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Guess I'll just give another introduction about my doggie: My dog's name is Rocky. He's a 1 year old APBT/Maybe Staffy? (neutered at 10 months) And I love him to death. He's like my little non-human son. For the most part he's a good dog and is just really playful and energetic, but there are a couple of things I need more assistance with (and other things I'm just curious about):


Before I get to that, here's a pic of him on Xmas last year at about 10 months with SANTA! It was really hard keeping him still =(
rocky and santa.jpg

1.) Play biting in combination with jumping on you.

This has been a long-going issue. And like I've mentioned in previous posts I've made here, Rocky was originally my older brother's dog whom pretty much knows nothing about raising a puppy and doing what is needed for them at a that stage in life. So when my brother would play with Rocky as a puppy, he would LET him bite him on the arms and hands and such when he would rough-house with him. He also used to "smack him" alot and my siblings picked up on that and did it too (which I've stopped them from doing a few months ago) So I'm sure NONE of that helps solve the issue and since I'm pretty much Rocky's owner now (I walk him, feed him, pay vet bills, take him to training classes, reinforce it, play with him, etc) I've been trying to do get ride of this behavior MY way but it's not really working...

He actually rarely EVER bites/jumps on me. (I guess maybe he has more respect for me since I interact with him the most?) There's something about my siblings (little brother and sister) that sets him off though. More so my sister since she plays with him the most out of the two. (She's 15 my little bro is 13) Then when anyone tries and stops him, whether it be physically or verbally by saying NO! or STOP! his behavior just escalates and becomes more intense. I've tried telling them to yell OUCH! really loud when he bites and turning their back to him. I've tried telling them to ignore the behavior til he calms down but its really hard when a almost 70lbs pit jumps on you and puts his chompers on your skin, especially for me since I bruise and bleed easily. Plus, it's just annoying as hell.

And when he gets to that point where he doesn't listen to verbal corrections or just keeps getting crazier and crazier, I seriously have no choice but to do the thing that most people here don't agree with: the alpha roll. That is, if I can get a hold of him first. He usually bites and then darts away then comes back like its a game. But yeah, when I do, I roll him over on his side and make him stay like that til he calms down. Then I let him up and give him one of his bones and then he's alright for like 30 mins or an hour then he does it again. Other times, if my patience is running thin and don't feel like wrestling with him, I literally just pick him up and put him in the crate for 10 minutes or so then let him out again. (I'm pretty strong for a girl despite how petite I am, but I do not want to rely on physically stopping him all the time because I know eventually I'm gonna end up hurting myself lifting him and forcing him to roll over all the time...) I've also tried stopping him even before he gets to that "crazy" stage (like putting him in the "sit" position right before he's about to nip or jump). He exhibits behaviors like panting really hard/fast, tail is up and alert, he starts pacing around you...) It works sometimes, but alot of the time RIGHT after the correction he'll still do it and it'll quickly escalate (probably because either my siblings get frustrated or I get frustrated and he senses that...) But its just like...OMG, YOUR TEETH EFFIN' HURT. STOPPIT! So its REALLY hard trying not to get irritated at him when his teeth are so big and sharp like a sharkie =(

Also, he does then even when he gets plenty of exercise. I walk him an hour twice a day. He gets a play session or two in between. He gets to go to the dog park maybe 2-3 times a week and we stay there for about 2-3 hours either in the park or walking on the trail. (Of course, its a little worse when I don't have the chance to exercise him cause I'm in college and go to classes 3 times a week) He has bones and toys he can play with also.

One thing that pisses me off more than anything is that he still listens to my older brother more even though he rarely ever interacts with Rocky. Rocky will stop jumping/nipping people the moment he says "No" and I don't get it. I don't spoil Rocky. I always try and make him work for his food and treats. I take him to training classes, exercise and play with him, try to socialize him at dog parks, EVERYTHING. And yet he still listens to my brother at the drop of a dime. Its like he respect male figures more than female ones (Is that possible by the way? Or does he listen to my brother more since he was the main one he was with when he was a puppy?) He's the same way with my dad too, though my dad never interacts/acknowledges Rocky either, but when he does try to act out with my dad, my dad says one word and Rocky immediately backs off.

He also mouths people's hands sometimes when he's REALLY excited. He doesn't bite down, he just opens his mouth and places it on their hands. So far a lot of people don't mind cause he'll roll over and let them rub his belly but still, its a really annoying "puppy" behavior and I feel like he should be past that now =(


2.) His attention on any vehicle when we are walking.

Rocky is doing great with loose leash walking and walking beside me, not in front. Though, there are a few times where he still pulls and I just stop when he does and wait for him to sit. So he could still use a LITTLE tweaking with that. But one thing that is annoying is that he pays way too much attention on cars and trucks. He has to turn his head and watch almost every vehicle that drives by us, sometimes causing him to completely stop in his tracks (ESPECIALLY if its a loud motorcycle or big truck which may cause him to freak out and go berserk on the leash ALMOST toppling me over) What I do when he does this is I pull him to be beside me and tell him to sit and I wait until he seems like he's calmed down. Then I wait til he gives me eye contact (NOT on the vehicles) then we continue walking. But this seems like a temporary solution, especially since he still does the same thing every time we walk.

