behavior problems

Posted by rocket
May 15, 2008
I have rescued a female pit bull that i am having aggression issues with. The family consist of 2 children ages 4 and 8, another female dog black lab mix, and a cat. Most of this aggression is in the form of growling, she will also randomly go into that pit bull mode on my other dog, its got to stop. I began working with her on basic stuff sit, stay, down, she does this very well outside playing ball and running, in the house she not as focused. Right now I have seperated the dogs for the fear that my other laid back dog will get hurt. Rocket has no aggression towards people just other animals, other issues include whinning, barking,and seperation anxiety. I really want her to be a part of my family but iam at a crossroads with what I should do. She does learn quickly and seems to be very attached to me. Please help
Posted by Todd
May 19, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the post.

Aggression is very serious and i am glad you have asked for help.

Now first lets go over some toys you may need. Firstly and most importantly is a muzzle, both for you and your family and dogs safety. Secondly he may need some form of sedation for a few weeks to take the edge off so he can be trained easier. I think a quick talk to your vet may help with this.

The first advice i would give you is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position-
1) If you come across your dogs while they are sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move so that you can pass by.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. A good method to reinforce your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) Do not feed your dogs tidbits or let it pester you at the table. Save the morsels and tidbits for training sessions instead.

5) Do not greet your dogs straightaway when you arrive home. Make it wait until you are ready and then call it to you.

6) Whenever your dogs want attention or anything wait till they are sitting and being well behaved.

7) When you give a command make sure that you are in a position to enforce the action that you require from your dog, especially in the initial stages of Alpha Dog training. Also, use the Alarm-No-Command technique as described in the Alpha Dog bonus book to reprimand your dog if it does not obey your command.

You should reprimand your dog for unacceptable behavior, no matter what that behavior is. If you do not reprimand your dogs poor behavior then it will feel that it has the right to behave that way and it will take much longer to correct the behavior.

What I recommend you do, is the next time your dog acts poorly and exhibits dominant tendencies (growling), saturate your dog with the garden hose or a bucket of water, or if it is inside, throw a heavy blanket over your dog and be sure to reprimand it. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on the dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

Make sure you keep up the obedience training

There are a number of approaches you can take from here to deal with the aggression issues.
The one method i think is more successful is to train the dogs to be friends, not to reinforce one as the alpha dog.

It is important in this situation not to enforce one dog's dominance, but rather make it clear that they will both be generously rewarded for displaying socially acceptable behavior.

1. Firstly muzzle the pitbull, then put both dogs in a sit near you. Pet one, and then feed that one. Then, feed the other one for tolerating your interactions with the first one.

Sit on the sofa and call the dogs over. Ask one dog to sit or lie down. Make a fuss over Dog 2. Reward the sitting/downed Dog 1 for tolerance and remaining in place. Then reverse this: put Dog 2 in a sit or down position and make a big fuss over Dog 1. Reward Dog 2 for tolerance and staying. Again, you can do this by yourself if you have confidence that a brawl won't break out.

3.Remember that if you take one dog for a walk, leave the other one behind and kennel the walked dog on return. When things are calm for 5 – 15 minutes, get both dogs out and put them in sit and down together for a treat (never facing each other). Then allow them to interact, if you think that it is safe to do so at this point in training. Follow this advice when you work the dogs as well. Kennel one dog, and work the other dog. Then trade, kenneling one and getting the other out to work. After a 5 – 15 minute rest period, get the dogs out and carefully work them together. You may need two handlers for this also.

When it comes to meal time you should encourage the two dogs to eat at the same time near each other. Do not put their food bowls down until they are both sitting, listening and behaving. Be prepared for them to show some aggression, if one dog moves towards the others food or growls, reprimand them. The methods above are great for reprimanding the dogs. You really want to reinforce that food aggression is not acceptable. If at any stage the pitbull misbehaves take its food away and put it into a quiet room. Wait ten minutes and then try again with that dog.

Over the next few weeks you can slowly move the dogs food bowls together. Do this slowly and always watch them. If they misbehave go back to the step where they tolerated each other. You should over time get them to the point where they can eat side by side.

Feeding the dogs side by side from your hand is a great way to reinforce their friendship but be very careful and only do this when you fully trust them. It will take you weeks to get to this stage.

Keep up the socialising of the pitbull to make sure no other problems break out.

You need to be very patient and consistent with things. Remember that at any time if things get out of hand it may be better to get the pitbull out of the household for a few days to get things to settle down.

This problem will take a long time to fix so keep in touch and ask away as you need to

Posted by rocket
May 19, 2008
Todd, Thanks for helping me get started, Should she be muzzled in the house or should they be seperated. She seems to display this growling issue around her crate and around what she deems her space. Last night the cat jumped into the room where she was sleeping and she started growling right away. If I put my other dog outside and let rocket roam the house she seems to be fine with the cat. The one thing Rocket does not like is water, this is her kriptonite She hates it. Should I use the water in the house, and when she acts up do i put her in her crate and for how long?