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Hi all,

This is my first post so hope it is in the right place. I have a 10 month old english bull terrier bitch that I have had since she was 9 weeks old. We started seeing behavioural issues at about 14 weeks, she was very possessive over objects like sticks and stones or things she had stolen. I wondered if it was my fault for being too eager to remove things from her that she wasn't meant to have. I started a swap and reward scheme which worked well and even though she still has some issues and does growl over possessions it is much easier to get things from her and she does listen to LEAVE most of the time. We attended puppy socialisation and basic training, she is pretty good at most commands and walks well on the lead most of the time. She has always been quite fearful though, doesn't like loud noises or windy days and is quite timid in general although sometimes this is worse than others. Our house is pretty quiet and we don't have kids or lots of visitors - she is generally over the top friendly with visitors but can get intimidated by large men.
When she had her first season she became very grumpy and growled at us alot, she doesn't snap but the growling does sound awful. After her first season things seemed to settle down for a while, but this last week she is very growly and bad tempered again with both me and my husband. She is very guardy of her crate and growls if you go near (which has been a problem on and off from day one). For months Ihave been approaching her crate and giving a treat which was working fine until this last week or so. Now she growls even with the treat. Sometimes she comes and sits net to me looking for love but if I touch her she growls. She then becomes very submissive and 'sorry' with wagging tail, then 10 minutes later growls again. Sometimes she growls then scurries off to her crate as if she knows she has done wrong! We just can't fathom this behaviour out. I don't think its dominance - she generally does as she is told and even though I may be softer than my husband, she definitely does as he says so I don't think she is trying to dominate him. She is generally very affectionate with both of us, but then gets bad tempered for no apparent reason with both of us. If she growls and I say 'HEY' she goes off to her crate.....She has never been aggressive around food or her toys.
Its very upsetting, I think if we were to rescue her now, I'd think she had been abused, but we know she never has been.......Its very strange and this last week has been a nightmare so I'm getting desperate. She hasn't bitten either of us, but I worry that this might escalate. She is from a very reputable breeder. I'm going to ask my vet to check her thyroid and see if there is anything physical causing this, but in the meantime any help and avice anyone can offer will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance
Carol
 

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It sounds like you're doing all you can. Is there a reason she's not spayed? That would be be my first suggestion, have her spayed, if there isn't a reason she's not. It may help with less hormones going through her!

Second, get a good behaviorist to come and observe and give suggestions. It's hard on the web to see what she's doing, what you're doing and how it plays out. I had a border collie who growled a lot, all the time, it was his way of chatting and yes, sounded horrible but he wasn't aggressive about it. It would sound like he was close to attacking but it was just noise (he'd do this with my face in his the whole time - failed his canine good citizen for it too even though the judge knew it wasn't aggression.

Continue with her training too, around when she's been spayed and on her feet again, get her into classes (consult the behaviorist about this to see where to go).

Lana
 

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Thank you very much for the reply Lana. She isn't spayed yet because she had juvenile vaginitis, we are now 7 weeks post season and the vet said ideally we should wait until 12 weeks post season. I did discuss bringing this forward with him and he said 10 weeks should be okay, but they tend to leave it unitl 12 weeks apparently incase they have a phantom pregnancy. I've wondered if she is just being vocal, bullies are known for that, but sometimes she goes as stiff as a board too and shakes and sort of puts her head forward/neck out with her ears back. Its really strange. This week she has been hyperventilating too in between growls. Until the last week/10 days I had reached the stage after months of work, where I could lean in to her cage and give her a cuddle with her bed time treat, she would be anticipating the bed time treat/cuddle when she saw me doing the usual lights off etc., and it was all going really well. I honestly don't know what has changed, I had decided to try to find a behaviourist once we have ruled out potential medical causes, but am very interested to know what people think. I do believe in allowing her her space in the crate, so don't crowd her in there, but also feel I should be able to approach her in there if I need to, hence the bedtime treat/cuddle routine we've been doing. I'm dumbfounded really....we were also thinking of going back to training as she did do quite well - even got her good puppy foundation award - and it definitely helped her confidence, she is great with other dogs and I am continuing the socialisation through walking with other dogs....??? Its very strange......
Thanks again :)
 

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I really suspect a medical issue. It sounds like she could possibly be in pain which makes her grumpy, and its worse when you touch her (which would explain the submission and then growling again).

Is she on any medication?

E-mail your breeder.
 

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Thanks for the replies. I actually found that I'd made a note of the end of season date and it is 10 weeks on Friday, so I've booked her in for spay this Friday and also a hip and knee x-ray as we have noticed recently that she has been favouring her left leg when standing, though she hasn't been disabled in any way. Thankfully we have good insurance so if it turns out to be dysplasia or something similar we'll be covered. I'm also going to ask for thyroid function as she has a bit of a bald patch on her tail although there aren't any anywhere else!

Thanks again
 

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I'm glad you have the vet appointment, I was going to suggest something might be medically wrong, as well. Keep us posted! I hope you get some answers soon!
 
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