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I have a 5 month old Pit puppy and when new people try to approach her, she puts her tail between her legs and growls. I'm afraid she'll bite someone. What can I do?
By Carrie from Las Vegas, NV
She sounds scared to me. Don't just train your dog, train the strangers. How do strangers approach her? There are a few things that some people do and don't realize that it can be a sign of aggression from the person.
I have a now 2 year old pit bull that was not scared but was aggressive towards strangers as a baby. A leash was our best friend. I think that people really need to learn not to just walk up and try to pet a strange dog, but as a pit owner the dog has to be taught to sit and accept other people. I taught my dog this by keeping her on a leash when introducing her to new people and letting them give her a treat. I also taught her that when I say "okay" it means that the person is alright for her to be friendly towards.
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Telisa from Imperial, MO
Doing the "alpha roll" on a dog is not harmful. It is the same thing dogs do to each other to decide who is in charge. We have four Olde English Bulldogs (stubborn) and we have done the roll on them since they were pups, and still must do it occasionally now that they are grown. All of our kids have laid across them so that the dogs know the kids are higher up than they are. Dogs are not people and you can't use any sort of reasoning with a dog. They have to know who the pack leader is. The Dog Whisperer is a good source, as is picking the brains of those who have Pitbulls and know how to train them. Good luck. (09/12/2008)
I'm also a fan of the "Dog Whisperer", but I think that Animal Planet's "It's Me Or The Dog" offers safer ways of training, than the often confrontational style Cesar uses. The show airs every weekday afternoon at 5pm Central Time, and Saturday nights at 7pm Central Time.
It stars Victoria Stilwell, who uses positive reinforcement (giving treats, etc.) to help calm aggressive dogs. She's turned some absolutely psycho dogs into model pets, without resorting to the "alpha roll" that Cesar often uses.
Honestly, I would not attempt doing the "alpha roll" on a Pit Bull, or any dog, for that matter. "Dog Whisperer" often carries the disclaimer, "Do not attempt these techniques without consulting a professional" and for good reason. "It's Me Or The Dog" carries no such disclaimer, because Victoria's methods are much more low-key, and safer.
So watch both these shows, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Hopefully you'll find something to help your Pit Bull calm down and relax. (09/14/2008)
Your dog may have been through obedience training, but you are not being an effective leader. Just because a dog will sit on command does not mean you are in control. Both shows have their good and bad points. Watching them is not good enough. You have to be ready and willing to spend the time and energy with your dog so you both can be happy.
First you really need to objectively look at the times the dog growls at you. Is his favorite person gone? Do you have food in your hands? Praising the other dog? You get the idea. Often, growling problems are more fear based than an attempt to gain dominance. You have to look carefully and get another candid opinion if needed. Then listen to the opinion even if they tell you something like you need to be less afraid.
The other dog should also be spayed. Many people think they might make money by breeding or may want a puppy in the future, but you have no idea how much work and expense is involved or how to pick a good stud. Keep them both as pets and don't become a backtard (bad) breeder.
He's obviously "not" at the point to take him to a dog park and just throw a stick around. Letting him into a yard by himself doesn't do it either.
Use control when walking the dog. You need to lead, period. If he pulls, simply but firmly change directions and move assuredly. You may need to give a sharp noise to distract him when you do this. Forget about what anyone might think of you when going through the training. Go a good 5 feet or so and then turn around again and continue where you want to go.
Repeat every time he pulls. Don't give up. It won't take long for him to learn "if" you stay committed.
Go through the basics with sit, stay, down, all that. I prefer "quiet" as the command to stop making any noise. I hold my ground, keep my arms folded and simply don't back down. Once you get the confidence; it really comes easily and the dogs will respond.
If he growls when he has something in his mouth; you really need to teach the "drop" command. You can do this by saying "drop" when he's about to naturally drop something and immediately praise/reward when it happens. Repeat relentlessly and soon he will learn to drop whatever he has for the treat.
"No" is too general and quickly becomes overused and the dog isn't sure what you mean at a point.
Don't allow the dogs on your bed or furniture. It puts them on an equal importance level with you and they should not be. "Off" and treats work great to solve this one. Separate doggie beds should also be added if you don't have them.
It has "nothing" to do with the breed. I know people are lazy and feed off the mob mentality of what's spoonfed to them off TV; but all 4 breeds of"Pitbull" are long noted to be "great family dogs". If you're afraid of high strung dogs; stay away from all small breeds, Spaniels and Labs because all you're getting is puppymilled/backyard bred problems. (09/15/2008)
By Shelter Worker
Have you noticed that Cesar puts them on their side, never on their back? If the dog is on his back, he feels he's being put to death and he becomes very defensive and terrified. Put on his side and then he decides "Two is good - I can be second." Hold him there until he is submitted, sighed, calm and goes ten seconds without an attempt to struggle. Use your fingertips to hold his neck down. He instinctively understands dog psychology, so that's why this works so well. (09/15/2008)
(sent in by email)
I have a Pit Bull and am a dog trainer. He is doing what he would do to other puppies. Do not Alpha Roll him! Make a high pitched noise (as if he tore your arm off. Get up and go away from him. Ignore him. Go back try again. Also, pet him with one hand while feeding him treats with the other. At another time of course.
Make him think if he bites too hard or plays rough you will not play with him. Teach him to drop it and fetch. Play with him with a toy and then put the toy away until you want to play again. He will love that toy and you and will do anything for you and that toy.
Pits were bred not to give up easily. But alpha rolls make them frustrated and it does not make them submissive. Do not try what Cesar does, he is a expert and is working with dogs that sometimes want to kill him or other dogs not puppies.
Please contact another trainer like myself and get the correct info. (10/28/2008)
I have a seven and half week old blue Pit puppy and today he started growling at me.