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Question about my Lab Mix that we think may be part pit bull terrier.

She's more of an outside dog, so she spends a lot of time in our backyard (fenced in, of course), digging asteroid-sized craters in the dirt (effectively killing most of my attempts over the last several years at growing grass).

Occasionally, we will look outside and see her flipping something around in the air. On these occasions (three, that I know of), we discover she's got a small animal. Twice it has been mice (we do live in a wooded area but typically don't see many mice) and one was a baby opossum. She doesn't eat it, but the poor thing is dead when we find it (heart attack, maybe?) and she's happily tossing it in the air and catching it. We take it away and throw it over the fence into the woods.

I worry about (1) her health. She's on Heartguard, but should she been wormed besides that? (2) why that she's doing this. I know terriers are rodent-catchers by breeding, but pitties?

My husband seems to think that's her "job" (in her eyes). He figures she's "earning her keep". Since I've never had a dog do this, I confess I am a bit disturbed.

She's not really all that happy in the house and is eager to please, but is somewhat stand-offish in the affection dept. She'll lick you occasionally but isn't one to pay much attention to you unless you try to leave the yard. Then she'll grab your leg with her paws or gently try to grab your arm with her mouth (which tends to freak me out, quite frankly). She also likes to "stalk" our other dogs, so I'm guessing she must have a strong hunting instinct.

Thoughts? Experiences to share?
 

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Dogs are predators. Killing other animals is what they do. There's nothing unusual in it. A dog left alone in the yard all the time is going to amuse themselves whatever way they can, be it digging holes or whatever, though my inside dog has so far caught four mice and two birds and one rabbit, all while at the end of a leash.

I'd have her wormed. You have no idea what she's eaten because you aren't out there with her and I know rabbits typically have worms.

As to stalking the other dogs, does she attack them? If not, that's play behavior, not hunting.

Is there some reason she's outside while the other dogs are inside?
 

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Yeah, this is normal. Some dogs are just good mousers. My parents' inside dog does this on leash too! I tend to agree with your husband, but agree with Amaryllis that regular worming is a good idea.
 

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It kind of sounds like you're afraid of your dog...? Maybe I'm reading too much into it though...
 

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Yep normal. My boy is very muttly but I don't really see terrier in him myself... he's caught and killed two mice. He'd likely catch and kill some of the rabbits we encounter on our walks if he wasn't leashed.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dogs are predators. Killing other animals is what they do. There's nothing unusual in it. A dog left alone in the yard all the time is going to amuse themselves whatever way they can, be it digging holes or whatever, though my inside dog has so far caught four mice and two birds and one rabbit, all while at the end of a leash.

I'd have her wormed. You have no idea what she's eaten because you aren't out there with her and I know rabbits typically have worms.

As to stalking the other dogs, does she attack them? If not, that's play behavior, not hunting.

Is there some reason she's outside while the other dogs are inside?

Sometimes she doesn't want to come in. Other times, it's to have time with the other dogs, as she wants to play constantly and won't let her "sister" lab mix come see us. She'll drag her by the ear or collar away.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
It kind of sounds like you're afraid of your dog...? Maybe I'm reading too much into it though...
Honestly, I am a little. I've never had a dog be able to literally pull me down the street (and I'm not a small person), grab onto my arm with her mouth, or resist when I try to correct her. I don't know what to do with her. My husband says she needs obedience. I've tried doing some of that on my own (I've been through classes with a prior dog) and sit and stay is about the only thing she responds to. She fights choke collars. I've tried a check collar, that didn't work. I tried a gentle leader and she figured out how to wiggle out of it (she's very smart). It took three of us to hold her down to give her a puppy shot. She's extremely strong.

She willingly hops into the car, but goes nuts in the car -- won't lay down, constantly pants, hangs over the backseat. If I have her up by me, she still doesn't sit still (my other two dogs will lay down quietly).

What's odd is that, when I took her to the vet, she submissively peed all over the place. Hadn't done that before or since.

I will add, though, that she's never snapped at me or my family, but she's made odd noises I can't describe when I try to get her to do something she doesn't want to. She bullies her lab mix "sister" (I think), but runs up to children and other people to say hello (dragging me behind her)
 

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Well, American Pit Bull Terriers are terriers in the end. They're highly motivated, active, intelligent and headstrong.
Pit's 'talk'. They make all sorts of odd grumbles and growls and weird sounds to communicate. they're kind of like the huskies of the terrier world.
 

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My two dogs will attempt to kill anything that comes into the yard. So far they've gotten two feral cats, a woodchuck, 3 squirrels, and about 4 voles.:doh:

I wouldn't worry about it--some dogs just have a high prey drive. She's a terrier, so I'm not surprised.

