Tag Archives: pit bulls

A new chew toy!

(Part of an ongoing series of posts about my life as the new daddy of Otto, the rescue pitbull mix.)

What it is about bringing new toys home to your dog that is so enjoyable?

I suppose just the happiness it brings you to see them enjoying themselves.

With Otto it has also been waiting to see whether he would sniff it, taste it and then walk away bored no matter how much you tried to get him to become interested in most toys.

Otto is a bit of toy snob. He just can’t be bothered with balls (boring!) and the kinds of toys for which many dogs go nuts. He won’t chase anything on its own. Throw a ball and he looks the other way.

He likes stuffed toys with squeakers, but has the stuffing and squeaker removed so quickly that I stopped getting them for him.

It is said by many who love them that it is an almost universal trait that pibbles love to play tug-of-war and this is definitely Otto’s favorite game. Whether it’s with a rope or strip of canvas (or his leash when I am trying to walk him) he never tires of any kind of tug of war.

So I keep my eye out for different kinds of rope toys which look solid enough and have some sort of rubber ball or similar object attached with which he can occupy himself.

I ran across this one today which is almost all rope. He loves it. 

Which is great, because you have to keep those doggy minds occupied as much as possible if they are to be happy and out of mischief. It’s also satisfies their need to chew on things that are hopefully not your shoes and furniture

Chewing is one of the major reasons why dogs are given up for adoption or abandoned, so if you can learn to constructively deal with the problem you’ve won a major battle.

I knew this about dogs, but did not realize how central giving them things to chew on (some breeds more than others) is to their well-being and happiness. 

This toy bills itself as virtually indestructible. We’ll see. I’ll give it less than an hour before Otto has it at least partially destroyed. The only thing he never eventually destroys is his rubber Kong.

Such is life with a beloved pibble!

$12.99 at Target! Don’t spend too much on most toys unless they have stellar reviews on, say, Amazon where many people say they last a long time.

Otto with his new toy.

 

Otto graduates to his harness for walks

Otto in harness
Otto (and his ever-present tongue)  looking great in his red-and-black harness, which he now seems to able to use on walks no problem.

(Another in a series on my life as a first-time owner of a rescue pit bull.)

When I first adopted Otto from Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC), the Chicago municipal shelter, I bought a harness for him and it turned out to be a bit of disaster on walks.

Otto was a problem dog on walks. He was not socialized well. He lunged at everything. Other dogs. Adults. And, most frightfully, little children. He was also a terrible ambassador for pit bulls, only reinforcing in the minds of all we met on his walks that pit bulls were scary dogs. (Any dog can be scary if they are not socialized well, BTW.)

I thought a harness would give me more control and calm him down, but that is not the way the harness worked in the real world. Just as with a plain old collar, Otto pulled and tugged and struggled to get at other people and dogs while wearing a harness. The harness gave me some measure of control over him which exceeded a plain collar, but did not seem to lessen the lunging behavior. Its advantage over a choke collar seemed to be only that: he was not choking himself while lunging. But walks were still a headache for Otto and me, and scary for my neighbors.

Reluctantly, I considered a training collar, which is a collar with (in my case) smooth plastic teeth which face a dog’s neck. So while the collar is designed not to close past a certain point so as to choke a dog, the teeth do dig into a dog’s neck if they pull too hard. Some “dog people” oppose them reflexively. But if you have a dog with whom you lose control because of aggressive behavior, you run the risk of that dog being labeled as vicious (or worse) and the authorities in Chicago will take that dog away.

So I tried a training collar that a friend gave me.

It worked. And it’s been working since I first put it on him. After a short time he adjusted to it and just never pulled past a certain point. Otto started to find his equilibrium on walks. He still pulled, but pulled less all the time. 

Today, five months later, I decided to switch Otto’s training collar for that harness I bought. We went on our longest walk ever.

He was great. Never lunged one time at anyone and walked in the same relaxed, controlled manner that he showed when he had been walking with the training collar.

An added thing to celebrate: when I first adopted Otto he was so skinny! Life in a shelter did not agree with him, I suspect because he was not getting the 24-hour loving he craves so much. The harness I bought was too loose even when it was adjusted to its smallest size.

Today the harness fit perfectly (as you can see from the above photo) and my little voracious eater has grown so much I hadn’t even noticed until I put the formerly too loose harness on him. In fact, I may need to buy a harness a size larger as he is almost to the point of outgrowing this one.

Patience and consistency in training. Those are the keys to life with a happy, loving pit bull. 

Keep at it. Don’t give up. If I can do it, you can, too.

The training collar I used for Otto, given to me by a friend. Click on the pic to go to the page where you can buy one.

Otto at Lake Michigan

Otto on this morning’s walk. He’s still a little scared of Lake Michigan. We’ll change that this summer.

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