Guess it's time to introduce ourselves and give the long version-- of how we came to have Robin in our lives, what trials we have to work on, and what we're doing about them...(I apologize in advance for the length! She's my first pit and we have a lot to work on!!)
We weren't really looking to add to our already very full household; we have a 5 year old black lab and a 15 year lab/setter cross and were doing just fine at 2 pups (we also have cats in the mix). Then two days before a snow storm this January, a ~1 year old sweetheart of a pit bull showed up wandering the neighborhood, loving on anyone who'd look her way. When it was clear that no one was caring for her, and it had started sleeting and snowing, we took her in, you know-- just until we found her owners or a good home.
I've always been a sucker for pits-- I've never owned them, but had nothing but good experiences and I refused to take her to an already overcrowded shelter. Plus, she was doing well with everyone in the house. We decided to keep her. But before we could get her spayed, she went into heat. Unfortunately, that gave her lots of time to bark at passers-by and reinforce a few unpleasant habits.
Long and short-- her unknown background and life as a stray, plus her confinement mean we have a lot of work to do, despite her wiggly cuddles. She had apparently never worn a collar or leash (she flattened like a pancake every time we put one on), and threw up during every car ride (after we had to carry her in and out). She is an angel at the vet's office, and has done well at our local pet store, even politely sitting (without being asked) so a woman with two large leg braces could pet her. But if we are on the street on leash, she barks and alert growls at all pedestrians; if we are inside a building, she only barks or growls when I'm also tense (the girl who let her off-lead Pomeranian come running toward us, or the toddler who dropped his toy and also came ambling toward us, staring intently at Robin while I tried to steer her away-- we only go to places that are not crowded!).
She has greeted everyone in our home with nothing short of deep affection-- from our parents and friends to a preschool-aged child (who we later found out was scared of dogs). She's however started some resource guarding when each of the dogs had bones-- first an air snap at me reaching to get the broken half of the bone that she wasn't chewing, and then she made quite an elaborate display toward our older dog when he got too close to the bone's previous location.
And finally, she's started jumping, nipping and mouthing on me and my clothes, so I just become a tree, ask her to watch me, sit, wait, and then she gets pets or treats.
Rescue Remedy and short car rides through a drive-thru that gives treats helped the fear of autos...
To work on the leash reactivity-- I hesitate to call it aggression yet, even with the growling, as she is very frustrated and vocal both on-leash and when crated-- on nice Saturday afternoons, we go sit at the park or in front of a little coffee shop, out of the way but where Robin can see people walking on the jogging path or coming in and out of the shop; if she looks at the people and doesn't bark or aggress, she gets treated (I always try to catch it the instant she notices them so she doesn't have time to); alternatively, I ask her to sit and watch me when I see people coming and she gets lots of good treats as they go by.
We realized that she probably has very little experience playing with people and toys/bones/things, so we are learning to trade with very low-value toys, and we play fetch with 2 balls-- when she gets the first ball, she wants to hoard it in the bushes or dog house. I either offer her a trade, or show her the new ball and ask her to sit and wait, while I pick up the first ball and then throw the second. Complicated, but effective
In a lot of ways she's a little more than I bargained for, but our 15 year old pup is a selective resource-guarder, severely anxious and quite fear aggressive on-lead or with strangers who try to pet him too quickly. So I understand some of what's going on, and am determined not to let it get out of hand with Robin-- I know what it's like when it's worse!
We'll get there eventually... She's shown herself to be so wonderful when she's not stressed that I have hope. Plus, her snuggliness makes up for an awful lot!
"In these bodies, we will live; in these bodies we will die.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life." --Marcus Mumford