Dog aggression

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Postby 04100824 » April 20th, 2006, 9:06 am

I've been thinking a lot about Reno's dog "aggression" lately, and I really do want to do somehting to get him to chill out, or to socialize him more, but I'm having a hard time.

Here's how it goes - he see another dog and barks - sometimes playfully, sometimes not so much and sometimes he growls along with it all and pulls, but after he watches the other dog for a few seconds, he starts whining and tail wagging and doing his play bark, but occasionally still growls a bit? Once he gets up close to another dog, he starts sniffing, and jumps back...like he's scared. He was raised with another female pit that he gets along with very well, his previous owners took him to a dog park once with no problems, and while I've had him, he's met a cocker spaniel (who TOLD him! he was scared tail between his legs hiding behind me till he got enough courage to sniff it's butt and got snapped at), a lhasa apso and a boxer, all of whom he initially growled at and them jumped back and acted unsure about once he got close. There was also a guy who let his dogs approach us on a walk one day - a golden, a lab, and some kind of mix - 2 of which growled a bit, but just sniffed him while Reno froze. He also met some little black fuzzy thing that ran out of some guy's house, and Reno just sniffed him, and froze up again.

SO....what can I do? How can I socialize him? :| I've only once gotten him to sit calmly while another dog was around...he just freaks. I want to at least give him some confidence around other dogs, but I'm not sure where to go that I can safely allow him to meet other dogs. I've even thought of asking our neighbors to take their dog to the tennis courts so they could meet through a chain link fence, but haven't done it yet.

Any suggestions? How bad does this sound to you guys? I've had a dog previously who was neurotic and scared to go around other dogs, so I'm used to avoiding animals on walks and so on, but when you have a pit growling at a passing person with a dog, it's a bad representative of the breed and us personally as his owners.
Last edited by 04100824 on April 20th, 2006, 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Maryellen » April 20th, 2006, 9:07 am

since leah evaluated him, did she give you any pointers for this? or did reno not do it when you guys met leah??
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Postby a-bull » April 20th, 2006, 9:17 am

This probably sounds ridiculously simiplistic for your problem, and I'm sure there's more you can do, but I've taught my female "leave it" around other dogs so that we can be in the company of other dogs and she will pay attention to me and ignore them.

I survey carefully who I think she can interact with, and then she needs to be closely watched, but with some pitbulls and pitbull mixes, that's about as good as it gets, I think. I haven't, however, thrown in the towel and said, "Oh well---she's a pitbull." I think it's something you just need to keep working on constantly as they mature.

I'm sure other people here can toss out some other ideas . . . :)
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Postby 04100824 » April 20th, 2006, 10:04 am

Maryellen wrote:since leah evaluated him, did she give you any pointers for this? or did reno not do it when you guys met leah??


She brought out another dog, and Reno started doing his growling thing - she wasn't expecting it, I don't think. She asked if he was growling at the dog, and I said yeah...she basically said to keep him away from other dogs, as he's at the age of "turning". I told her about the guy who let his dogs approach us and told her about Reno's reaction, and she said it was a dumb thing for me to do to allow them to approach, and that if Reno bit some dog we'd get blamed and it wouldn't be worth it. (which I know, but there wasn't much escaping them - the dogs were on flexi leads, and coming at us - owner doing nothing to stop them) That's why I'm looking for a safer way of getting him around other dogs. (through a fence at first?) She did hear him do his whining thing, though, and she went over to him and made him sit by her side, which we do as well, and he was quiet and still - for the most part.

I would think that without any sort of socialization, that he would get worse? What do ya'll think?

I'm trying to get him to do the "look at me" and "leave it" stuff...any suggestions on what I can do at home to help teach him this? So far, I've tought "leave it" by putting him on leash with high-value treats on the floor and made him leave them alone and giving him better treats when he did what he was told...but I've only done this inside so far. Any other methods to try? I do say it on walks when he's sniffing something I don't want him to and jerk him, which seems to have helped too. I haven't done much with "look at me" yet...only practiced it once.
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Postby Maryellen » April 20th, 2006, 10:42 am

i would use something he never gets except for training- steak or chicken or liverwurst, or hot dogs.. only use this for his training. work slowly, start slowly, with him in the house, then work inthe yard, then the driveway, then the street, and gradually increase the distractions.. for other dogs, i would do the same, gradually, start with a dog far away, and work on the leave it or watchme command, and do this slowly, and then work your way up to a dog not that far away. never let anyones dogs come up to yours, as a fight could break out..if the people say their dog is friendly, say nice, but mine is not and he is in training, please keep your dog away.. etc.... see if leah wants to work withyou and reno on this issue if she is close to you car wise, maybe she can help too, or maybe she can recommend a trainer that she trusts to help you.
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Postby a-bull » April 20th, 2006, 11:29 am

04100824 wrote:
Maryellen wrote:since leah evaluated him, did she give you any pointers for this? or did reno not do it when you guys met leah??


