jumping and biting - scary - please help!

Posted by trace06
Mar 19, 2008
We adopted a one yr old pit/staffie mix about 3 1/2 wks ago. He was abandoned and rescued by an organization. he seems to have very little training. My husband and I have been training him ourselves using SitStayFetch. We have also employed the ALpha Dog Tips. Everything seemed to be going well - slow but steady - until 2 days ago. The first 2 wks he was w/ us my husband was able to stay home with him. Last week we have been away from home for extened periods due to work. Both our dogs are put in the spacious backyard until we get home. Recently we have been getting ready to move and have had very little time for play or walks. 2 days ago I came home and let them in. They were naturally very excited and both dashed in the house. To avoid the ruckus I stepped into the backyard. jackson cam bounding out and jumped at me. I turned my back and said "OFF" - this usually works. He wouldn't stop and started to bite me. He would get off then start again - I couldn't get a chance to get him to sit. The skin wasn't broken but some bruising occurred. The same behavior happened yesterday too. He did it a couple times in the house last night as well. Then a couple times this morning. It was rather scary. We have a 9 yr old daughter and I can't have him doing this to her. We really enjoy him and he is sweet and we don't want to have to send him away. Can you help. Sorry for the length of this!
Posted by Blue
Mar 25, 2008
Hi there
I love hearing about adoptions - especially of difficult ('dangerous') breeds such as pits/staffs - they have love to give too!

As for your dogs new behaviour, it sounds like he may have started acting out because of a change in his routine.

Boredom and disruption of routines will often lead to behavioural issues - especially in young impressionable dogs who are still learning the pack pecking order. In order to find order, they will start testing boundaries and limitations, and if you are not providing the necessary exercise/mental stimulus, it can come out as exertion in the form of aggression.

You need to get him out for long workouts, if the other dog is okay with less exercise, focus your efforts on your new pup - he still needs to learn the ropes! (but make sure your other dog doesn't see all the attention your giving - give him some training at home to balance it out).

It is best to work with both dogs individually before they are trained together, this way you have your dog's complete focus and attention on you. Not on what the other dog is looking at or getting!

Exercise, discipline then love. A dog needs to know where it stands within the pack hierarchy to maintain a level of calm behaviour.

When he bites you, reprimand him immediately - with a low short growl, low short guttural Aaahhh, or a low short no. Yelling does not work with dogs as they don't associate it with a dominant behaviour. After the reprimand make him sit, firmly tell him good boy and walk away.

Even better, is if you can predict when he is most likely to bite, have a water squirt bottle ready and squirt him while reprimanding if he is coming to quickly and excitedly. When you are bringing him in from outside, it may be worth leashing him before entering the house, so that calm behaviour is associated with in the house. The best time to reprimand a dog is just before the bad behaviour actually occurs, be attentive to his behaviour just prior to biting, is his body stiff/relaxed/arched, tail up/down/midway/straight up arched over back, ears down/flat against head/up etc. All these signals will help you to know what to look for and prevent him from ever escalating to the aggressive behaviour.

I hope some of this was of help!
Keep up with the alpha training too, as it will help keep him more in line - to further your alpha status here are some key things to do:
- don't allow the dogs on human beds/couches
- have a nothing comes for free policy, give attention when you have called them over, not when they come over for it. Meals can be given after some obedience work and put into a Kong to make them work for it (and it makes it more fun and stimulating for the dogs too! - wolves in the wild don't get meals for free and it keeps the pack stable and healthy!)
- humans are fed before dogs at all meals
- when going through doors, humans first, dogs last. You can practice this to enforce it - by leashing the dog and having him follow you through the house.
- have your daughter walk the dog on walks (heeling him, no pulling!), this will improve her alpha status and make sure she has read and understood the tricks to becoming alpha bonus book.
- Don't allow him in the house until he is calm!! Being with the pack is a privilege, not a right, and if he is not acting in accordance with the pack rules, he is not allowed to join the pack. Request that he sit/stay, down/stay before entering the house (may require you to practice obedience training in non-distraction environments).

Sorry about the disjointed-ness of this post, trying not to forget anything
Good luck!