Agressive puppy,should I worry?

debbiep_gwDecember 6, 2011

Hi,I haven't posted in a while but do browse through here occasionally.I have rescued a stray mom dog(small mix breed) and her two pups.They have been with me 8 weeks now.The female pup was adopted last night.I still have mom and son.I also have a 8 or 9 week old pit bull bull or mix pit bull puppy that we picked up off the highway friday night.He was kicked or thrown from a car.Spent the week-end in the vet hospital and $500.00 later he is here with me recuperating.He had a concussion/busted nose.No broke bones or internal bleeding.He does have a bad front leg that only time will tell if it heals right.He is underweight,was full of parasites,just a mess.I have no plans of keeping him.Anyway today he was around the other male pup and he kept growling,snarling at him.As far as I could tell the other pup was doing nothing to cause this.Later he tried to mount him.I know this is a dominance issue with that.Should I be concerned at his growling at this age?TIA

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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden


    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 9:09PM
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I would post the question on a Pit Bull Forum for more insight. This pup has been thru a lot and if you're sure of his age, there's no way to know when he was taken from the mother. You also don't know if he was used as bait in some form.
I think the forum below may help in how to train him. Just register to post and read other threads.
You can also do a Google search for 'Pit Bull Forum' and find others.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pit Bulls

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 12:25PM
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this is a known aggressive breed, I would be very concerned. Actually, no way on earth I'd bring that pup into my house but to each their own.

Keep in mind you have invited a dog into your home that you have no idea who it's been treated or its lineage, so please don't be surprised at all if it attacks, hurts, kills another of your pets. IMHO the best thing to do would be to turn it over to a rescue group but you've already invested $$ into the pup. Good luck

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 1:37PM
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Keep in mind people this is a baby,a puppy whom the vet guesses the age is 7 to 9 weeks old.No way is it going to hurt,attack,maim my three dogs that are large.I was referring to the other little pup that is the same age.Neither of these dogs stand but about 6 inches tall.My question is for future reference.I have no plans on keeping it,I just wondered if that was normal for pups of that breed to act like that now.As far as the $$ that doesn't matter(and no I don't have money)I could never put a value on another dogs life no matter what the breed.I held this baby in the palm of my hand and knew I had the choice to let it live or die.I chose to do what I could for it and intend to do the same now.Its just recuperating here at this stop in his life!
I will check out the link Annz,so busy with all these strays that keep getting in my path.Hardly had time to ask the question.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 3:09PM
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I agree with you that there is no cause for alarm at this time since puppies of any breed can exhibit the dominant traits you're seeing. I think the puppy could still be in pain, is feeling ill or just not in the mood to play. In time, you'll know if he's a puppy that is going to try to be alpha.
I would keep his little world stress free for the time being and limit any play periods with other pups until he's totally healed and well.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 5:42PM
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I agree Annz,he is moving better today and all dogs are kept from him.He is a little trooper for sure.I don't think he has ever had anyone show him any attention and he is really loving it.Thanks for your advice.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 6:39PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Debbie ~ I responded to your post with a resounding YES because this is the age to nip this kind of behavior in the bud. I am in no way a "breed basher" and would not dare say that ANY dog or puppy cannot be disciplined. This little guy deserves a fair chance at love and human contact as well as connection with other dogs. He needs a pack and needs to learn his place in that pack. I want to say that he should be with the other dogs with supervision as the other dogs may decide he does not belong to their pack and turn on him! I have seen it happen with many wonderful dogs and it is not uncommon. The puppy is most likely just doing what he knows to survive. I won't give you advice on what to do but I will say to do your best to seek the best advice you can for this little one. It is not a far fetched idea to send an email to Cesar Millan for his take on this. He is amazing and also a pit bull advocate. Here is a link to his site. Good luck and keep your hope up. Pit bull or not, he is a puppy. :)

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 3:44PM
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I would be very concerned about ANY puppy displaying any type of aggressive behavior.

Years ago, I got a small breed puppy from a horrible breeder. It was actually a puppy mill dog. She was really quiet and docile when I brought her home. Didn't even react much to my other dog in the house. Initially, she was sick, full of parasites, kennel cough...
When I took her to the Vet the 2nd or 3rd time, and they walked her thru the back room with a German Shep dog close by, she started barking at him violently. We ALL thought it was funny, because my little puppy was less than 2 lbs trying to go after a large G. Shep.....

