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Training a Rescued Pit Bull

Rescued dogs sometimes have not been well handled by their previous owners. Often this includes a lack of training and caring attention. This is a guide about training a rescued Pit Bull.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
July 17, 2007

We rescued my pitbull from abusive owners and she's extremely skiddish and 'scaredy'. Today I was training her a bit and we were both having fun, she was very good. Afterward, she held the treat in her mouth and let out a few short low growls, like 3 seconds long and 5 seconds apart, and not just for fun, it was AT me, but her stance was straight but not rigid with her tail wagging, and her face relaxed. I remained calm but I was really scared because I'm a smaller person and I was home alone at the time, and the growl did not sound playful. Anyone know what this was? What should I do in this situation?

Breanna from Las Vegas, NV

Answers

July 17, 20070 found this helpful

She is probably confused and needs time to figure out things. If she is abused badly you may need to put her down. Treats may have followed by a kick or something from the old owner. She may have thought you were going to take it away after giving it to her, even though she was happy for the treat. DON'T make it an issue, but keep a safe distance and clear way of escape incase she turns on you. Abused dogs tend to do turn on new owners, because they are uncertain of what to expect. Mine was rescued, and after nine months of being with me, decided to turn on me, because the confusion finally caught up with her. Mine was a Australian Shepperd/Blue Heeler mix. I loved her dearly, but I knew she would never fully trust anyone again, so I consulted the vet and we both agreed to have her put down. When I rescued her she was on death row at the Humane Society where I got her. They put down dogs with attitude problems, and she was so sweet looking I overlooked her disposition and decided it was the kennel she was in that put her in a bad mood, so I adopted her. We each live with our mistakes this one you have to learn for yourself. I hope you and your dog work out, but don't expect miracles.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 17, 20070 found this helpful

I might anger some pet owners by saying this, but it is possible that pitbull should be humanely euthanized. You have doubts as to your safety with this dog or you would not have posted. What happens if a visiting toddler tries to take a treat from the dog? What happens if it gets loose? There are many nice predictable dogs who need rescued. I own two rescued dogs, one for 9 yrs, and one for 5 years, and they have such stable temperaments I never have to worry. One of my dogs was kicked out of the house by a well-off family who decided they just didn't want her anymore. After I adopted her, I had to go out in the fenced yard with her so she could take care of her business. She was afraid she wouldn't ever be let back in again. But her insecurity never came out in growling, just a need for petting and reassurance. My other dog was a stray I adopted as an older puppy. His foster mom used to take him into schools to visit disabled children because he is so good-natured.

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However, years ago I tried to rescue a puppy that had been neglected and despite a lot of good care and training it became unpredictable and aggressive as it grew up. A frightened insecure pit bull is a major health risk! If you ever watch the show Animal Rescue, they euthanize dogs that do not pass a non-aggression test rather than put them up for adoption. We give dogs affection, protection, food, and vet care, with the fair expectation that they will be gentle and loving companions. Do not settle for anything less.

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July 17, 20070 found this helpful

I believe you already KNOW the answer. She needs to be put down. You have a responsibility to protect yourself and others from harm. I applaud your efforts to save her but common sense should surely tell you that in all probability someone is going to be hurt by this dog in the near future! She also knows that you are afraid of her...so she is definitely not going to obey your commands........she KNOWS she's the alpha dog! You tried....but I think you need to put your kind efforts into a dog that will repay your love WITH love.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 17, 20070 found this helpful

I think everyone is overreacting. I have rescued many many animals...yes even pits. She IS probably a little anxious and confused because of her past, but with patience and love you can win her over. When she growls at you, firmly say stop that and get up and repeat yourself until she stops. If you are really afraid of her attacking you, you can always attempt to keep some detterent like pepper spray handy in case she does attack. I don't think she will though.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 17, 20070 found this helpful

I forgot to mention that I have a dog that does something similar and he does it because he wants THREE treats and is telling me I miscounted. haha

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 18, 20070 found this helpful

You people are WAY nutty overreacting. I've had rescues all my life & this is typical for some dogs. The dog JUST came into the family & is supposed to KNOW exactly how to act instantly??? Especially since she was abused?? What's wrong with you people? Do you know anything about dogs? You're telling someone to have an animal KILLED because of a normal alpha issue? If one of your skinkids talked back to you would you have them killed? That's how ridiculous you sound. I agree with Corrie. If she gets a negative reaction she will adjust to who's alpha. And that reaction is to say a firm NO & immediately turn her back to her & walk away. After about 15 mins. go back to her a give her a treat for being a good dog, ie. not behaving badly for the 15 mins. Pepper spray is a horrible thing to mention. Why would you want to inflict pain on an animal. If necessary you can use plain water in a spray bottle but if you walk away & ignore her for a reasonable length of time that should work. She just needs to learn to play nicely. Simple.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 18, 20070 found this helpful

I agree, put the dog down, if some one other then you gets hurt you could get sued, I don;t trust pit bulls at all.I have a friend who went out for a walk like he always did, and 2 pit bulls attacked him,he had to have back surgery cause he fell backwards,also hurt his arm, thank God the dogs didn't do any harm other then scare him into fallen backwards, I watch animal planet and those rescue placee would put him down.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 18, 20070 found this helpful

Corrie- That's what I thought because it didn't seem angry at all and I have heard that some pits do a little laugh that is alike to a growl, but im not experienced with dogs so i put her outside anyway haha. We've had her for over a year with no problems so i don't quite think that puting her down is an option quite yet.

Thank you so much everyone for your feedback!

