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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Breed Ambassador's

First off - What is a Breed Ambassador?

A Breed Ambassador changes peoples minds and hearts through good behavior and nice manners, showing off all the wonderful traits and aspects of their breed - be the dog a mix or a purebred. This means cool and collected in social settings. Calm, happy, and confident without being aggressive or bossy.

"Pit Bull Breeds" - a.k.a. "Bully Breeds"

Unfortunately we live in a world where their are still breed stereotypes, fears, myths, and downright lies. Most people judge a dog based on how he looks, lumping dogs into giant categories and blaming them all. Hence the pit bull. Pit bulls are not a breed of dogs, they are many different mutt mixes, and purebreds that all end up under the same giant umbrella category based on their looks. It's very hard to break the negative images conjured up by the term "pit bull". People think of hard core killers, incapable of having a loving relationship with man or beast. To quote a man I once met, "You can't put two pit bulls together without having a fight break out." Well sir, you are quite wrong.
Tired pups
Snuggle Buddies
One thing that doesn't help though is that due to this reputation "pit bulls" - which I will refer to as "bully breeds", a much more accurate term.  Is that their those out their who seek out these dogs and encourage the bad reputation. People think they fight so they throw them into rings and expect them to fight, people want mean guard dogs, and so they take bully breeds crop their ears, throw on spiked collars and feed into the fears of others. Whether the dogs personality fits the bill or not.

"When fear is already present...Heavily cropped ears, grossly over muscular bodies far beyond the breed standard, sporting names like Killa, Macho, Big Boy, Terror do nothing but keep people away, instilling fear further and further." (The Daily Quirk)

We work hard at being good Breed Ambassadors.

We want others to see our dogs and not feel immediate fear, we did away with Dante's previous name of "Diesel", we did not crop our pups cute floppy ears, we work hard on manners, socialization around other dogs, speak positively about our dogs, and work hard to inform those around us of common misconceptions.
Photo Attribution: Pets Advisor
Exercise, proper training, good behavior around other animals and people, spay/neutering, proper identification, and education are key to being a breed ambassador.

What this means for DZ Dogs?

With owning a dog - especially a working, hunting, or other large powerful breed comes responsibilities. "With great power, comes great responsibility." (Uncle Ben)
Being a bully owner.."in some ways, requires you to go above and beyond general good dog ownership practices. As owners of a maligned breed, we face challenges such as breed stigma, breed discriminatory legislation, home owner's insurance discrimination, and media bias." (PBRC)

All dogs need exercise, a properly and regularly exercised dog is healthier, happier, more easy to work with and much calmer. Although some bullies are happy couch potatoes, DZ Dogs are not! Our pups need regular exercise or they get "cabin fever", a walk is simply not enough. DZ Dogs need brain stimulation and play which we do through training during play time, as well as structured training times.

Being large dogs with bad breed reputations we want strangers when they see our dogs, to see well mannered and polite dogs rather than; "killing machines", straining at the neck, eye's bulging, while they drag their poor owner down the street.
This means we work on basic commands such as "heel", "off-leash heel", "sit", "wait", "look at me", "down", "crate", "give", and "leave it" with our dogs.
We train daily with our dogs together, but also make time to work with each dog separately.

Good Behavior
Our goal is for anyone to be able to walk our dogs, for small children holding snacks to be safe - knowing our dogs will not try to take their food, and for little hand to be able to safely take toys from our dogs without being knocked over or mouthed too hard in the process.

We also recognize not all people are dog lovers, and not all dogs are friendly. This means we work hard to teach our dogs that they are not allowed to greet unless invited and all doggy introductions are done with permission.

We also acknowledge that our dogs have Terrier in their blood, this means they have an instinctual hunting drive (prey drive) that usually comes out in the form of chasing small creatures such as squirrels and neighbor cats. We do not promote or allow such behavior with our dogs. This means we work on distraction training in high stress areas and through positive rewards and minor corrections encourage our dogs to focus on us rather than the small fuzzy thing. This also means - no squeaky toys as this encourages prey drive.

You can work with a dog who has prey drive. HERE is Ziva's story.
Their are many bully breeds in need of homes due to the result of irresponsible owners and uncontrolled breeding. We believe that if you are not going to purposefully breed your dog then the responsible thing to do is spay/neuter your pet. This reduces health risks, and ensures that their is no sexual frustration that would otherwise encourage bad behavior and potential dog fights.

