How can I stop pit bull’s play/biting aggression?

Hi: I am a volunteer at a local animal shelter, and I am currently working with a 2.5 year-old pit bull terrier. He is on his 5th week of obedience training and is doing exceptionally well except when he mouth/bites my hands, arms, or whatever else he can get a hold of.

He is perfectly mannered when I walk/exercise him on leash. He’s very loving after a good workout, and shows great appreciation for the attention he’s given. Yesterday, as a reward, I decided to take him to a fenced in play area. I thought it would be nice to let him run off leash for awhile considering that I’d been socializing/exercising him for over five hours. No sooner had I unclipped the leash when he went for my hands and arms.

I tried ignoring him by turning my back to him and/or turning away from him, giving him the no bite command, and finally holding him by the collar (hoping that he would spend the last of his energy) but nothing worked. Finally, I clipped the leash back on his collar and in an instant he morphed into the gentle beautiful friend I’ve grown to love.

I would appreciate any advice that will help eliminate this bad behavior.



Asked by Member 614335 on Mar 30th 2008 Tagged aggression, play, biting in Aggression
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Best Answer

Shayne CGC, RL2

I would lure him into it the mouthing behavior through games of tug.

So play tug with him make it really exciting and fun... the SECOND he mouths you stand up straight and fold your arms (tucking the toy under them). when he calms down (i'd wait for a sit or a down or standing patiently) bring the toy back and play the game again. Be very consistent any time he mouths your clothes just stand up fold your arms and turn away--ignore him until he's calm.

If he mouths your body give a yelp (not yell at him..but a quick noise to let him know he hurt you) then stand up straight and hide the toy (same as before).

He will learn that if he jumps up and mouths that the game is over so he will learn to control his desire to jump and mouth by his desire to play tug.

A note w/ the game of tug make sure that you control the game (he can win) but you initiate and end the game on YOUR terms (you standing up w/ reinforce this!)

p-mail me or email fr more info

Shayne CGC, RL2 answered on Mar 30th.

Other Answers


Haus R.I.P. my boy I miss you

Hi Joe thanks for working with the dog & giving him a chance.There R not alot of Pits that R mouthy towards people.So he was probalby taught this which makes it harder to correct.The game of tug is ok but idealy when U let him off leash U wanted him to go off & run &enjoy himself.This makes me think that he may have been chained or in a small enclosure where he didn't know he has the ability of running around & injoying try 2 play by throwing a ball 4 him leave his leash on so that U have some thing 2 grab or step on if he decides 2 play keep away but thats normally not the case when a dog is just learning 2 leave its partners side. By throwing him a ball it gives him something else 2 foccus on instead of playing tug which is something that U are tryin to avoid is him having you or something close 2 you in his mouth.But not only will it teach him 2 venture out a bit it will also reenforce your recall or come command. paw mail me or IM me at Good Luc

Haus R.I.P. my boy I miss you answered on 3/30/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


You might also try teaching him to carry a toy in his mouth while you walk, on and off leash. I've seen this be a good temporary fix for mouthing behaviors, to teach the dog that some things are okay to chew on, but some things aren't.

Cleo answered on 3/30/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


this is hard to do because you have to make yourself look silly to outside observers. But as soon as he gets "mouthy" let that arm or hand go completely limp and and yip like a puppy that has been bitten too hard. Sounds like this guy probably didn't get good puppy socialization and therefore doesn't know what a soft-mouth is. By grabbing his collar you are encouraging his behavior. It's tough to do, but I'm 6'8" tall and 230lbs and it works when I do it socializing dogs and teaching them soft mouths.

Chevy answered on 3/30/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


Very simple way of handling this. Clip two leashes to his collar, a lighter one (Like the weight of one of those slip leads or slightly heavier) and a heavier one (like a normal 1" nylon lead). Walk him into the area with the heavier one allowing the other to drag on the ground. Walk him in, step on light lead, unclip heavier lead and wait. If he jumps to get arms, standing on the lead, with just enough slack for him to make it half way up, to about your hip level, will make him self-correct. He will jump twice, if he's smart, then sit. Praise and treat. He could jump more, if he's slow, when he sits, praise and treat. Clip lead on, walk a few times around the area, stand on light lead, unclip other one and wait. Do this until you don't have a problem again. No pain for dog, no pain for you and he teaches himself not to go for your arms.

I train and this works invariably to stop jumping up. Then you can work on the no biting...

Luka answered on 3/31/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer