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Pitbulls Q&A

Pitbulls Q&A

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  1. Should I have put my dog to sleep? I feel terrible.

  2. How do I get my Pits to stop running the fence and getting into fights because of another dog?

  3. Sometimes my pit bull becomes aggressive, I think when she has too much energy and is running circles around my apartment. For this aggression would a very high level stim help? Do you think maybe just more exercise will do it?

  4. How do you feel about 2 pit bulls in the same household? Am I asking for trouble? Will the pack mentality "set in" w/ 3 dogs, etc?


QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Frawley,

I was just reading an article that you wrote on your website and just felt like telling you my story. My name is Nicole, and my husband, Scot, and I recently had our 3 year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Rudy) put down for aggression problems. This has been the most painful decision we've ever made, and I am having a very difficult time coming to terms with our decision. We got Rudy from an out of state breeder that we thought was reputable. We had Rudy since he was 10 weeks old. From the beginning he showed signs of being very scared and nervous of basic things such as bags, boxes, noises, etc... We enrolled him in a very good obedience school, where our female stafford excelled. He seemed to do okay, but his personality did not change as far as the nervousness. We stayed in contact with the breeder and explained Rudy's personality, and they told us that he would be okay. Well, we believed them, so we kept him and loved him as much as we could. We tried to introduce him to objects and places and people in a supervised and calm manner. It seemed that no amount of encouragement and training changed him. We loved him so much that we didn't think the problem would escalate into something worse.

When he was approx. 1 year, he started fighting with our female stafford on occasion. The first couple of fights seemed to be about toys, so we never let them play with toys together, we separated them when they ate, and we separated them when we were not at home. Sometimes Rudy would just walk across the room and start fighting with the female for no reason. This type of behavior would happen every couple of months, and we couldn't figure out what was causing it because "most" of the time the dogs got along and played together, etc..

About a year ago, a friend who has been around Rudy since he was a puppy, was visiting our home. Our friend got on the floor and acted like he wanted to play with Rudy. Rudy backed up and started to growl. I immediately told my friend to get up off of the floor slowly and proceeded to tell Rudy "NO". My husband put Rudy in his cage, where he growled again at our friend. A while later, my husband let Rudy out of the cage and Rudy was standing in front of my husband doing nothing, and my husband reached down to pet Rudy's back, and Rudy immediately turned his body and let out a fierce growl. These were his first signs of human aggression, so you can imagine that we were very concerned. We again called our breeder and they told us that he was just getting older and becoming a "man". We thought that sounded ridiculous, so we called our vet and took Rudy in for tests. They took blood and checked his thyroid as well as a couple other things, which I can't think of at this time. We also scheduled him to be neutered that week. Our vet recommended a well known behaviorist also. We took Rudy to the behaviorist and explained the situation. He observed Rudy for a while and his opinion based on what we told him and what he saw was that Rudy was basically like a paranoid schizophrenic. Which may explain why this behavior would just come out of nowhere and we never knew when it would. He said that as a last effort we could try putting him on medication and trying a few different training techniques, which we did. He was neutered and put on medication for anxiety. While on the medicine, he stilled showed bad behavior by growling at my husband and myself on a few occasions if we would try to move him from the spot he was lying or something similar. So we basically knew that the medicine was not helping. We kept him on it for four months as advised and then weaned him off of it. He was doing really good for about 5 months, until last month when he started a fight with our female again for no apparent reason.

4 days ago we had our 8 year old nephew spend the night with us. This was the first time a kid has spent the night with us, but not the first time a child has been to our home. Rudy did fine until the next morning. My nephew, my husband, and Rudy were all in our living room. My nephew was telling Rudy to sit and down, and my husband was supervising the entire thing. Rudy was sitting and wagging his tail. He put his paws on my nephew and kissed him in the face with his tail wagging, but as soon as Rudy put his feet back on the ground he started growling and barking, and lunged at my nephew and tried to bite him. Luckily, my husband was right there and was able to grab Rudy's collar and lead him to his cage. We could not take it anymore after this. He was a loveable cuddly guy 99% of the time, but when he would do these things, we never knew why because nothing would happen to cause him to be upset, and afterwards Rudy would act confused as if he didn't know what happened. We decided to call the breeder one more time. They agreed that he needed to be put down now that he actually tried to bite a child. It's not like we were dealing with a yorkie or something, Rudy was very strong with a huge mouth and we knew that he had the capability to do serious damage. So, painfully, we decided that it was time that day. We took him to the animal hospital and spent some time with him and then it was over.

