I recently wrote a post about caring for pregnant pit bulls, and in it, I mentioned that this post would be coming soon. Today I want to talk about how to care for a pit bull puppy, starting from the day they are born, and going all the way up to their first birthday. There’s not really much about pit bulls that makes their care any different from any other breed – but there are some special things to consider about how you socialize and train this breed, if you want to end up with a well-behaved dog that breaks all the common myths surrounding bully dog breeds.
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But First! Before You Adopt or Breed Pit Bulls
Check out my post for tips on training a pit bull to get a good look at what kind of commitment you’ll be making. This dog is smart and eager to please, but has a ton of energy and a lot of physical strength. Be sure you definitely have the time and determination to devote to this dog’s care before you decide to get a puppy. Now let’s get on to caring for the pups. Here’s how to raise a pit bull.
Day 1: What to Do When Pit Bull Puppies Are Born[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”174″ identifier=”B00MU2F1RI” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61v%2BCfCgDrL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
When puppies are first born, the mother dog will likely do all the necessary work. She will clean away the embryonic sac so that they can breathe, and get them all latched on to have their first feeding. You may have to help with this if she seems confused or unsure – the biggest issue is making sure the puppy’s nose and mouth are clear, and then getting them dry and warm. For the first two days, puppies need to be in a place that is at least 80 degrees. (After this, you still don’t want them in any place under 72 degrees, so keep their area nice and toasty.)
For the first three weeks, a puppy will simply sleep and eat. They don’t have the ability to see, hear, or even smell very well, until about week number three. Your goal at this stage is to keep them warm and safe, and to monitor them for any signs of injury or illness. Usually, you won’t be doing much except watching puppies sleep.
You do want to get them to the vet after they are born, usually within the first month to six weeks. Call your vet after the birth to find out when you can arrange an appointment – if you have a great vet, they may be willing to come to you. You do need to watch the puppies to make sure they don’t get rolled up in a blanket, or squished into a corner of their box or [easyazon_link identifier=”B00MU2F1RI” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]cage[/easyazon_link] when their mother lays down. At this early stage, this could kill them.
Months One and Two: Socializing Is Important[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B003MWGR1E” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41X6bcKFRPL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
One of the big myths surrounding the pit bull breed is that they are born mean. This is not true – in fact, studies have shown that pit bulls are less temperamental than Chihuahuas! Here’s a great infographic from Dogsaholic, with information from the American Temperament Test Society, about the temperament of pit bulls. But when it comes to understanding why pit bulls attack their owners or other dogs in the news, the key is all in how they are trained and raised. This dog is very smart, very eager to please, and very strong – and all those things together can mean that they can pick up on aggressive behaviors if they think it will please you. It’s essential that you encourage healthy socialization with other dogs and people as early as you possibly can. So the minute that puppies start to walk at around one month, it’s time to start encouraging good behavior.
It’s vital for puppies to be kept with each other and their mother through this stage. They will start to learn proper behavior around other dogs through these relationships. And at four weeks old, you can start introducing them to some high-quality puppy food, in addition to their mother’s milk. You may need to use water to make the food softer, but with pit bulls, be sure you get a [easyazon_link identifier=”B003MWGR1E” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]large breed puppy food[/easyazon_link]. They need the extra nutrients to support their bodies, which are growing at a faster rate than a small breed dog would.
This is also the time to make sure your dog is getting the vaccinations they need. The Parvovirus vaccine is particular [easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”203″ identifier=”B00MW8G62E” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41zh-SHrlAL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]is extremely important for puppies.
Be aware that puppies will need to go to the bathroom many times throughout the day and the night. They need to eliminate about 15 minutes after eating, and they can only hold it for about three to four hours at a time during the night at this age. The best way to figure out how to potty train a pit bull puppy is to get them on a regular schedule of going outside now. They’ll learn, simply by following the schedule, where it is okay to use the bathroom, and it will make enforcing potty training much easier as they get older.
Just to save yourself some cleanup, though, you may want to keep some [easyazon_link identifier=”B00MW8G62E” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]puppy pads[/easyazon_link] by the door – just in case your dog doesn’t quite make it outside before they can’t hold it anymore.
Months Two through Four: Finding Forever Homes and Getting Great Training[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B00Q2QK2R2″ locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31AK1VktRyL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”155″]
If you are caring for a whole litter of pit bull puppies, it will be around the third month, or between weeks nine and 12, that you can start looking for new owners to take them home. I addressed the question of how much do pit bull puppies cost in a previous article, but the quick gist of it is that pure bred pit bull dogs often sell for a few hundred dollars, unless they come from very prestigious blood lines – in which case they could cost over a thousand dollars. Unfortunately, if you are not a pit bull breeder, and this litter was a surprise, you may have a hard time finding buyers for your puppies, just because of the stigma around the breed. You may want to contact a breeder nearby, and ask if they have any contacts who may be interested in buying pit bull puppies at a steep discount.
