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.
"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|
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.
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|
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|
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!