And of course, this extends to him sometimes pulling on the leash when he sees a cat, or wants to sniff and lick people that walk by us or if he hears strange noises (like a lawn mower or whatever) he slows down and has to look at it or in the general direction.

3.) OVERLY excited with new guests and meeting dogs.

I just saw the sticky for things relating to this so I guess I'll just refer to that...

4.) His "dog play style"

I think I've gotten pretty good at distinguishing whether a dog is playing or fighting. Before it used to scare the crap out of me, especially when I didn't know Rocky very well. But as I've been taking him to the dog park over the past months, and also letting him play with my boyfriend's new dog, I've noticed that at first, he would mostly just do the "chase me" game and not really make a lot of noise. But now, he does alot of deep and high pitched barking, alot of "viscous" sounds (not growling) what I call "fluid spins", chest butting, very bouncy and kinda hops on his hind legs, sometimes tries to jump on other dogs during play. It doesn't really bother me but with some owners I can tell they're either not used to it or get worried because they think Rocky is gonna fight their dog or something, so then it makes me uncomfortable. A few times (WHAT IT SEEMED LIKE ATLEAST) he's actually tried nipping a dog on its backside (it was a really laid back Golden Retriever and they were running around) but the Retriever didn't SEEM like it bothered him, but for the owner, she looked like she wasn't liking it at all so I made Rocky stop.

So I guess what I'm asking is: What is some descriptions of what HEALTHY dog play looks like or is this just typical of "bully-breed" play style?


5.) His lack of eating.

So far, I've asked my vet this, I've asked a family friend that is a veterinary technician this, and now I'm gonna ask you guy's this: My dog sometimes only eats about AT THE MOST a cup and a half a day. Though there are plenty of times where he only eats a cup or doesn't eat at all. I feed him Purina Puppy Chow Healthy Life Nutrition (He's been on that since he was a puppy) And it worries me when he doesn't eat alot, but he's not loosing or gaining weight. And I'm pretty strict on the treats and such, and I've gotten my mom to not give him table scraps a few weeks ago.

My vet and friend told me that his metabolism is just really crazy right now and sometimes he'll eat and sometimes he won't. Either that, or he's already "regulated" himself. I guess if it's not doing him any harm physiologically then it must be okay...but I just wanted to get feedback about this too from some of you guys.

That's pretty much the main things I'm struggling with Rocky...I'm trying so hard to make him the "perfect dog" especially since bully-breeds are having a bad wrap now n' days, which is something I don't think my older brother even remotely understood when he asked my mom for a puppy and she got him from a breeder that was selling puppies on the side of the street. I get so fustrated cause it's like "HEY DOG, you can't afford to act out like this because you're always under a microscope and unfortunately everything you do wrong is seen as OMG AGGRESSIVE PUT IT TO SLEEP" but obviously I can't get him to understand it like that...

A few days ago I was getting gas with Rocky in my backseat and a lady walked by my car and saw him and froze up. She was like, "OMG, is he going to bite me?"

I tried REALLY hard to keep all the smart-ass comments to myself, so I just said "No, he wouldn't intentionally hurt anybody" and after that she just side stepped around my car like it was on fire and slipped in her car and drove away fast. It kinda offended me but I just guessed she had a really bad experience with dogs...or just doesn't like big, mean looking dogs.

Which is why I want him to be well trained and well behaved. He already LOOKS intimidating and I don't want people to see his excitedness and craziness as another reason why pitbulls are a bad breed.

I'm also determined to fix all these issues because all the dogs we've had in my family in the past were NEVER long-term. We either couldn't keep them due to financial reasons, behavioral issues, or just because my dad didn't want a dog in "his" house. And since I was younger then, I had no say so in the matter. Which was hard to deal with because I love animals. So with Rocky, especially since I'm an adult now, I'm determined to make him a long-term part of my life. Eventually when I move out, which hopefully will be sometime this year, I'm taking him with me. I told my mom this and she keeps telling me "Make sure you talk to your brother about it since its still "his" dog" And we get in arguments about that all the time because she doesn't seem to get that he does nothing with Rocky. Absolutely nothing. Heck, he's barely ever home. I'm not letting him take Rocky and reverse all the time and money I put into training him. Hell to the no.

So yeah...any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated from anybody on these issues. Thanks in advance <3
 

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Ok, a couple things:

1. You absolutely do have another choice besides the alpha roll. Don't let him get to that point that he's out of control to begin with. Learn his body language. Watch him closely. Take notes if you have to. What does he do seconds before getting out of control. Does his tail change positions? Not just the end of his tail, but the base, where it connects to his body. Do his eyes get squintier than normal? Do they get "hard" (as in kind of a dull look)? Does his mouth change? Does it look like he's smiling? Does he lick his lips? All these really subtle things can tell you when he's changing into that out of control area. So, if you remove him from the situation when you first notice these things you are preventing that crazy behavior.
If you keep him on a short leash inside, you can grab the leash to restrain or remove him, and you don't have to make a grab for him and roll him.