Long story short- she was aggressive throughout her life. I dealt with her because she was small. I had to keep her away from children and other dogs. I tried to extinguish the behavior with trainers etc. NOTHING worked. It's as thought she had a "screw loose". She was really sweet, but when a young/faster moving child, or another dog would get close, she would try to bite them.I couldn't understand how a sweet, loving dog would get crazy like that.

She was good with my other dog for the first 6 months. Then she started attacking my other dog. I had to keep them apart. She was ok if the two of them were in the same room, but the other one could not touch her or come real close, or she would pounce on her for the kill (like a rooster!). It was very stressful for 13 years.
I did find out upon her exploratory surgery/death, at 15 yo, that she had been in a lot of pain throughout her life, starting at 6 months of age, due to a VET screw-up, so I'm not sure IF that was the reason she was aggressive. But the fact that she was trying to bite a big dog at 10 weeks, tells me she had the propensity to be mean.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 9:43AM
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First, how wonderful you were able to save the little guy and generous of you too. I can't believe the way people treat animals sometimes. Wow.

It's just a guess but I suspect a lot of what you're experiencing might be due to inbreeding. It's not the puppies fault but at the same time it's most likely not going to go away and could get worse. I've posted a link to Pitt Bull Rescue Central, a non profit with lots of info about the breed. They may be able to give you some real insight as to what may really be taking place with this puppy and how to best manage it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pitt Bull Rescue Central

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 12:33PM
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Thanks all for the links and info you have provided.He is still with us but I have contacted two pit rescues and I am waiting to hear back.He has settled down some.Yesterday was a great day.Today looks pretty good to.He is playing nice.I keep them close to me when they are together and when I hear or think a outbreak is about to happen I raise my voice sternly.Both calm down quickly.Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 11:34AM
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I've only lurked on this pet forum, but wanted to chime in.

I would worry a lot about this puppy. He needs lots of TLC and careful watching/training/medical care. He's likely been through more Hell than you can imagine.

I've done a bit of pit rescue in the SF Bay Area. It's frankly unreal what people will put these loyal, highly intelligent, *gentle* beasts through. Torture doesn't even come close to describing it.

My guess is that he is in a fair amount of pain still. I would not at all assume he is aggressive, though he (like any animal) could well grow up to be aggressive and in his case, he will be judged more harshly than any other breed. "Punish the deed not the breed" is important here. And unfair but very real -- he needs to be trained to be an "Ambassador" for his breed.

One thing you can do until you find someone who knows this breed well is hand feed him. He needs to learn now to have a soft mouth - more than most dogs. A little 'nip' (correction or playful) from a pomeranian or lab many people will forgive. It's a deadly move for a bully dog.

Help him learn NOW to have a soft mouth. If you hand feed him and quickly pull your hand away any time his tooth even touches any part of your skin -- and make a loud "yelp" sound. Don't do any other correction, no negative or punative things other than the absence of the food and the yelp. Then offer your hand with the kibble again. Get him to the point that he will nuzzle your fingers out of his way gently and then let him eat from your hand.

If you can, do this at every single feeding.

Also, his playing with the other dogs is important. I'm sure you know this. But the other dogs (adults as well as the other puppies) should correct him if he gets too rough. If he responds to their corrections with ease, it's unlikely he is inherently aggressive. He needs their feedback to know what kind of biting is too much, and what kind is pure fun for all!

Here is a great resource for info about the Bullies. Really a special dog deserving of a better place in our society.

Good luck! And, you are AWESOME for helping this little one out! Hope he turns out to be a good egg & he weathers well the physical and emotional trauma he's been through.

Here is a link that might be useful: BAD RAP

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 2:11PM
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Update.Thus far he is still with me.The rescues have ignored me so far,the ones in my state.He is doing great and his behavior is much,much better.He will eat out of my hand and always has.I now let them eat out of the same bowl starting today as they always share their food anyway.I thought that might help learn not to be food aggressive.They are supervised while eating.They play well and occasionally there are a few fights but seem minor.I do keep a check on them.They share a dog pen on the warm afternoons and do alot of playing.He interacts with the other dogs and he does get corrected by them.So far its going good but I do need to rehome him as I have 3 of my own and a stray mom dog and puppy that need a home to.Also I've noticed his need for dominating the other pup has almost completely stopped.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2011 at 2:38PM
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Hes hurt and been badly abused!!! What do you expect hes probably had to fight for food..never known kindness. He can be raised in a loving firm home and should be just fine

