We are fostering 2 Pitts, one male and one female, that are 6 weeks old. During play time together, they seem to be getting more aggressive with each other. Is this a trait that this bred has or is this normal behavior for puppies?
By Doug from Soquel, CA
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Puppies will be puppies will be puppies. At six weeks of age, I can't imagine puppies of any breed are trying to be aggressive. As they grow and as you learn by watching and playing with them, you will notice the difference between play and aggression. At this young age, simply separate them for awhile if one or the other gets too feisty.
Since you have a male and a female, you are going to have to stay ahead of hormone issues as well. It matters none how well they've gotten along up to that point, as soon as she comes into heat, (or possibly earlier) he will be ready, willing, and able to do the deed and neither should be disciplined for aggressive behavior as it's instinct, not aggression, controlling the situation.
Pay attention to tail position: Generally speaking, a high happy tail is playing; a straight, level, rigid tail is on alert; and a tucked tail is total submission. If you could do some goggle or bing searching on "tail position of dogs" (or a related phrase) you can learn how to read your dog's intent by the movement of his or her tail.
I honestly think well of you and others that worry early on about trying to work with a puppy or puppies to prevent bad habits, but all these fur kids really do need time just to be "playful babies". Good luck and best wishes!
Very well said, KansasCindy.
In addition, I believe at this point, they're sorting out who will be the alpha (dominant) dog. It's very important that they consider you the alpha. Watch one or two episodes of 'The Dog Whisperer' to see what I mean.
Thanks Joanne, your post is exactly what I was aiming to communicate, but failed to point out, specifically. Thanks for summarizing my post! :-)
Ditto with KansasCindy and Joanne but to also answer your breed trait, yes, Pitty's are an aggresive breed of dog so please do learn the alpha training while they're still this young. Bless you for fostering!
Like all puppies they can get rough with each other. This is not necessary because they are pits. Pits are horribly starved and tortured and abused which makes them fight for their lives. Pits are very misunderstood.
Once the aggression starts, take him or her for a time out. For a walk, or sit next to him and talk softly and show calm. Do not let him continue these mannerisms. But also do not yell or hit. They are all just babies but very smart and if you don't control the aggression they will think it is ok by you.
Stop that play now. Only allow them to play without aggression. They are learning control over each other.
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I have a 3 month Pitbull/Boxer that is sometimes calm and playful, but within minutes becomes aggressive. He bites and growls. At times he bites and growls and I cannot get him calmed down. I tell him "no" firmly and hold his head to get him to stop biting. He doesn't respond to words and he bites my knees. I cannot gain control. I need help or I may have to look for a new home for him.
By stephanie from NJ
I also advocate the yelping and turning away from them when you get bitten, but I would even go so far as to yelp when their teeth contact your skin. I grew up with Malamutes and Huskies, and my dad had a really strict "no teeth" rule for them, since they were big enough to take our hands off. That way, they didn't even try to test a gentle bite and risk underestimating their power.
If they're growling at you, then they're challenging your authority, and that's a "major" no no. When they're being snappy and wild, calmly flip them onto their backs and hold them down until they give up! You don't have to hurt them, but laying them on their back forces them to assume the 'submissive' pose. Sometimes you may have to do this for quite a while (my sister-in-law has a Jack Russell Terrier whose record is twenty minutes!), but they're learning that not only are you strong enough to be the boss, but you're patient enough, too.
I hope some of this helps while they're still small enough to wrangle! (08/11/2009)
Puppy classes are excellent start for obedience. They are inexpensive where I live in Ontario. (08/12/2009)
You need to look into the traits of the breeds before you acquire them. You cannot just give them back. You need to assert your dominance, be very strict, but not aggressive. Putting them in the submissive position will certainly help when they start to get aggressive, but this is only easy when they are smaller and weaker than you.
Make sure you eat before the puppy eats and it is a good idea to pretend to eat some of their food before they get it as the pack leader always eats first. Most importantly go to classes and keep up the training and exercise at home. A tired dog is less likely to want to be aggressive. (08/12/2009)
At 3 months old, it's imperative that a dangerous breed should have been trained already to 'NO BITE.'
I start with my German Shepherd puppies from age 8 weeks. When they bite me, I firmly say 'NO BITE.' As soon as she complies, she gets a tiny treat. This takes a while as puppies are natural biters, but it has to be done. My last German Shepherd is 2yrs now, and she has never bitten anyone or another dog. She goes to the park every day and plays roughly with other big dogs, but she doesn't bite them.