How much exercise is she getting? It sounds like part of the issue is that she has all this energy but can't release it, so she's digging, etc to pass the time.

Jen

PS- She's beautiful! Thanks for posting a pic.
 

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Normal ... My late Leeo LIVED to hunt for his rodents. :) He was a Schnauzer(Terrier)/Poodle mix. He would dig them out of their holes and throw them up in the air to catch ... and then proceed to shake them and break their necks. He however ... never ate one. I just made sure he was up to date on all his vaccines and had his stool tested for worms.

To him ... it was his job. Living in the woods ... never had a rodent in my house.
 

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My Lab mix used to toss rats to break their necks. Once dead, they were of no interest. Both Labs and Pits will chase small animals. Both breeds are very people affectionate, even cuddling, so you might want to socialize her a lot more. In addition, both breeds need to chew, so she would probably like a Kong and a hard rubber bone, rather than your arm. In the new owner section, look for the Sticky: The Bite Stops Here for help with bite inhibition.

You can look for "loose leash walking" and "silky leash" for help with walking. Don't bother with a choke chain or pinch collar, b/c even if she wore it, she'd ignore it in less than a month.

So, it is time for some dog training classes. She sounds very people friendly, and possibly ready for lots more dog socialization ... you might use that desire to be friendly to help with training.
 

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I know terriers are rodent-catchers by breeding, but pitties?
One of my little Cavaliers loves to hunt mice and lizards. Once, we caught her nose to nose with a possum who was probably bigger that her. We had to physically pick her up and bring her in the house. Some dogs got it........
 

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I had a beagle mixed with a bichon growing up and he was the king of catching mice. Especially in the winter under the snow he would pounce and go under and come up with a mouse. some dogs are good at catching mice =-)
 

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I have GIVEN my dog mice in the hope that she'd figure it out and start killing them. Our shop gets invaded by the little inventory-shredding bastards every fall and it would be swell if Kenda would join the Rodent Patrol. So far, no luck. She looks at me like "What do you want me to do about THAT?"

Last fall a 5-foot black snake found its way in to our warehouse. We didn't have much trouble with mice after that.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My two dogs will attempt to kill anything that comes into the yard. So far they've gotten two feral cats, a woodchuck, 3 squirrels, and about 4 voles.:doh:

I wouldn't worry about it--some dogs just have a high prey drive. She's a terrier, so I'm not surprised.

How much exercise is she getting? It sounds like part of the issue is that she has all this energy but can't release it, so she's digging, etc to pass the time.

Jen

PS- She's beautiful! Thanks for posting a pic.

Thanks. She's about 6 months old or so in that photo, fresh from the bath.

Exercise...about none. I used to walk her every day, but I'm simply not strong enough to manhandle her. She wears a nylon collar all the time with her tags, and pulls forward on the lead and collar, choking the entire time since I'm not going fast enough for her. She will sometimes cough up saliva because she pulls so hard. When I would use the choke or check collar, she'd kind of growl or grumble at me; one time I think she lightly grazed me with her teeth to let me know, "hey, I don't appreciate that". The gentle leader, after spending several minutes wrestling with her to get it on and adjusted, she'd work on pushing the muzzle part off her face, or would buck against it. So, I went back to hooking the lead to the nylon collar and have her pull my shoulder out of socket...:D.

I bought her a Kong extreme but she gets bored with it (she can't get the treats out and loses interest). I bought her a playground ball, which she instantly deflated. I bought her a basketball that she liked initially but then again lost interest. She likes to dig, chase the critters, bully her "sister", knock the kids over (which freaks them out) and tear up my landscaping. Any toy bone or rope I've bought gets instantly destroyed. They don't even have beds in their crates because they've destroyed everything, including towels. She even digs at the crate bottom at night. I know she needs more, but what and how, I don't know.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
My Lab mix used to toss rats to break their necks. Once dead, they were of no interest. Both Labs and Pits will chase small animals. Both breeds are very people affectionate, even cuddling, so you might want to socialize her a lot more. In addition, both breeds need to chew, so she would probably like a Kong and a hard rubber bone, rather than your arm. In the new owner section, look for the Sticky: The Bite Stops Here for help with bite inhibition.

You can look for "loose leash walking" and "silky leash" for help with walking. Don't bother with a choke chain or pinch collar, b/c even if she wore it, she'd ignore it in less than a month.

So, it is time for some dog training classes. She sounds very people friendly, and possibly ready for lots more dog socialization ... you might use that desire to be friendly to help with training.
Thanks. I will look into the posts you mention, and I need to call the trainer to sign up for classes.
 
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