Animal Behaviorist Wants Pit Bull Lovers To Stop Saying ‘It’s How They Were Raised”

Dog trainer and behavior consultant Trish McMillan Loehr says Pit Bull owners hear this way too often, but contends that each dog should be treated as an individual.

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Theodore, the author's rescue Pit Bull, was raised by a dog fighter and yet is "perpetually happy, charming, clownish and creative." Via Pibbling with Theodore/Facebook
Theodore, the author's rescue Pit Bull, was raised by a dog fighter and yet is "perpetually happy, charming, clownish and creative." Via Pibbling with Theodore/Facebook

If you own a Pit Bull, you’ve probably heard some variation of this phrase a thousand times. Or if you’ve encountered a Pit Bull, one that ignored your expectations and happily licked those stereotypes in the face, maybe you’ve said it. Either way, dog trainer Trish McMillan Loehr wants everyone to stop looking at that breed of dog and saying, “It’s all in how they’re raised.”

In a blog for The Huffington Post, Loehr said that her own loving, goofy, well-adjusted Pit Bull was actually rescued from one of the country’s largest dog fighting organizations. 

Loehr says that, as a certified dog behavior consultant, one of the most enduring questions she has to face is that of “nature vs. nurture,” but there’s never an easy answer (as countless behaviorists have discovered, shortly after bashing their heads against the wall).

“Some dogs can be raised by the book, socialized to everything, and still become dangerously aggressive,” she wrote. “And others, like Theodore, can come from a background designed to create frustration and dog aggression, and their natural resilience and joy can win over.”

It's not about how they were raised, Trish McMillan Loehr says. Via Pibbling With Theodore/Facebook

It’s not about how Pit Bulls were raised, Trish McMillan Loehr says. Via Pibbling With Theodore/Facebook

She raises an interesting point, noting that if it truly were “all about how they were raised,” then shelter dogs, abused dogs or those who had been seized from dog fighting rings (think Michael Vick’s dogs), would never be capable of being adopted or placed in new homes. And that’s obviously not the case. At the very least, her reasoning might make us stop saying anything to Pit Bull owners other than, “Wow, what a great dog he is.”

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