Didn't see your post until after I posted.
    And Liz thank you!!!!!!!

  25. I don't think anyone said APBT were bred for DA, obviously it is a by product of the breeding. BTW, there are two anonymous'.

    And what is wrong with a proper chain set up? IF my dog weren't an inside dog, and I didn't have time to monitor him everytime he went out, he would be on a chain.

    Nothing wrong with containing your dog properly. Keeps the dog safe, and out of trouble. This breed doesn't need any trouble.

  26. Everything is wrong with chaining a dog. You are so self righteous in saying "Be a responsible owner" telling us we are making the breed "look bad" and yet you chain your dog?

    Chaining a dog proves every stereotype of the breed out there. People think of Pit Bulls, and they think "chained up", "fighting", "breeding", human aggressive.

    You are NOT doing your dog any favors by CHAINING him. Do you know the behavioral problems that can occur with that?

    Pit Bulls are INDOOR DOGS. They are NOT meant to live outdoors 24/7. SHAME ON YOU!! It's called a CRATE AND FENCING!!!

    Oh, and no disclaimer is needed. Do I need a disclaimer if I post a picture of my Pit Bull and my cat snuggling saying "WARNING: Pit Bulls are animal aggressive - May kill cat"

    I don't think so!

  27. Anon above, I hope "a chain set up" is synonymous with a chain link fence pen, not a chain attached to a stake. I think the world of Marthina and everyone at OP. I also have 2 rescue PBs of my own who love playing with each other, as well as a dachshund who rules them with an iron fist. I crate and rotate when Im not home, and would NEVER leave them home alone with each other, but they are family companions; they play with us and each other when we are home and can supervise them properly. We have taken the time to work with our dogs so they understand acceptable behaviors, and we know how to react properly if there is an incident. Different situations work better for different families, but I disagree with any (ridiculous) notion that pit bulls cannot get along with other dogs, and should be kept isolated from other dogs, even if they havent shown DA signs. Dogs are inherently pack animals, isolating them in crates/pens/outdoors constantly is just not for me... just MHO

  28. Anon, I agree on the disclaimer, that's why I mentioned that we normally would have one and we normally do but as Rebecca said it was an oversight today. Please read our info on our site as well.


  29. what the heck was that?November 23, 2009 at 9:08 PM

    Oh my gosh, wow! What in the heck was all that about Anon? Sorry, but this whole conversation started with some kind of agenda that just didn't fit the "picture"... a bunch of "stuff" that just sounds a little crazy in light of the video & what Our Pack represents. Insights & Opinions are wonderful things, but not when it comes off as unenlightened or as some kind of "crazy talk"...

  30. I'm Kelly,
    My 4 yr old pit and my 6 yr old cat spend every single day with free range in my townhouse, and I do not worry in the very slightest that my dog will hurt my cat. They have 3 bedrooms, and a big living room and kitchen to hang out in. The cat is the boss, but they are each very respectful of/friendly toward/ignoring of the other, depending on the moment. My dog NEVER tries to play or focus on my cat. They sleep with me on my bed every night. In fact they're lying together right now, and I'm about to go take a shower. Caia has never so much as raised an eyebrow at her cat!

  31. I agree, Kelly! Mine are cuddling as we speak! I leave them home alone together, and NEVER worry about my cat. In fact, she doesn't go after ANY cats, she's SO good with kitties :)

  32. I do still think though that when no one is home to supervise it's still a good idea to separate everyone before you leave even if everyone is getting along. One reason all goes well with our dogs is that have good supervision so that all interactions continue to stay positive. That's not saying that no one's getting along, it's just that you want to keep it that way by being a good leader and making sure everyone stays happy. Our article on that is

  33. I thought the dogs looked adorable, doing what dogs do. If they were any other breed you wouldn't be seeing these comments. I like the info on your site and I refer people to it, so thank you for having info out there for people to think about.

  34. This is weird, I'm saw the blog, I'm reading the comments, and it seemed like the Anons were responding to a different blog, and reading different comments than everyone else.

    Seems like the Anons came in here with an agenda, ready to spout the typical party-line propagana: Pit Bulls can't play with other dogs, they will all 'turn on' at 1.5 years of age magically, they need to be kept on chains, and "they are a dog-aggressive breed". Whatever THAT means.

    Our Pack is one of the sanest organizations I have ever come across - they are logical, progressive, balanced, and responsible in their presentations and education on the breed. I'm so sick of the old schoolers with their blinders on and refusal to be educated, with their usual droning "Never trust a Pit Bull not to fight, it's in their DNA" babble. PLEASE, I beg you, do some research on behavior, learning theory, dog evolution, body language - heck ANYthing other than reading Koehler and stuff written by DOG FIGHTERS.

