Training an Aggressive Dog?

My son's 1.5 year old Boxer Pit has started to go to bite my husband, a few times and also a friend. He is has never been like this. He lived with us last summer and is now back at our house. He will not share anything and takes things and runs and we cannot take them from him. We have a 4 year old Yorkie who holds his own, but it is getting out of control with the Pit Boxer not sharing anything and if we go to get it he goes after us. He is very nice and will go to a friend's house with dogs and plays and no promblems. He has lived with my son and lots of boys and other dogs his whole life. We are looking for any help. My son is taking him to classes and we have called the vet.


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June 11, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

Your Boxer-Staffie (American Staffordshire Terrier is the correct name for 'pit' type dogs) is NOT 'grown-up' at all, and will not be until around aged three years.

I know this because I was a very successful breeder-trainer of AKC Boxers for over 40 years in the USA (before returning to the UK for my retirement years), and my cousin the same with Staffies.

Do ask the vet who will confirm these dogs (and their cross-mixes which btw we both did breed rescue of whilst in the US all those years) are NOT mature (proper wording, instead of 'full-grown'). Here in the UK, and more and more in the US, these dogs are being referred to as 'cross' or 'cross-breed' dogs. And once full socialised and trained you truly cannot ask for a better companion canine than these two highly intelligent and loving breeds mixed as a cross.

At 18 months you can expect two certain things from your cross - one that he will challenge you at every turn because he is still really a puppy, and two that he is still able to be turned away from bad habits.

In a nutshell, patience, consistence, and firmness is what is wanted. You've made an excellent start with the training course your son has the dog on, and in seeking information from your vet. Other excellent resources I highly recommend: your local library for books published from the late 80s through the mid-nineties for the two specific breeds - these will give you training and reinforcement tips as well as an outstanding 'heads-up' on breed specific characteristics so that you will all know what to expect as your cross comes to full maturity.

(hint, Boxers especially are 'food motivated' while Staffies prefer cuddles, effusive verbal praise, and toys especially 'tug-o-war' type. Boxers also love a good tug-o-war game but really prefer food, lol!)

Be very wary of Internet training tips - even mine! Always-always-always choose your vet as your No.1 go-to for ALL breed and training tips and assists.

Don't give up - it is entirely within the realm of possibility to achieve a successful training programme.

HOWEVER: until your cross is completely trustworthy, use a crate when you can't supervise him with the Yorkie. Please. I really cannot emphasise that enough without going into unhappy details of how many people have learnt this one the terribly hard way.

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May 28, 20160 found this helpful

Dear Frugal Sunnie,

As an owner of a Boxer/French bull dog I am in complete agreement with you on your response. Having my girl who is 5 now and also volunteering as a foster home for pitties for a local pitbull rescue you are correct in all you have stated. Thank you for such a good response to this question. In today's world that has become so against this breed, Staffordshire Terrier and any other labeled aggressive breeds it is refreshing to see someone actually give good advise other than the typical one which basically is that this breed is dangerous and needs to be eliminated or exterminated.

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June 9, 20150 found this helpful

Your dog has grown up.

Large breed dogs such as pit bull mixes must be trained starting from a young age. They must not be allowed to jump up on people, "claim" furniture and refuse to move, take human food from hands or plates, chew up things belonging to humans, and other things that will become problems when he gets older.

Unfortunately, boys being boys, they've probably allowed him to do all these things and more. Now that he's a grown dog and starting to assert himself you're regretting not training him earlier.

It's good that your son is taking him to classes. Did the trainer tell you everyone in the household must be on board with the training? No one in the household can let the dog break the rules anymore. It is a team effort.
Basic obedience (sit and stay) is fine to start out, but will not be enough for your dog. Your dog must have stricter rules than cute little dogs that can't do much damage, because your dog can.

I highly recommend the Dog Whisperer as a resource- books and videos. He has years of experience with large breed dogs such as pit bulls and rottweilers.
By the way, the behavior you are describing is called "resource guarding." However, you can't just work on this one behavior, if you're thinking that. The dog must be trained to respect and obey people.

Here are some things to work on:

Make him sit and wait for increasing periods of time before you put his food bowl down. He should be sitting, not jumping or standing. (This is after he learns the sit command.)

Never take anything from his mouth. Once he has learned the command "drop it," use this command, then pick the item up once he's dropped it.

When walking him he should be right next to you, not pulling on the leash or crisscrossing in front.

Again, it's a team effort, so make sure nobody in the house is letting him jump up on them, feeding him human food, etc. It's harder for humans to break old habits than for dogs.

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