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 12:21PM
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"he does get corrected by them"

sounds like he's found his place in the pack!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 12:49PM
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Not necessarily Sylvia,sure with the big dogs but the puppy he is with all the time each day is different.There is no where for me to seperate them either.Most days are good though.Still looking for a home for him.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 2:58PM
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I think feeding them from the same bowl is a mistake.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 7:57AM
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Why would that be Elly nj?I sort of thought it might teach him to not be food aggressive.All suggestions are appreciated!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 8:29PM
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Hand feed that pup. Make him work for his food- from you. All good and necessary things come from you the human.

Give him the gift of a having a soft mouth. It will serve him well in his dog life. See my post above detailing how to train for a soft mouth.

Teach him that the sun rises and sets because you tell it to!

Every pet, snuggle, food he should do something to earn. Ian dunbars book How To Teach a new dog Old Tricks is great resource for puppy training.

I don't know enough about the downsides of shared food bowl. Just the upside of him having to be totally tuned in to you for all the good stuff. Play time, food, treats, belly rubs.

I'd have him on a leash in my house, attached to me. Crate trained. Hand fed. Learning good manners (all four on the floor all the time, no pawing at people for attention, sit stay down come). Also would play with feet toes ears and tail a lot. Lots of rewards for all his attempts to do what is asked.

It's likely he's a smart little guy. He should respond really well to basic training and learning good doggie manners.

Hand feed for soft mouth! No love unless all four on the floor or sitting. I'm repeating myself I know. But if you can do these things for him while he is with you, he will stand a very good chance of surviving and being a highly valued and loved little beast!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 9:41PM
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It is not "normal" for a puppy to be defensive, but he is a little guy and only just started receiving kindness when you got him.

I don't have an opinion on whether this pup is really aggressive. There are so many different reasons for a dog to respond with snarling, etc. Resource guarding is very specific behavior and may not be an issue beyond resources. Resource guarding is different from dog aggression and you would need an experienced trainer or behaviorist to determine that and the strategies to deal with it.

He should be neutered as soon as medically possibly. That would be at 6 months, I think.

One key in dog training is to set up the puppy for success BEFORE you need to correct undesirable behavior. Raising your voice is not a correction for an untrained dog, and verbal corrections don't need to be loud, anyway. So instead of just putting them together and verbally correcting him, supervise their interactions and reward him profusely for appropriate behavior.

Just putting them together on one bowl is not really training, and a moment could go south in a second. And he would not apply the experience of "sharing" a bowl of food with "sharing" in general. He might instead learn that he has to compete to get what he wants.

He should learn to eat only on command, and that really needs professional guidance with a trainer if you are not familiar with how to train this.

Training a puppy is very complicated. It is way easier to train proper behavior than untrain bad behavior, so doing this now is a good investment of time.

Do NOT apply Milan-style training ever. Trying to train a dog by copying Milan is like trying to drive a race car after watching NASCAR. Dogs, especially puppies, learn more with positive reinforcement than negative corrections and domination.

Good luck, and thank you so much for seeing how important this little guy's life is.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2011 at 7:46AM
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"He should be neutered as soon as medically possibly. That would be at 6 months, I think."

Some vets, who are skilled at pediatric anesthesia, will neuter a puppy even younger. In some breeds you want there to be enough testosterone to help develop stronger bones & joints (those breeds that typically suffer hip & elbow issues) but it's possible pit bulls are relatively immune to that. Might be worth discussing with your vet. The fewer dominant or aggressive behaviors he develops the more desirable he'll be as a dog and the better his chances will be for a long, happy life. Sadly, his genetics have stacked the deck against him, it's as if he has to be extra-good to be considered safe. Early neutering might be one way to help achieve that.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2011 at 8:24AM
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Thanks for all the input.I can feed him from my hands and do.He is not aggressive at all towards us.He is actually a little standoffish at this point.He does not like to be picked up or held.He prefers to come to you not you to him.He is loving though.I am still trying to find a good home for him.Today the food bowl sharing stops.He was really aggressive with the other male pup this morning so they will be seperated when eating.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 1:52PM
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