She tries to attack my boyfriend and our other dog! HELP!

Posted by tinatoro
Dec 7, 2008
I have a 4 year old female pit bull named Leila. She is only 25 pounds... very small but very strong too. My boyfriend and I got her when she was 8 weeks old in 2004 and have had her together ever since. She is very aggressive towards our other dog, Dutch. Even if he looks at her she tries to attack him. They used to get along perfectly until Leila became about 1 year and 1/2. Dutch is 6 months older and we had him first. Since she started hurting him we have had to keep them seperate at all times or Leila has to wear a mussle. She has hurt him to the point where Dutch has drawn blood.
Now with my boyfriend Chris its a little different. She loves him soooo much. She will greet him at the door with tons of kisses and she will lay in bed with him and snuggle right up to him... BUT, if Leila is laying with me in bed or if she is sitting with me on the couch and Chris comes into the room she lunges at him and tries to full out attack him! I always have to grab her before she really hurts him. One time she did really hurt him!
I really don't know what to do anymore. I don't understand why she has this problem. We have been nothing but good to her and given her nonstop love. I just downloaded all the SitStayFetch videos and I am hoping that will get me somewhere, but I would really like to hear if anyone had similar experiences and how they solved the situation. I love Leila so much, and I just want to give her a chance at a happy life.
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Dec 16, 2009
Hi Tina

It sounds like Leila has decided that she is the alpha dog in the house and therefore is bossing everyone else around as part of her pack. This is common during the adolescent years as the dogs try to push their way up in the hierarchy. It is important that you firmly establish the fact the you and your boyfriend are the head of the pack. There are a few ways you can do this, such as insisting that you go through doorways in front of her, feeding her after you have all eaten and only acknowledging or playing with her on your terms. If she comes to you and asks for attention, just turn away and ignore her completely. Whenever you are playing with her, make sure that it is a game of your choice that starts and finishes when you decide. When walking her, you must be in charge and not let her pull you to go where she wants to go. Lastly, don't forget to reward her when she is behaving himself, as this gives her something to strive towards, instead of just avoiding undesirable behavior.

It sounds as though your bed and the couch are very important to Leila, and so you will need to demonstrate your dominance in these areas especially. My suggestion would be to not allow her onto these places at all, otherwise only let her jump up when you invite her to do so. You must control when she gets on and when she gets off. This will clearly show her that you and your boyfriend are the leaders in the pack. If she does jump up uninvited, tell her 'NO' authoritatively and make her get off. If she lunges at others when she is on the couch or bed, then take her by the collar and lead her into a 'time-out' area without speaking to her. You may find it helpful to attach a short leash to her if she is likely to bite. It is probably advisable to not allow her on the couch or bed at all until you are confident that she knows her position in the pack.

Leila is also challenging Dutch for his position in the pack. To solve this problem, you will firstly have to decide which dog is higher up in the hierarchy. Normally dogs will sort this out themselves, with the bigger or older ones tending to be the more dominant ones. Generally speaking, as Dutch is the male, I would expect him to be higher in the pecking order. You can reinforce this hierarchy by always dealing with Dutch first, for example greeting him first when you come home, or feeding him before you feed Leila. If Leila pushes in and tries to get your attention when you are playing with Dutch, turn around and ignore her completely and continue playing with Dutch. She must understand that not only are you alpha dog, but she is inferior to Dutch too and so she must wait her turn before you pay attention to her. If she tries to attack him, take her by the leash to the 'time-out' area without talking or looking at her at all. This will take some time to sort out as she seems to have established herself as alpha dog, but if you persevere with it, things will come right in the end.

Hope this helps and all the best with the training! I look forward to hearing how it all goes.
Posted by kjd
Dec 20, 2009
Hi, Tina.

I would add one thing to the discussion. If Leila and Dutch are still intact, get them both neutered. After almost three years of this problem, neutering is not going to be a golden fix; however, it will ensure that hormones do not get into the mix.