Basically, I'm writing to you because although I know it was probably the right thing to do, I feel absolutely horrible, and wonder if we really did do the right thing. A lot of our family and friends can't believe that we did this because most of them never saw the "other" side of Rudy. I still love Rudy with all of my heart, and I'm having a hard time realizing that what we did was the best thing after all we tried, and that we stopped a potentially dangerous situation from happening later on. If you have any words of advice as to our situation, I would very much appreciate it.

Thank you very much for reading my story.

Sincerely,
Nicole

ANSWER:

It is never easy to put a dog to sleep. This should always be the last option and unfortunately a lot of people make it the first option. You did the right thing here. The dog was a product of a bad breeding, It had bad nerves and was an extreme example of a fear biter. Had you not done this he would have hurt someone. Unfortunately there are too many people breeding Pit Bulls for the wrong reasons.

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Question:

I have two pitbulls that are brother and sister that are almost three years old. I have come home twice now to them being a bloody mess. They get into fights and the sister always loses and this time she could have died... this never happens when I'm home and I really don't want to make one stay inside because of this. I am pretty sure what causes it because when I'm home I see the signs. It starts up because of a neighbor walking her dogs and stopping in front of my house with her dog... these two pittys start barking and running up and down the fence line trying to get at the dog that's being walked but can't get to it and every once an awhile the female will turn on her brother out of frustration and he for the most part will take it but then we he doesn't I believe when I'm not home and this happens he gets tired of it and fights back... my boy is fixed and so is my female...

I have two other dogs that are in the yard and neither of them do the running the fence line when they see another dog or person... How can I get my pittys to do the same... or to make sure they don't fight besides keeping them separated when I'm not home?

I live in mississippi and down here there are no good dog trainers for pitbulls other than the people who want to fight them.. which I don't want any part of!!!
Please help I love my dogs they are my children and I want them to get along all the time!!

Thanks,
Kimberly

Answer:

If you aren't home to correct this then your only option is to keep them separated. I would put both of them in separate kennels so they can not run the fence. Barrier frustration can build into a very dangerous situation.

If they were to get out of the fence when they are in this state of mind, I guarantee they would attack the dog on the other side of the fence and then we would be reading about this in the newspaper.

All dogs should be handled carefully but if you choose a breed like Pitbulls then you need to be extra careful due to the media frenzy surrounding these dogs. We really like Pits and its criminal what has happened to these dogs in recent years.

We have a directory of information on dominant and aggressive dogs.


Question:

Mr. Frawley,

Let me first commend you on such an informative and well thought out website. This website keeps me occupied for hours, I just flat out love it.

I am new to dog training but have been around dogs for a while. I am a 20 year college student and I own a pit bull, but let's get back to that in a minute. I recently bought your e-collar DVD and I have purchased the Dogtra 1900 NCP collar (I got it because I saw it was one of your favorites on your web site. I have not received my collar yet, but I watched your DVD the other day. I found it very informative, but I have some other questions. With the dogtra 1900, could you tell me the stim levels that correspond with the ones in your DVD, because I believe that the Dogtra 1900 has 1-120 and something like that. That would be a great help. Also I was wondering if the e-collar can be used to train more then what was shown in the DVD, such as getting into the garbage, inappropriate chewing, and so on... I have some more, but let me tell you a little about my dog. I have a 7 month old pit bull, she is about 45-55 lbs and is very athletic. I know that you are a shepherd and malinois guy, but I was wondering what you thought about pit bulls? I have done a lot of research and have seen that they have one of the best "never quit attitudes," and a constant want to please their owner. I was wondering what you think of this. Now I am having a couple problems with her.

