Can Pitbulls be service dogs? Due to their bad history in blood sports, a lot of people are raising their eyebrows on the thought of making this breed a service dog, let alone an emotional support. Pitties are typecast as vicious guard dogs, but surprisingly, these doggos can actually become an affectionate and loyal service animal.
What makes Pitbulls a likely candidate as service dogs are its amiable nature. They have a high tolerance for kids and they are always excited to greet guests given proper socialization and training. Pitbulls are also oblivious of their size, often seen squeezing on the laps of their hoomans.
But let’s go back to the question: do Pitbulls make good service dogs? The good news is YES, Pitties can become service dogs.
Their role as service dogs
If there’s one advantage Pitbulls have over other breeds, it’s their strong bodies. They can push and pull wheelchairs with ease. This is the reason why Pitties are favorite picks among immobile handlers who need a little help navigating around.
Also, Pitbulls have a sense of protectiveness. Once they give their loyalty to a person, say, their handler, they will defend them no matter what. Still, proper training is needed to prevent this from bordering into aggressiveness.
Aside from providing physical assistance, Pitbulls are also great in emotional support. In fact, they can be trained to accompany and comfort handlers with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other psychological conditions.
Pitbulls are very versatile and smart dogs. If subjected under intense training since puppyhood, they can be reliable medical alert service dogs. This type of service dog is responsible for detecting the onset of low blood sugar, low oxygen levels, and even seizures. They can also retrieve medicine in times of need.
Pitbull dogs are also favorite service dogs for soldiers suffering from PTSD. Some of them are rescue dogs trained to be affectionate comfort and emotional support canines.
These doggos may look tough and intimidating, but they have hearts of gold. They can sense emotional distress and they will be loyal companions no matter what.
Some downsides to Pitbull service dogs
Let’s face it: having Pitbulls as service dogs isn’t as worthwhile as getting a Golden or Labrador Retriever. It’s also a matter of understanding the behavior and temperament of Pitbulls. To admit, this breed doesn’t show solid temperament until it turns two years old. Still, this can be a two-fold theme. First, it’s a challenge for those who are investing in training early. The dog might fall back to its gene-related aggression. Second, the Pitty can be shaped into a loving and affectionate dog as early as possible. Can Pitbulls be service dogs? Yes!
However, you have to ensure that the Pitbull you’re getting has good genes. It shouldn’t come from the line of blood sporting parents.
This way, you can dampen the threat of gene-related aggression as a lot of dog experts are worried about this part. Since Pitbulls are usually used as physical assistance to immobile handlers, it would be a disaster to restrain the dog during an aggression attack.
Lastly, Pitbulls are highly stereotyped that they are deemed to start tension whenever they are around. Somehow, Pitbulls are said to form social barriers between the community and the disabled person. Whether this is true or not, only the handler can tell.
The Fair Housing Act
If you’re worried about being discriminated for having a Pitbull Service Dog, you can have peace of mind knowing that the Fair Housing Act is protecting you. Under this law, landlords can’t deprive the person access to the dog. This is because the pooch is a service dog and not just a domesticated pet.
So is this is a loophole to places with Breed-Specific Legislation? Sadly, no. The fact that you can’t own a Pitty on that area means no organization will train a Pitbull to be a service dog.
Another thing is that you and your service dog are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Law (ADA). Regardless of the breed, age, size, and weight of your service animal, it should be allowed to go with you.
However, once your service Pitty caused property damage or harm to other tenants, you will be forced to vacate the rented space. Make sure that the doggo has undergone intensive training before taking him with you. Certifications will easily prove this. Do Pitbulls make good service dogs? Yes, but with proper training.
Aside from that, the ADA also exempts the disabled person and the service dog from the “No Pets Allowed” rule of restaurants, malls, and other establishments.
Training to become a service dog
The Animal Disabilities Act requires a service dog to be individually trained first before it can start its job. Training is necessary to lift your Pitty’s status from being a pet animal to a service animal. A certification is necessary as well as an ID that duly recognizes the dog as a service canine. This ID can be placed on the dog’s harness if need be.
For Pitbulls, it should start with socialization. This breed has a history of stubbornness that can come in the way of prepping as a service dog. It’s important to take as much time as possible. This will be paired with obedience training before introducing the doggo to specific tasks that he will perform as a service animal.
With professional training, your Pitbull can become a well-rounded canine. Take note, though, that bloodline will speak of the Pitty’s trainability.
Make sure that you get your Pitty from a reliable breeder, not a puppy mill or a blood sports breeder.
You also have the option to seek out rescue organization. They can suggest an adoption of a Pitbull that you can get trained and certified. So can Pitbulls be service dogs? Of course, they can.
