Introducing your Pitbull to concerned Family Members

by Patricia

Hello fellow pitbull owners!

I have a tough question to ask all of you. I have adopted a rescue dog and he's a little over 1 year old now. We rescued him at about 4 months old and we didn't know he was a pit until he got bigger. For my boyfriend and I, this wasn't a problem because he was still our puppy.

I am having trouble, however, with my family. They were very concerned when they discovered he was a pitbull. I live in another city, so they weren't exposed to him as much as I was. Luckily for me and my dog, his training has shown them how handsome and well behaved pit bulls can be!

That being said, my sister is still very afraid of my dog. She has a two year old, and she is worried that between my dogs size (54 lbs) and his puppy tendencies that he will hurt her son (even if it's by accident). I can't help but agree with her to some extent, because he can get hyper and he's the same height as her son now.

That being said, I've put a LOT of time into training him and it shows. He'll listen to me when I tell him not to do certain things. My sister has a dog and my parents have a dog, so my nephew has learned pet manners as well.

I have tried to get my sister to be more exposed to my dog so that she can see he's not a bad dog, but the progress is very slow. She makes a lot of excuses as to why she doesn't want to see the dog or why she doesn't want her son to meet him. This is stressful when I visit because I have to worry what I'll do with my dog (we always bring him with us but have to keep him separated).

As much as I respect her wishes my dog is part of my family too.

I was just curious if anyone has had this much trouble with a family member, and what they did to resolve the problem. I finally confronted my sister on her fear, and she said she knew it wasn't justified but it's how she felt. She's never had a tramatic experience with a dog before.

Any suggestions?

Thank you!

Gale's Reply:

Hi Patricia:

It's a great question! I haven't encountered this level of resistance from a friend or family member myself. If I'm reading what you've said correctly, it sounds like she doesn't even want to meet your dog. That would be tough. It's hard to show her how well behaved your pit is if she won't even be in the same room with him.

If you haven't already, I'd be pretty direct with her about what it's like for you always having to make arrangements for your dog when you visit her. And, I would ask her if she would be willing to approach getting to know your dog in small increments in the service of eventually having more relaxed and enjoyable family visits for everyone. Assure her that this can be done in baby steps--a few minutes at a time until she is comfortable letting your dog meet your nephew.

If she simply refuses at this point, try to take the long view. Your pittie will grow out of puppyhood and his hyper-ness will level out. Meanwhile, your nephew will be getting taller. I suspect at some point down the road, it will become a non-issue. But, it would be nice if it were sooner rather than later.

I hope other folks will weigh in and share their thoughts on this too.

For more information on obedience training, visit our Pit Bull Training page.

For help with behavioral problems, check out our Dog Behavior Training page.

Comments for Introducing your Pitbull to concerned Family Members

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Nov 04, 2010
I was in the same boat but with my husband.
by: Anonymous

I brought a pitt puppy home about 3 months ago now, he was 8 months old, I went off of a shelters description(which was right) but to my husband because we didn't raise him from tiny puppy stage he was dangerous and didn't want him around my 3 kids esp. my 2 yr old son. I went on to research, get videos and stories about the truth and showed it all to him. Now he sees that not all pitts are bad, its how you raise them and infact they are AWESOME with kids. My guy is very hiper and needs constant exercise but he is a lot better after working with him, he loves the kids and wouldn't hurt them one bit. So my suggestion is research and print some good stories out about pitts and kids, there are some good videos on FB with them and kids showing how loving they are and show it to your sister.

Nov 04, 2010
pitbulls and family members
by: Maegan Smith Davis

Hello, My mother lives in Florida (I live in Alabama). she rarely comes to visit. The last time she came to visit she found out ahead of time that i have multiple inside dogs, all of which are pitbulls. She stated she was scared to death , not because it was a pitbull but because it was a big dog. I told her to not worry to come in and sit on the couch and i would introduce them to her one at a time. She sat down and the first one in was Roxy , my white rednose pit. she sat very still and when roxy saw her she ran over to her , lifted her hand up with her snout and licked her. now they are best friends. if your dog is protective over your could always meet at a neutral place such as a park. and this is not only good for family members but friends and neighbors also. we need all the help we can get to fight B.S.L. feel free to look me up on Facebook.

