Training Dogs: Zeus; Chocolate pit bull

And in this corner we have

Zeus: A chocolate, un-altered, 5 year old male Pit bull…. weighing in at about 60 lbs.  Strong as an Ox (on steroids), and as hyper as a 2 year old after coming home from grandmas (sugar high?)

Sound like fun???  Well to be honest our first greeting was anything but, and living with him has been anything but fun for most of the family/friends.  But honestly, I did have fun training him, and he will forever be my complete 180 dog, well as close as can be hoped for in one short month.  He went from being crated in the house, and wearing a muzzle in his house (not a mean bone in his body, just totally out of control, and family members were scared of him) , marking all over the house, not being able to be walked by anyone but “dad” (he has big muscles) tooooooo…  NOT crated OR muzzled in the house… no longer marks in the house.  and mom enjoys taking him on walks now… I couldn’t have asked for a happier ending for Zeus and his family.  They are loving their “new” Zeus and are doing a great job working the program with him.

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression about Zeus, or my opinions on Pit bulls and other bully breeds.  I have NO problem with these breeds, there are very few “bad dogs” but lots of bad owners.  Zeus is a very good dog at heart.

Like I mentioned I don’t feel there is a mean bone in his body when it comes to people and overall he is a very happy outgoing dog.  But there was no way anybody was going to think he was a nice dog with his out of control behavior… he was largely allowed to do what he wanted for 5 years, add to that all the testosterone that obviously (as shown by his phenomenal muscle structure) was coursing through his body and you have one big, strong, energetic hot mess.  But overall he came around very quickly given where he started.  I have said it many times since working with him, but I feel he is one of the smartest pits I have trained, ever.  And even with all of the pent up energy and frustration he was so used to, he learned things quickly and did not need any more reminders than most dogs.

When I went to get him for his second session, I swear he saw that I had the training lead with me (as opposed to me simply working in the kennel or going into his run for something) and sat at the door.  Previously, and really any time you didn’t have the training lead with you, he had a bad habit of wanting to bust doors.  But if you have that training lead with you, he knew he was going for a walk and would sit and wait all on his own.  I was shocked to be honest at how smart he was.  Yes I realize there are many smart, clever, and quick Pits out there, but as a whole I feel they are the exception to the breed in comparison to many other breeds.  It’s just a fact of life when it comes to bully breeds.  Just my opinion, but it’s also a majority of what we get to work with here.  Anyway, he was very smart and thus he was fun to work with.  I found myself setting the bar high for him and it wasn’t long until he would fall right in with me on a walk all on his own, even with other dogs around.  I will tell you this, dogs are one of his weak areas.  He is the epitome of macho when it comes to dogs(and I see it slightly with people too, he doesn’t back down, but will not take it the wrong way with people, unlike with dogs).

Hopefully he will continue to mellow out and give up his macho ways now that he’s been neutered, but only time will tell.  His owners are ecstatic with the progress he has made (as am I), and I know they will continue to further the work we started with Zeus.  Apparently the new Zeus has already made an impact on the neighborhood and their friends.  He has several friends who want to bring their dogs in… and he even caught his neighbor trying to use the same methods on his own dog.

I wish I had gotten more photos of him while he was here, but maybe we’ll see him back for boarding.  Hopefully they will at least stop by with him on occasion so we can see how he continues to change into the great dog that was hidden so deep inside.


About Anna

I am a native of Virginia but recently relocated to Maryland I often feel I am simply a visitor... here to take note of little things people often pass by... I enjoy photography, family, the outdoors, reading, my vizsla... etc etc
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11 Responses to Training Dogs: Zeus; Chocolate pit bull

  1. Kristine says:

    Congratulations on your success teaching this guy some manners. He sounds like he’d be a lot of fun once he learns how to behave in the human world. Perhaps even a future agility star. He is definitely gorgeous!

  2. Fantastic story and great job with your work with this dog, Anna. Soooo wonderful for everyone involved. And important for us all to see what is possible with skilled training and leadership.

  3. Bianca says:

    Terrific post. And a happy ending to boot. I love the idea of training as bringing out “the good dog inside.”


  4. Tina says:

    Anna I really enjoyed reading this post on Zeus. What a lucky boy that his family found you. And I totally agree with your comment “there are very few “bad dogs” but lots of bad owners”, I find myself saying that to people quite frequently especially when they want to label a breed as being bad dogs. Looking forward to your post about Dahila.

  5. 2browndawgs says:

    I am glad that you were able to work so well with Zeus and he responded so nicely to the training. It has to be very rewarding to have helped him become a better citizen.

    • Anna says:

      It was indeed, I’m even more pleased that after my work the owners are determined to carry on the program and set the bar high for him. Getting them on board is always rewarding.

