After working with Pit Bulls in a shelter, I have had episodes of trust, fear, worry and then complete confidence in dog work, especially among the Pit Bull Terriers.
Now I have been bit by dogs before, even attacked by a Shar Pei. After being bit about twelve times and fighting the dog in the street, got hold of his collar. I showed I was not afraid of him, and took him for a walk, and regained my confidence.
But what about Pit Bulls? Is there an unconscious fear in dog worker minds? Or dog owners? Do they fear what the media has said, about Pit Bulls? That they will attack you some day?
Here is what I have done, to train my unconscious mind:
1) Attempt working with dogs, as an athlete trains for a marathon. See yourself completing the tasks (walking, socializing, going into the cage) as a winner, and with confidence. You have completed the tasks and the dog is happy!
2) Study pictures and videos of positive outcomes, when working with Pit Bull dogs. Watch the puppies play, and watch Pit Bulls kiss their owners. Develop a strong positive attitude about the dogs.
3) Find good Pit Bull role models to work with and practice with. Experience counts when working with good animals. Volunteer working with Pit Bulls, practice brushing them, interact with mother and puppy. Maybe giving them a bath, etc. can sooth both of your souls.
4) Transfer your experience. I would say, get a large Bulldog, or German Shepherd or Bullmastiff, a large muscular animal-- and transfer that good working experience to the Pit Bull breed. Once you work with many strong dogs, the Pit Bull will be a breeze to work with.
5) Don't listen to the media. Horrible news stories, dog bites, and all dog pound stories and animal control stories are not supportive. They undermine good Pit Bull dogs and their canine families, stereotyping the dogs as all dangerous. It is good to know the outward signs of aggression, but you don't want to get paranoid. Fear of dogs, fuels the fire in all dog breeds!
6) Get some dog training books and study them. Practice training Pit Bulls, with easy steps, such as "Sit", Stay, or Lie Down." YOU must be in control of the dog and be the canine teacher, leader and alpha canine role model, of all dogs.
7) Observe others working with dogs, see how they interact. You can gain valuable insight into proper handling techniques when working with Pit Bulls. I have seen small women (only one-hundred pounds) handling large Mastiffs and big breeds of dogs. Watch how they talk, speak, handle the dogs. Confident people can hand you the torch in being confident, when working with dogs.
8) Do not give up, with one bad experience! Some kennel workers and volunteers may become intimidated by people or dogs, and never work with dogs again. That is sad, because the dogs need the people and the people need the dogs. There are tough-guys that do not want beginners around, but they began as beginners themselves. Working with Pit Bull dogs is not a tough-guy contest. It is a love contest, of responsibility to dog and man, and society. The animal shelters and dog pounds need people with love and respect for man and dog.
9) Self-visualize your working with Pit Bulls and all dogs. See the completeness and fullfullment of the work, ahead of time, in your mind.
10) Realize that working with dogs or any animal takes time and practice. Everyone has to begin somewhere; every dog groomer or veterinarian or volunteer started with day one. Immerse yourself in working with all animals (birds, fish, etc.) and can understand all forms of life and the love they hold for man. Get confident today!
About Author / Additional Info:
I enjoy working with dogs and cats, and completed a veterinary assistant program. I am an author of cat and dog poetry books.