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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I recently rescued a five year old Staffordshire Terrier (small pitbull) about three months ago. From the shape of his muzzle, I think he's mixed with something, or perhaps a parent was, but for all intents and purposes he's a pit bull, 55 lbs.

He has kind of a strange history. He's lived with four different families prior to me, and each one had to give him up when they moved. The local shelter here has a no questions asked policy of taking dogs back, and I think people kind of abuse that policy a little.

He's really good with people and dogs, and he's always lived in a house and slept with the owners, so no problems there, but I can barely get him to play. Every once in a while I can get him to wrestle with me, but he loses interest in less than five minutes and throws himself on his back for a belly rub. He has no interest in toys whatsoever, and he won't even chew bones. All he ever wants to do is cuddle. And do tricks for treats of course.

He'll play with other dogs, but he's extremely powerful, so he can't just play with any dog. He had a favorite playmate at the shelter, also a pitbull, but I don't have any other dogs and I think he'd be too much for the dog park.

I was just wondering if this was something in the breed, or if I'm not playing with him right or don't have the right toys. Thank you.
 

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Hello grampajack!

First off: Welcome to the forum!

I don't assume you know much about the families he stayed before, correct? When I got Bri (Amstaff mix), she was 6 months old and was also almost exclusively a cuddle dog. She didn't play tug, she would run after he ball, pick it up, but then let it drop and lay down, etc.
She was only 6 months when I got her and I think a lot of this behavior was due to not being fully comfortable and still needing to adjust.

I think it took her around 1 1/2 to 2 months until she finally started playing tug with me.
But she was only 6 months when I got her. Your boy is already 4 and was "moved" back and forth a lot, so it might just take him longer (maybe a lot longer) to get comfy in your home!

The thing with the dog park is always a huge discussion with "pit bull" dogs. I have to admit, I do take Bri (she is 50lbs by the way) to the dog park, but leave as soon as I have the feeling she gets too riled up or don't even go in when I see certain dogs (and certain owners!) in there. However, she does really, really well (for now, she is still not matured and we won't know if she will ever express any dog aggression), and actually adapts her playing style to the other dogs. She loves it to find someone she can wrestle with, but is also okay to just play some chasing games.

If you want to try the dog park, then go at times where there is less traffic. Study the dogs (and owners!) who are there before (!!!) going in and when going in, stay close to your boy so you can intervene if anything comes up. Also good: Go for a long walk/do some training before going to the dog park. So he is a little less energetic :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello grampajack!

First off: Welcome to the forum!

I don't assume you know much about the families he stayed before, correct? When I got Bri (Amstaff mix), she was 6 months old and was also almost exclusively a cuddle dog. She didn't play tug, she would run after he ball, pick it up, but then let it drop and lay down, etc.
She was only 6 months when I got her and I think a lot of this behavior was due to not being fully comfortable and still needing to adjust.

I think it took her around 1 1/2 to 2 months until she finally started playing tug with me.
But she was only 6 months when I got her. Your boy is already 4 and was "moved" back and forth a lot, so it might just take him longer (maybe a lot longer) to get comfy in your home!

The thing with the dog park is always a huge discussion with "pit bull" dogs. I have to admit, I do take Bri (she is 50lbs by the way) to the dog park, but leave as soon as I have the feeling she gets too riled up or don't even go in when I see certain dogs (and certain owners!) in there. However, she does really, really well (for now, she is still not matured and we won't know if she will ever express any dog aggression), and actually adapts her playing style to the other dogs. She loves it to find someone she can wrestle with, but is also okay to just play some chasing games.

If you want to try the dog park, then go at times where there is less traffic. Study the dogs (and owners!) who are there before (!!!) going in and when going in, stay close to your boy so you can intervene if anything comes up. Also good: Go for a long walk/do some training before going to the dog park. So he is a little less energetic :)
She looks a lot like my previous dog, a lab/pit mix. He was a riot. That dog had personality gushing from every pore, even when he got really old.

No, I don't really know anything about Thor's previous families. Just that they had kids and cats, which he's fine with. The last family he was only with for about two months, and the lady brought him back because her friends bullied her into it (because he's a pitbull). He had already gotten very attached to their son, who he slept with. I'm sure it broke both their hearts when the parents took him back to the shelter. I had to take a German Shepard back once (because it was going to kill my Beagle), and even that was hard.

When he first got here he initiated play after about three days. He would want to play about once a day, but that lessened as time went on. It's three months later, and now he's down to about once every two days. He'll wrestle with me and tear around the backyard a few times then he's done. Fetch and tug of war aren't even in his vocabulary.

At times, he seems pretty indifferent. I think it's probably because he got moved around so much. He was never abused or anything, but I'm sure losing all those homes was traumatic for him. Even though he seems really at ease here, I think he's worried about being sent away. We had to take him back to the shelter to get his heart worm test, and it kind of freaked him out.

Thanks for your help. Just out of curiosity, how did you end up in the states? I went to school in Germany for a while.
 

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Yes, we were told Amstaff mix, but we also suspect lab in her :)

Hm... but maybe he realized after the first few days that you're not going to take him back to the other family (where he was so bonded with the son) that he his somehow "grieving" at the moment?

