Help needed ASAP with rescued pittie!

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Postby Rachel1201 » June 27th, 2011, 8:36 pm

Hi! We are long term doggie owners, who have always had "bully" breeds - Boxers and shepards and a bulldogge ... I became involved with a FB site called Pet Pardons, and rescued a pittie from the euth list at the NY ACC. We have always been a multi-dog household, and I guess we were just lucky until now ... Although when our bulldogge first joined us there were some heated squabbles - for some reason he would go after our Boxer senior citizen, who was too old and arthritic to fight back - but anyway, these spats were mostly scary and loud, but no serious damage. So we were totally unprepared for the meltdown that has occurred since we brought Harley home. Before I go any further, let me say she is a sweetheart ... to us. She has showed no evidence of people aggression at all. But she is intermittentlydog- aggressive, and it is very unpredictable. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to some of the fights - they can happen in the blink of an eye, and while some we can attribute to a toy or food, some are just appear to be random and occur without any warning - no stare down, no warning growl. In the past week, my husband, myself and our adult son have been bitten breaking up a fight. I can't really say bitten, because we all had put our hands in her mouth to pry her jaw open - she did not lunge for us. But last night she and Belle, my little Boxer girl got into a horrible fight and now Belle has a drain in her neck. We can't go on like this ... yet we hate to give up on her, because we know what the likely outcome would be if we were to try and re-home her ... The sad part is ... she is so damn sweet in every other way. Constantly wags her tail and gives kisses to her people, crate trained, walks well on leash, good with kids ... We absolutely love her, but I could not live with myself if she killed one of my other babies. is there any hope at all for her? Any ideas? We are desperate. We live near Winchester , Va.
* Update - we have made some observations today and some adjustments that have worked out for the short term ... Harley is fine with Max the bulldog and Beezer, a Staffie puppy - both neutered males. Those three can play outside, no aggression over space, toys etc. We are keeping that group separate from our senior Boxer and our female Boxer, who is recovering from a significant injury (Harley inflicted, kill zone bite ) We talked to an animal behaviorist today who felt it was sort of 50/50 that Harley could be helped. -She was discouraged by her being a pittie from a shelter but gave us a glimmer of hope since she is not dog aggressive with all dogs. I read about the 2-week shutdown and wish I had known that before. We've had Harley for over a month so not sure how if this would work ... I guess we are doing a modified crate and rotate ... Any suggestions, ideas, referrals?
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 28th, 2011, 11:22 pm

What is your goal for your multi-dog household in the future? Because pit bulls are a breed that can be DA, it's not surprising that she's not good with some other dogs. If you want everyone to get along and love each other, you may be out of luck. But if you're willing to crate/rotate, it sounds like that would work out.

I'm just not exactly clear on what you want for the future...and what you're willing to deal with. And I'm not sure what the behaviorist is talking about with being 50/50 that "she can be helped". She's a dog aggressive pit bull, who is selective about who she aggresses against and who she'll tolerate and/or like. That's nothing that can be helped...it's just who she is. You can work with her to be more tolerant in terms of not acting on her impulses, but you can't really change who she is. If you're talking about her biting humans...that seems pretty simple to fix, don't put her in situations where she'll fight, so she won't bite humans. ;) Also...most of us prefer to choke off the dogs rather than putting hands in the mouth to get them to release.
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 28th, 2011, 11:31 pm

"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby furever_pit » June 29th, 2011, 12:48 am

I'd personally opt for a crate and rotate schedule. Perhaps with supervised and structured interaction with the two males that she currently gets along with. She may not always get along with those boys and you need to be prepared for that.

The fact that the behaviorist is concerned because she is a rescued Pit Bull speaks volumes to me, and not in a good way. There are tons of stories of rescued Pit Bulls that go on to be happy, healthy family pets to active working or sporting dogs. If I were you, I would consider looking for another trainer to help me out here.

If you don't feel up to the crate and rotate lifestyle, that is understandable. It's not for everyone. If this is the case, I would look to rehome her in a singly dog home or with someone who is willing to crate and rotate. It would be a plus if they were experienced with bulldog breeds.
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Postby Rachel1201 » June 29th, 2011, 1:16 am

Thank you both for your feedback!! Right now we are keeping on with a modified crate and rotate - Harley and her buddies are separated from Belle and our old guy - they are not in crates but are separated by closed doors and rotating outside time. If there is only one person home or no one can be home, Harley and her buddies are crated. So far so good. It's not ideal, but doable. I take all the responsibility of this - we have always had big dogs, Shepards and boxers, and usually 3-5 ( we live ina rural area) I guess we were both incredibly lucky and naive to never have had this experience before. I think we were just trying to save a dog who was scheduled to be euthanized because she had kennel cough, and thought that was a poor excuse to kill a nice girl. We felt less cautious about her because she had been with other dogs, been around kids and was an owner surrender secondary to eviction ... So in retrospect I guess we knew she would need a period of
adjustment - we just were unprepared for the lack of warning and the intensity level of her aggression. What I would like is to not be afraid that she could kill another one of my dogs. I'm okay with her not liking them, or even the occasional snarkfest. I don't think I could deal with it if she kills Belle ... Sonfor now we are ok with keeping them separate. I guess I would like to feel that if there was a breach I could get them separated before there was serious injury. Any recommendations for a trainer?
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Postby mnp13 » June 29th, 2011, 2:12 am

What I would like is to not be afraid that she could kill another one of my dogs

She's a Pit Bull, she can kill another one of your dogs. There's no way to sugar coat it, I'm sorry.

We have two males and a female. The boys don't mess with Ruby 99% of the time, but they have had their occasional snarks and about once a year Ruby or Riggs gets a hole or two in their face. Connor is mostly fine with other dogs, he'd prefer to hang out and play, but will throw down when necessary. Riggs has the worst form of dog aggression - all confidence based, little to no warning (to the average observer), he'll just launch and grab. We crate and rotate the boys. It's annoying, but necessary.

I guess I would like to feel that if there was a breach I could get them separated before there was serious injury.

A member here had her two dogs get into one bad snark, and one bite caused the loss of the front leg of the other dog. If it's real, it's real, and you just have to be prepared with a plan, and do your best. MOST "fights" are just noise and accidental bloodshed though.

We talked to an animal behaviorist today who felt it was sort of 50/50 that Harley could be helped. -She was discouraged by her being a pittie from a shelter but gave us a glimmer of hope since she is not dog aggressive with all dogs.

This confuses me. The only "cure" for dog aggression is to control it with training, but that doesn't mean it's gone, it means that you teach the dog to behave. We used to be able to put Connor and Riggs in downs next to each other off leash. In "obedience mode" they would ignore each other, but we never let them out in the house together.

I'm sorry if I sound negative/nasty, I don't mean it that way. But you have to understand that there's no "fix" to this. It's great that she gets along with some of your dogs, but now that she's injured one, you must accept permanent separation with at least those two, and possibly eventually more of them. However, even the most dog aggressive dogs out there often have one or two "friends."
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » June 29th, 2011, 7:24 am

Everybody here offered great advice. Whereabouts in NY are you? Maybe somebody on here can recommend a good trainer. If the one you have now is calling his or herself a behaviorist, check their credentials - I believe there are only something like 20 true "behaviorists" in the entire country. It's a catch-all term that too many trainers use because it makes them sound good. :wink:
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