My boyfriend has had his Pit Bull for 5 years and got him when he was a puppy. He has never had any problems with him as far as being aggressive. But last year his dog bit a girl in the face after he had warned her several times to leave the dog alone. She had to get several stitches. Ever since this has happened Shorty (the dog) will sometimes growl and get in my boyfriend's face.
Last weekend my boyfriend went to give Shorty a kiss on his snout which he always does and Shorty bit him in the face, no warning what so ever. No growl or anything. I had to take him to the ER and he got 22 stitches. We then made the decision that he needed to be put down. I have a Cocker spaniel and they have gotten into a few fights with no one getting hurt thank the lord! He is so sweet other wise. He cuddles, he is super spoiled. We do not understand what is going on with him.
I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions or advice they can give me. I am not going to take him to the pound. If we do get him put to sleep I want to make sure it is done the right way, in a humane way. I was wondering if there were any other options though. Maybe a place that takes aggressive pets and turns them around? He was our child and we are more heart broken then anything. Please help!
Heather from Alpharetta
I have had a similar experience with a family dog. My heart goes out to you, as I know how painful this experience can be.
Keep Shorty away from children. Don't even consider allowing him to be anywhere near kids. Buy some baby gates and separate him as you need to.
Do not ever "get in his face." Aggressive dogs, especially, consider this an aggressive move, and they can react before you have a chance to think. I know a man who literally had his nose bitten off by his own dog, when he tried to kiss the dog goodnight.
Some problems can be caused by genetics, and some can be caused by experiences, training or the lack of training, etc. Either way, you are in a tough position right now.
I have a couple of suggestions for where you can go for help.
First, there is an online group that might be helpful to you. It's a Yahoo group:
The abbreviation "agbeh" stands for aggressive behavior. You'll have to join Yahoo and sign up for the group, but it's free. Read and ask for advice.
Second, you really should call your vet and ask for a recommendation to a local certified trainer or behavior expert. You will have to pay for their services. OR, you can call a university and ask if they offer any free or low-cost services from an animal behaviorist.
I'm sure you already know the danger. Be very, very careful, and do NOT take chances, no matter what people tell you. Other people do not understand your dog. They might innocently bend down to pet him and get too close to his face, and suddenly get bitten.
If Shorty is not already neutered, you need to have that done. It might help with the aggression, but in any case, you do not want these genes to be passed on.
We eventually had to make the decision to have our dog put down. We had him for seven years and the aggression was always present, but it became worse and worse. It was the hardest decision of my life, but I am glad I made it. Only you know what you should do in your case.
I've been involved in rescue for almost 20 years. If the dog was dog-aggressive, it could be worked out. A human-aggressive dog, however, is a time bomb especially if it's random aggression.
If this is sudden behavior, get the dog to the vet for a full check up (bloodwork, etc.) to see if anything medical could be causing the aggression.
An aggressive dog just can not be a happy dog. Think of highly aggressive humans and the pain they must be enduring.
There are thousands of wonderful, non-aggressive dogs that are dying daily in shelters across the country. If it was my dog, I know I would euthanize my beloved companion humanely just as you have written, in a vet's office.
It's a difficult decision. But it's a dilemma that needs to be resolved quickly before any serious damage is done and Pit Bulls can do serious damage.
Hugs to you, your boyfriend, and Shorty.
I have owned Pit Bulls for about 10 years now. I have one Pit Bull now and his name is Cheech. He is a wonderful pet. All Pit Bulls have a huge heart. It's good to spoil your pets, but not all the time. Does your dog bark, growl, or even bite people that come to the door? If so, when or if your dog does that, bring him about 20 feet away from the door when the doorbell rings or someone knocks on the door. Tell him to "sit" in a strict voice, but not too harsh. Tell him to "stay" putting a flat hand to his face, fingers pointed down. If he follows and does not obey, do the same thing again, but remember, don't get frustrated with your dog if he doesn't obey right away. It will take some time to practice that good behavior you ask of him. If your dog does bark, don't let that person touch him, you don't touch him either when he barks at you or your boyfriend or any visitors to your house. Turn your back away from him and totally ignore him. When he calms down, then you may pet him.
Sometimes a Pit Bull will protect their prized possession, like a toy, you or even your boyfriend, and show aggression to people when that "prized possession" is in the house or room. When Shorty is barking, have that person leave the house (go out in the yard for a few minutes) then come back in. If he starts to bark again, stay outside for a few minutes. Repeat this exercise until he understands. When he obeys "reward" him with a pet. But if he barks before you try this exercise, don't pet him to comfort him. He thinks that when you pet him you're telling him "good dog". Ignore him when he barks or shows aggression! I hope that helped you a little, I have a few more tips. Go to my page and message me. I can help some more. Good luck with you and Shorty! (03/27/2008)
Heather, my heart goes out to you. Neutering and intensive work with a behaviourist may help you manage Shorty's behaviour, but he'll never be able to be trusted with children again, and possibly with adults.
I expect that when Shorty started growling at your boyfriend he was scolded. Shorty was giving warning signals, but was reprimanded for it and so learned to bite without warning. This happens a lot. I'm a dog trainer and have run into this problem a lot. Certainly growling should not have been allowed, but you have to be careful that you are correcting the cause of the behaviour and not scolding the dog for giving warning signals. Shorty should have been reminded of his appropriate place in the pack order (through various non-punishment based ways).
I expect if you think back there were other low level warning signals that Shorty was giving that were being ignored (i.e. tail position, stance, eye contact, etc.). Shorty was probably a bit confused about his place in the pack by being given privileges that were for higher pack members. If he thought that he was higher in the pack than the boyfriend, then Shorty probably felt he was within his rights to bite your boyfriend for what Shorty interpreted as your boyfriend being "out of line".
