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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everybody,

I'm the owner of a 1 and a half yo old pitbull mix. I found him on the streets when he was about 3 months old, very weak and with a broken leg. Once he recovered, for the next year or so he made my life a living hell. Biting, barking, peeing wherever, destroying every piece of electronic in the house, but I was proud of him as he literally peed himself from joy everytime he came into contact with other animals or my family/friends. He is still extremely energetic and clumsy, but we are able to sit together on the couch without him killing me by mistake.

He does this thing where he barks and growls to your face and jumps to bite at your hands and feet. Once you start coming at him he dodges and does silly dog stuff. The bark is deafening loud and although I guess he tries to bite as softly as he can, it still hurts. He won't stop unless I leave the room and lock myself in (he also opens doors). Now as his owner I understand he's being a jerk and wants me to play with him and chase him around the house but everyone else sees it as aggressive behaviour (none of them have dogs though). If I catch him I tie him for 10-15 minutes, otherwise I show my dissapointment with his behaviour and I leave the room. I tried treats to calm him down but he's too smart and will do it on purpose. I tried using a phrase along the lines "you 're punished" when I tie him, but aggravates him even more when I say it beforehand to correct him. How can I go about this? I understand taking him to the dog park every day and more walks should help but I don't have the time to do that every day.

Another concern I have is the cats. He's being extremely clumsy when playing with them as he steps on them and bites off their hair. The cats dont feel threatened anymore so they just stand there moaning while getting eaten. I'm afraid they are gonna tag team attack him when I'm not home (they've done so a couple of times) or he's gonna hurt one by mistake. He's considerate with smaller dogs, giving them space and responding to their body language but the cats he just wont leave alone.

Lastly he likes to grab food from the table when no one is looking or pee at least once a week inside the house to assert his domincance.

Sorry for babbling on a bit, any tip and insight you might have will be very appreciated!
 

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If you do a search on this forum, you should find some info on body language. You want to make sure you know how to interpret your dog's mood. Sometimes people interpret fear as excitement/happiness. I'm not saying you are definitely doing that, but it's always good to check, especially if you haven't researched body language before. (Common example: a wagging tail doesn't mean a happy dog! Many aggressive dogs will be wagging their tails right before they bite.)

It sounds like he has a lot of energy. If that is the case, he must be exercised. If you don't have time to take him on a nice long walk every day, then make time. I understand how hard it is. I myself neglected to walk my dog when I was working 10+ hours a day. It's hard. But you have to make it a priority. There's something you can cut to make time for that. And an underexercised dog is ten times harder to work with. One thing that helped me was recognizing that even if I couldn't take a 45-minute walk, a 15-minute walk would be better than nothing.

For the overexcited playing, making yourself uninteresting is usually the most effective strategy. The second he does something he's not supposed to do, you go away for a bit. Just disappear and ignore him. He wants your attention and he only gets it if he's not being crazy. You might have to start with very low standards like "I will only interact with you if you are only ripping ONE limb from my body!" and then gradually set higher and higher standards. There's a really good sticky on this forum about developing bite inhibition. I think it says "The Bite Stops Here" or something. You also might want to read up on operant conditioning/behavior modification so you understand how to use consequences to shape the dog's behavior.

Research has shown that talking sternly to dogs and punishing them is not as effective as rewarding the behavior you'd like to see. Also, keep in mind that when you chase him to catch him and tie him, you are actually rewarding his behavior because he's getting attention. Dogs are great believers in that old saying about there being "no such thing as bad publicity"!

I'd separate him from the cats for now. There are protocols for that, but you already have a lot on your plate. I'd just manage that until you have time to tackle it.

Regarding peeing, look at the stickies on the forum about potty training. It tells you all the reasons dogs have accidents. Sometimes it's marking, but it's usually not really about asserting dominance. It's just a failure to fully assimilate the training. Check out that sticky and follow those instructions - post any questions you have about the details.

Regarding the countersurfing - that's something that just has to be managed. If the dog gets food for jumping up, then he's literally training himself to jump up. No amount of scolding is going to discourage him because, in his mind, it's Worth It. Just keep him separated from the table when there is food on it. There are some other things you can do, but I think this one is the least of your worries at the moment and should be put on the back burner with the cats.

Er. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Don't cook the cats. ;)
 

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Learning dog language is a great idea.

I'd start with learning what he does before the barking in your face and bouncing on you. Dogs do that, it's a rude invitation to play as you are unfortunately aware. If you are able to predict the rude stuff then you might be able to be prepared to deal with it. Rather than chase, grab and tie him up try being prepared with a game of your own. Make or buy a flirt pole. Make or buy a few types of tug toys. Find things to throw for him to chase, capture and bring back. He just wants to play and needs to learn games that aren't so annoying to you. If it is the evening silly zoomies then you might see a arch in his back, tucked tail and crazy eyes just before he lands on top of you. If you see a play bow then that is terrific, reward that with a game of something. Bucky play bows, I play bow back and then 'chase' him for a few steps. Dogs love being chased. I don't ever actually try to catch him. If I want him I go to the frig and ask if anybody wants a cookie and have a dog underfoot pronto. He's gone out the front door a couple times and looks at me expecting to get chased. Nope, to the frig and he comes in the house to get his cookie.

