Serious Pit Bull Attacks

Posted by davidrochoa
Aug 26, 2010
This is a 2yr old pit bull who began his life by being taken from his litter at 5 weeks. His sire was a pit bull with aggression towards people. The "breeders" were anxious to get rid of the puppies because the sire would become aggressive toward the puppies when the dam entered the room, but not when she was not present.
His original owners, two males, were his alphas and he seemed to be a balanced puppy. They admit to being stern with him but not cruel. The dog was taken over by a couple who knew the two original owners. The female of this couple was familiar with the no-nonsense approach of the two original owners and felt they were not being "nice" to the puppy.
In her attempt to make the dog happier and give him a more pleasant life she began to baby it and shower affection on it. He was obedience trained and knows his commands. He began to show aggression towards strangers and other animals and proregressively became worse. He was allowed on the bed and allowed to own a recliner. It was considered "cute" when he exhibited anxiety if the couple hugged and showed affection toward each other and was even given treats at these moments. He now obviously owns the female but does not show aggression toward the male.
The dog must be leashed and held when outsiders visit. He seems ok with visiting family and their children.
If the female hands the attached leash to someone out of view of the dog he seems in control. On walks he becomes aggressive with all animals and people when the couple walk him. I walked him alone and he showed no aggression to anyone. While walking with the female owner and the dog I had the leash and he attacked me several times.
The dog eats twice a day, his dish is put down, left 20 minutes, picked up.
He is not allowed on anything higher than the floor. He is not allowed to go through doorways unless invited. He is ignored by the owners when they come home until he is laying quietly for 15 minutes. They have begun to correct him if he does not follow the first command. He must earn every pet, his food, his leash attachment, kind word, treat, affection. He is put in a room for 1 minute if he shows unacceptable behavior and then let out.
I visited, and asked to have him off leash and he repeatedly attacked and bit, full bites, holding and shaking. I fashioned some protective equipment and was able to do this relatively safely. I did not grab him or put him down. I walked toward him and gave him the no command and he would let go and get out of my way. His attacks would continue as we talked and chattered casually.
This is the same dog who is taken to daycare daily and socializes with other people and dogs after the female surreptisiously hands the leash to a staff member.
I have recommended socializing and exposing the dog to as much outside stimulation, noises, crowds etc., while on a muzzle. He is obviously very skittish and stressed. His tail is straight down all of the time when I have seen him. He is not that way when alone with his owners. The female is very nervous in his presence with other people or if she sees other people approaching. I have asked her to work on her attitude and practice giving the dog different vibes.
This dog is 70 lbs and very dangerous in his present state.
I have considered that his problem may be genetic and did not manifest itself until he was allowed and encouraged to develop his alpha behaviors.
Putting the dog down has been considered.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Aug 27, 2010
Hey David,

I always get sad at pit bull aggression stories, the breed gets such a bad rap and most pitties I've met are wonderful dogs. It might be partially due to genetics, but also his first few weeks in a "no nonsense" house, seeing his father become aggressive toward him and his siblings will not have helped.

The steps you're taking now to correct the behaviour are really good. Giving "no" commands when he acts inappropriately, putting him in time out, using a muzzle, correcting the owners attitude, and making him earn everything he gets are great; its exactly what I would have started off saying to do.

Keep going with obedience and socialization classes, it can only help for him to interact in good ways with other people and dogs.

I'd highly recommend using the muzzle on every walk, if he's biting and shaking he could inflict serious damage on a child or other dog, and thats a whole world of hassle we dont want!

When walking him, use the old distraction technique. Give him commands like sit, down, shake (whatever he knows!) when other dogs or people are approaching. Make sure he focuses on who ever is giving the command, and be sure to keep treats on you. When he listens and ignores the people/dogs passing by, give him heaps of praise for it. Its important not to avoid places with other people and animals around, itll only make his "recovery" longer and more stressful.

As far as the female owner, she should probably back down as his only "leader" a bit. Her husband needs to get in on training with him, and you yourself could as well. The more people he trains with, goes to obedience class with, walks with (not with the female owner there) the better; he'll learn this way that other people aren't bad either, just like other dogs aren't. Part of his aggression on walks might be his "protecting" his female owner anyway, so breaking that cycle will be good.

Obviously to train him with other the female owner will be present at first, but just to give "no" commands if he reacts badly to someone else telling him what to do. She shouldn't give any other commands in these team training sessions, and eventually she shouldn't be there at all.

I'd hate to hear he gets put down, even though for some dogs it's the best treatment. Just keep up with what you've started with, and try to incorporate the distration and teamwork training methods.

Try walking him with a friends dog, so that he learns to have a buddy to walk with and pay attention to. If you're not ok with this, use a muzzle at first and have the female owner present as his main source of discouragement from bad behaviour. The more used to his buddy he gets, the more you can try with the pair; taking the muzzle off, training together, playing together. If he has a buddy that he looks on as equal, he'll be more calm on walks out and have something else to focus on, instead of just an owner/walkers' words. Dogs can also learn by example, so if his buddy is calm around other dogs it will help calm the pitty down too, when he sees its not a big deal.

Good luck, I'm definitely cheering for the guy!
Posted by davidrochoa
Aug 27, 2010
Thank you KOP. I appreciate your time to answer. I agree about pits. Even pits that are confiscated from fighting arenas are usually love-bugs with humans. I feel so bad about this guy. He is one beautiful animal and if someone with a little knowledge had raised him from a puppy he would be awesome.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Aug 30, 2010
Sorry bout that random cut off in my first reply, finally got it to take the full paragraph!