She brought out another dog, and Reno started doing his growling thing - she wasn't expecting it, I don't think. She asked if he was growling at the dog, and I said yeah...she basically said to keep him away from other dogs, as he's at the age of "turning". I told her about the guy who let his dogs approach us and told her about Reno's reaction, and she said it was a dumb thing for me to do to allow them to approach, and that if Reno bit some dog we'd get blamed and it wouldn't be worth it. (which I know, but there wasn't much escaping them - the dogs were on flexi leads, and coming at us - owner doing nothing to stop them) That's why I'm looking for a safer way of getting him around other dogs. (through a fence at first?) She did hear him do his whining thing, though, and she went over to him and made him sit by her side, which we do as well, and he was quiet and still - for the most part.

I would think that without any sort of socialization, that he would get worse? What do ya'll think?

I'm trying to get him to do the "look at me" and "leave it" stuff...any suggestions on what I can do at home to help teach him this? So far, I've tought "leave it" by putting him on leash with high-value treats on the floor and made him leave them alone and giving him better treats when he did what he was told...but I've only done this inside so far. Any other methods to try? I do say it on walks when he's sniffing something I don't want him to and jerk him, which seems to have helped too. I haven't done much with "look at me" yet...only practiced it once.


I couldn't quite get the "leave it" until I had the "watch me." My girl was too unfocused, initially, around other dogs. I held a treat to my nose and would say "watch me." When her eyes met mine, (or rather the treat on my nose, lol) then I would 'mark' the correct behavior with a "GOOD!" and give her the treat. When she had it everytime, I dropped back to just pointing at my nose, and when she had that good, just the command. Then I could work on "leave it" because I knew I could get her attention. "Leave it" was fairly useless when she initially wouldn't even look at me or listen to me because she was so interested in the other dog.

Growling isn't a completely terrible thing. Atleast your dog is giving a warning. I have seen alot of pitbulls that look totally disinterested in other dogs and just go off---or the ones whose tails wag, and people misinterpret it as they 'love other dogs and just want to play' and they actually are fired up and don't 'love other dogs.'

As far as socialization---it's great to socialize your dog, of course, but I'm sure you know, you can socialize the pants off of some pitbulls, and no matter what you do, they'll never be able to romp safely with other dogs. It's just the nature of the breed.
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Postby PittieLove » April 20th, 2006, 12:12 pm

i just wanted to add this--
my dog isnt dog aggersive, hes dominant(sp). He will not growl, look at, lunged, bark, or pull towards another dog. But he will fight another dog.

Your dogs sounds to be fearful.
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Postby 04100824 » April 20th, 2006, 12:21 pm

PittieLove wrote:i just wanted to add this--
my dog isnt dog aggersive, hes dominant(sp). He will not growl, look at, lunged, bark, or pull towards another dog. But he will fight another dog.

Your dogs sounds to be fearful.


Would socialization help then? To build confidence? I'm still wondering if this is a good idea, or if I'd be just making things worse? I'm also at a loss as to what dogs and how...I'm hoping to get someone to let me take him to meet theirs thorugh a chain link fence or somehting...

Sounds like we need a lot more practice with leave it and look at me. LOL! I'm not hoping for a romp or anything - just to get him to not freak out and to chill around other dogs. :)

Thanks to all of you! Any advice you guys can give is great!
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Postby mnp13 » April 20th, 2006, 4:12 pm

I think you need to decide what you want:

1. to have your dog be able to interact with other dogs safely

2. to have your dog act sane when other dogs are in line of sight.

Those are very different goals.
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Postby 04100824 » April 20th, 2006, 5:10 pm

mnp13 wrote:I think you need to decide what you want:

1. to have your dog be able to interact with other dogs safely

2. to have your dog act sane when other dogs are in line of sight.

Those are very different goals.


How 'bout being sane when we're across the street from one? Or how about a few feet away, but out of reach? How about on a sidewalk with another dog walking on the street?

I would LOVE for him to be able to interact peacefully with other dogs, but that's not necessarily my goal. He seems interrested in seeing other dogs, but maybe like he's not sure what they are? Perhaps he is scared. :| In that case, do you think socializing him would help?
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Postby Romanwild » April 20th, 2006, 5:35 pm

I tried the pp stuff for this and it just wan't the right technique for me and my dogs.

Once I grew a set I put the prongs on them. When we went for a walk and they even looked at another dog I would correct them. Over a few weeks their behavior improved greatly. Now I just need to verbally remind them or give a level 1 correction and they look away and ignore them.

It's quite impressive to walk down the street with 2 calm pit bulls while a Lab goes totally ape shit. lol
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Postby mnp13 » April 20th, 2006, 7:15 pm

ok, since you are ok with #2 I'll post later on related to that goal.
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Postby dogcrazyjen » April 20th, 2006, 7:16 pm

As long as you are sure that it is dominant aggression, I agree with Roman. If it is fear aggression, you could make it worse, or create a dog who does not warn you before he nails another dog.

