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Discussion Starter #1
Alright, we adopted our Bull Terrier/Pit-Alfred-about a year ago. He is almost. About 4 months later I think, we adopted a second dog. A Beagle/Coonhound-Roxxy. She was right around his age, I think a few months older. Unfortunately she was a nervous dog and this lead to her turning on him. This was about 2 months into the adoption. Search for my earlier posts and you can get a more complete story.

Prior to gaining Roxxy, we had tried to socialize Alfred with our friend's dog. I have no idea the breed, but I remember it was a male older than him, but not OLD. Approximately his size as well. They got along fine.

He was also introduced to Vicky. She is at least 9. German Sheppard mix. They get along great, she is old enough to shew him away when and get him in line when needed without going bonkers.

Fast forward a little and we had tried to introduce Roxxy to our friend's dog and have a play date with all 3. I think our mistake was having our friend's dog waiting in our yard for them (as opposed to more neutral ground). I still contend Alfred was defending Roxxy but it's neither here nor there.

A while later, Roxxy turned.

Since then, he hasn't done well with dogs his size that aren't Vicky. Vicky imprinted early. Our friend's dog...my wife and I each think we tried reacclimating Alfred to him, but it didn't take. We don't remember anything vividly, but we are skittish to try.

We still wanted to get a friend for Alfred and realized how much he loved our neighbor's Chuhuahua, so we got one. Male about 8-9 months. They get along great.

Now for our latest incident...

We were walking both of them in the neighborhood. Alfred still loves to pull when he sees other dogs so we try to avoid him pulling and them barking by going across the street or down another block. That failed yesterday when someone left a house with two puppies (between the sizes of our dogs) unleashed. There was no fight. However, Alfred's reaction was unfortunate. He was very nervous. His yelps as he was being restrained (I know, leash aggression...I pull so he pulls) from two unleashed dogs were that of fear. Very high pitched and nervous.

This was a unique incident because there are rarely even other people walking their dogs much less dogs without a leash. Select houses have dogs that bark from the yard or the house, but we've never encountered this.

What we have decided to do is just expend their energy in the backyard. I hate taking walks from him but we also realize we were lucky this wasn't worse and want to improve his behavior before venturing out again. We purchased a dog whistle and some sort of dog beeper off Amazon. My wife has had luck with the beeper in the past, but it's new to me. Our aim is to train both of our dogs to stop and obey both items.

I'm here to ask for help/ideas on how to best help Alfred. Roxxy attacked him in February and I've even seen him completely ignore a Beagle in another yard. We don't trust him at a dog park quite yet, and while dog therapy is technically an option, we would like to try stuff on our own as well as ask the community first.

Thanks!
 

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How old was each dog when you got them? How old were they when they met?

Although re-socializing a dog is technically possible, nothing is as easy as socializing them in their 'crucial period' of socialization (from between about 2 and 6 months). This is because puppies in this age range are hardwired to learn what parts of their environments are safe, and what parts are dangerous, as well as how to interact with other animals. At this age, puppies learn (about different sights and sounds, not obedience) faster and are not as shy and guarded as an adult dog.

So what does this mean for an older, unsocialized dog? Well, if they have not been thoroughly exposed to it in their puppyhood they will probably be afraid of it and defensive towards it. Where other dogs are concerned, it means that they don't know how to act towards them, and they don't understand the types of body language that dogs display to say "It's okay, I just want to be your friend", "Hey, you're crossing a line with that" and "If you keep that up, you're asking for a fight." The result is a dog that doesn't know what to expect from other dogs because they have no idea how to communicate with them.

So basically right now, consider your dog's past experience, they probably think that "Dogs are okay to interact with, except for that 50% of the time when they flip out and attack me and I have no idea why, and these creatures are unpredictable and dangerous." When dogs ignore each other, it is basically their way of saying "I won't bother you, just please leave me alone and pretend that I'm not here." That's not a positive thing.

Since you have two dogs, I'd really recommend that you consult a CPDT. Dog aggression can get really bad and your attempts at socializing them at this point have given your dogs more reasons to fear other dogs than to relax about them. You really need the advice of someone who knows how to pick out and supervise safe, fun interactions for your dogs. You can't afford to give them any more bad/scary experiences with dogs or that fear will go all the way to aggression.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Since about 1-2 months into having him, we have let him go from the house to the backyard (no door to the backyard specifically) without a leash. He knows the path, it's 5 steps. He sits at both doors. My wife texted me from home that when she let him out late this morning, there was a man walking his dog across the street that Alfred went for. Our trust has been betrayed after almost a year and we will now be leashing him to and from the house.

Should we worry about the Chuhuahua getting hurt?

I just don't understand this aggression. He has never acted like this. It seems so sudden.

Checking listings for CPDTs now...will this make him more tolerant of other dogs or teach him to ignore them, or just make him obey us at all costs?
 

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Pits and pit mixes, like several other breeds, are known for dog aggression. Even those who aren't can be very prey driven and very dog-selective: they'll only like the dogs they like and not any others. He is not 'turning', he is growing up and into the dog that many, many of his type are (and many dogs of other breeds!!).