  6. Aleksandra says:

    You probably saw this coming, but I have to lovingly disagree with your assessment of pit bull types not being smart, generally. I’m not sure if I’ve been exceptionally lucky or not, but of the six pits I have worked with in my home, five have been very quick, willing to work, and easy to direct. One– TANK — seemed a little dimmer, but we only had him for five days, so it’s hard to say whether he truly was less intelligent or just plain lazy (the latter definitely being true). Per your question on my blog, we had the spaniel, Aspen, for just about 20 hours but I found him frustratingly independent. The bullies seem to be such attention-cravers that they will do anything you ask if it just gets you to love them. I find it to be so lovely.

    Here is a weak hypothesis– I know a lot of shelters and rescues will not adopt bullies out to first-time dog owners or even first-time bully owners. I wonder if because of that, bully owners are less likely to make the innocent begginer’s mistakes with their dogs, therefore meaning they are less likely to land at your facility for training camp? If so, then it would follow that the ones you do get are the outliers– the ones who truly are over-exuberant, not as smart, or otherwise have a screw loose, rather than just good, smart dogs who need simple training. Just a thought.

    Anyhow, it looks like you have done an awesome job with this guy. What a gift you have given him and his family– a foundation upon which they can build a strong and positive relationship. It sounds like he was way more than a handful beforehand!

    And finally: Big Bad Woof is in Takoma and wouldn’t be hard to get to at all. There is street parking all around that is never full, and the two owners are super knowledgeable and lovely. Just don’t go on a Sunday between 10 and 2 because the Farmer’s Market sets up right by there and parking tends to be a challenge.

    • Anna says:

      You are welcome to disagree with me anytime, I don’t mind. There are always 100 ways to train a dog… and 100’s of different opinions on them. I should have stressed the point that the dogs we see of the bully variety tend to need several reminders, are typically stubborn, and not the sharpest. But i can say the same about many of the labs and goldens we get in for training, and to be honest labs and goldens are up there with my least favorite to train due to this (whereas bully breeds typically are not). But I do want to stress that my opinions are largely coming from the dogs that end up coming in for training. Typically someone who owns a bully breed that is eager to please, smart, and has a good work ethic probably won’t end being brought here for training as their owners can get what they want out of them as good pets. Same goes for hunting dogs, the truly naturally talented dogs who would be fun to train due to work ethic, drive, and birdiness do not end up with us to train. So instead we are left with the dogs and owners who need help, and we have to create a good hunting dog. Again, what we get is not necessarily a good example of the breed. But it does show how often people do not do research, or are matched with the wrong dog.

      I think a lot of it just comes down to each dog, and their environment. Being in shelters off and on all their life, or neglected typically results in two things… a dog who is undersocialed, shy, and scared.. or it can have the opposite effect…. when they find a good person who gives them food, attention, and entertainment they end up wanting to please and work to continue this trend of good things. As opposed to a dog who gets the run of the house, is given things freely, and has no rules… outcome usually creates that stubborn, less focused, a small work ethic, and an overall tuned out dog. Does that make sense? I would also agree with you that a lot of them are totally capable of learning, and they do in the end, it’s just usually a little slower than some whether that comes from past behaviors created in their environment, lack of brain or just lazyness it’s really hard to tell.

      Lol I should have just made this another post… in anycase I think overall you have a knack for picking good dogs , who will fit well with you and blossom. I think your theory about shelters rules play a roll as well. We had a pit mix in not too long ago who came to us because the shelter required to do training with their new dog. I wish more shelters required this, as well as the rules you already named. Sadly not enough do. It really does take a certain kind of person to rain a bully breed well, I personally know that it would not be a good fit with my personality so it was not my breed choice. But I have nothing against those that love them, i wish I could take some qualities of bully breeds and put them into the dogs I like.
      I think we are largely on the same wavelength there are just gaps in explanations. Aspen could have been an exception and product of his environment as well, things like this make it frustrating that dogs can’t talk and rationalize and reason like we can. But I also own a very independent girl as a whole… so we may just be better matches anyhow. But whether I created her to be an exception to many Vizsla rules, or if she was born that way is so hard to decide. I love her just the same. Maybe I should meet some of your pups so they can balance out the bullies I have to work with in training. 😉
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they are always welcome here.

  7. Amazing! What you’ve done for Zeus and his human family is impressive. Once again, I admire your knowledge (and courage) to work with all breeds, even the ‘bully breeds’ as you refer to them. Zeus sounds like he is in a much better position now to make new dog friends and integrate into his home environment as a well-mannered member of the family. Hope to see more of such posts—I’m learning so much!

    • Anna says:

      Eh, I only brought out the good dog that was in there. He just needed to have some rules and proper outlets. But thank you, it was definitely a good month with him. And as far as your question about being afraid of any dogs, I will touch on that when I write about Dahlia since I forgot about mentioned it with Jasmine. So stay tuned.

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