Service dog training is an arduous process. The dog should show consistency and a strong grasp of his task as a service dog. That will be proven through an Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test. This is a series of examination that will be done in various distracting environments. The dog should be able to deliver regardless of the disturbance, say the food on the floor or another dog.
Remember that not all disabilities service dog help is visible. With that, training isn’t just about physical assistance, but also about mental and emotional support.
Cost of having a service dog
One thing is for sure: service dogs are expensive, be it Pitbulls or other breeds.
A service dog trained by a prestigious organization can cost as much as $25,000.
This isn’t a money grab, though, considering the process of educating the dog and ensuring that it will behave accordingly. As for Pitties, this is actually not a hefty price to pay.
Such a price will cover at least two years of training, dog food, veterinary care, and other things needed to keep the doggo healthy. If you can’t afford this, some organizations can offer financial assistance. For those with mounting medical bills, the training organization might also consider a discount.
Can I train my Pitty at home?
Owner-trained Pitbulls can be accepted as service dogs if they can pass the Public Access Test I mentioned above. Regardless of how, where, and who taught the dog, this test will be the defining factor. So do Pitbulls make good service dogs? Read on.
Still, it’s recommended to train your Pitty alongside a professional dog trainer. This will ensure that you’re teaching commands while suppressing any inclination to aggression.
Training at home may look expensive, but if you calculate it, this will cost just the same. It’s better to ask the help of professionals to ensure that your money isn’t going to waste.
Basics of service dog training
The biggest misconception about service dogs is that they are supposed to behave like humans. The real thing is that both the handler and the dog have responsibilities every time they go out in public. The Assistant Dogs International has come up with specific situations that your doggo should be able to deal with positively.
Control when the leash is dropped. Does your Pitty bolt away the moment you drop the leash? Or does he stay like he normally does?
Sitting in command. The very basic idea of sitting should come easily to your dog. The Pitty should be able to sit in various environments like a crowded area, noisy place, or presence of other dogs.
Controlled entry and exit. Can Pitbulls be service dogs? Your Pitty should be able to walk calmly toward the door without being distracted.
Control in a restaurant. One of the most specific tests is the dog’s ability to stay on top of everything even at a restaurant setting. This is a distraction dungeon for canines. There’s food, clattering utensils, people walking in and out, and other noises.
Heeling. Your Pitbull should master heeling through a building – stopping when you stop walking when you walk.
Six-foot recall on lead. The doggo should be able to maintain his focus even if you are six feet afar.
Is my Pitty qualified to be a service dog?
It’s important to know that not all dogs can become service dogs. Setting the breed aside, an individual dog should possess some of the prominent characteristics of a successful service dog. But do Pitbulls make good service dogs? Here are some of it according to the American Kennel Club (AKC):
Alert but not reactive. Remember, there’s a fine line between being alert and aggressive. Make sure that your Pitty falls on the former.
Can be touched by anyone. Is your Pitty a total crowd sweetheart? The ability to tolerate being touched by anyone is a big point toward being a service dog. This includes strangers and little kids.
Calm and friendly. It’s important that your Pitbull has a calm nature, but friendly enough to be of help. The last thing you want is him being a couch potato when you need assistance.
Affinity to follow you around. A clingy Pitbull isn’t a bad thing after all! If your doggo keeps on following you around, this is a good sign that he will stick with you no matter what.
People pleaser. When it comes to Pitbulls, being a people pleaser is second nature. They love making their owners happy, but still, you should get them from a respectable breeder.
Socialized enough. To qualify as a service dog, your pooch should be socialized in many levels. He should be tolerant of many environments and conditions.
Fast learner. If done with positive reinforcement, Pitbulls will learn fast.
The uphill battle
The biggest issue here is the proliferation of fake service dogs. Since these canines can access establishments and in-cabin airplane travel, owners purchase a service dog vest and fake ID. This is a very unethical and unsafe practice, especially for long flights.
But if there’s one battle service Pitbulls are facing, it would be the breed ban. About three years ago, an emotional support Pitbull of a young kid suffering from Asperger’s disease was taken away when the family moved to Jacksonville. In an effort to reunite the “kindred spirits”, the family decided to give up everything to move back to Minnesota.
This is just one of the many cases when support and service Pitbulls have to be taken away. Breed-specific legislation is long-standing in many U.S. cities and states as well as in different countries.
For this reason, those who require a service dog also decide to become a breed advocate. This is an effort to prove that BSL should be abolished to let all breeds have a fair shot in domestication and adoption.
If you’re traveling from state to state, it will be challenging and a bit limiting to a Pitbull service dogs. You always have to watch for BSL. Also, many of the major airlines don’t transport Pitbull breeds.
Can Pitbulls be service dogs? With proper training, these doggos can also be helping hands for people with disabilities and emotional problems. Pitties are sweethearts, and although BSL is still getting in the way, there are no stopping people who are advocating for their rights.