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Old 11-06-2013, 05:37 PM   #1 
summnd
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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.
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Old 11-06-2013, 08:40 PM   #2 
twolovers101
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It sounds like you've done exactly the right thing with training and socializing her :) My sister in-law has 2 pitts, one is purebred, and she had to work really hard to properly train the pure pitt. There are definitely certain things that she absolutely does not allow with her dogs just because they do have that tendency to be a little on the aggressive side.

The pure pitt is now 4 years old I think? maybe 6 and is the sweetest dog you'll ever meet, she thinks she's a lap dog lol. People have outright told her that "That dog is NOT a Pitt Bull, I've seen pitt bulls and that is NOT one" and she responds with "Yes, she is, pure bred, my cousin is a breeder" LOL

So I have a soft spot for the predicament of pitts, especially the well trained ones ^^ keep it up
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:21 PM   #3 
summnd
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Thanks..I do have to work really hard with her. It was a lot of work as a puppy and I have to keep it up with almost daily training and 'reminder' sessions. I get very upset when my work is nearly ruined because of other people. :( And I get told the same all the time, "Oh, she's not a Pit!" I just kind of grin and go on about my way.
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Old 11-12-2013, 12:45 PM   #4 
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summnd ~ I just read your post and had to respond.

I used to do obedience training and showing and I wanted to tell you that I think you've handled your situation Perfectly.! And kudos to you for working hard and not giving up on your doggie like so many people do !

I think that your girl is a marvelous dog! Her behaviour was perfectly normal, and is the way most any dog would have started to react after being attacked several times by other canines! ~and has nothing at all to do with being a pit or pit mix~... In fact I think considering the circumstances she actually showed great restraint in trying to avoid a fight until she felt immediately threatened.

Great job and good luck to you both in the future!!

(Oh and can I apologize for Chi owners everywhere?? We have a chi mix adopted as a senior and she is a monster ~ ready to take on grizzly bears should one be brave enough to cross her path ~~ /: )
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Old 11-12-2013, 02:52 PM   #5 
summnd
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Thank you, I really appreciate that! I couldn't let her be another BAD example of the breed, so I couldn't give up on her..& I'm not fond of Chihuahuas but sometimes they crack me up..definitely have a personality ten times their size!
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Old 11-12-2013, 03:15 PM   #6 
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It's so hard when you own a breed that has a 'bad' reputation. Every single time you take your dog out in public it is basically a representative of the breed, and you are under so much scrutiny.

I have three German shepherds and it seems like everyone I run into has some story about a German shepherd that bit them at some point in their life. I routinely get people crossing to the other side of the road to avoid me, or asking me whether my dogs bite.

We have a big male (he is way oversized for the standard) and he adores people. Yet even when he was a puppy, the only people that were brave enough to pat him were people that had owned German Shepherds or were fans of the breed.

One of our dogs is fear-aggressive towards other dogs. Her reaction is to lunge, growl and hackle up. I actually tell people now that she is terrified and not trying to attack their dog. It is horrible because I don't doubt some people go home and tell their friends and family about the 'vicious' German shepherd they met.

Yet those small dogs that snap and snarl seem to get a free pass or written off as harmless.

Sounds like you have made great progress. It can be hard to deal with this kind of behaviour when there are so many rude dogs and inconsiderate owners out there. Until you have actually owned a dog that has issues with other dogs, you never realise how stressful just walking them around the block can be.

Hopefully things continue to go well for you. It seems like you are a very educated owner and Kaine is fortunate to have you.
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Old 11-12-2013, 06:52 PM   #7 
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I love this story! Your bully girl sounds wonderful. I'm super impressed by how she handled the ankle biter. The funny thing is that your grandmother wanted to call your dog the "mean one" when she had clearly failed to properly train her own. As LittleBettaFish mentioned, small dogs that display aggressive tendencies are written off as "harmless" because they're small. Their training often falls short as a result.

Though I must add in response to LBF's comment about asking whether their shepherds bite. As a rule I always ask a person with a dog I'm not familiar with whether it's okay to approach or if they're friendly. I believe this is a safety measure that many people have rightfully adopted, especially those with children. A child running up to a strange dog and sticking their hand out could end badly regardless of breed or size of canine.

But to get back to the topic at hand, stereotypes of misunderstood animals are a sad thing. With a little bit of knowledge and a patient hand, we could do right by the animals around us instead of mistreating them because of the limitations of our own ignorance. Summnd, you did a great job steering your girl away from a path that could have ended badly for her in the long run. The world needs more people like you.
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:28 PM   #8 
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It really upsets me that Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, and the like are allowed to growl, lunge, and bite simply because of their size. :( Just because they can't do the AMOUNT of damage as a large dog does not mean their behavior should be excused..And I also have many, many people walk 10ft around us to avoid passing my dog. I also see a lot of parents grabbing up their toddlers when they see us, even though Kaine is on a 4ft leash. All eyes are definitely on us when we go anywhere, even in our own yard. A lot of people have met her and said if they'd met a Pit Bull like her a few years ago, they wouldn't have believed everything they hear about them for so long..others..others pet her, say how sweet she is NOW, then stand up and tell me "wait 'till she turns on you though; they all do it eventually."
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:21 PM   #9 
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It's tragic that any breed is scandalized as the result of cruelty or ignorance on the part of the "caretaker" involved. Pitbulls were originally bred to help hunters and later butchers to hold their intended subjects in place while their masters did their work, making them essential to families involved in these trades. They were bred to do the job they were given. Similarly, they were called "nurse dogs" because they were known for being so gentle and trustworthy with the children of their family. Then a bunch of sick people managed to wipe that history from the community conscience through acts of cruelty.
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