Although it can get old, we recognize that breed misconceptions do not go away overnight. As bully parents we are constantly open to having conversations with others about our dogs, using these conversations to help educate others about breed stereotypes and the true nature of bullies.
Photo Attribution: Lexus2D
We take our responsibility seriously. 

Because bullies have such a bad rap we avoid chaos with our dogs - even if a bully doesn't start a fight, they can get blamed. This means we are careful to avoid unknown off-leash dogs, and dog parks. We are good neighbors, all the kids and parents in our area know us and our dogs - they also know our pups are friendly.

Play time with the kiddos!
Doggy Play Date! Photo Attribution: T.Altmiller
Share the Love!

We wear silly coats, sweaters, and scarves to encourage people to look at our dogs in a different light. We take them into pet stores and are happy to let the neighbor kids play with our dogs when they ask (which is often). We want everyone to love them as much as we do!
It always pleases me when people stop and ask questions or want to say "hi" to my dogs. I especially love the confused looks when people ask, "Is that a pit bull?" Especially when I say "technically that's not a breed."

I love my dogs!

Ziva loves kids! Proud to be an American Pitbull Terrier!

Dante - Proud to be an American Staffordshire Terrier/ boxer mix!

Pit Bull Ambassadors Sources
Pit Bull Rescue Central
Pet Quirk: Is your dog a breed ambassador?
Stubby Dog: How to be a Pit Bull Ambassador

Check out these other Ambassadors!

First Monday's Positive Pet Training Blog Hop


  1. Thanks for joining the hop this month with this excellent breed ambassador post! Jason and I had our first up close and personal experience with "everyone-blame-the-pit-bull syndrome" about five years ago during off-leash playtime at a park. A woman with no control of her schnauzer allowed it to run right into the middle of a large pack of dogs that had been peacefully wrestling and playing together for quite sometime. Sadly, the schnauzer was instantly injured but even Jason and I, who were closest to the action, couldn't tell which dog made contact- several of them went for the snappy little schnauzer! And out of all of them, the bully breed had been the most gentle and sweet with my even smaller little Wilhelm throughout the play session as well as had demonstrated an excellent recall. But the lab, poodle and herding dog owner's all left the scene quickly, shaking their heads about "that nasty pit bull." The poor bully breed owner was in tears. Jason was busy helping the schnauzer owner get her dog to the car to take to the vet while I tried to comfort the bully breed owner. Both Jason and I told him we didn't think his dog was to blame but we were the only one's. The kind bully breed owner paid all of the schnauzer's vet bills anyways. He and his dog were the kind of shining examples of bully breed owner's you have written about... and his dog's name was "Daisy." :)

    1. That's too bad! But unfortunately true. We've since changed our minds about dog parks and don't recommend any bully owner taking their dog - no matter how well behaved, to any dog park for that reason.
      While we were working on Ziva's socialization we went to a park and she did great! She played and chased everyone had a great time, until a lady showed up with dog treats. Ziva sat nicely but a large mastiff mix turned out to be food aggressive and decided to try and take a bite out of her! On a good note he missed, but Dante saw it at the same time we did and launched himself at the mutt to protect his little sister!
      Thankfully no one was hurt, and we were on top of it pretty quick.

      Unfortunately most owners don't read body language and automatically blame the scary dog as opposed to the one who actually "started it".
      Glad everyone was ok in your story!

  2. Nice work and beautiful dogs! I didn't know that about squeaky toys.

    1. Yeppers! A squeaker is the sound of a dying animal, so every time your dog chomps down on said squeaker toy they are killing something in their minds. :-) For certain breeds (like those with a high prey drive) it's more important that these types of toys be avoided, especially if you aren't training them to tune into their prey drive and hunt things.

  3. This is an excellent post!! Great job!! Your dogs are gorgeous. :)

  4. I've been and animal control officer for almost a decade. I could take an Alaskan cruise if I has $1 for every time I was asked if I was afraid of "those pit bulls." I tell them I've been bitten five times, the culprits were: one cat, one poodle and three Chihuahuas.

    I love your blog. Thanks for sharing. Those goofy pittie grins make me smile every time.


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