Nov 04, 2010
Pure Love
by: Wendi

My Son was a Jr. in high school when he brought home a pit bull puppy, Needless to say, I FREAKED out, as I have a daughter that is Mentally and Physically challenged. I told My son that I would give him a chance as he was only 6 weeks old but,the first time he showed aggresion, he was gone. Cypress turned out to be the best dog I have ever owned, so Gental, loving and Funny, he had a wonderful personality. (We lost cypress with a terrible accident and the frozen river) although I will never be able to replace what a loving dog he was, I will ALWAYS be a pit bull Momma. I have 2 now that are just like Cypress. Even my 70 yr old Mother went and bought a pit bull after Cypress, and Sophie, although more hyper then mine, is a sweetheart just the same.

I hope and pray your sister will give the puppy a chance at pure love.

Nov 04, 2010
be frank
by: Anonymous

Just be frank and tell your family that your pit bull is part of your family, and if your baby's not invited then neither are you. Thats what we have done, it took some time, but now everyone just loves our Doja.

Nov 04, 2010
hope this helps
by: layla

well....when she visits, can u put your dog on leash and collar? this may help your sis feel that u are in control. have her sit there, and have your dog approach her as she gives him treats and pets him....called "make friends". every time she has a "positive" will help ease her tension......then maybe she'll see that he is a DOG!!!! a dog is a dog is a dog.....any dog can bite....just put them in the right predicament. but when she sees that your dog is no threat, maybe she will feel better. hope that helps

Nov 04, 2010
by: Melanie

Your sister being afraid of the dog is a hard thing to tackle. Your pup will pick up on your sisters vibe. She needs to learn to relax around the dog. Your family also needs to realize that your pup is a new part of your family. Would they make you put a down syndrom child outside while the rest of the family is visiting just because they are afraid of it. NO> my suggestion is get a large wire kennel. Bring it with you where ever your family get togethers are. Let the dog and your family get used to sounds and smells. I would insist until they realize you love your dog and its not going anywhere. Obviously your nephew will not be smaller than the dog forever. My 2 1/2 year old niece used to sit on my pitty and cover her up with a blaket. It will take time. It is a good thing you are being cautious. Hope this helped. Good Luck!

Nov 04, 2010
pits are the most loyal and lovable breed
by: Anonymous

tell your sis not to worry about your dog and its alleged aggression, these dogs are so lovable as I am sure you have found out on your own. my wife brought home a stray pit from church years back and I freaked I thought she was out of her mind, we have had her ever since and she is the sweetest thing, she loves our kids, our neighbors can't believe how friendly she is to everyone even the neighbors cat who has become one of her best friends, these dogs are not vicious, people mistreat them and they become that way, no doubt they are a powerful breed but a little common sense when the little ones are around and you'll be fine, heck we tell everyone our dog can't control her licker, cause that's what you get when you come into our house, do some research on the breed some famous movie stars were owners, heck Helen Keller own 2 pits and she was fine.

Nov 04, 2010
Education and patience
by: Anonymous

Educate yourself and your sister about the history of the pit as well as their nature. Of course you have to respect your sisters wishes, but she needs to bend and be willing to take steps too. This could be a wonderful learning experience for both of you together. Tell her the vast hero stories of pitbulls. Did you know they were used in WWII and some even received medals for their bravery? Hellen Keller even had a pitbull, as well as many other famous people. has a fantastic history of the breed. is another good source. And of course this site. My girlfriend was opposed to pits, but then I educated her about them and my pit did the rest. She is now in love with the breed and my pit is her most favorite dog in the world.

Nov 04, 2010
hi re pittbull
by: Anonymous

have your sister watch shorty he has a show at night about pittbulls , you can also go on line and read about shorty. pittbulls are the best breed to have with kids they are the most loyal dog with kids. she is scared because of what people tell her and what she has keard about the breed.let her meet the dog slowly so she can see that he is a frienly well mannered dog. better than some people. a lab can bite a dalmation. pittbills are not vicious. they are made that way when they get in the wrong hands by the wrong people i wish you all the luck. god bless you. pls dont give that dog up because of your family, it is your baby and your loving pet

