Dogs - Aggression or Protectivness? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 03-29-2019, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Dogs - Aggression or Protectivness?

I have always owned Pit-Bulls, they are absolutely the best dogs I have ever owned! I got a 3 mo old pit bull puppy sometime back in early September. His mom has always been on a chain so when my puppy (Rocky) was born, he was born into that chained environment... After he was able to walk, the past owners put him on a chain and never associated him with any other dogs, they didn't train him, and they didn't even bother messing with him.

He was really aggressive when we first brought him into the house with other dogs, attacking, lunging, biting, etc etc. I finally broke that habit after a month and a half with a professional trainer. Well, he is about 9 months old now and I took him to Tractor Supply for a new collar and he saw another dog. His tail was high, ears perked, making firm eye contact with the dog, then he lunged at the other dog and let out some low intimidating barks.

I got him under control after a few seconds but it really scared me. What if next time I'm not watching and he actually hurts somebody's dog?? He is an absolute sweetheart with the other 3 dogs I have in my house and he loves all of the family including young babies - he just licks them to death!

Well, recently, whenever one of the other dogs walks into my room he does the same stance he did in TSC. If the dog comes near my bed, he gets aggressive, and attacks. I have to break them up and put Rocky in his kennel for a while. He only started doing all of this over the past 2 weeks. He is all over me, gets lethargic when I leave even for a short amount of time, he won't let strangers near me, and he hates when the other dogs get in my space. He has been going to obedience school since I first got him and he was neutered about 2/3 months ago. He eats Pedigree puppy food (in the process of switching to adult dog food by Pedigree), gets plenty of exercise on our 11-acre yard, he has plenty of chew toys, he gets played with all of the time and loved on too.

So my question is...
Is this aggression? Dominant behavior? Protectiveness??
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post #2 of 33 Old 03-29-2019, 05:48 PM
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I would continue working with a trainer, and an actual trainer not just "obedience classes" (one on one with a professional used to dealing with difficult dogs).

It's hard to say what the issue is but it's likely some combination of issues however the central point does seem to be you. My German Shepherd would protect me with his life but a small child could run up and hug him. If he got bad vibes from someone he would stand between us, and while I know he would escalate if needed (never needed!) he NEVER did anything more then be watchful and aloof because there was never anything more called for, most people he was very accepting of if not overly friendly (they aren't labs lol) and would enjoy a pat or two. So no, it's not just protectiveness. A dog being OVERprotective usually stems from insecurities with the dog, so like I said I think numerous issues with the dog that hopefully a professional will be able to work with.

I don't hear aggressive or protective, I hear defensive and uncertain. Unfortunately he didn't get proper socialization at a crucial age but he's young enough to hopefully get past that.

Another thought, sounds like the breeders weren't the greatest people and while I don't want to make an assumption based off the little written poorly bred dogs tend to have more behavioral issues (a large part of why these breeds get a bad rep) so I would keep in mind that some of it may be genetics. I will say it seems pretty strange that a 3 month old would pick fights with strange dogs when moved to a new home, puppies are usually pretty submissive.

Do be careful, it's wonderful that he's so great with you and your family, but I would be leary with him in public and with your other dogs, I wouldn't trust him not to escalate. I hope you can get past this or at least learn to manage it! Do keep us updated!
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post #3 of 33 Old 03-29-2019, 06:44 PM
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Unfortunately, you do have to keep in mind that pit bulls are bred to attack other animals, including other dogs. They are terriers, and they act like it. If mom was kept chained, it's likely her owners weren't all that concerned with her temperament and there are probably fight dogs in her pedigree if she isn't one herself. You can train all you want, but you can't override instinct. I would not trust this dog around other animals, period. You will always have to use caution. I would continue your work with the trainer, and consider muzzling this dog when out in public, both to protect you, your dog, and other animals. I've worked with a lot of dogs with similar history to yours. Some can be rehabbed, most can to some degree, but very few end up being entirely trustworthy around other animals.
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post #4 of 33 Old 03-30-2019, 12:00 AM
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Your puppy is resource guarding and it can be really dangerous. He isn't being protective. @Yogiwick described protectiveness perfectly. I used to have a German Shepherd that was the same. Get a trainer to help you. And I agree with @SilverMaple about getting a muzzle. Make sure you have someone help you fit the muzzle because if a muzzle doesn't fit properly the dog can still bite.

A blog post that describes resource guarding:
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post #5 of 33 Old 03-30-2019, 12:49 AM
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I will first say that I am a pit bull owner. My 8 year old pit bull is the sweetest, most loyal dog I've ever owned. I have had her since she was 3 months old. I have no bias against the breed and would get another in a heartbeat.

That being said, I tolerate absolutely no agression towards humans ever. Zero. None. Ever. I do not play with her in a way that encourages aggression, and I would never encourage "protectiveness," as she has enough instinct towards that end without encouragement.

I tolerate no unprovoked agression towards dogs - meaning another dog is not physically harassing or threatening her. Zero. None. Ever.

They are a breed that have the potential to be very aggressive and dangerous. They were bred to relentlessly attack other animals and fight to the death.. They were bred to fight and kill other dogs. While not common, they have attacked and killed humans as well.

It does not matter why your dog is demonstrating aggression. It is absolutely unacceptable and you need to shut it down yesterday.

I see my main responsibility with my dog as keeping her out of trouble and protecting her. I know that if another dog provoked her and she attacked them it would be considered to be her fault. I do not let other dogs approach her. I do not take her to areas where she would be exposed to badly behaved dogs. She does very well in dog daycare, on rare occasions, when we have needed to take her there. She is 100% trustworthy with our cat, even when the cat is mean to her.