If you are the owner of the puppy, and will be keeping the dog, then now is the time to really pay attention to training. At this age, the dog’s permanent teeth are coming in, and that means they’ll be chewing everything they can! Save yourself a lot of headaches and stock up on great chew toys now. Try a puppy-sized [easyazon_link identifier=”B00Q2QK2R2″ locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]KONG[/easyazon_link] that you can fill with pieces of their kibble, to keep them interested in the toy and not in your shoes. By about four months old, you can start to take the dog to professional training classes, to get them used to the types of behavior that is acceptable.
Be sure to continue regular vet appointments and keep up with vaccinations during this time. By the time your dog is[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B00BQRSBPC” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/31Vfoxcx78L.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″] four months old, you can start to discuss with your vet at what age you may want to spay or neuter the dog. This can help prevent certain behaviors that may seem aggressive to humans, but are natural to dogs – and with a breed like a pit bull, which is already under scrutiny from day one, anything you can do to cut back on behaviors that seem aggressive is a good thing.
Be sure your dog is getting tons of exercise at this point in their life. Get a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00BQRSBPC” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]fetch cannon[/easyazon_link], find a safe fenced-in area to run, and let your pup wear themselves out. This will keep their body growing healthily and prevent them from getting destructive out of boredom. You should also continue puppy play dates, to ensure they stay socialized even after leaving their mother and siblings.
A Few Important Rules for Raising a Pit Bull Puppy[easyazon_image align=”right” cart=”n” cloak=”y” height=”250″ identifier=”B00X56RTNW” locale=”US” localize=”y” nw=”y” nf=”y” src=”https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51LgH7x%2BXQL.jpg” tag=”natur0da-20″ width=”250″]
Raising a pit bull puppy does take a lot of patience, just because they are so high energy. Here are a few rules to keep in mind while they get through the first year of life:
- Always supervise your pit bull puppy. Don’t let them roam about alone, don’t leave them home alone, and don’t expect them to occupy themselves. If you can, arrange for pet sitting during the work day, or at least create a puppy safe “zone” in your home where they are contained in one area.
- Keep your puppy on a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00X56RTNW” locale=”US” nw=”y” nf=”y” tag=”natur0da-20″ cart=”n” cloak=”y” localize=”y” popups=”n”]leash[/easyazon_link] In the early days of your puppy’s walking and exploring stage, having them on a leash, even indoors, can help you start leash training them the easy way. It also allows you to maintain control when they are getting into everything.
- Keep your puppy on a schedule. Feed them at the same time every day, take them on bathroom breaks at the same time every day, and try not to shake things up too much. Don’t free-feed a pit bull. They can put on extra weight that they don’t need.
- Get a good relationship established with your vet. The first person your puppy will see frequently other than your family is the vet, and it’s important that you are comfortable going to the vet. Your puppy will pick up on how you feel about the place.
These are not the only things you need to do with your dog, of course, but these “rules” can tackle some of the biggest issues that new puppy owners tend to have with pit bulls. Through these rules, you’ll avoid accidents, keep your puppy healthy, and get them started with some very good obedience training right away.
Month Six and Beyond: The Final Stages of Puppy hood
Once a puppy is getting close to their first birthday, they are definitely still a puppy in energy and interests – but their health needs are changing to those of an adult dog. At this stage, you can typically drop to feeding a dog twice per day, a typical adult schedule. Their exercise needs are still very high, so be sure to continue giving them plenty of walks and play time.
Pit bulls reach adulthood at about two years old, and it’s around this time that they will stop growing in terms of height or general bone structure. However, answering the question “when do pit bulls stop growing” is a little bit harder. Beyond reaching their adult height, pit bulls often continue to get more muscular and “thicker” for another year or two. It can be hard to tell just how big and beefy a pit bull will be until they are well into adulthood.
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The Final Word
Raising a pit bull puppy really comes with a bit more headache than raising other dogs, but not because of the dog – because of the people. There’s a very good chance you’ll have neighbors, or even friends and family members, that aren’t comfortable with the idea of you having a pit bull. Be sure you are aware of the laws in your area regarding breeds before you adopt a pit bull puppy. While the laws are changing over the entire country, you don’t want to be in a position of having to choose between your home and your new dog.
Getting your life into a routine and making sure you have a special place for your puppy to feel safe (such as a kennel) are the two best things you can do to prepare before you get a puppy. Consider rearranging your work day so that you can be home at lunch if possible, and start looking into options for daycare if you must.
Then get ready to have a great time with your new friend! Pit bulls are loyal, loving dogs that are perfect for families and kids when well-trained.