Is Leah an evaluator?
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Postby 04100824 » April 20th, 2006, 8:25 pm

Leah runs Spindletop - a well known pit bull rescue. She has rescued TONS of these animals, has many years of experience with pits, and is highly knowledgeable on them. She actually just returned from rescuing NOLA pits a few weeks ago, and MSN actually did an article on her, if I remember correctly.

I took Reno to her to be evaluated when we initially adopted him. At one point, he was growling at some people we saw on walks, though it seems that through socialization and building of his confidence, we're mostly over that hump. We also got over him tyring to chase birds, and now it's time to tackle the issue of other dogs.

This dog is abgout 1.5 years old -he was rescued from a backyard by friends of ours, and was an obvious case of neglect - skinny, tied to an indistrial papercutter (yes - witht he big blade that pulls down) and covered in parasites at a very young age. Though he got rescued, the friends of ours have been trying to get rid of him since they had him. Long story short, we got a dog that's a year and a half with NO training, really, and hardly any socialization. I'm tackling one thing at a time here, and part of it was to see Leah to make sure it wasn't true human aggression, but lack of socialization. This is my first pit bull and I want to make sure I'm doing everything as to the best of my ability.

Sorry to cut this short - I just got invited out for a beer. :beerChug:
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Postby mnp13 » April 20th, 2006, 9:33 pm

how good is his obedience?
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Postby pLaurent » April 20th, 2006, 10:09 pm

IF you want a dog to be friendly with all other dogs, you probably got the wrong breed, but he can learn to behave in their presence.

Obedience school is a good way to get pit bulls used to being near other dogs in a controlled situation and learn to at least ignore them if not be buddies with them. All dogs on leash and a trainer right there. I highly recommend it.

if the people say their dog is friendly, say nice, but mine is not and he is in training, please keep your dog away..


That's what I say too, when morons let their dogs run loose and yell "It's okay - he's friendly!"

They move their butts to get their dogs when I inform them "But mine's NOT!" :hammer:
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Postby 04100824 » April 21st, 2006, 8:51 am

mnp13 wrote:how good is his obedience?


LOL! Needs work, obviously! :D Right now, he'll sit, stay, lay down, high 5, wait (like "heel" - he's learned great manners for the most part), roll over, close a door and we're perfecting "come". He doesn't like that one. :wink: We have a place out in the country and I just bought a 30 ft. lead so we could start practicing more out there with more distractions and where he can move away further before recall.

pLaurent wrote:IF you want a dog to be friendly with all other dogs, you probably got the wrong breed, but he can learn to behave in their presence.


Yeah, I don't expect him to be all the little doggies' best friends, but DO I want him to behave. That's all I'm really going for here. (though it would be great if I could get him to enjoy other dogs, it's not my expectation) I'm working on this myself until we can afford to send him into a training class... I'll also say that this wasn't initially my breed of choice - I just didn't want him going to a kill shelter, which was his fate when we offered to take him. Until a few months ago I didn't know much at all about these dogs, but once we found out that we were going to be adopting him I started doing all the research I could and this site is just one of many of my chosen resources. I know these dogs aren't generally great with other animals, and I'm ok with that. He just needs work, and I'm looking for the best possible ways to help him.

:)
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Postby rockermom » April 21st, 2006, 12:59 pm

I dont know much about this stuff but I am quite curious the answers you get. I think group training is a good idea if your dog needs socialization. Then I would have him meet other dogs with someone who is experienced with dogs posture and reactions to situations. Rocky has only played with other dogs a few times. I get worried because of all I have heard about Pitbulls dog agression. Just the other day I brought him to my dads, He has 2 dogs and was watching 2 (male Aussie's)dogs. The 2 males growled at Rocky when we first entered the yard. There were other occasions they growled at Rocky also. My dad just watched the posture of these dogs which to him did not seem agressive. Sometimes my dad would tell them to stop it and they would. When meeting a dog for first time Rocky will stand head slightly turned with ears back and a look of Im not sure I can trust you. He alows them to sniff then he will losen up and try a playful move. This begins running playfully through the yard. Ocasionally the other dogs no longer want to play so they will growl give a bark simply tell Rocky get lost. He gets lost. Or he will roll into a submisive position.
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Postby 04100824 » April 28th, 2006, 2:15 pm

Well, last night I was able to introduce him to 3 different dogs and allow him to run and play with 2 in the tennis courts. (the other was a dinky little growling terrier that wandered up to the fence. Reno ignored him for the most part) I'm hoping that a combination of the socialization and a lot more on leash training will help him to build confidence and improve his behavior...

I'm very happy this went so well! I had to share. :wink:
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Postby rockermom » April 28th, 2006, 3:40 pm

Sounds good!! Keep it up!
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