Maybe you can try a flirt pole? See if that gets him out of his skin a bit, since it's catering the prey drive? Another thing: He is 4, so it might be that he is just mellowing down and transforming to a couch potato? :)

Very brief story: I studied a year abroad in Pennsylvania while I was doing my Bachelor's in Germany. I loved it, so during my Master's I got an internship in an international company, for which I worked next to my studies in Germany already, at their Chicago location (where I met my now husband). I came back to Germany to finish up my Master's, then again to Chicago to this company and then married my now husband. This was nearly 2 years ago and couldn't be happier to be here.
Where in Germany did you go to school?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, we were told Amstaff mix, but we also suspect lab in her :)

Hm... but maybe he realized after the first few days that you're not going to take him back to the other family (where he was so bonded with the son) that he his somehow "grieving" at the moment?

Maybe you can try a flirt pole? See if that gets him out of his skin a bit, since it's catering the prey drive? Another thing: He is 4, so it might be that he is just mellowing down and transforming to a couch potato? :)

Very brief story: I studied a year abroad in Pennsylvania while I was doing my Bachelor's in Germany. I loved it, so during my Master's I got an internship in an international company, for which I worked next to my studies in Germany already, at their Chicago location (where I met my now husband). I came back to Germany to finish up my Master's, then again to Chicago to this company and then married my now husband. This was nearly 2 years ago and couldn't be happier to be here.
Where in Germany did you go to school?
He was at the shelter for over two months before I found him, so hopefully he did all his grieving then. I think he was pretty relieved to come home with us, actually. I just feel so sorry for him never having had a proper home. He's never lived with anyone for over a year. BTW, what is a flirt stick? I think I have an idea, but I just want to make sure before I embarrass myself.

I've lived in Berlin and Buecken (little town north of Hanover). But I've been all over. I've seen more of Germany than I have of the US. I did a student exchange, a program with the state department, and I've gone there on vacation several times.
 

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So, my flirt pole is pretty much a PVS pipe that has a rope through it and a tug toy at the end of the rope, to it looks similar to a whip. Playing with that (tug, but more chase/jump, etc.) powers Bri out pretty quickly.
As said, maybe he is just slowing down, relaxing and not so much into play :)

I think I heard of Buecken. I always took the A7 to get from my parents (Kiel) back to my university city (Bamberg), so I've seen loads of exit signs during my years there :D But yeah, I have to admit I have seen more of the US than I have of Germany :D I guess that's normal though. You hardly ever "tourist" at home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So, my flirt pole is pretty much a PVS pipe that has a rope through it and a tug toy at the end of the rope, to it looks similar to a whip. Playing with that (tug, but more chase/jump, etc.) powers Bri out pretty quickly.
As said, maybe he is just slowing down, relaxing and not so much into play :)

I think I heard of Buecken. I always took the A7 to get from my parents (Kiel) back to my university city (Bamberg), so I've seen loads of exit signs during my years there :D But yeah, I have to admit I have seen more of the US than I have of Germany :D I guess that's normal though. You hardly ever "tourist" at home.
Could be. I hope not though because he's a hoot to play with. Part of me wonders if he's anxious that we're going to send him back to the shelter. I don't know if dogs have that kind of thought process, though. In any case, I hope he can come to trust us and that he totally forgets he was ever abandoned by anyone.

Yep, not too far from the A7, directly south of Hoya. I spent a little time in Kiel once, great city. I want to say I was there for four or five days. I love the Baltic. It was hard to go back to Berlin (east Berlin, ugh) after that.
 

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It could be. Which would be in line with my thinking that he might still be adjusting to everything new and is a little wary as to you keeping him. I'm sure he will! Patience and love is probably all he needs :)

See, I was sure I've seen that on an exit sign before :D
Berlin has its nice corners too, though! But yes, if I have to chose between Berlin or Kiel or even Munich, I would always chose Kiel! Love the air, the water and the ships everywhere. Always enjoy a trip home.
 

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I think a flirt pole is a great idea. Ours is also a PVC pipe with one of those skinny, stuffing-less rabbit toys at the end. That being said, our pit really mellowed out after 3 years of age and at almost 6, she will occasionally play but she'd much rather hike or sniff around on her long-line or chill out with a bully stick or just cuddle. She never did like fetch. Now that we have a puppy (5 months old, also part pit) she loves to play bitey-face and chase with him, and will even tug with him on occasion, but even then she's over it before too long. Puppy loves the flirt pole, though!
 

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I'm an advocate for dog parks and there are alot of pitties running the parks here, and surprisingly more and more small breeds like chihuahua.

Here's the thing, don't use it as a tool to exercise your dog starting out. Too many large breeds are way too excited when they hit the park - brimming with energy then explode when they get out of the vehicle. It's not that the dog is aggressive, they play hard with all the energy they have.

I meet a surprising number of people at the park that are trying to train and socialize their new rescues... Tire the dog out before you bring them to the park and you'll both have a much more pleasant experience. Keep the dog on a leash, let him experience the dogs - but more importantly, relax. Having the dog on a leash allows you to learn to read your dog - and read him you must. Now you can build trust.
 
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