Activities and Agilities
"Pit bulls are famous, in circles of knowledgeable dog people, for the love and loyalty they bestow on anyone who shows them a smidgen of kindness."
"Pit Bulls are especially good at pleasing people since they are strong and smart, they learn quickly and they are very adaptable."
Search & Rescue
Pit Bulls have excelled at this important and interesting activity. It is an exacting hobby, and requires lots of money, lots of time, lots of slogging through tough terrain, and more importantly it requires exceptionally dedicated dogs and people.
Pit Bulls have been used as service dogs for the physically challenged for over two decades now. They work as hearing assistant dogs, physical assistant dogs, and in a variety of other capacities. They offer stability, strength and a willing nature, all necessary for the serious task of service dog.
This German sport developed at the turn of the century as a breeding suitability test for German Shepherd dogs. Today the sport is still dominated by the breed for which it was developed. Other breeds have competed with great successi n the US. USA happens to allow some other breeds to compete in its trials (but not at the very top championship level). Pit Bulls were banned from USA trials some years ago, the result of typical doggy-politic garbage when certain Am Staff people petitioned USA to only allow dogs called "American Staffordshire terriers" to compete. It is possible to enter a Pit Bull in USA trials, however you must call your dog either a "mixed breed" or an "American Staffordshire". Schutzhund trials test the dog in three areas, tracking, obedience and bite work.
A great outlet for the competitive spirit of bulldogs and their owners. There are several organizations which offer weight pulls for Pit Bulls. Each dog is harnessed and hooked to a cart (or sled in the snow) upon which increasing increments of weight are added. Each dog has 60 seconds to pull the load 16 feet without the handler touching the dog or crossing a line which is in front of the dog. Dogs cannot be "baited". The dog that pulls the most weight across the line (in the fastest time in case of a tie) wins. Dogs can earn three titles, the Working Dog (WD) for pulling 12 times their body weight at four different pulls. The Working Dog Excellent (WDX) for pulling 18 times their body weight at four different pulls, and the Working Dog Superior (WDS) for pulling 23 times their body weight at three different pulls. Dogs can also compete for regional and national ranking. Sadly, in the past few years a number of really, really pathetic people have started using cattle prods and shock collars to force un game dogs to pull.
A fun and exciting sport for those with dogs under control around other dogs. There are several national organizations which sanction trials. Dogs compete based on their shoulder height, and most organizations offer three levels of competition. Handlers direct their dogs to climb over, weave around, jump over or climb through obstacles on a course which is timed. Dogs are off-lead and excited, and other dogs are all around the ring, so you can see that only well directed and trained dogs would be feasible for this sport. Many Pit Bulls and Staffie Bulls are currently competing at national levels. This is a great sport for those who are really in tune with their dogs.
Any Pit Bull can be shown in obedience, papers or not. In fact, most of the serious dog sports (agility, weight pull, ring, Schutzhund) do not require a dog to have papers. In obedience trials dog and handler are required to work as a team, demonstrating the dog's ability to obey commands, and to be a useful canine citizen. Pit Bulls respond best to positive training methods.
The Schutzhund sport now offers tracking tests for all breeds. Tracking is fun, but a rather solitary sport. It is not to be confused with search and rescue, where the dog moves about much more freely, nose high in the air. Tracking, as developed by the Germans, is much more dull and precise. Dogs are scored not on how well and how quickly they complete the track overall, but rather on how meticulously they keep their noses to each footstep, and how slowly and calmly they move down the track. It is more difficult to get a dog to do this than you might think, for it goes against their nature. Tracks are aged anywhere from 30 minutes for several hours, depending on the degree of difficulty. They range in distance from a couple hundred yards to nearly a mile. The dogs must follow the trail accurately, and locate articles dropped by the track layer along the way.
They are not bred to work sheep. To ask a Bulldog to work sheep requires that the dog control thousands of years of genetic whispering that tells him to grip and hold. Look for a trainer who is willing to work with your breed, and then don't be surprised as many people have, when the dog grips an animal. They are gripping dogs. If you have a very close relationship with your dog, and your dog is cool headed, you may be able to trial.
Nursing Home Visitation
This is something you can do either alone or with a group. Well mannered dogs are welcomed in a variety of care giving institutions. The dogs are either taken from room to room, allowed to wander at large, or are taken to a main room where they performed tricks to amuse the residents. Needless to say, a rowdy, hyper dog will not work in this situation, as the elderly are susceptible to scratches and bruising.
Another activity that many dogs are really wild about. A boomer ball is a hard plastic ball about the size of a soccer ball. They can be purchased through local pet stores or most pet catalogs have them. The dogs run it with either their noses or their front feet. You might see some slight bleeding around the nose on the more whacko dogs, but no real damage is done. These are great toys.
Frisbee toys were made for Bulldogs! They love the prey-drive aspect of chasing them, and their athletic bodies allow them to leap and jump well.
This is a fast, fun sport for those with well mannered and well trained dogs who love to jump and retrieve. Fly ball competitions are great fun to watch, hilarious, and the dogs LOVE it. The point is for one team of dogs to compete against another team of dogs in a relay contest. The dogs run down through a series of jumps, come to the fly ball box which the dog must hit with its foot, the ball shoots out, the dog catches it and races back to the handler. This sport has been featured as half-time entertainment at sporting events. The sport has evolved tremendously in the past couple decades, and fly ball titles are even available for dogs to earn.
Hunting is the original use for the Bulldog and many of the breed's closest relatives. Today Pit Bulls are still used by some to catch and hold hogs, bear, badger and other creatures. These dogs are a lucky few, as the hunting drive is undiminished in the heart of a Bulldog. Caution must be taken when releasing Bulldogs on large game - their courage will often get them killed where lesser dogs will back off and simply bay the game.
Running is an activity that pretty much every dog loves to do, especially Pit Bulls. That's what they're built to do. It's excellent exercise for both the owner and the dog. So get out and take your dog for a run.
I haven't met too many Pit Bulls that didn't like to go for a nice swim or dip in the pool. You could try getting them one of them cheap plastic wading pools and fill it with water and let them lounge around in that or maybe a nice day at the beach will do. Either way try it out, you never know, you may have a swimmer on your hands.
Tricks are always fun for everyone, both you and your Pit Bull. They may take a little time and practice, but what's better than showing your friends and family what new things your dog can do. Pit Bulls are also "people pleasers" which makes them a little easier to train. They'll do pretty much anything to make you happy as long as your showing them affection and a little treat every now and then.