Long but I have no one else to share with
Quick explanation...I have a terrible relationship with everyone in my family over the age of 13 and I didn't make/stay friends with anyone after high school. It's just me, my SO, and our animals, so I usually don't have anyone to share good news with, especially when SO is at work 11:30am-10pm, 5-7 days a week. :(
So I own an APBT (AKA 'Pit Bull')
The misinformation soaring around about them has to be as bad as or worse than the information on Betta fish. It's terrible.
Well, due to her breed, I have to be EXTRA careful with how she's trained and handled, especially in public. Everything was fine until she hit about 6 months old. We were in Petco and someone's Golden Retriever pup and mine (Kaine) got into it. They had met about 5 minutes prior, sniffed, and moved past each other. I made a circle for what I needed and back to the register. The Golden's owner made his circle for what he needed and came back around to the side of us. His Golden & Kaine just lunged at each other and locked. They were about 4 months (Golden) and 6 months (Kaine) so it wasn't hard to quickly separate them. To be honest, it happened so quick with no signs, I wasn't sure who 'started' it and I thought I had a sinking feeling it might have been Kaine. I apologized to the man, and he just said "No, it had to have been her I'm sure. She hasn't been properly socialized." which made me think maybe his Golden pup had done this before or showed signs of aggression. He didn't seem surprised. He apologized and took responsibility, but otherwise it almost seemed as if he'd expected it out of her. After that Kaine was a little leery of first meeting new dogs, but no issues. Then not even a month later we were at the lake and someone's off-leash Great Dane mutt came running up behind Kaine and just stopped short and stood over her all bristled up. His owners came running up and grabbed him to pull him away, and he growled & turned and attacked them! I walked Kaine away (& many yards down the beach, out of site) but after that she started doing this thing where when she spotted other dogs, she'd bristle up, but never anything more than that. Then when she was about 8-9 months old I had to temporarily move in with my grandmother, who has 3 small dogs. Her female does what my grandmother calls 'bluffing' but I don't believe she is. When other dogs come toward her, to my grandmother, or into HER territory, she growls, snarls, barks, and even bites them. The OTHER dogs walk away and go somewhere else, so she'll quit and lay back down until the next time they come near. Well I told my grandmother since Kaine had those two bad experiences she had been kind of iffy and under absolutely NO circumstance was she allowed to come into contact with my grandmother's little Doxie female that 'bluffs' others. What does my grandmother do? She says "Well, they HAVE to meet or they'll never get used to each other!" and lets my dog in the house with hers! Sure enough, her Dachshund ran straight for Kaine growling & snarling, and when she got to her, she starting nipping Kaine's legs. Kaine responded right back, but I grabbed her up before a fight could really break out. After that we kept them separated and my grandmother didn't try to introduce them again, but she also went telling everyone that came over to 'watch my dog' because it had 'mean tendencies.' Anytime we heard dogs outside, she'd say something like "Better go check; I'm sure Kaine started something with the neighbor dogs." With this on top of much, much more, I quickly decided to move back out. While I was packing my stuff, her three dogs were in the house, I was out front loading the car, Kaine was out back. Grandmother lets Kaine in the house! Her excuse? "I was letting her in so she could go through the house and get in your car. I assume you weren't going to pack everything BUT the dog." Anyway, I'm outside packing the car and I hear her Dachshund go bat**** crazy in the house, so I run back in, and I find her dog following Kaine around making horrific sounds while she bites Kaine's ankles. There were boxes and couches everywhere, along with 5 people all standing around, and I knew I wouldn't get to Kaine quickly, so I just started talking to her. "Kaine, leave it. Please ignore her, Baby. Leave it. Come here. Kaine, come. Leave her. Come here." She just completely ignored the little rat biting her ankles and making all that noise and came straight to me (or as straight as she could having to weave around everything) but after that she never was quite right.
I couldn't let her near any other dogs anymore because she would 'test' them. If we passed another dog at the park or in the neighborhood, she'd bristle up and see what they did. If they did nothing, she was fine. If they bristled back or stiffened up, she'd growl. If they did nothing, she'd be fine with them. If they growled back, a fight was on. I started tying a yellow ribbon to her leash and collar as part of the "yellow ribbon project" and just made sure she couldn't ever actually reach any dogs we passed, but I didn't let it stop me from still taking her out in public. I met a guy at the local park who regularly takes his Blue Heeler there. He passed rather close one day and Kaine growled at his Heeler, Willie. Willie just stopped, looked at her, and walked straight up to her. They sniffed & started playing. Me & Willie's owner (whom I was with today and still can't remember the name of) talked for a bit and I explained what'd been going on with Kaine. He said since she & Willie were obviously fine, he'd let them play together when we run into each other at the park, so we often let the two go into the fenced horseshoe pits. I've also been walking her through our local shelter. With her on a leash and them behind a kennel, nothing should happen, and she gets to see that every dog reacts different.
It's actually been therapeutic for her. She's gradually gotten better and I now don't have to worry about whether or not someone's dog is on/off leash..too much anyway. I still worry about someone having an aggressive dog off leash, but I don't have the fear of someone's dog off leash coming up to Kaine, and KAINE being the aggressor. She no longer bristles, stiffens, or growls when she first meets another dog. She's fine with all sizes and genders, when she used to have bad reactions to other females. As well, she used to freak if another animal (of any sort) would bother her face. She couldn't stand other dogs, puppies, or cats licking/playing with her ears, eyes, or nose.
This morning she played with Willie in the horseshoe pits at the park, then we went to Petco (for Bettas) and she met a Pomeranian and a Chihuahua. The Pom had no interest in Kaine, but the Chihuahua..the size of my hand I might add! This is the smallest dog I've ever seen. My cat's kittens were BORN nearly this size. Anyway..the Chi was interested in Kaine and came straight for her. Scared the crap out of my with the size difference and Kaine's past iffy-ness especially with females, but Kaine layed down on the floor of Petco and belly crawled the rest of the way to the Chi and stretched her neck out to sniff. Then the Chi climbed on Kaine's nose and sat, and Kaine just laid there!
Have you seen a Pit belly crawl real slow to a Chihuahua puppy? It's adorable! & I'm so proud of her and the progress we've made. I didn't know if I'd ever be able to trust her around dogs again.