HELP! Our dog has suddenly become aggressive

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HELP! Our dog has suddenly become aggressive

Postby jamielvsaustin » Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:44 pm

We have two Pits-Bailey and Trooper. Bailey is a female and Trooper is a male. They're both around 3 1/2 years old. We've had Bailey since she was about 13 weeks. And recently we adopted Trooper last April. Bailey has been constantly socialized and trained (we believe training is life long). She grew up in a house with many animals, both permanent and temporary. She's a calm dog for the most part. Very quiet and happy. She's sometimes nervous and fearful. For example she doesn't like thunder. She has changed many people's minds about Pit bulls. She's such a great advocate for the breed. She's semi-affectionate. She likes a good belly or leg rub, but if she's on the couch and you try and lay with her, she'll get up and move. Trooper is very boisterous and talkative. A lot of the time he sounds like Chewbacca. He listens well, but he's got a slight case of ADD-oooh a ball. He's very high energy and if he hasn't had a walk we can tell. Initially when we got him he was very dog aggressive. Not to Bailey, but to other strange dogs. We've been working on this and have seen great progress. Recently we were helping to re-home Mastiff/American Bulldog and we didn't even have to take them for a walk. Usually that's how we introduce Trooper to other dogs. But because Odin (the Mastiff mix) had such a mellow temperament we decided to try something different. Trooper is very affectionate and a very good cuddle buddy. He still has some "only dog" issues that we address as soon as they happen. For example if given the change he will hog all the toys. He just needs a quick reminder and he's good.

On 4th of July together they killed a baby armadillo. I cried a little. But I know they have a high prey drive and were just doing what was natural to them. If I'd seen it before them I believe I would have been able to prevent it. I think the damage was done before I realized what was going on. Neither one of them completely picked it up. They weren't "rag dolling" it. It was more of a pounce and then a jump back to see what would happen. Immediately I ran out there and back them off of it, but it was too late. Its guts were hanging out and I don't think it ever saw them coming for it.

Sunday is when it started. (Sorry it's taken so long to get to this point, but I wanted readers to have a background...thank you if you're still with me) It's in the morning and we're sitting out on the porch and out of the corner of my eye I can see Bailey giving Trooper the look-and before I can finish saying they're about to go at it-they do. And again about three more times that day. It's frustrating to us because we actually just finished school to be dog trainers...and more importantly because we can't seem to pinpoint why or what is causing it. What sucks is Bailey is getting the brunt of it. Trooper doesn't have a scratch on him. Bailey's face has a hole in it, her ear was torn and the top of her back paw got it. (I think that's from when we pulled them apart on the porch-cement). I don't know why she keeps going for him. Trooper's attitude seems to be that he doesn't want to fight but he's definitely going to defend himself. The second we say anything to get them to stop he's on his side, completely laid down. But Bailey has to be put on her side...and if you don't do it fast enough she'll keep going for him. It's inconsistent. One minute she's pissed and she has this look in her eyes...and the next she'll do a "drive by" kiss. Or play with him...or lay next to him. Monday was fine, like nothing happened...and then again last night she went for him. This time we sent her to the room. I don't know if removing her from the situation is the right thing to do...but my thinking was to tell her that when you behave this way you don't get to hang out with us. If she's afraid I really don't want to punish her, but I don't know what to do. I think right now we don't have to be so preventative and instead it's okay to be reactive...but I think that's a thin line to dance. And it could end up badly. We have an appointment with the vet to see if something is medical wrong with her, and she just can't tell us. Other than that we don't know what to do. Nothing in her environment has changed. My fiance and I aren't fighting...there isn't any stress in the house...neither one of us are sick. I really just feel we're at a loss.

We've gone over so many possibilities, I think eyes (or ears) from the outside will be helpful. Maybe we're missing something...there's got to be some sign. Any insight, suggestions, questions or advice is/are graciously welcome. And thank you for listening.


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Re: HELP! Our dog has suddenly become aggressive

Postby FriscoGirl » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:35 pm

keep them separated at all times or you may have a blood bath and maybe a dead dog. They'll never fight again if you keep them separated, pretty simple hah and didnt cost you anything, no dog trainers needed

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Re: HELP! Our dog has suddenly become aggressive

Postby PinKster » Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:20 pm

From what I have learned pits mature much later in life and can have complete personality changes in what they like, dislike and will tolerate. Also, dogs that have been raised together for years can decide one day they don't like each other anymore and will seriously injury or kill the other. Thankfully, your two are okay and more damage wasn't done.

You will need to keep them separated when not completely supervised, otherwise the same situation can take place and next time it could be deadly.

I think you can google "crate and rotate" and get some good info.

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Re: HELP! Our dog has suddenly become aggressive

Postby Kingsgurl » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:39 pm

Oten signals dog give each other are very subtle. It is quite possible Bailey isn't even instigating the altercations, but rather reacting to body language given off by Trooper. In any event, I would heavily supervise any interactions they had and keep them separate for the most part.

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Re: HELP! Our dog has suddenly become aggressive

Postby MikeInTacoma » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:14 am

I'm interested in the dog trainer school you mention. But I'm sure we'll have a chance to discuss it in the future. (I'm definitely not a dog training expert, but because of our dogs, I have developed a strong amateur interest in it. Personally, I was raised on traditional methods, but have come to strongly favor "clicker" style positive reinforcement methods. The adage "the only thing two trainers can agree on is that the third is doing it wrong" can be seen in action here, which leads to good discussions... and some less than good discussions, sometimes. But we aim for more of the good ones.)

As I see it, Priority One is to prevent physical and psychological injury. Priority Two is to prevent the dogs from practicing an undesired behavior. Priority Three is to prevent the dogs from making an undesired association (like, "other dogs = pain... so I'd better attack first"). And somewhere on the list, you want the dogs to have a chance to de-stress (which can take as long as two weeks, I've read, for the stress hormones to reset to a normal level in the bloodstream, following a traumatic event).

Sounds like a job for Crate and Rotate (or Room and Rotate). For the next couple weeks at least, keep the dogs physically apart from each other, and give them individual quality time with you. Don't be in a hurry to re-introduce them; and when you do re-introduce them, take it slowly.

I don't remember much detail about the fights, but if either of the dogs shows a tendency to grip and not release (pretty common in Pit Bulls and other Terrier breeds), you should have some breaksticks handy. They are inexpensive to buy over the internet, or if you know someone good with tools, it's easy to make one from a wooden hammer handle.

Anyway... You now have posting access in the main forums, so check out the Training and Behavior section.


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