If you start the 'NO BITE' routine with a tiny treat now, it's probably not too late at 3 months. Good luck to you and the dog. (08/13/2009)
By Nan Corpe
One thing you have to realize is that he is only 3 months old and at that age all dogs are aggressive in their play. It's just the nature of the beast. But, especially with the breed you have, you do need to gain control over his play.
If you can't get control over him yourself, I would suggest going to the phone book or online and finding a dog trainer near you. It will cost a bit, but in the end you will be much happier with your dog, and he will be much happier with you too.
Now is the time to start looking though and talking to them. They may say to wait till he's 6 months old, but if you ask they may give you some suggestions on what to do in the meantime. And don't just call one place. Call them all! Any that won't give you tips for in the meantime, don't even bother with.
Good luck with your dog. (08/13/2009)
It is also very important that your dog is getting lots of regular exercise, these two breeds are very high energy level and need a lot of running around. Sometimes dogs will misbehave if they are bored and not being stimulated. Work on the training after your dog has had lots of running around time as he might be a bit calmer and easier to train. (08/23/2009)
How do we teach our pit bull/shepherd mix not to be so aggressive when she plays with us and other dogs?
By Debra Winters from Holland, MI
Sometimes it is a matter of not having enough exercise and this will solve it. If it's momma did not teach an inhibited bite, this will cause rough playing. You can try yelping and then grabbing it's snout gently but firmly and saying "NO BITE" in a firm voice. Here are some more tips: http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/teaching-bite-inhibition
By Robyn Fed
We have 2 80+ pound pits that are 3yrs old and they still get really excited when playing with us and each other. They are great dogs, not mean at all! Just they get really excited like that and we make them stop playing for a few seconds and sit until they get their right frame of mind back. And like Robyn said they need lots of exercise. Ours live in the house, so every day when daddy gets home out they go for an hour and run and play and fetch! (04/15/2009)
If your dog tries to jump on you just turn your back and wait till she's calm. Put her on a leash and show him other dogs. If she tries to jump on them too then pull him back and keep doing this until she can play happily with the dogs. (04/17/2009)
First, it is normal behavior from the puppy's point of view to play bite and chase it's pack members. Here is a great website on dog training. Learburg.com
Look for the articles or podcasts or streaming video. It has lots of different subjects and it is a great training site for people! Also check out the article Theory of Correction in Dog Training at this same site.
Remember to scream out when the dog bites too hard whether it hurts or not. When it refuses to calm down take all the toys away and leave the room. Don't over engage him or her in too rough of play as this will increase the need to chase and bite. If the dog is really acting out and you can't get it's respect, then grab its cheeks softly on either side of the head and lift it's feet off the floor gently and tell it NO Bite and stare at it until it looks away and submits. This is done in a calm and gentle manner, but still could be an over correction for a soft dog. Never over correct, yell or hit. You could end up having a stress - pee-er or a dog that fear bites. (04/17/2009)
By Robyn Fed
If you don't get it under control while it is a puppy, you are setting yourself up for disaster when it gets older, bigger and stronger. Watch the Dog Whisperer/Cesar Millan or get one of his books at the library. You can also go to his website. www.cesarmillaninc.com and get lots of help. It may be cute now, but I promise aggression is a serious matter and needs to be addressed immediately. Lee in FL (04/19/2009)
By Lee Taylor
Try watching It's Me or The Dog, on animal planet. She says to yelp really sharply & lift toy and turn away. Don't play no matter what for a while, then try again. They usually get the idea. After all, playing with you is what they want most. If you turn away & not play again till she sits or stops completely, dogs are smart enough to realize it's not the way to play. The lady who trains the dogs, says that sometimes they don't spend enough time with their den mates to find out it's a no no to bite too hard. (04/19/2009)
If it shows aggression towards you while playing, yelp really sharp and quick like a puppy's yelp because this is their natural way of saying, "hey that hurts", "or that's too much". You probably can't get it to be non dog aggressive. They are dog aggressive dogs. Especially if you have 2 males or 2 females in one house. Over excitement will also break into dog fights, too. (04/20/2009)
I raised German Shepherds. One thing I was always told was that you didn't play aggressive games with them; no rope pull, tug toys, etc. or other aggressive games. (04/20/2009)
I don't know. I believe aggression is inbred in pit bulls. I'm not sure if you can "train" the animal to not be aggressive.
That said, I must add that I would SURE try very hard because once the animal is grown you are going to have trouble. (04/22/2009)