Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner
1 - 3 of 8 Posts

· Registered
707 Posts
I would first like to know if this dog has seen a vet recently and if you have gotten blood tests done. A change in behavior, especially one that seems this drastic, can be caused by imbalances in hormones. So I would suggest first getting blood work done and having the dog specifically get the thyroid checked. Barring any issues there I would like to ask a couple questions/say some things.

1. How do you train Rowen?

2. Do you leave Freya and Rowen home alone together when no one is there to watch them?

3. Did this behavior happen before you got Freya and you were in this new house? Could there be something in the environment around your house that could be getting her worked up? (Sometimes neighbors might have those silent bark things that sends out unpleasant sounds to get dogs to stop barking. Could something like that be happening?)

4. Pits are terriers and terriers have a very feisty personality. Pits are also prone to dog aggression (DA). I'm not saying she is DA though. It sounds like she is scared or anxious to me. Putting on a big aggressive display gets other dogs to back away from her. The whole idea of "look tough, act tough" and no one will bother you. As to why she is doing this, who knows.

5. I would stop taking her to the dog park. Dog parks are really not that great for a lot of reasons. They can be great when the dogs are trained to some extent and the owners are willing and able to remove their dogs and watch them. A lot of people just throw there dogs in there then just don't pay any attention which can lead to dogs picking fights, being a bully, etc. They are great when the owners are on the same page and are all committed to watching their dogs and moderate the play, but when they are not it can be disastrous. IF something were to happen and someone or some dog gets hurt, that dog is most likely going to be labeled dangerous and either gets put down or has to live the rest of its life with a muzzle per law.

There is counter conditioning techniques to use that focus on changing her emotional state when you have dogs approaching. These videos might help to explain more clearly too.

Behavioral Adjustment Training (BAT): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMc-zyNfRO0

'Look At That' Game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdraNF2hcgA (Teaches the dog to see a trigger (in this case other dogs) and not react. Rather it becomes a game to look at another dog then look at handler for food reward. Now you have a dog who is willingly looking at other dogs and choosing to look back at you versus aggress).

Do you have any one on one time with Rowen without Freya?

Does Rowen appear more comfortable without Freya around? Does Rowen have an area that is "hers" where Freya isn't allowed?

Edit: I wouldn't allow her completely off leash unless she has a real solid recall either. I would also limit her interaction with smaller dogs for awhile. I'm not saying she will hurt them BUT if she did aggress towards a small dog, a small dog is more likely to be hurt due to their size. I don't trust my dog around small dogs at all. She is fine with them mostly but she plays rough and even rough play can hurt/scare/even kill a smaller dog so I just prevent it.

· Registered
707 Posts
1. We use a prong collar for corrections during our walks. When we take her off leash (which we haven't been doing recently) we use a shock collar for corrections. We make her do a few tricks for her breakfast and dinner. I'll give her verbal praise when she obeys a command on walks. She's never really needed that much training though. She's never really done much of anything that we didn't want her to do. We taught her to come when called when she is outside off leash by using the shock collar. When she exhibits the aggressive behavior towards other dogs I'll correct her with the prong collar and the utterance of "Hey!"
These are the things I notice. Keep in mind though, I am a random person off the internet who hasn't seen your dog so what I say is just based on what I know about the situation from what you have described.

Correcting aggression is bad. Aggression in dogs is very ritualized and integral to their communication, meaning that rarely do all out life threatening fights happen, as you noticed. Mostly it is posturing, some noise, a flash of teeth, then it’s practical over before it begins. Aggression is a dog’s way of saying “go away, knock it off” or warn another dog of something. It is very normal and natural. HOWEVER, if Rowen for whatever reason feels threatened, scared,, or unsure and growls at a dog and then you correct her, she is going to become MORE nervous, more unsure, and will put on a more vicious display (that is what this sounds like) in order to get the other dogs away from her so she doesn’t get corrected. Sometimes dogs will pair the correction to the advancement of another dog too. So when she sees another dog she is thinking “I have to get this dog away or else I will get corrected so BARK BARK BARK”. Correcting aggression can also escalate it. If she growls and gets corrected for it she learns “I can’t growl” so instead of growling she will escalate to biting. Now you have a dog that will not growl or warn before it bites. Yikes. Not good. Also, when you use corrections like that you are essentially setting yourself up to have to use MORE force to get the correction to work. What would you do if Rowen growled? Leash pop? What if she went to bite another dog? Stronger leash pop? Now she is confused, being corrected for things she doesn’t understand, and is learning that all dogs out there are a danger to her because she could get corrected. I feel like you have in some ways set Rowen up to behave like this. That is what it sounds like, at least.

Where do you train?