    And to the Anon who doesn't ever let their dogs play with other members of their own species past puppyhood - maybe you are having dog-directed aggression issues because YOU don't SOCIALIZE and your dogs live on CHAINS. Lack of socialization is one of the prime causes of dog-directed aggression. In ANY breed.

  35. Maybe if you had read, you would have seen there are TWO anons, and I don't chain my dog. However, I would NEVER villify someone for keeping their dog contained. Dogs get killed all the time for running loose. I guess some people have never had an escape artist. I think a chain link fence and a chain, is the best and safest way to go.

    If my dog is outside I watch him the whole time, if I couldn't do that, I would want him on a chain. I've seen him escape a few fences, and I would hate to have not been right there when it happened, and lost my dog just because I wanted to humanize him, and couldn't chain him for his own safety. What a waste of a precious life that would be.

    I don't think reinforcing that these dogs are or can be DA is a negative thing. I hear about them being deemed viscious all of the time because an owner faild their dog, and the dog acted on its fault of the dogs.

  36. Yes I chain my dogs out... they are on 10-12 foot 1/4" chains.. that have a swivel on either end to prevent them getting tangled up.

    Dogs have been kept outside since the beginging of time. The pit bull is no more of an "inside dog" than a lab or a great dane or a collie...

    These dogs were kept outside by dogmen for centuries.... and will continue to be kept outside.

    Mine have access to shade, water, and shelter. they are fed and have one on one personal time with daily... not to mention time off to flirt pole, spring pole, or just go for a walk. They are also rotated inside the house as well.

    Show me scientific facts that show chaining increases dog aggression, or human aggression...

    My dogs are not set up to fail... they are kept away from other dogs to prevent accidents from happening because my dogs have shown signs of dog aggression.... so instead of burying a dog I simply contain it.

    Crate an rotate is far more cruel in my eyes... stuff them in a box for 14+ hours a day? I work 12 hour shifts... so my dogs would be forced to hold their bladder and bowels and just lay there for 14+ hours a day.... but instead they are outside free to run around their 12 foot circle, use the bathroom as they need.

    I've tried fences... mine climb like monkeys and dig like badgers....

    Never had one get off a proper chain set up.... knock on wood.

  37. Letting your guard down and ignoring genetics is setting your dogs up for failure. Sure there are dogs that can get along BUT genetics can not be ignored and if you do ignore them, you are not doing your dog any favors. Even Males with Females can turn out badly. Do yourself a favor and more so do your dogs a favor and keep them keeping them apart unless properly surpervised.

    Whoever it was that said this idea was antideluvian is sadly mistaken. Dog Aggression can be "managed" but if you think you can "train it out", you are a GOD! The endocrin system with all its hormones can not be supressed with hugs and kisses. I hope that some here listen and realize that it is YOUR JOB to protect your dog...not to entertain your dog. Please don't be one of the many who state "I don't know what happenned...he never acted that way before?" Sometimes it only takes one time...

    As for proper containment, a proper chain setup just like hugs and kisses, does not "make" a dog aggressive. The dog is not always "hitting the chain". What would you rather walk by while walking your dog on a leash? 1) A dog on a secure chain setup with proper food, water and shelter ...or... 2) A dog behind a fence with no other form of containment with proper food, water and shelter. My dog can clear a 5 foot fence without even touching the fence itself. He can easily jump a 6 foot fence with one touch. (Now I have to say that he is not Human Aggressive). Putting some dogs behind just a fence is like leaving a child the keys to the family car...

  38. "I'm so sick of the old schoolers with their blinders on and refusal to be educated, with their usual droning "Never trust a Pit Bull not to fight, it's in their DNA" babble. PLEASE, I beg you, do some research on behavior, learning theory, dog evolution, body language - heck ANYthing other than reading Koehler and stuff written by DOG FIGHTERS."

    Maybe instead of discounting all those lessons from the should incorporate them into your forward thinking "pack" because they are present and accounted for. Just like History tends to repeat itself, so do traits!

  39. I think it's counter intuitive to say that pack animals like dogs (in this case bully breeds) are born aggresive to their own kind. They wouldn't be pack animals if this were the case. Exceptions to the rule don't make the rule. People are breeding bully dogs and conditioning them for fighting. This doesn't change their inherit nature of being highly socialized pack animals.

    Has Anonymous given thought as to why the dogs are fought in a pit in the first place? (Anecdotal story:) I was watching "No Reservations" with Anthony Bourdain and he was in India. The locals were going to put on a cockfight for him. They get the two males and put them in the middle of the street. The birds are doing everything they can to avoid each other. The locals pick them up, put them in each others face to agitate them, and the birds still turn away from each other. The birds are choosing "flight" over "fight". The fight is canceled and they go eat their meal. It is known animals of all species almosts always choose to avoid confrontation over fighting. This is why the cockpit was invented. The birds have to "fight" because "flight" is not an option. Dogs of many different breeds are fought in pits. The breed of choice is usually the APBT. This is not because of it's inherit dog aggressiveness but other traits like athleticism, work ethic, and willingness to please . Unfortuantely, you can take any breed of dog, find the ones with some dog aggression, condition and game test them, and stick them in a pit where the only option is to fight. The only breed this says anything about is the Human kind.