Nov 04, 2010
Well Rounded Pit
by: Cait

I feel like children and dogs need to be monitored closely regardless of breed (and regardless of how well behaved the children and dog are). I have 10 month old twin nephews and a 1 year old pit mix. We keep a close eye on them and separate them when needed. I highly recommend finding something that you love doing with your dog, if its obedience, agility, fly ball, therapy work etc and do it. This will strengthen the bond with your dog, help with training, socialization for the dog, rid the dog of some extra energy (and not to mention promote the breed :-) ) Maybe your sister will be more apt to be interested in seeing what you and your dog are doing together, which may change her perspective in things.
My family was very anti pitbull and I tried to not let it get to me... eventually after a lot of hard work and training with my dog they have come around to the breed. We became involved in obedience and agility and invited opposing family members to come watch our girl do her thing.

These things take time and I do hope that things become smoothed over during visits. Hang in there and good luck!

Nov 04, 2010
re watch this poor video ur sister will understand maybe
by: Anonymous name was Stallone. Rescued during a dogfighting raid, this pitbull terrier won the love of eve
why dont you go to this web site and let ur sister watch what this [erson did to this poor pittbull left me crying and how good this poor baby still was after what it went thru.there i nothing wrong with a pittbull trust that dog a little bit.

Nov 04, 2010
My best friend
by: Anonymous

My best friend passed 2 years ago valentines day. He was 15 years old and I had been with him since he was 4 months old. Jake was a pound adoption. He had been severely abused before being tossed on the streets. By abused I mean he had his ears cut off (the vet thought they had tried to home dock them) he had cigarette butts put out on his body and had been beaten to the point that he would submissive pee if he heard a mans voice. From the moment I saw him it was love. In spite of everything this baby boy sat up straight and tall and looked me in the eyes. He would lean against me and look backwards and just stare at me. Long story short (15 years remember?) it took a long time for him to over come his fear of men but my father visiting frequently helped. It took a while to get him to stop cringing if I moved to fast (about 6 months) but between me and my other dog (a rescued boxer mix) we convinced him he was safe. He was extreemly loyal, very loving but very masculine. He was the man of the house for a long time lol. Even after I married and began having children, when all others worried how he would be, my boy proved he was a lover. My oldest (now 7) used to roll off the couch and land on him and pretend he was a pillow. He loved it. He loved life. He was my best friend my scary pit bull.

Nov 05, 2010
Simplest ever!
by: Nick

Let your sister walk your dog! I know it sounds to easy, but once she feels like she has that control, everything will be fine. Make sure to do it in a location where he will not be too excited, and make sure he doesn't pull. I have done this several times with my family and friends. I have a soft spot for pitt bulls, mainly because they are so miss understood. Luckily they are starting to get better publicity. I have 2, one of which is almost done training to be a service animal. The best thing that any pitt bull owner can do, if they have a good dog, let the public see it, take it to parks, etc

Nov 05, 2010
Thank you so much!
by: Patricia

Thank you all so much for all the advice!

I had started my pit Bowser in agility training however he got very sick with discospondilities (an infection in the discs of the spine) and we had to leave the classes early. I would love to get him involved in some sort of training classes to help our bond become stronger (plus, it's just plain fun!).

Bowser is feeling much better but he will have to be on medicine for 6 weeks total. When the vet clears him I will try and make up the missed classes.

Bowser is very good around our 2 cats. He knows how to be gentle with them, so I'll have to show my sister that.

My sister has met Bowser and the first time she was really nervous but recently when she saw him she was better. I reassured her that giving him a firm NO will work, but I don't think she believes me. I'll have to try and see if I can get her to try and give him some commands so that she can get a sense of control if he listens.

We have started to leash train Bowser with a harness but he still pulls. I'm not sure having her walk him would be a good idea until he is a calm walker.

Bowser has actually met my nephew once when my sisters husband was over without her, and they both did fine. We didn't tell my sister for fear she would be very angry at us (not my idea btw, I went upstairs and the two were together with her husband). I want to take very small baby steps with them meeting but it's hard when she doesn't want to try.

It sounds like patience and training are key here. Thank you all for the advice and stories! It's good to hear that most of your family members have come around to loving pits as much as we do. :)

I also have no intention of giving up on my dog because my sister doesn't like him. That would be crazy (not to mention heart-wrenching).

Again, thank you thank you thank you for the advice! I love this website. :)


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