Young dog, old dogs, play-fighting, and aggression

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Postby SueB » November 28th, 2006, 3:47 pm

Until Thanksgiving, we had 2 pits - an 11 year old female (Socks) and a 10 year old male (Zeus). The male loves everyone/everything. The female had been abused before we got her and is not completely trustworthy around strangers and strange dogs. In our home, however, she has adapted well to our collection of pets over the years - rats, guinea pigs, parrots, and a shepherd mix who died of old age 2 years ago. Our Amazon parrot even shares her food dish. Now she is old, arthritic, deaf, and in the advance stages of cancer. We know that we will have to put her to sleep soon, as she starting to become uncomfortable and we don't want her to be in pain. So, to make a long story short (too late), we have been searching the rescues for a YOUNG puppy to replace her when she's gone. Zeus will be devastated without her.
Much to our surprise, a 16 month old, unspayed, undisciplined pit (Casey)was dropped in our lap Thanksgiving Day. On the plus side, she is very friendly, loves people, and her owner often took her to the dog park. On the negative side, she counter surfs, begs, jumps up, and had never been walked on a leash. Zeus already loves her. She is quickly learning not to beg/surf/jump, and by Saturday she could walk nicely on a leash. She and Socks even seemed to be getting along - as long as they were well supervised and I kept their food dishes separate. Everything seemed to be going ok - until last night. Last night, I noticed that Casey had started standing over her food dish- not growling - but her posture seemed a little too stiff for comfort. She was directing it toward Zeus, who is too laid-back to care about her food or about being challenged. Later, she tried to "play" with Socks - butt up, tail wagging, with a woof...and a growl ... and a pounce. I quickly separated them, but she growled, lunged again, and tried to bite. Still wagging her tail. Socks, naturally, wanted to accept the challenge, so I put her in a separate room for a while. They were fine for the rest of the night - and even enjoyed a walk together. This morning, Casey tried the play fighting thing again - with the same results. So...does anyone have any suggestions for me? I know we haven't even had her a week, but I want to nip any sign of aggression in the bud. She is a bundle of energy, so we have been taking her on 2 long walks a day. We will continue to keep the food dishes separate and to supervise them at all times. I think her previous owner let her play-fight with the dogs at the dog park - and, to me, that feels like a REAL fight waiting to happen.
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Postby Malli » November 28th, 2006, 4:18 pm

play fighting is fine as long as both dogs are happily involved :| most dogs PLAY that way, all the time.

a large portion of the multiple pit homes here on the board feed their dogs seperately, always, food and dishes are never left down and the dogs do not eat together. The same goes for toys; these people feel that these things are likely to set off a fight.

I thought I'd mention too, that pretty well everyone (including myself, although I only own 1 dog) feels that any time their Pit Bulls are left alone they are also seperated.

If I were in your shoes? Your old girl would get anything and everything she wanted, including to be left alone by the new puppy, table scraps, her own space, etc. She will not be with you much longer, she is old and stubborn, and who wants to make her last little bit of time hard for her anyway, right?

Casey's bad behavior would not be tolerated. At all. (was it a mis-type she's 16 months? is it weeks?) I'd strap a training collar and a short foot or so lead on her at all times when she is out in the house, and start obedience training immediately. You are boss and what you say goes; IMO, since Zues has been in your home much longer, he gets what he wants (within reason ;) ) Any innapropriate behavior gets a leash correction, if she ignores that, find somewhere (NOT her crate, this should be her own safe zone) to give her a 30 second "time out".

One thing I do have personal experience with ? Training my own dog. Start your training NOW!! It will be SO much easier for you then fighting old habits and patterns in both you and the dog!


I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day, tomorrow doesn't look good either.
"You didn't know of the magical powers of the break stick? It's up there with genies and Harry Potter as far as magic levels go." SisMorphine 01/07/07
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Postby mnp13 » November 28th, 2006, 4:47 pm

Excellent post Malli.

Make the puppy leave your old girl alone. If one has to leave the room, then the young one can have a time out.

At this stage in the game, she doesn't want or need the extra stress.

I think the puppy probably needs a lesson in manners from the way you describe her.

Inside me is a thin woman trying to get out. I usually shut the bitch up with a martini.
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Postby SueB » November 29th, 2006, 11:13 am

(Malli) I didn't mistype - she is almost a year an a half. We had hoped to get a very young puppy so that we could start socializing it and training it as early as possible. We had also wanted to wait until Socks was gone so that she wouldn't have to deal with a puppy underfoot. Then last Wednesday I met a guy on the street, got to talking to him about his dog and found out he was going to drop her off at the shelter on Friday because he was moving to a no-dog condo. Bad timing, wrong age - but I just couldn't stand to see another pit get dumped at a shelter.
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