For deafening barking? With Max who barked in excitement I froze. His bark was my cue to freeze. If he continued I'd back up all the way to putting myself into another room with a closed door. Bucky gets excited and barks when DD comes in the room. She points to his bed and he has to lay there and be quiet for a very short while to get off. If he starts barking after quieting down and being released he goes back, that's the barking place I guess. His barking is like fingernails on a chalkboard, scrambles your brain and is just awful. So for play invitation barking I would try to have predicted the play and have a tug in hand. When he barks drop the toy and turn away. When he stops pick it up and wiggle it. When he barks drop it and so on.

For the cats, sounds like they are actually doing fine with him if they stay while he chews on them but I'd figure out a way to fasten several doors open a couple inches when you are out so the cats can escape to another room or two if he gets too intense when you are out.

For exercise when you don't have an hour for a good walk try the flirt pole. It's basically a giant sturdy version of the cat fishing toy, stick/string/lure toy. You can make one from a length of PVC pipe with rope strung through it and some sort of lure on the end. Max liked an old sock and a plastic bag, bit of fur or squeak toy all can work. The total length needs to be about the radius of the area where you can play. My back lawn is about 18' across so I need one that is about 7-9' long so the short one with a 4' pole is better than my horse lunge whip that has a 7' pole and 7' line. My rule is chase, no tug. I drop the pole when dog catches it and soon dog figures out it isn't as much fun to shake and run around as it was to chase.

I'd take a few minutes a day for basic training as well. Sit, down, stay, come, heel are basic dog/human communication skills and you can be proactive rather than reactive when you are pretty sure he's going to be too silly for a given situation. I added Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol to this for Bucky as he is a hyper nervous mess of a dog. He has soaked it up like a sponge.
 

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Hahah thanks. I will definetely do a thorough read on every sticky on this forum and follow your advice on the above matters. I want to clarify that even though I've said I dont have time, we do take him for a walk 2-3 times a day for at least half an hour each. I also take him to the dog park 1-2 times a week where we stay untill he passes out from exhaustion and becomes a ball of dirt, but I understand he needs and deservers more time outside. What I failed to mention is that I live with my family and we share walking and feeding responsibilities. Although I do more, I doubt he considers me his owner or anyone else for that matter. He's smart and only obeys when there's some reward to be had. There's no limit to his understanding when im holding a treat or his food plate, (he knows every trick there is, which he learned in a matter of minutes with some hand gestures and audio cues), but otherwise I'm like background noise to him. Another serious matter is that he grabs food/bones/trash from the street. At least he lets me open his mouth and take it out, which I do every time in fear of it being poisoned, but when my mother/brother tried it he snapped and attacked them (although I believe they exaggerated on how aggressive he really was). Most people I meet on walks told me when their dog did it once they gave them a good slap and it never happened again. I'd rather not hit him but I doubt that jerk would even notice. I just scold him and drag him back to the house furiously. I reward him when we pass food and he doesn't jump to eat it, but it's mostly me not letting him. I've also tried making water bombs and throwing them when he tried to take something from the ground. Apparentlly thats a thing, but after a couple of walks looking like an idiot and getting nowhere I stopped doing it.
Again sorry for the long post but i feel i don't know where to start picking up the mess I've made with his training. I hope its not too late.
 

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Kathy you seem to have a great relationship with your dogs, one I wish I develop with him one day. Thanks for all the examples on how to deal with his moods, and I'll be sure to read the pdf. As for the toys, he can destroy a 50$ toy in a matter of seconds. Right now I keep him occupied with a long boat rope I've bought which he chewed and cut in pieces. I have the longest piece tied to a pole in the ceiling which he jumps and bites, the medium to play tug and the smallest to throw and fetch. He never plays alone though and always brigns it to me to play. He also never lets go after fetching, if I dont have a treat in my hand. I'll research on building what you described, unfortunatelly I dont have a yard but the balcony is big enough.
 

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You need a good space for a flirt pole as it really gets the dog going fast to get that toy! My little 4' one is fine in my ~19' wide back yard and even with my little dogs I don't think I would be comfortable with a smaller area. I have taken the pole and dog to the park and had dog on a long line attached to a harness. I could handle line and pole as my dogs weren't as powerful as yours. I'd probably tie the line to the fence to play flirt pole at the park with a larger dog.

I don't know about most posters here but my dog toy box looks pretty much like my rag box. All the stuffies are no longer stuffed. I toss them when too small to play tug with. My first dog proudly brought home a truck rope and that 6' thing was a favorite toy for years and years. Nothing wrong with a good strong rope as a toy. You might put his favorites up unless playing with them and just leave kongs and nylabone type toys down. Since he is bent on destruction give him things to deconstruct. Sassy and I used to take apart those ridiculously strong boxes from Costco. On my own no fun to take apart, with a dog, lots of fun. The recycling company loves dog mouth shaped bits of cardboard, right? You can make up quick tug and throw toys from newspaper, just twist and wad to size. You will get a great workout picking up all the debris after playtime too. Or train him to pick up the trash, Sassy loved doing that although she never did figure out how to get stuff in the trash can, I had to hold it under her chin.

He sounds like a good candidate for NILIF, nothing in life is free being a strong young dog that is currently getting to do whatever he feels like doing. Use his words, sit/down/stay/come/heel when he wants something and to enhance play times. He wants to play tug? He has to wait until you tell him to get it and he has to release when you tell him. That's not the end of the game, you tell him to get it again but anticipation really makes the game more fun. If you need food to work with him fine. If you resent using food to work with him then try simply carrying some of his kibble as treats, probably will help keep you from thinking of treats as bribes. I consider them payment for good behavior and always carry some food when out.
 
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