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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We adopted a dog (looks like a black lab mixed with a lot of other things including some pit bull) about 3 months ago. He is never aggressive towards my husband or I and is very nice to most people. He will bark at new people entering the house sometimes (not always) but has never shown true aggression towards a person since we brought him home. We have taken him to the dog park a few times and he has briefly met/sniffed some dogs in the neighborhood or other places in public (parks, outdoor bars, etc.) and never had a problem. Usually he whines like he wants to meet other dogs but won't bark back even if they start barking at him.

Last night we saw a friend in the neighborhood who had his dog with him and wanted to let the dogs meet. He had a large pit bull (male - ours is also male). We let the dogs sniff each other and they were just standing there sniffing when all of a sudden the other dog lunged and attacked my dog. There was growling and barking and the big pit bull was biting at our dogs throat (he didn't actually leave any puncture wounds). My dog fought back and barked/growled as well and actually scratched the other dog's eye up a bit (it was bleeding). I am really scared now that my dog can't be around other dogs. Is it normal for dogs to fight back like that or was my dog also being aggressive?
 

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It sounds like your dog was defending himself.

Imagine you're walking down the street and a person comes up to you and says hello. Out of nowhere, they jump on you, punching and biting and kicking. Would you just stand there passively, or try to protect yourself by fighting back?

That said, you need to make sure to make future visits with dogs positive (only dogs you know to be friendly, lots of treats involved) to make sure you're dog doesn't become fearful/reactive to strange dogs.
 

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You can't blame your dog for fighting back. He simply defended himself. He may not react any differently the next time he meets another dog, or he may be a bit defensive, it really depends on the dog. I'd be careful to have the next meetings with dogs you know and trust, and keep it very low key and a happy thing. I've had that happen before and I know how upsetting it is!
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Sometimes we miss signals, too. If neither you nor the other owner are aware of subtle signals dogs give out, you may not have known if the pit-bull wasn't comfortable. Something set the other dog off, and it may have had nothing to do with your dog, he may just have been the the unlucky recipient of some re-directed aggression.

My dog is quite reactive, and while he can meet dogs if carefully managed, he has lots of anxiety around it and I don't attempt it very often. But as an example, I hadn't had Boone a long time and we were standing with another lady and her dog. Boone was actually familiar with the dog and hadn't had any previous problems. We began to move as a car passed us when Boone lunged at the other dog, just catching his ear - no puncture or anything. The other dog hadn't done anything, but Boone is generally anxious, he was worried about the strange woman, the car was another thing to worry about and then the pressure of having to move seemed to be too much for him and he literally snapped. It was, fortunately, over in a second but perhaps if the other dog were younger/faster/less confident, there would have been a more serious incident.

Even if other owners aren't dog-body-language aware, you can be and you can make your decisions based on what you see in their dog's body language as well as your own dog.

Hopefully, this will be a one-off and your dog won't become fearful of other dogs.
 

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Sounds like your dog is just fine and reacting like a normal healthy dog. I'd give him a little while to recover from being attacked, and then make sure his future encounters are with sweet, friendly, social dogs.

Do not encounter that particular pit bull again, there's no reason for second tries or 'let them get used to each other', that's how dogs wind up at the vet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks!

Thanks for your responses, I feel much better now!

I definitely won't let Smoke near that particular Pit Bull again but will make sure to introduce him to a nice dog in a week or two so that he doesn't get scared of all dogs.

I really appreciate all of your responses!
 
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