My one year old female pitbull is starting to show signs of aggression

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Kali Neal

Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 3:09pm PST 
I don;t know if its because she has to stay in cage outside bc we are in town and no pitbulls without a muzzle. And im not doing that to my dog.

Anyways, she isnt showing signs towards humans just towards other dogs, shes never been any type of aggressive. even as a puppy. She's always been a big baby. I guess since shes getting older and not being able to run free like shes use to shes changing. I really badly do not want to get rid of her, i love her... alot. But i have alot of little children in my family and a miniature dashund as my pet before i got her. And i dont want to risk anything. I'm also about to try and start a family of my own. Is there anything i could at least try to do before i make a decision on getting rid of her?

Oh, she hasn't bitten another dog or anything like that. I just dont like the way she acts towards them (as in jumps on them shows her teeth and her hair stands up) She never growls unless its a puppy jumping on here but she has never bitten another animal, that i have seen. I havent had any problems out of her. I'm really needing someones help

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 4:29pm PST 
Dog aggression is quite common in breeds like the American Pit Bull Terrier and often begins to show up when the dog is 1 or 2 years old. If she is becoming dog aggressive, it sounds like it's coming more from genetics as she matures than anything in the environment.

I wouldn't necessarily consider growling at rude puppies to be dog aggression, but if you think her body language with other dogs is becoming aggressive, it is certainly something to keep an eye on. You should probably consult a trainer or behaviorist experienced in that area before it gets any worse.

True DA is generally something you manage, not something you can really fix. Avoid contact with strange dogs (no dog parks), keep your own dogs separated when you're not home and closely supervised when you are, and train to keep your dog from reacting violently if other dogs do get near her. I wouldn't worry too much about children, except to make sure they don't end up in the middle of a fight between dogs, as dog aggression and human aggression are not the same thing at all.

DA and SSA are no fun to deal with, but it's always a risk you take when you get a Pit puppy. I would definitely look for someone experienced with DA who can observe her around other dogs in person before jumping to any conclusions about whether she's becoming DA and making any major decisions.

Edited by author Mon Mar 18, '13 4:34pm PST


Miss- Pig!
Barked: Mon Mar 18, '13 5:38pm PST 
I don't think you need to be even considering "getting rid of her". From what you've described, she sounds like a bored, under stimulated, young dog. How much exercise is she getting daily? How much training do you do with her? How long is she caged/outside during the day? What mental stimulation is she receiving while out in her cage?

Remember, that dog reactivity/aggression does not automatically transfer to human aggression. So i wouldn't assume she's not safe around your family because of this minor behaviour she's showing.

Edited by author Mon Mar 18, '13 5:42pm PST



Let's play tug!!
Barked: Tue Mar 19, '13 11:53pm PST 
It's much, much, much, much, much easier to address reactivity issues when they first crop up than when they've been going on for years. So, good job there!

One thing you can do is find a spot where you can watch dogs go by. Ideally you want to be at a distance where she notices the other dogs but doesn't freeze up, lunge, growl, or bark. Every time she sees a dog, give her a really good treat as soon as she disengages from the dog by looking at you, sitting or lying down, going to sniff something, looking away from the dog, or any other relaxed or comfortable behavior. Once she understands the game, you can move a little closer each session, as long as she continues to be calm. Since right now she only has a mild negative association with other dogs, this will start to teach her that other dogs are good. For right now, step off the sidewalk when other dogs walk by and don't let her greet other dogs up close.

Another thing I would absolutely do if I were raising a pit puppy is to reward calming signals. I would carry treats in my pocket and give them out any time I saw a yawn or lip lick.

Once you've worked up to where you're treating very close to other dogs, allow her to meet dogs on leash only when the owners say it's ok and the body language of the other dog is exceptionally friendly- look for loose muscles, wiggling rather than freezing, and a tail that wags in a wide arc. If you have any doubt, wait for the next dog. This will help insure that the experiences she has with other dogs are positive ones.

You might want to check out some books- Behavior Adjustment Training and Scaredy Dog are good places to start.

I agree that fear or aggression around other dogs can be completely unrelated to human aggression, and it really is often fixable, especially in the early stages when there's no bite history.

If she's spending time in an outdoor kennel, make sure she can't see or hear other dogs, since being caged or tied out around other dogs is the most common cause of aggression (she can't run away, so when she's scared she puts on an aggressive display)

Also keep in mind that there are soft, comfortable muzzles that allow panting and feeding treats. When introduced properly, these should cause her no stress at all. It's important to be able to take her around other dogs for socialization.

Here are some links that should be helpful.

Edited by author Wed Mar 20, '13 12:00am PST

Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Wed Mar 20, '13 6:24am PST 
Kali Neal

Barked: Fri Mar 22, '13 3:25pm PST 
Thank you all so much for giving me wonderful advise. I was worried alot of you would be negative since she's a pitbull.

Anyways, There was one incident. Let me start from the top.
Kali is almost a year (october) She is use to running free and being around other dogs (same size except my little dashund) She was raised with my miniature dashund in the house. She is now being held in a cage outside because i moved in with my boyfriend and he lives in town and they have a muzzle law. And i REFUSE to put a muzzle on her, no matter what the circumstances. I do not believe in those. But i let her out everyday and let her run around the yard and i play with her for about an hour to two hours.