Humans need to understand that dogs see the world differently and show affection differently. Humans love to hug. Dogs dislike the hug (although some have learned to tolerate it). A hug to a dog is a sign of aggression or establishing dominance. When one dog puts his forelegs on top of another dog, it is a sign of dominance. If you watch a dog receiving a hug, you'll see that his ears turn out and down a bit as a sign of dislike. (Some dogs will try to wiggle out of it and some will growl and bite, but most dogs will start with low level signals.) Humans like to soothe a dog that is agitated, thinking that will calm him. However, the dog sees this as a reward for his behaviour and will repeat it and it will intensify.
There may have been other things that confused Shorty as to his proper place in the pack. But another problem that might be a factor is genetics.
Especially with breeds that have been ruined by people who are not knowledgeable: backyard breeders and puppy mill operators that supply pet stores, and by people who are intentionally breeding for poor temperaments: dog fight ring breeders and drug dealers. Pit Bulls are getting a rotten reputation, and unfortunately, these genetic lines are difficult to get rid of and take many many generations to breed them out again. German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Dobermans have all gone through this. I can imagine another breed will take the Pit Bulls' place in a few years.
Again, I feel for your situation. You have a tough thing to do. I wish you the best. (03/27/2008)
Sorry, but that dog should have been put down with the first incident of biting someone. Any veterinarian will tell you that if a dog bites a person, they should be euthanized. (03/27/2008)
My heart is breaking for you! I don't agree, tho, that every dog that bites should be put down. My sister has a male Shi Tzu who bit me in the face because I was hugging him too tightly at a time in which I was extremely upset. He growled and warned me, but I didn't pay any attention to him, so he did the only thing he knew how to do to get me to stop squeezing him too tightly! I did not the, and don't now, blame the dog; I blame myself. Also, my other sister had to give away a Dachshund who disliked children because some boys had picked on him time after time. He turned out to be a very sweet pet for a childless family.
I hope you can find a solution other than having to put him down. That's such a hard thing to have to do. I've had to do it twice; I know! God bless you. (03/27/2008)
I have been involved in pet rescue for years. I have three dogs now, one of whom is half pit (which I didn't know when we adopted him).
The behavioral change this dog now shows makes me think there is something else going on. First, I would take the dog to a vet for a full physical checkup. Then, if you are serious about keeping him, I would consult with an animal behaviorist to find out what you can do, if anything to desensitize him, and what you might be doing differently now that he bit that is causing him to repeat the behavior. Kissing dogs on the nose is perceived as a dominance issue. A lot of times, because dogs are so attuned to physical actions, we communicate things to them without realizing we are doing so. I have learned this the hard way myself.
Good luck. Diane
Thank you to everyone that has given me advice about our pet Shorty. There are a lot of you that keep on mentioning children. I do not have children and I never have any children around Shorty. To the people that are telling me that it is humans not understanding their pets, we have had him for 5 years and all of a sudden he turned. We did not do anything different.
I have always had Pit Bulls backed by saying it is not their breed, but it is how they are raised. Sorry people that is not correct. I am not just talking about Pits. Any pet that has been bred to fight is going to have it somewhere in their genes.
There are so many people that replied to my posting telling me that euthanasia should be the last thing to think about and that he needs training. We were going to start training. Last night I spent 4 hours in the pet ER because Shorty attacked my Cocker spaniel, no warning nothing. Just like he did with my boyfriend last week.
So you people are telling me that I should just keep letting him bite, causing me to spend more time at the human ER and pet ER,
Over $4000.00 in medical bills with in 3 weeks, watching them in pain as they are being stitched up, making sure they both are keeping their wounds clean and taking their medication? While I should sit here and be patient while he is going through training? We love Shorty so much and this is tearing us apart beyond belief, but something has got to give!
By Heather A heartbroken pet owner./p>
Someone made a statement that dogs aren't born aggressive, that people make them this way. There is a lot of misunderstanding around this. Yes, people can make dogs act aggressively through abuse, teasing, conditioning, neglect, etc. This is done more easily with some dogs than others because of their genetics.
Some dogs are more submissive and it will take a lot to get them to act in an aggressive manner, but pushed to their limits, they will react to protect or defend. Some dogs will take very little stimulus to react aggressively. If a dog's parents had aggressive tendencies, then the odds are good that the dog will have inherited these traits. This does not mean that the dog will automatically act in an aggressive manner, it means that the tendency towards that behavior is higher.
To claim genetics is not a factor in aggression is to deny the evidence that dog fighters know and use to breed extremely aggressive dogs. It's sick, but they breed dogs to be so aggressive that they even attack their mother and litter mates while they are still in the whelping box. Many of these dogs will even attack their owners, if given a chance. These sick people then encourage and "train" aggressive behaviors in these dogs to prepare them for dog fights.
So aggression is partly genetic and partly environment.
It's sad to say, but getting him put to sleep seems to be the best option unless you have thousands of dollars to spend on training.
I had a Pointer mix for 5 years that turned on my family and my other dogs as well. This was a dog that used to sleep next to me in bed every night. We tried every type of training there was and had to resort to a muzzle 24 hours a day. Finally we decided to put the dog down. It was a hard decision and I think about him (and cry) a lot, but it was the best decision for us all. (04/21/2009)
Heather, contact your local humane society have him checked thoroughly for any health problems that maybe be causing this aggression and ask them of their experiences and if they know of someone who could help. I know how you feel as we had a Chow for 5 years and one day she put 38 stitches around my 3 year old daughter's eyes. We did have her put to sleep and it was heart breaking, but she had attacked my mom before that. I still wish that I would have had her checked out before we put her to sleep. But check with them, maybe just maybe, they know someone who can help you. Very best of luck.
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