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 18, 20070 found this helpful

I don't really want to get into this debate as pit bulls are now a banned breed in Australia.. there have been too many attacks on smaller dogs, cats, and people too. However, a friend who is a dog trainer told me that if your dog.. whatever breed.. becomes bossy, stand perfectly still and stare up at the sky as though totally bored with the performance, I have tried this with my cat who is a fiesty lady, and prone to nip at feet and ankles, and it worked with her.

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July 18, 20070 found this helpful

It seems to me she wants to play.

Sometimes you can tell this by the tail wagging.
She may have been abused by taking away her food.
Anyway, be vigilant and don't trust completely.
Dogs can sense fright.

Good Luck

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 18, 20070 found this helpful

Are you people crazy! She has had the dog for a year without any problems. Why would you want to put the dog down. I rescued a dog and he is the only male, I have 2 females and he tries to be the alpha but I don't let him get away with it. Just give him time out. I've had him 6 years already and he still tries to get away with things but I wouldn't trade him for anything. Why would you people want to put a dog to sleep for just being a dog? What it would be like putting a child to sleep for being fresh. All the dog needs is love and understanding. Good for you for adopting him.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 18, 20070 found this helpful

I agree with the Guest Post. In the first place I've had Pit Bull dogs for 30 years and yes they can be mean, they can be vicious, they can hurt people, that's very true. BUT they can be very loving ,very protective, loving kids and babies and loyal. they are no different from other dogs except for the way they're raised.
they don't trust strangers and probably for a good reason. I was told years ago that if your dog doesn't trust someone there's a good reason, they sense thing we don't. this is true..a dog will sense your fear and act accordingly, growling, stiff neck tail down or straight out, but they also will wag the tail as in playing..get to know the dog and if you feel intimidated, play only for a few minutes and watch the dog to see his or her reaction..my Lab growls at me when he wants me to chase him around the yard. he loves it. the next time the dog growls, tell him in a mean voice to "knock it off -NOW" and leave him alone. don't EVER stare at a dog, it makes them very nervous. patience works wonders.
for all you people that would "put the dog down" maybe you should be put down when you have a bad day with a stranger. a lot of these poor animals have the rep because of drug dealers training. the dog has no choice of how he's raised. give them a break. check out the owners first. there in lies the problem..

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 18, 20070 found this helpful

LOVE heals all wounds, give your dog time, and please give lots of love and praise !!! How would you feel in your dogs place ?? :-)

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July 19, 20070 found this helpful

i would not say right off to put the dog down. but lets face it pits have something in them that most other dogs do not. she could be thinking about her past abuse and just all of a sudden take it out on you. look at human beings. sometimes we live in abusive relationships and come out of them into a loving envirnment. then all of a sudden something cracks. some people become abusers themselves or God forbid murderers. why should we expect more or less from a dog. ???

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 19, 20070 found this helpful

I agree that putting the dog down would be an enormous over-reaction. I am not particularly a fan of pits, but will say that one of the sweetest dogs I've ever met was a pitbull. Your dog's behavior sounds like food guarding/aggression. And I agree, don't look at her when she behaves like this- it is often perceived by the dog as a sign of aggression from you. Just work with the dog, be very careful, and if the behavior persists, certainly think of a professional trainer---do everything possible before considering euthanizing.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 19, 20070 found this helpful

It would seem to me that having a treat in her mouth was the problem. After training, give her the treat praise her alot and walk away. She earned the treat and may feel threaten if you are in her face.Do not give up on her. Pitbulls have this rep due to stupid humans. it is not her fault she was abused.

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Read More Answers

November 29, 20101 found this helpful

My Pit Bull is 4 years old. He is a rescue and we have had him for 4 months and he has bitten 6 people. We are thinking of sending him to school or getting him a shock collar, but the last thing on our list is to put him down. What do you guys think? We aren't sure. Please help us.

Dazzie

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By 2 found this helpful
June 12, 2013

I rescued a year and a half old blue nose female Pit Bull that was already fixed. The person from the rescue place told me the owner was moving and could no longer keep her. I have had her for about four months.

She seems to have had some training. She knows sit, shake paw, and no. She is like a baby she thinks she is a lap dog. She will even let you pick her up and hold her on your hip with her arms around your neck.

My mom has a small dog like a Maltipoo with three legs. On one or two occasions prior to me getting Princess from the pound my mom's dog has met her on a pass by. I then moved and it had been three months since visiting my mom. We spent the night. My mom had brought her dog in the front door from going to the bathroom. I was asleep on the living room floor and my Pit was on the the couch watching my mom's dog walk over to me. She then leaps off of the couch and starts attacking him. I felt so bad I was yelling and screaming at her, "Stop Princess, no let him go this is not OK." Thank God she didn't hurt him and she did let go. I was so mad at her I put her in the car for a good ten minutes and went out and told her that was not OK and walked away and left her for another five minutes. The funny thing is she turned her ears and cowed down her face like she knew she did something wrong. Do I need to worry about her attacking all the time and do Pits really have locking jaws?

By Charity D.

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By 2 found this helpful
May 17, 2017

I adopted a Pit Bull about 10 months ago and she is two. Since I brought her home I have had to work on basic things - potty training, sit, leave it, and drop it. Introducing her to others has gotten better, but isn't perfect. She had attacked my smaller dog over food back in October. Since then I have been working on letting her know she is not the dominant dog out of the two, and I think they are doing better. But I still have difficulty every day walking her because she won't stop pulling. I've tried to get training, but every place has refused me because my dog is a Pit Bull. Can anyone give me advice? Another main concern is she doesn't do well with kids, anyone under the age of about 12 she has a problem with. And I have 2, 4 year old nephews who are waiting so patiently to say hi to her.

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