Rolling him is a form of bullying (from a dog's perspective). Dogs roll on their back on their own to show submissiveness in certain situations. But, to be forced on their back is asking for problems. The dog may feel like he has to defend himself against you, and you certainly don't want that. Also, if you're trying to build a bond with him, rolling isn't the way to do it.

2. He probably stops when your brother tells him to because he is afraid of him (since he used to smack him). This could be why he listens to your dad, too, because he thinks men are scary and dangerous.

3. The only way a puppy gets over "really annoying puppy behaviors" like nipping is if you train them not to. You have already said your brother didn't do much training with him when the dog was younger, and that you haven't been able to get the rest of your family to agree to the ouch thing. So, even though he's one, he hasn't really had any CONSISTENT bite inhibition training. He's getting mixed signals when you try one method and no one else in the family does.

4. For walking/vehicles: have you taught him a "look" command? When you hear a car or motorcycle, or see a person or other dog, you can give him the "look" command BEFORE he gets out of control and crazy. That means you have to be paying attention on your surroundings, so that you see things BEFORE he does. It's easier to get him to focus on you before he sees these things, rather than after he starts going crazy over them. Give the "look" command, and hold a treat between your fingers (so he can see, smell, and even lick/nibble at it). But, don't give him the treat until the trigger (car, motorcycle, person, whatever) is gone.

5. Dog play is different for each dog. Some dogs play rougher than others. If another dog's owner seems bothered by it, then it's time for you to put an end to it, out of respect for that owner, and their fears, EVEN if you know that's just how your dog plays.

6. Eating: Purina isn't the best quality food. Regardless of how much he's eating, it might be a good idea to think about switching to a more nutritious food. Do you feed him on a schedule?

7. You will never make him into a "perfect" dog, mainly because there really is no such thing as a "perfect" dog. That is just putting really too many unfair expectations on him. He is the way he is. NOW, that's NOT saying that you can't train him to have good manners, and be a polite dog, and be a "good dog", but it seems like you're a bit anxious about him being perfect. The sooner you give up the idea of making him "perfect" the better.

There are unfair assumptions and misconceptions about certain breeds. That is true. And, it's unfortunate. But, really, it's not your responsibility to make some woman at the gas station like your dog, or not be afraid of your dog. People have hangups. Train your dog, yes, but, don't take on responsibility for other people's stupidity.
 

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Pits are tough and playful. He looks to be about 50 lbs and healthy, let him eat how he wants, if he is healthy. Pits may not be strongly food driven, like Labs. But, he does need to chew, so he needs a Kong (or two) and a hard rubber bone.

I agree with Doxie to be careful about other owners... most dogs will play together OK. But, try to find another dog with similar energy that will play with your dog on his level... It will make him sweeter and calmer.

To stop nipping, as Doxie said, you need to teach Bite Inhibition. This may take a few weeks to a few months for a puppy, but for your dog, it will take 6 mos of patience... Read the Sticky: The Bite Stops Here in the new dog section.

Some Tweaks to Bite Inhibition (to get him to stop biting when he wants to play):
1. When the pup bites, then yelp. It should sound about like what the pup does when you step on its paw... don't step on his paw for a sample :). When you yelp, the pup should startle briefly and stop nipping. Praise and pet. He'll bite.
2. When he bites the second time, Yelp. When he stops, praise and pet. He'll nip again, although it may be a little gentler. ...
3. When he bites a third time, Yelp (see a pattern?). But this time, turn your back for 15 - 30 secs. If he comes around and play bows or barks, then that is an apology. This is important. Accept it, praise and pet... and cringe in expectation of the next nip...
4. When he bites the 4th time, Yelp, then leave the area, placing him in a 2 min. time-out. It is better if you can leave, rather than moving him. Then, return and interact. (He's still hungry...)
5. When he nips the fifth time, yelp, and leave the area, stopping interaction for now.

Pups need to sleep over night in order to learn their lessons. So, keep doing this for 3 days. By the third day, you should notice signficant Bite Inhibition. He may still nip, but it will be softer and he won't draw blood. Keep up the training and make sure that everyone yelps.... Very powerful method. And, keep it up until you get across to him that he is too rough for you, etc.

If you learn the technique, then you can apply the "yelp" to other circumstances, also. I believe that "yelp" is "Please don't do that, I don't like it." in dog communication. I currently use the yelp when my dog plays tug, then runs with the toy, when he fetches and keeps it out of reach or when he takes a treat too quickly....
 

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No dog is ever perfect. Just like people, dogs have quirks and flaws. By aiming for perfection, you are creating stress and putting unfair pressure on the dog. Let Rocky be Rocky.

Alpha rolling escalates bad behavior. It's scary to dogs. If you're wondering why rocky isn't quite bonding with you, that's it. Stop it. It's obviously not working, or you wouldn't still be having problems with bite inhibition. Try the ouch method long enough for it to work. That could be months.
 
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