Physical, Mental, and Emotional Needs of Bully Breeds
A huge benefit to owning a Pit Bull is all of the fun activities you can do with him! It’s essential that you give your Pit Bull ample opportunities to satisfy his need to run fast, jump high, tug hard, and solve problems like the creative, capable, and compassionate creature that he is. Every Pit Bull requires opportunities to fulfill these needs for his physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. The good news is, it’s easy, fun, and healthy to help your dog live a happy and fulfilling life.
The physical exercise needs of a Pit Bull are usually relatively high when compared to other dog breeds, and this remains true throughout the dog’s life. Most Pit Bull-type dogs descend from terrier breeds, and terriers were selectively bred for their tenacity and intense interest in their daily activities, and you will see this terrier drive in most Pit Bulls.
Here are some great ways to satisfy your Pit Bull Terrier’s physical needs:
Running – Most adolescent and adult Pit Bull Terriers have more than enough energy to spare at the end of a day, and many of them LOVE to run, run, and run some more! Running or jogging with your Pit Bull is great for everyone – your dog gets some of his “zoomies” out and you’ll satisfy your own, human exercise needs, too.
Playing Tug = Most breeds of dogs enjoy tug-of-war games, because it satisfies their DNA-driven need to work with other dogs to dissemble a downed prey animal before consuming it. The Pit Bull Terrier is no exception, and playing with a tug rope or large stuffed toy can be a great way to burn off your dog’s physical energy without him or you needing to run or walk for long distances. Like any game humans play with dogs, though, regulate the intensity of your play so it doesn’t escalate into nippy or mouthy behavior because your dog got too excited to continue play without mouthing. “Click here for more information about fixing nipping/mouthy behavior.” Also, it’s common for dogs to growl playfully while playing tug – this isn’t a sign of aggression, and shouldn’t be punished – just know what this means about your dog’s level of excitement.
Long walks – Vary your routes, the terrain, the duration and distance to keep your dog’s interest!
Scent Walks – Take a walk, but let your dog sniff everything that attracts his attention as long as he doesn’t break any laws or pose a danger to himself. A dog’s sense of smell is like a human’s sense of sight – it’s their #1 sense, and it’s healthy for them to use these abilities at their discretion while taking walks.
Pack Walks – Take walks with your dog’s doggy friends – this doubles as socialization, too! Dogs don’t need to be on top of each other constantly to benefit from the company.
Fetch – Playing fetch lets you stand still while your dog does all the work! Many dogs enjoy chasing a moving target, and locating, retrieving, and returning it to you is a great bonding activity too. If your dog doesn’t know how to play fetch, teach him! For more on how to teach a dog to play fetch.
Agility – Agility is a sport that asks your dog to complete a prepared obstacle course with mental and physical challenges like jumps, tunnels, weave poles, tires, balance beams, and lots more! This is a fantastic way to let your naturally athletic Pit Bull Terrier strut is brains AND his brawn in a breathtakingly impressive way – and it’s great for teaching obedience commands, too. Lots of dog trainers and training facilities offer canine agility classes – contact It’s A Pittie Rescue for recommendations of a good agility instructor in your area!
Flyball and Frisbee – As extremely athletic dogs, many Pit Bull Terriers have impressive jumping and leaping abilities. Flyball is a competitive sport that asks the dog to jump a series of hurdles, catch a thrown tennis ball, and return over the same hurdles while holding the tennis ball to the finish line. Frisbee is much less structured and more flexible to play – all you need is you, your dog, and a Frisbee. It’s essentially fetch taken to the air – and the catches your Pit Bull can pull off will absolutely astound you!
Play: Play is a fantastic way for a dog to get physical exercise. Dogs need to play for their continuing physical mental health. They keep up their social interaction skills, and use their problem solving skills while simultaneously expending physical energy, burning off both of these energy types more efficiently because they’re being challenged simultaneously.
Playing with humans usually involves chase/tag games, gentle tussling or wrestling, and toy exchanges like tug, fetch, and more. Dogs play roughly because they’re built to withstand more than humans, and a Pit Bull Terrier’s tolerance for rough-and-tumble fun will probably be on the high end when compared to many dog breeds. For this reason, always be aware of your dog’s excitement level while playing so you can both avoid accidental injury. See (fixing nippy/mouthy behavior) for more information about humans playing safely with dogs.
Playing with other dogs is great on multiple fronts as well – play with another dog can last longer, since a healthy dog’s social tolerance will hit its limit before his physical energy ever burns out. Two healthy dogs who have great communication skills and many previous positive experiences playing with each other could potentially play full-tilt ALL DAY with only short breaks for water or food. For more on helping your dog build this type of relationship with other dogs, see (Socialization – Dog/Dog Play)
Like all members of the Terrier breed group, Pit Bull Terrier-type dogs are intelligent, tenacious, and great independent thinkers
Trick Training: Teach your dog something new! If he knows the basics, get creative – can your dog:
– Touch a target with his nose?
– Touch a target with his paw?
– Turn a light switch on/off?
– Pick up a targeted object in his mouth and carry it to you?
– Retrieve each of his toys by name – ball, rope, bear, bone, Kong?
– Balance a treat on his nose without eating it? Two treats? How about three?
Pack Walks: Taking a walk with friends is more fun than walking alone – your dog thinks so too! Get together with your dog’s canine pals and their humans for some fun bonding, socialization, and exercise together!
Puzzle Toys: Stuff a specially-made, durable toy like a Kong with tasty mixture of kibble, treats, peanut butter, cheese – whatever your dog likes! – serve, and enjoy watching your dog work for his yummies!
For added challenge once your dog is hooked, stick his food-filled Kong in the freezer for a few hours – the puzzle will be trickier, more interesting, and longer-lasting when frozen!
Playing With Other Dogs: Play is vital to a dog’s mental health – in addition to the obvious physical exercise it provides, play is an opportunity to bond with other living creatures and practice interpersonal skills and conflict resolution.
Safety first! It’s A Pittie Rescue recommends one-on-one, low-key, SUPERVISED doggy playdates, between dogs who have been introduced successfully. Start with short play sessions on-leash (loose leashes only!) with frequent breaks. Gradually allow lengthier play sessions. After several successful play sessions on leash, drop the leashes for a short period of time. ALWAYS end the play session before the dogs are ready to stop, so both of them will be happy to see each other at the next session.
For more information, see “Smart Socializing” from fellow Pit Bull advocates: