Bad Press for the Staffie – Dog Psychology

Staffies
Best mates: Alana with Poppy the Staffie

Whenever a headline concerning dog fights /drug dealers or dangerous dogs occurs somewhere in a large percentage of them there is a breed of dog that gets mentioned, and given a bad press. This is the Staffordshire bull terrier.

Any photographs are of some snarling rabid dog being snared by a policeman. In actual fact there is a Staffie being used as a drug detection dog by the police.

My experience is that they are extremely tolerant of children and adults and very few actually guard. They do, however, need early socialisation with other dogs. If this is done they are great dogs.

So why is it they get such a bad reputation? One reason is that anything that has a dash of bull terrier in it is called a ‘Staffie.’ People breed from dogs with bad temperaments, and the wrong people become attracted to them. And people just do not realise how important early socialisation is bearing in mind your dog’s inbred instincts.

Staffies
Best mates: Alana with Poppy the Staffie

I recently had a couple contact me about doing a one-to-one at their home involving a Staffie.

Usually these jobs are dogs that have been ruined, but this made a welcome change. The dog had been lucky enough to be taken on by two responsible owners who were determined to do it right. It turned out to be 10 weeks old, a little brindle bitch called Poppy.

Now the name the owners pick gives a good indication of what kind of dog they want. Any gladiatorial names usually mean they are trying to create an impression of toughness.

“Any gladiatorial names usually mean they are trying to create an impression of toughness”

They turned out to be two serving police officers so I was surprised (but flattered) that they did not contact somebody at the force to help them. The story went that they had rescued a Staffie previously who had not been socialised properly and was a nightmare to take out because of its dog aggression. They were determined to make sure Poppy was different.

They also had a six-year-old girl who they wanted Poppy to grow up with. They needed them to be best mates. I immediately thought they would have a chance because the young girl was being brought up correctly to respect adults and the dog.

I arranged to meet up and took Ruby the Rottie to do her party tricks. It is always the case that people half listen to me going on about leadership/training/consistency etc.Then when Ruby comes out and does her stuff the mood changes, and they go from nodding at the right moments to understanding exactly what I mean about temperament/socialisation and having a dog ‘Under Control.’

These people were now on board and determined to make themselves a little Ruby. Alana in particular just wanted to keep ‘shooting’ Ruby and getting her to play dead. They have, in spite of their
shift work, attended puppy, juvenile and adult classes.

She has met so many different dogs on a daily basis and been thoroughly socialised with people. She just takes it all in her stride. Both sets of parents also look after her and just love her to bits.

I have told them repeatedly: “Look after and enjoy this dog because it is a special one who comes along maybe once / twice in your life.”

She is now two years old and has NEVER had a fight with a dog, never bitten anybody, and if there is a dog with a waggier tail I personally have never seen it. In fact she wags most of her body as well. I have used her on many occasions as a ‘stooge dog’ to calm down some grumpy dog.

When I wanted to socialise my own puppy Greta with a strange dog, Poppy was the one I started her with to educate her. She is a true ambassador for her breed and a good friend to Alana, who is now about eight years old. So everybody out there who does not own a Staffie, please do not pre-judge. And to those that do, make sure you put every effort into making sure they emulate Poppy and reach their true potential.

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