We recently adopted a Blue Heeler/Pit Bull puppy. She is 3 months old and is such a gently puppy with us. She doesn't ever bite or nip us. She loves playing with her squeaker toys and really likes rawhide bones.
I'm worried about her playing with other dogs. She has a habit of biting their ears or the loose skin under their neck and does not let go! A lot of times she will even hold on and shake her head back and forth. The older dogs are well trained and won't bite her back, so she's not learning that it's not okay. How do I break this habit while she's still a baby so that she doesn't hurt other dogs when she gets older?
We also have a cat, so I'm worried that if she plays that rough with other dogs she will start playing rough with the cat. When the cat is around I try to distract the puppy so she doesn't find anything interesting about the cat.
By New Pup from WI
Hello to you and your new pup! Please look into obedience classes through a local branch of the American Kennel Club. A good club will accept any breed, mix or mutt and you don't have to have any intentions of breeding or showing to enroll your pet. Classes are generally once a week for eight weeks and not "passing" the first time offers no shame: It takes a perfect 10 out of 10 for certification and sometimes a dog just needs a bit more study time! :-)
I always suggest obedience classes as the best way to socialize every dog of any age for two simple reasons: First of all, the class teaches the dog to mind you, and teaches you, the owner, how to be the "alpha" dog in a kind and calm manner, in most any general circumstance.
Second, these lessons, in turn, will allow the "alpha" (you, the owner) to correct your dog in circumstances where he or she might be inadvertently crossing the line of civil, fun and fair play.
In other words, when the pup gets to chewing on another pup's ear, your simple command of "leave it" (and his/her ability to mind you immediately) will cause the dog to change his behavior, quickly. It's a win-win-win situation for human, canine and other canine or human nearly every time!
I'm a lifetime pet parent (alpha) and am currently raising two huge breed dogs and can't say enough about the positive impact of obedience training for our canine friends. The cost of the class is usually minimal (most fees merely cover the cost of the AKC club to sponsor the class). Please look into this.
Wishing you and your dog a long and happy friendship!
Ditto every thing KansasCindy said. I will add don't be too worried, puppies often play rougher with each other than we would expect. They are establishing the pecking order. I rememer how alarmed I was when my puppy met his cousins. I thought my puppy was going to become a snack. My sister had to assure me several times that it was OKAY. If your puppy goes too hard after an older larger dog, when that dog has had enough it will let your puppy know.
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I have a 12 week old Pitbull and I took him to my dad's house to play with his three dogs. He bit one of them on the neck and would not let go. He did not hurt him badly, but I'm a little worried. How can I stop him if he does it again and is this normal behavior?
By Melissa from Fort Wayne, IN
Contact a local branch/chapter of the American Kennel Club (AKC). Many offer excellent "puppy classes" and "obedience classes" for a modest fee. (Many of these clubs are staffed by volunteers and the fee merely covers a few expenses.)
I do have to warn you, though, that you may run into some breed prejudices from some individuals, even some who claim to be and actually are, animal professionals. I'm sure you are aware of how some speak badly of Pit Bulls, but the prejudices are not limited to one breed. I once encountered an obedience class instructor that didn't like any dog bigger than a German Shepherd. So, needless to say, she didn't like my lovable, gentle giant, an English Mastiff! Just keep looking for a real dog person, without breed bias, if you run into an attitude like that.
The "puppy classes" are not pass/fail. Think of them like supervised and structured play dates. They are fun and silly and a great way to bond with your puppy as he learns how to "play nice". The leader of the "puppy class" will offer helpful suggestions during the classes.
The "obedience classes" are based on a pass/fail system as the dog must rate a perfect 10 (on the final test) to be certified. This is very tough for the youngsters, but they will learn good skills they will keep for life, even if they don't pass the test first time around. There is no shame in repeating an obedience course!
Yes, I would be a bit worried that your pup bites and doesn't let go, but he is certainly capable of learning corrections, (no matter the breed) especially at such a young age. Good luck and I hope you and your pet have a long and happy friendship!
Oh, I forgot to mention, these classes are usually open to any dog be it a pure bred, a mix, or a Heinz 57! A reputable club will also have restrictions for females in heat as these gals tend to make the boys lose focus and the other girls quite jealous! (11/22/2010)