Do not take him to the dog park. Dog parks are disasters waiting to happen. No matter how much control you have over your dog, you have no control over someone else's. Until you find a good trainer to help lower his reactivity threshold, don't have him off-leash if he can get out of the yard/location/etc, even for a few seconds right outside your door.

He pulls from a lack of training; get yourself a front-clip no-pull harness, that should help a little. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/teaching-your-dog-not-pull-leash this might help too!

Was he pulling towards or away from those unleashed dogs?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
We are absolutely leashing him into the backyard-possibly for good. I mean, plain and simple we are lucky that it wasn't worse. I just reached out to a few area CPDTs and my wife emailed the humane society's behavioral dept. Hopefully we can stop this before it gets any worse. I want my dog to be trained well enough to not leave my or my wife's side ever. I thought we were on our way with walks on a short leash to help him know where to be.

We have never trusted him enough for a dog park. Was hoping that could come in a few years once age helps him settle.

I think he pulled initially because he was curious. He always pulls when he sees dogs or even if we go by yards that have had dogs in them. Our walk, is becoming the path of least resistance. When the unleashed dogs came up to him...you know how dogs can be on an initial meeting. Lots of intense sniffing and keeping hold of the leash. It was a blend of that and me pulling him back-which lead to the completely unhelpful leash aggression I think.

We have a harness. We were looking at front leads and found a normal harness at wal mart that we thought to try out first. Why do I think that will be something instituted by the trainer now...?
 

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Not just a harness. A normal harness allows them to put all their weight in the front and pull EVEN HARDER, so those don't do even a little bit to make them stop pulling, and can cause more problems than it helps. Check out petco, or petsmart, or lots of online places for the front clip. And remember you get what you pay for! Don't go for cheap just because it's cheap, pitties are very physically powerful and can rip a cheap harness.

If the trainer uses negative reinforcement - shock collars, prong collars, alpha rolls, etc, FIND A DIFFERENT TRAINER. They could make your dog much worse!!

I really can't reccomend dog parks. I don't reccomend them to ANYONE, for the previously mentioned reason. You can have the most angelic dog, and then some jerk comes in with his ill-behaved mutts that decide for whatever reason to attack yours, and since off leash park, whoops! Good luck getting the owner to pull their dogs off in a reasonable timeframe!

If he was pulling towards them, and making that high pitched noise, that's an excitement noise, not a fear noise. Dogs don't scream in fear AND try to get toward teh thing they're afraid of, they try to get away. Our own pit makes that noise all the time! And half the time he's doing it while I'm working on his training, which means he doesn't always hear my commands, it's ... fun.

A tight leash while doing meet and greet on a leash can escalate the situation, as you know. You're pulling your own dog into a tight, 'challenging' body position, and all YOUR anxiousness about whether or not this might go bad is transmitted right down that wire-taut leash into the already high-emotional state dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You know, he DOES make similar noises when I'm putting the leash on him. I guess I never made the connection or thought it was the same signal for two things (food and bathroom are the same signal). I still feel like it is poor behavior because we've seen it turn other dogs off before. (We even tried to warn the puppy owner that he's okay with other dogs, he just gets excited...it looks bad and seems really intrusive to the other dog).

After the puppies, we have decided to tire him out in the backyard instead of walks for the time being. We have also invested in a dog whistle and some sort of beeper. The front clip is probably in the future as well. In addition to training classes.

Even if this all isn't aggression per say (how does the other dog see it?), it is excitement and a vast amount of it that we'd still like to trim down a bit.
 

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Even if he means no harm and just wants to play (sometimes we think it is and it isn't, sometimes we think it isn't and it is ... dog body language is fun.), pitbulls tend to play REALLY HARD ... which can be off-putting to a lot of dogs that don't play just as hard. I've heard of a lot of husky types having the same problem. It's kind of like if you enjoy playing a game of horseshoes and the new guy prefers tackle football and introduces you to it by bodyslamming you after tossing you the ball.

To know if it's aggression or play, you really have to be tuned into your dog's body language, and aware of how a tight leash changes that language. Upright, stiff posture to a dog is generally a challenge, not a sign of friendliness. A happy dog is a squirmy, wiggly dog with loose body language, and that tight leash can make even the wiggliest dog seem tense and stiff. Tense and stiff to a dog, means they're looking for, or expecting trouble.

A good trainer will be able to spot the differences and show you what they are, right on your own pup! And then you'll know exactly what to look for. Have you considered a flirtpole to exercise and wipe out your boy? They're basically giant dangly-feather cat toys for dogs, some dogs go absolutely bonkers over them and they're super easy and cheap to make. ours is a yellow dishcloth tied to a sea fishing pole.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
We actually have a homemade flirt pole. Between that and letting him and the Chuhuahua chase each other, he gets pretty happy with just backyard stuff. It's just hard to match the energy that gets exhausted from a walk (he has never come in the house from the backyard and collapsed for 5 minutes to concentrate on breathing).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
In near 80 degree heat and some pulling to start off, he's done after a mile. He will go longer, and then he is magically much more behaved by the end!

The flirt pole I made may not be as long as others, either. I think that might be limiting in how much I can make him run (plus, he is getting wise to me...if I run with the flirt stick behind me, he will run in front of me to cut it off instead of chasing).
 
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