Sometimes out of nowhere she will show signs of aggression, I think it may be built up energy and its how she gets it out of her because usually when this happens it will start by her running circles throughout my apt, and when you really try to stop her is when she gets aggressive. I should tell you that she is not really territorial at all, no food aggression, no toy aggression, but when playing tug she does start to growl and gets very hyped up. But for the tug part I have started to teach her out, and she is really starting to pick it up. She is very smart especially for a pit. I was hoping you could give me some of your expert advice. For this aggression would a very high level stim help? I mean from your DVD you say you have to use it (in animal aggression) before it escalates. Usually before she goes off she will back up with her hind legs upright and her front legs laying down. Do you think maybe just more exercise will do it? I cannot lie sometimes I am so busy I forget to get her exercised. Please any and all advice would be great. Also if you could tell me of any toys or dvds or tugs that you recommend on your site that would be great, thank you for your time and for all you do for dog owners.

Michael

Answer:

No one can tell you what stimulation levels to use on your dog. I would have hoped you would have gotten that from the DVD. The level you use will depend on the hardness or softness of your dog.

I like Pitts. They are often driven dogs and overall as a breed have nice temperament. With that said they need to have their pack structure established because of the underlying tendency towards dog aggression. To ignore training and pack structure work is a huge mistake with these dogs. I didn't get the feel that you are using a dog crate in your home. Another huge mistake.

In your case you are making a huge mistake to not provide this dog with more exercise. If you are limited in what you can offer then get a weighted vest and have the dog wear it on your walks. Bottom line is you need to make time for exercise with this breed. To put a remote collar on it and try and correct it for running around the house is not a productive solution.

As far as the breed goes, they can go out and do club level dog sport work.
They can't do high level dog sport competition. They can't handle the stress of training. Once would think they can but the facts don't prove this out.

If you want to learn how to get control of this dog get my DVD Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet and become a master of "Marker Training." The resources for marker training are:

The Power of Training Dogs with Markers DVD

Your challenge will be to master every detail of the system. In my opinion 8 out of 10 people who attempt this work don't understand the details. When that happens they cannot apply the training correctly which only ends up confusing the dog.

You would be better advised to use marker training to teach your dog obedience. You can use a remote collar to extinguish behaviors you don't like (I.e. getting into the garbage) but with this said if you're doing your pack structure work properly your dog will not have the possibility to get into the garbage. A remote collar is better used to tighten off leash control at the end of the marker training work.

Good luck with your dog.

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley


Question:

Hi Ed.

I've emailed you before and I've bought a few of your DVDs. Thanks so much for your continued assistance. Here is my question: "How do you feel about 2 pit bulls in the same household?" From what I have experienced (dog mushing, dog daycare, literature, hands-on experience, etc), as long as dogs receive plenty of exercise, discipline, and routine, they adapt nicely. I currently have a 8.5yr old GSD-mix male and a 3.5 yr old male Pit Bull. They get along GREAT! I'm thinking of expanding the pack. Is this a mistake? I'm a strong alpha leader w/ a good knowledge of dogs and their tendencies. Am I asking for trouble? Will the pack mentality "set in" w/ 3 dogs, etc? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!
Dave

Answer:

This can work if you’re willing to make some changes and enforce some basic rules.

Adding a third dog dramatically increases pack drive in dogs. Two dogs are two dogs – three dogs is a dog pack. That's when problems arrive.

If you're blind to the fact that you may have a situation where these dogs can never be out of the crate at the same time – well then odds are it won’t work.  The only way things like this work are if people employ sound pack structure training - Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Pet DVD.

The owners have to establish pack leader rules and enforce them. It involves micro-managing the dogs lives.

With the addition of a pup – that pup should be on leash in the house 100% of the time until its old enough and trained well enough that it can be called back from a high level distraction 100% of the time. The goal of raising the new pup is to become the center of this dogs universe.

Regards,
Ed Frawley

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