Ok, next section. My boyfriends aunt is our next door neighbor. She has a little yorkie, she's kind of young. They leave her out from 6 in the morning until 6 that night. Why, idk. There are other dogs, and woods in the back and they just leave her outside all day. When i'm home all day i usually let her in especially since it's been cold. When she stays outside she likes to run up to Kalis cage and growling and bark, and test her. Ive witnessed her do this. She was doing this for almost a week. About 4 days after the last day she tested her me and my boyfriend were outside cleaning up the yard and just donig things around the house so i let her loose and let her run. She's very good at listening to me and i know she won't go too far away from me (shes mammas little girl) I heard the yorkie do that "play yelp" that some small dogs do so i thought nothing of it. Few minutes later i hear that god awful help me yelp. Ran over to where she was and Kali was pinning her down and snapping at her. Next thing i knew Kali grabbed her in her mouth and ran with her and shook her like a rag doll. My boyfriend quickly got her and made her put her down and whooped her and did what i believed needed to be done.

This was her first EVER type of aggresive contact with another animal. My little dashund puts her down almost daily. It's weird. But i believe it was just because she was testing her for so long she had enough of her. There is also two unfamiliar horses next to her, she only barks at those. Even when i let her out and leaves them alone. Just when shes in her cage shell back at them. I have not really let her out since then because i'm not real sure how shes going to act. But now, after reading all of this and knowing it can at least be controlled i'm definitely getting her out again everyday and working with her.

I'm about to be moving and may not be able to take her with me. So i may just fix this or at least calm it down some so she can be eligable for another family that will have even more time with her. She's the sweetest dog and loves to be loved on, but just this one little thing has terrified me. But ihave alot of trust and faith in her. Always have... I mean, she was 4 weeks old when she was first attacked by a blue heeler, pretty much on deaths door step and she survived. Wasnt even expected to... So i mean, ya know...

Ill definitely keep an update with her as she will hopefully progress!!!

Thanks again everyone! I really appreciate the help!

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
Barked: Fri Mar 22, '13 7:29pm PST 
We're happy to have you join us, there are many of us on Dogster who own and absolutely adore pit bullscheercheercheercheercheer
I don't know from muzzling laws but I think being caged is probably adding to your dog reacting to many things. Pitbulls are particularly sensitive to being caged or tied out. If you're allowed to do it with the laws I would suggest a securely fenced yard area instead.
My Sophie goes nuts when she's in the car or on leash and she sees another dog. But if shes off leash and has the choice of walking up to another dog, she's quite polite and might even make a friend. They can feel frightened not having control when meeting a strange dog.
I don't know what to tell you about small dogs around her, but if it makes you feel any better we have two pitbulls and seven cats. If the dogs are playing and get wound up they will sometimes try to ruffle a cat in play. But sharply saying their name...and the lesson in claws in their foreheads, they learn what not to do.
Of course with another dog, especially smaller you want to keep a closer eye on play getting too out of hand...calming exercises and taking her out of the situation to cool off...very important

Edited by author Fri Mar 22, '13 7:31pm PST


forever loved
Barked: Fri Mar 22, '13 8:04pm PST 
Personally, I think it would much kinder to accustom her to wearing a muzzle (which does NOT harm dogs in any way), then to confine her to a cage in a backyard. That is what is harming your dog and causing her to become under-socialized, not some muzzle law which you refuse to even consider. Please reconsider using a muzzle, if properly introduced to her, it will help immensely, and it is not cruel.wink

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Fri Mar 22, '13 8:19pm PST 
I agree with reconsidering your stance on muzzles. Look into basket muzzles. They're comfortable for the dog and allow it to open its mouth, pant, drink water, ect. It's not hard to train a dog that has never worn a muzzle to accept one.
Muzzle Training

Edited by author Sat Mar 23, '13 2:10am PST


When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Sat Mar 23, '13 4:27am PST 
My boyfriend quickly got her and made her put her down and whooped her and did what i believed needed to be done.

You will never teach an animal to be gentle through violence.

You talked in a previous post about her being attacked as a pup but indicated it was no big deal, she was fine. I believe you or your boyfriend equated it to a punch in the face.

I personally like PBs but I really wish people would get that they were bred to be DOG aggressive, not people, not horses. They are known for being big mushes with people.
And your Statement about the cage makes no sense. You said you let her run around in the yard with you but you can't keep her in the house because of a muzzle law? Then you say you want to rehome her. She isn't doing anything that isn't managed by many other people everyday. If she really is dog aggressive you can train but management will be the key going forward. I don't think she is dog aggressive, having read your other posts I lean towards poorly behaved, poorly supervised and poorly trained. She grew up wandering at will, doing what she pleased and getting away with it. Then you brought her somewhere else and stuck her in a cage (but muzzling offends you). I guess she's being a brat! I would be to.
Dogs are NOT disposable, as their guardians we need to make choices to protect them. That includes finding suitable housing, keeping them safe and sometimes restricting or eliminating hazardous activities no matter how fun silly dogs may find them. This isn't a game it's her LIFE.
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