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Houston dog trainer debunks 5 common pit bull myths

Tex's trainer breaks down five misconceptions about this dog breed

HOUSTON – Last week, a dog that appears to be some sort of pit bull mix found her way to the KPRC building, where our little Tex noticed the dog was hiding in the grass.

Since then, one of the members of our staff decided to adopt Penny, as it's now called.

But unfortunately, not everybody is as accepting of this breed.

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Stephanie Bennett, from Believe in Dog Training, impressed by this story, took this opportunity to visit the Houston Life studio with Penny to debunk five myths surrounding pit bulls.

"Through history, there's always a dog. There's been German shepherd, rottweiler, Doberman pinscher, and they all had their time. And pit bulls, because they were originally bred to fight bulls, that's real, they're very strong dogs, somehow, they've gotten this bad reputation," said Bennett, who addressed common misconceptions about these animals.

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MYTH 1: PIT BULLS ARE INHERENTLY VICIOUS

The American Temperament Test Society, which provides a uniform national program of temperament testing for dogs has found that pit bull dogs passed the test at a higher rate than many other dog breeds including golden retrievers.

"They're temperament is very affectionate, lovable, trainable. We have them in my therapy dog groups. I love training them. I have my own that I rescued off the streets eight years ago and he's the most affectionate dog I've ever had, and one of the smartest dogs too." said Bennett.  

MYTH 2: PIT BULLS HAVE LOCKING JAWS  

There is no functional difference between the jaws of bully-type dogs and any other dog breed.

"That would suggest that the pit bulls have some different physiology, their jaw, it's built different or something like that, but it can lock. But this is complete silliness, it's complete hooey, it's not true," said Bennett.

MYTH 3: PIT BULLS ARE NATURALLY AGGRESSIVE TOWARD PEOPLE

Pit bulls have no innate human-aggressive tendencies. They are known to be loyal dogs.

"One of the things they bred them to be was very loyal to their people. If they're fighting bulls, they don't want them to be aggressive to the people. They like to work with people. They're naturally affectionate and they're self-socializers. Not all dogs are self-socializers. They will socialize with almost anybody" said Bennett.

MYTH 4: PIT BULLS CAN 'SNAP' AND TURN ON A PERSON

There is no dog, that 'just' snaps. Dog aggression is nearly always preceded by warning and a reason behind an attack.

"Every dog should be treated as an individual and no dog behavior ever just comes out of nowhere. If a dog is going to have an issue or a dog does attack, heaven forbid, there's always a reason, and there's always, almost always, tons of warning before it happens," said Bennett.

MYTH 5: PIT BULLS HAVE ALWAYS HAD A BAD REPUTATION

The pit bull was so popular in the early 1900s, they were our mascot in World War I and were featured on recruiting and propaganda posters.

"You see all these pictures of people like Fred Astaire, Hellen Keller, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, they all had pit bulls, it wasn't ever considered anything strange or scary or anything like that," said Bennett, who reiterated that if a dog is aggressive is a learned behavior.

To see Bennett's complete interview, watch the video above.