Mike's Q&A

An interactive question and answer forum with expert dog trainer Michael Wombacher for all of your most pressing dog behavior and dog training-related questions.

Bringing a pit pup into the mix

Question: Hi Mike, I currently have a service dog (100% Black Lab), who is very submissive dog. We are thinking of adopting a 13 week old lab mix from an adoption agency. We are not sure what the puppy is mixed with and afraid it may be pit bull. I've heard that pits can be unpredictable, even with the best training. Is this true and something to be concerned about? What should we look for when we meet this female pup?


Hi Kathy,

That's a complex and charged question. I think the main thing to look for in the pup is sociability with people and with dogs. With respect to dogs I would observe her playing with other pups. Does she always need to be on top, pinning the other pup down. Is she overly rough and seemingly insensitive to the other dog's play level? These are not good signs. You want to find a pup that would be about evenly on top or the bottom, would be able to take the other pup's play signs and level of intensity into consideration and basically be a balanced, fun-spirited player that is sensitive to the other dog's play interest. A bad sign would be the pup that mows everyone down, is insensitive to the other dog's willingness to play and so on. This often leads to very problematic behaviors later.

And yes, while it might not be politically correct to say, Pit Bulls are not like other dogs. They have a way higher tendency toward dog aggression and use a way higher level of force when they are triggered. Of course, this is a generalization and may not apply to a particular individual. But it's a bit of a potential red flag, though I wouldn't necessarily consider it a deal killer. Observe the pup and see what you think.