She has snapped and or growled at family members maybe one or two times, and like the response for a deliberately aggressive horse, she was made to believe that her world was coming to an end. It sounds mean, but, like a 1200 pound horse, you cannot let them ever think that they can get away with unprovoked aggression towards people.

You definitely need professional help -- more than obedience training. I would not tolerate or keep a pit bull who showed aggressive tendencies towards dogs or people -- the liability, legally, financially and morally -- if they harmed someone is just too high.
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post #6 of 33 Old 03-30-2019, 02:15 AM
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I too have nothing against pit bulls as a breed generally, don't believe they're innately any more mentally dangerous than most other breeds. BUT as Yogi put it, 'breeders' that keep their dogs - including young pups - chained aren't likely to be concerned about temperament, and may have even been breeding FOR aggressiveness. So it could be that he's genetically more 'prone' to aggression.

But more to the point, he was totally unsocialised before you got him, don't know how much since, apart from your own dogs. ANY breed is likely to be less sociable in that situation. IF it were other than fear aggression - the pup being terrified, not knowing what else to do - when he came to you & your dogs, then that would be very unusual - & worrying - in such a young pup.

After that, the dog at the feed store - who knows whether it was due to resource guarding - the dog was too close to you - or 'dominance' - he wanted to show it who was boss - or otherwise. It was not being 'protective' or fear aggressive by the sound of it and yes, I would expect him to do it again. He's getting older, more confident within himself. It's a worry that he has also 'resource guarded' against your other dogs - not all that unusual, but he's perhaps a little young to get so assertive with adults, and if he's also on guard with people close to you, then that's a worry, that he's likely to attack a person, not just another dog, given the chance. I'd actually keep him muzzled in public & be very careful where you let him off lead.

I'd actually be looking for a dog behaviourist, someone experienced in treating aggressive behaviour, rather than just any old trainer, to work with him.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]
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post #7 of 33 Old 03-30-2019, 07:22 AM
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You have a stick of dynamite and the fuse is lite. Just a matter of time before it goes off. I would take it back to who you got it from and tell them it is just to aggressive for you to handle.

You said you and your trainer had it broke to leave your dogs alone and it has regressed to attacking your dogs again. It will be just a matter of time before one of your dogs is hurt or a strange dog or person. A huge liability and lawsuit might be in your future.

I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within. Douglas MacArthur
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post #8 of 33 Old 03-30-2019, 07:28 AM
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Pit bulls are bred for dog aggression. Even now some breeders still embrace it - not necessarily fighting breeders either, just people who are into preserving breeds as they were meant to be. They'll face their dogs off to judge gameness but not actually let them fight.

You can't deny genetics. If you intend to keep this dog you will need to crate train, muzzle train, and manage manage manage! After a dog shows aggression, if the owner allows an attack to happen, it's entirely the owner's fault. Don't let a real fight happen. Intervene now, while you still can.

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post #9 of 33 Old 03-30-2019, 10:17 AM
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I feel badly for you. I have learned from my own dogs that you can do everything right as a trainer and still end up with a problem dog. It doesn't matter how much training you do with the dog. Some just have issues.

Out of my last 4 dogs, only one was completely trustworthy and easy to train. The last 3 had issues. I think the people breeding mutts are not selecting anything based on temperament- so you get undesirable personalities.

My former boyfriend left me his dog. That dog had terrible resource guarding- he bullied my other dog. Wouldn't even let him on the back porch- even if it was raining out. When I got the new puppy, he repeatedly bit her if she came near anything that was "his". He was a very stubborn dog-took forever to house break. I think some of it was defiance. He would rip bushes out of the ground if he was angry about something- like not being let in the house the minute he wanted. He passed away a few years ago.

My shepherd- she hates strange dogs. Will go into pure rage if she sees another dog. It is better with more training classes than I can count. She doesn't like strangers, doesn't like children, and doesn't like other dogs. I stopped taking her places because she is too difficult. She is fine as a house dog. Now she is decent with people but they are not allowed to touch her. Her hatred towards strange dogs was evident as a young pup, and is not a trait you can fix. Remember this a wolf trait- wolves kill any dog/other wolf that is not pack. I suspect this is an inherited trait as well.

Despite this, she is a very sweet and loveable house dog and loves our "pack".

The newest dog is super timid until she isn't. She has aggressively attacked the shepherd once or twice. Thankfully shepherd is boss and much bigger. Shepherd pins her until she gives up. She also hates my cats so needs to be crated and carefully managed.

I've decided dogs are way too difficult and I'm totally a cat person. The next dog I buy will be purebred from a place where I can meet the parents and personality test. No more rescues.

You need to decide how much you can commit to your dog and what you will do if you can't resolve the behavioral issues. Muzzle when taken out and keep separate from your other dogs, if needed.

Bully breeds are difficult. I had a neighbor with 3 Pitts. He always muzzled them on walks for safety reasons,even though he was an excellent trainer. You can't predict when strangers will approach too closely or do something stupid.

Read everything you can on resource guarding. It meant no toys in the house, no bones, treats or anything of value. Max would resource guard his water bowl, and his sleeping spot. Not a fun behavior to deal with. He never cared about me very much so at least he didn't guard me from the other pets.

I have never had much luck out training personality traits. All you can do is plan and manage appropriately. Remember this isn't your failure as an owner, but rather the personality of the dog you have.
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post #10 of 33 Old 03-30-2019, 10:32 AM
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One more thing. Please double collar him/double leash when taking him places. My shepherd broke her choke chain to go after another dog. Don't trust those chains to hold a lunging dog. Get a horse lead rope and clip it to both collars.
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