TRAINING FOR THE PIT by Sporting Bull Terrier
There are several systems for training the pit dog for self-defense or prospective battles. We consider the one employed by Mr. L. Bowser and which was published in his "Modern Methods," to be equal if not superior, to any of the others, and with a few eliminations we give it herewith:
This work is for four weeks or twenty-eight days, which is long enough to condition any dog for any battle. In fact, no dog can stand longer training and do well. Experience has proven that with a longer training a dog will become discouraged and train off. If these directions are followed strictly, a dog can, as far as his condition is concerned, fight for four hours at top speed.
I will give each day's work separately. Minor changes may be made by the trainer to suit local conditions, such as bad weather, etc. I give this order for the benefit of professionals as well as for amateurs, for I have had for opponents the best conditioners the country affords, and have yet to meet the man who has shown a dog in as good condition as mine. I train a dog's bite as well as his wind and strength. If he can't beat his opponent to a hold, and bite it when he gets it, he is not worth a bet. Any dog that I train is quick to a hold and has the jaw-power to punish.
It is to be supposed that your dog is over weight, and is fat and soft. His feet are soft and his toe-nails long. The first thing to do is to clip the toe-nails off, but not so close as to cause bleeding. This will prevent him from tearing them off in his work. Then give him a good bath in lukewarm water, and rub him dry. Use one ounce of creolin to every three gallons of water for his bath. His quarters should be warm and well ventilated, but absolutely free from draughts. His bed should be of good, clean straw, and this should be frequently changed.
Now weigh your dog and you are ready for your first morning's road work. Take your dog out on the chain and lead him about four miles. Never lead a dog behind a horse or buggy, as this fills him up with dust and prevents him from emptying out or urinating when he desires. On returning, give him a good hand rub, always rubbing with the play of the muscles. Then put your dog in his quarters until three o'clock in the afternoon. At that time take him out for a short walk, long enough for him to empty out. Then hitch him to the training machine (described elsewhere) for a run of three minutes. Then take him for a slow walk until he gets thoroughly cooled off. Then take him to your training quarters and rub him well with a Turkish towel, following this with a good hand rub as in the morning. Then wash his feet, first with clean water, and then with a wash made of white oak bark steeped in water. This will toughen his feet. Then allow your dog all the boiled water he will drink. Twenty minutes later feed him his daily meal. This should consist of about one pound of thoroughly boiled lean beef chopped fine and made into a mush with corn meal. This should be sufficient for a day's feed for a forty-five pound dog. I usually take three pounds of first-class lean beef and boil until soft, leaving about two quarts of the broth on it. I then sprinkle in enough corn meal to make a thick mush, stirring the mixture until the corn meal is well cooked. Cool this and you have sufficient for three days' feed. A dog should not be fed more than once a day. Digestion takes place much more slowly in a dog than in most other animals, the food remaining in the stomach for twelve hours and requiring ten hours longer for intestinal digestion
At about 7.00 a.m., take your dog out on the road for at least a four-mile walk, allowing him to empty out and urinate as much as he desires. When you get back, let him work on the coonskin and spring-pole (described elsewhere) for five minutes. Be sure you time the work with a watch. No guess work. You must know exactly how long he works, so that you can see how he improves on a certain amount of work. Then you are to gradually increase his work as he becomes stronger in wind and limb. When you are done working him on the coonskin, cool him off by walking him slowly. Then take him to his quarters, give him his hand rub, and wash his feet in the white oak bark solution. Then give him all the boiled water he will drink, and put him in his quarters until 3:00 p. m. Right here, I wish to say that you should always give your dog, when thoroughly cooled off, all the boiled water he wants to drink all the way through his training. It does not fatten as does unboiled water, and will assist you in preventing your dog from becoming feverish. I have seen dogs nearly crazy from a desire for water after fighting for only twenty or thirty minutes. In fact, I have seen good game dogs that when fighting in that condition would rather scratch at a bucket of water than at their opponents. At 3:00 p.m., after his usual walk to empty out and urinate, hitch your dog to the training machine and run him, say three to five minutes. Then take him for a walk to cool off, and go to the scales. Give him the usual hand rub, and wash his feet in the white oak bark solution. Then put him in his quarters, first allowing him plenty of boiled water to drink, and feed him twenty minutes afterwards.
Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Days
Same as second day, in every particular except to increase the dog's work on the coonskin and spring-pole in the morning and on the training machine in the afternoon, say about two minutes each day. Care should be taken not to increase the dog's work too fast, however. If he can't stand two minutes' increase a day, don't give him quite that much. Be sure not to overdo matters. Remember that we are only getting him ready for his hard work.
Same as on the preceding day, except that when you bring your dog back from his morning walk, add my fishing-pole exercise to those already indicated. Take a strong fishing pole about eight feet long, with a rope about three feet long on the end, to which a coonskin is securely tied. Let the dog try to get a hold on this coonskin, but do all you can to prevent him from doing so. But you must keep the coonskin close to the ground, so that he will not have to leap in the air after it. Teach him to snap at it and to turn quickly for a hold. Give him about two minutes of this exercise, and then let him work on the spring-pole as before.
Continue as on the preceding day, increasing the dog's work as already indicated. If your dog has done well, he should by this time be able to run the training machine for eight to ten minutes without being very much fatigued. However, the trainer must use his judgment on this point. Take care not to distress your dog by overwork. By this time he should begin to get over his soreness.
Ninth and Tenth Days
Road work, then the fishing-pole or the spring-pole, whichever the dog seems to like best, for ten or twelve minutes. Do a lot of hand rubbing. In the afternoon hitch the dog to the machine, and then put him away, caring for him as before indicated. After you have put your dog in his quarters for his rest, never allow him to be disturbed. It is hard at times to refuse the request of friends to lead him out or permit them to go to his quarters But it is better that he should not be annoyed. You are training a dog for fighting, so don't make a "society man" out of him.
Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth Days
Same as on the tenth day, but with a gradual increase of work, say a couple of minutes more of each exercise per day
Give the dog his morning walk and care for him afterwards as I have already instructed, but do not give him any pole work at all. At 2:00 p.m., hitch him to the training machine and run him ten minutes (by your watch). Then turn him around and run him five minutes (by your watch) in the opposite direction Now don't guess at the time. Use your watch.
When you unhitch your dog from the machine, wash his mouth out with cool boiled water. Then give him ten or fifteen minutes' work on the fishing-pole and spring-pole. Then put him away, caring for him as previously instructed, except that his food should be changed on this day. It is probable that by this time your dog is at, or a trifle below weight. Get a first-class piece of lean "round" or "rump" steak, and broil it till medium well done. Add four slices of well-browned toast. Chop the steak and toast up fine, mixing them well, and feed cold. A forty-pound dog should have from three to three and a half pounds of steak at a feed, and it should be cooked fresh for him every day. This is to be his feed until he enters the pit. If he is above weight, cut his feed down a little; if below weight, increase it. The trainer must exercise his own discretion on this point. However, be sure to keep your dog strong.
No work in the morning except the usual four mile walk and the usual care afterwards. But at 3:00 p.m., hitch the dog to the machine and give him twenty to twenty-five minutes' work, half the time in one direction and the other half in the opposite direction, always under the watch. Should the dog's mouth get full of saliva while he is working, stop long enough to sponge it out with cool boiled water. Then give him ten to fifteen minutes' stiff work with the coonskin and fishing-pole. After this cool him off and give him a sponge bath with alcohol, and then hand rub him till dry. His feet should be washed every day with the white oak bark decoction. Water and feed him as already directed. From now on, your dog must have his alcohol bath every day, to prevent him from catching cold and getting sore.
Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Days
Same as on the sixteenth day in every particular, except that the dog's work should be increased several minutes each day. From the twentieth day on be sure to strengthen your dog's bite and his jaw-power by exercise with the fishing-pole and the spring-pole.