  40. We LOVE our Pak. Great Video. What I saw was one of the bullys look up and check in w/ their person during play.I am sure many people missed that small but HUGE fact.Your doing a GREAT job Our Pack.
    xoxo Lark & Lola

  41. THANK you the last Anon!
    That's something that gets missed all the time. They're biddible. We forget that they want to please their people. that's a HUGE thing in dog to dog play. We want our dogs to check in or respond to us.
    Thanks for posting.

  42. So put the dog in the freaking house. It's called a CRATE, or 8ft+ fencing. Baby gates, ex-pens.

    ANYTHING is better than chaining a dog outside. You are no better than those people who do it and don't care.

    I didn't say chaining MAKES a dog aggressive, either. Several of you are jumping to conclusions, and making assumptions. Try re-reading the posts.

    There is a reason "tethering" or "chaining" is illegal here in California (over 3 hours). Think about that.

  43. Kevin, brilliant. Absolutely true. Pit Bulls are canines first, then they are Pit Bulls.

  44. Kelly here, again: I agree with TEMP chaining, because unless you have a floor AND a ceiling to the containment any pit bull can and will escape! Not permanent, never let off chain, out on chain in inclement weather chaining. But I would NEVER trust my pittie to not escape a regular yard! I happen to live in a townhouse, so my dog is inside all the time, except when we are outside, and she is not a wanderer at all. I've never had a chain set up, but if done right and as a temporary turn-out, I think it could be safer than fencing. However, I differ humongously about the weather blog. These dogs ARE NOT all-weather dogs! Nor are any fine-coated dog! It is plain cruel to make a dog almost as naked as man himself be outside in all weather!

  45. I find it interesting that all the negativity is coming from anonymous sources. Grow up and show yourself, or stfu.

  46. PS - CHAINING and containing are NOT the same thing.

    My pittie has the run of my house (started out with just her crate, then one room, then another, etc.)

    But to keep ANY dog on a chain, only encourages anxiety and aggression. NO one who LOVES dogs will keep them CHAINED up outside!

  47. I wanted to thank everyone for coming onto the blog and posting, anons and not anons. All brought up points that gave an opp for lots of discussion and education.

  48. There was a comment/question regarding "scientific" facts about chaining. It may not be "scientific" (Just as there is no "scientific" fact determining that dog aggression has a specific gene) but you really ought to check out Karen Delise has spent years researching many different decades and although her research revolves around fatal dog attacks on humans, it has been found that a higher percentage of those fatal attacks come from dogs on chains. Just something to think about there.

  49. I agree with lpyrbby.

  50. Hi, I am one of those skeered anons. You can find me on, My username is megschristina.

    I will not follow this blog any further, so if you really feel that I am too scared to talk, I cordially invite you to

  51. Huh. I'm a little befuddled about why there's so much hubbub over this cute little video. Happy dogs comfortably playing with one another doesn't seem to me like any cause for alarm. Yes, they're pit bulls. I get that. I have two (mature, dog selective adults). I've lived with three at once. They play like that all the time. If things get too intense I break things off, but in five years I've never had play get out of hand. (They've scuffled over other things though.)

    They're always separated when I'm not immediately supervising, but I can't imagine not letting them play and be buddies.

  52. Thanks Katie, good points about watching, supervising and still letting them be dogs. It's funny how some people think that WE'RE the ones not letting them be what they really are.
    Thanks for the post1 If you want to see more go to our facebook page at

  53. I cant believe that people freaked out over this video. I loved this video....I believe its proving them wrong. This was all play, and they were obviously supervised..
    I also feel sorry for dogs that may not have even shown dog aggression at 12-18 months but because of the owner believes the media hype about their own dogs that they need to be separated and rotated and chained up to stay away from eacthother.
    And we wonder why these dogs don't have a chance....there are too many people who own them that don't have a clue and who set them up to fail because of their own lack of education. These dogs can be so much more than people want them to be or let them be. Give your dog respect and know your dog. You need to set rules and boundries and let your dog have some space. Its ok to let a pit bull play with another dog or cat or a rabbit if it gets a long, don't set your dog up for failure....a pit bull is a dog is a dog is a dog. Canine first is right. Sometimes I wish these dogs had a different name....its sad when the media is scared of the word "pit bull" but then people who own them make it something negative too. sad.
    'PROPS to Marthina and Our pack and all the breed ambassadors out there making a difference! WE love you LEO! WE are so glad you made it out.