Her behavior inside makes it sound like a dog that is very nervous, very edgy. I think it may have to do with the shock collar/correction training. Do you train inside a lot or give a lot of corrections inside the house? It sounds like she is afraid and knowing you use corrections, that could be a reason why. A dog who doesn’t understand what is expected of them can get into that constant vigilance stage where they are unsure about everything. “If I walk in this room will I get a correction? There is a plate on the floor, will I get a correction?”. Corrections, used improperly, can make a dog afraid of its environment because the environment may bring on corrections and the dog doesn’t know how to prevent it.

She may just be getting selective in her age too. Some dogs don’t prefer the boundless energy of puppies or more exuberant dogs. Some dogs just enjoy the companionship of exploring together and not jumping all over one another. Have you tried getting together with someone who has a male dog about her size and seeing if she does well? These kinds of things are fun because the dog can get some socialization; you know the dog, know the owner, know if they get along, etc. To me she doesn’t sound aggressive. To me this sounds like frustration and confusion and then aggression that is based out of that confusion and frustration.

Edit: This link kind of explains the whole growling thing much more thoroughly: The Gift of Growl

· Registered
707 Posts
Rowen would start whimpering and wagging her tail like she wanted to play but then as soon as she got a chance to meet the other dog she would start snarling. That's why I'm not even sure there even is any underlying reason. It's like she just smells a smell and goes nuts like she doesn't even know what's going on
Are you sure she is excited to meet the dog? A wagging tail doesn't always mean friendly. This site kind of explains some of it: A Wagging Tail Doesn't Always Mean Friendly.

I'm not trying to question your judgement or anything since you are the one observing her, but being able to read dog body language is really important in trying to determine if she is giving friendly signals or if she is unsure/nervous. These links are kind of nice to get an overall idea of what she is showing you. I would suggest getting a Canine Behavior book (that has lots of photos) so you can learn 'what is what' in the dog world. It's just something nice to know and learn about and it will be of use to you probably the rest of your life between knowing what your dogs are trying to tell you and what other dogs may be trying to tell you.

Dog Body Language
Dog Body Language - PDF
Dog Body Language - ASPCA site

The being unsure indoors could have stemmed from her life as a stray too. If she didn't spend her early months in a house it could be very strange and bizarre to her. How did you housetrain her? Did you use corrections with her then? Her insecurity indoors could be from any number of things really. To work on that I would make indoors really fun. Play lots of fun games with her like hiding treats and encouraging her to find them. Do some positive training with her and basically teach her that inside the house is where the fun things are (fun toys she can only have inside, fun treats/games she only does inside, etc). She may never truly love being inside but you can make it more comfortable by showing her that it is a fun place to be. (This should be done without Freya around though to limit any guarding or bullying. Just spend 15 minutes of one-on-one time with Rowen and do some fun stuff with her.)

I agree with Shell about the dog parks, off leash, and no meeting dogs on walks.

I think play groups with other dogs are great but maybe not to the extent of the dog park. She may do great in the dog park but here is the issue, I think (which I think you already may agree with to some extent). Any dog/owner can walk into a dog park. One day a dog may be there that is having a bad day and for whatever reason Rowen and this dog go at it. IF there ever came a time when Rowen hurt or killed another dog, she will most likely be put down and/or labeled as aggressive. Pit Bulls (even mixes) have a huge stigma surrounding them and putting her in a situation where she has the opportunity to fight is kind of asking for it.

For off leash I think you should compromise for a little. Put her on a 30'-40' long line. She has the ability to run around, chase a ball or frisbee, and explore BUT you still have control over her should another dog pop up around the corner or come up to her. That way if a fight does happen you can tell the police or animal control "My dog was on a leash when that off leash dog came up to her". It just adds a little bit of security and peace of mind while you work with her.

Meeting dogs on walks is kind of a recipe for disaster. Here you have two unknown dogs approaching face first (VERY threatening in dog language), pulling on the lead (causing more anxiousness and tension), focusing on one another in a very direct manner (again very rude and scary considering these are carnivores who are bred to focus on something to kill it and eat it), and both dogs are on leash which automatically makes some dogs more prone to anxiety because when they are on leash they have no way to escape.

You mentioned she seems more nervous on lead and that is normal. A lot of dogs don't like meeting other dogs on leash because you have essentially taken away their ability to flee. When the option to flee is taken away the only thing left to do is fight (fight vs. flight - The two options all animals have when faced with something scary or dangerous)

Make some friends who have dogs and let them play together in a safe enclosed area. Tennis courts after hours work well. Or on a long line (just let it drag). She gets the enjoyment of other dogs to play with BUT these other dogs are picked by you so you can match her play style, age, and preferably find a male dog she enjoys playing with. Like Shell said, female-female pairings can cause the absolute worst fights.
1 - 3 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.