Morning walk and care afterwards, as before indicated At 3:00 p. m., exercise with the training machine and the spring pole.
The dog should now be able to run the machine for twenty-five minutes and work on the spring-pole and fishing-pole for fifteen or twenty minutes without becoming very much exhausted or losing his speed to any great extent.
Give the dog his morning walk and care for him afterwards as usual. Then, at 2:00 p.m., work him on the training machine and the poles; but don't jump him any more. If he can, by this time, run the machine twenty-five or thirty minutes and work at the poles twenty minutes, he will be in condition to go four hours in the pit. So, all you have to do now is to keep him where you have got him and get him near weight. Always give him good care after work, following the instructions previously given.
Give your dog his usual morning walk, followed by good care. Then at three in the afternoon give him thirty to thirty-five minutes' work on the machine and twenty minutes on the poles. He must now take hard work, for if he can't work hard and stand up under it, he will not be able to stand up under the strain of battle in the pit. After his exercise care for him in the usual careful manner, except that it may now be desirable to change the hour of feeding. Feed the same feed and the same amount as previously indicated, but if you expect to fight at night (say, the dogs are to enter the pit at 10:00 p.m.) you should feed your dog one hour later each day than the day before, so that on the night of the battle he will have had his last feed at ten o'clock on the night before, or just twenty-four hours previous to entering the pit. In this way you bring your dog empty into the pit, which is essential to his success in the fight.
In the morning, long walk with the usual care afterwards, and in the afternoon stiff work on the machine and poles.
I talk to my dogs a great deal in all my training work. You will find that it pays to do so. You can encourage the dog very much in this way. And then when your dog is in the pit, you can be of very material assistance to him, for he will at times expect your approval and will look and listen for words of encouragement, and he will respond to your words in a manner that will surprise you. Often, I have noticed a dog that I have trained glancing up to me for approval or help, and he would apparently understand me and do as I advised. This is indeed a very important matter. You can't overlook this part of the training and win
Don't forget to give your dog good hand tubs and his alcohol bath daily
Long walk in the morning and good stiff work on the machine and the poles in the afternoon. Let him work on the poles until he is tired. Take care of him, both in the morning and in the afternoon as previously directed. If your dog doesn't eat good, beef tea will be found beneficial in building him up and keeping him strong
Long walk as usual in the morning, followed with the usual care, but only a medium amount of work in the afternoon on the machine and poles You must now begin to slack up on the dog's work. Give him first-class attention, caring for him exactly as previously instructed.
Begin with the usual long walk in the morning. Then give your dog a little less work in the afternoon than on the previous day, if possible, but if he is hard to keep to weight, you will have to give him more work. At all events, don't cut down his feed in order to lessen his weight. Better give him work and feed than to let him be without food and idle. I have found that an unusually long walk helps a great deal to keep a dog to weight, and this is probably the best way to do it, for there is no danger of over-work in this plan. Care for your dog in other respects as already suggested.
Twenty-Eighth Day, or Day of Battle
Give your dog a long walk in the morning, so that he can empty out thoroughly. Water him and care for him as on other mornings, but omit the hand rub, or at most rub only lightly. Be sure to walk your dog to the pit, if practicable, but if not practicable give him a walk long enough to allow him to empty out before weighing. When he has been weighed give him three or four ounces of strong beef tea. I find this much superior to anything else that has ever been used in this place. You should carry a bottle of beef tea to the pit with you, and when you get a scratch pour a swallow or two on your dog's tongue. It will serve both as a drink and as a stimulant. In the pit, try to keep in such a position that your dog can see you. When he is in a tight place, get as close to him as you can. Your presence will even stimulate him.
If he is in need of rest, and is not being hurt, try to keep him quiet until he has recuperated; and then, when he shows he is ready, help him with words and looks of encouragement.
Now, if you have followed these instructions carefully and intelligently, you should have your dog in as good a condition as it is possible for human skill to make him.
If you cannot give the time to train your own dog, by all means know the man you hire, and be sure he is above being bribed.