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Old 12-26-2012, 11:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Arrow What training method should I use? Help me help this sad girl!!

My friend has asked for my help in training her Pit Bull. I am not a professional trainer nor have I trained a dog that didn't live in our home. I do believe I am her last hope and I want to make sure I am prepared before I get started with her.

She is 6 yrs old. She was spayed march of 2011. About 6 mos after her spay she started with severe fem dog aggression, small animal aggression, and fear of thunder. She has killed a couple of rabbits and a small fem dog. She is so terrified of thunder she ripped up a storm door trying to get inside while my friend was at work. She is stuck in a run outside 24/7 now.

My first thought was something happened during her surgery appointment. My friend said that they all absolutely loved her! One of the techs just feel in love with her. So that tells me she didn't try to fight strange dogs at the vet. She still loves people, thankfully that isn't a problem!

Something has changed, now I have to figure it out and fix it. If this doesn't work I am afraid her only 2 options are a sad lonely life in the run or pts

Before anyone starts to judge we have tried to seek help from a local rescue, absolutely no response from them. I can understand she has a home and there are plenty of PBs without issues that need homes but they could at least answer me. My friend does not want to rehome her to someone else that can not help her. And she is a huge liability.

I would love to bring her into my home to rehab her but we have 2 fem dogs and 2 cats.

So my question is, how would you approach this situation? Would a muzzle and the immersion into my house be the way to help her (I'm a little nervous about this one)? If I do training sessions at her house what method would you suggest?

One more thing, I have decided it would be best to muzzle her in the beginning while working with her. She also obviously needs exercise everyday. I have an old treadmill I can use for her. My concern is that the uneducated public will think she is for fighting or a monster. Has anyone dealt with this?

Please feel free to ask questions, I tried to include everything as short as possible.

Please, I am asking for help to help a bad situation, positive help please!
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My only advice is find a good trainer and behaviorist. We can all try and give you advice but without seeing the dog in person it's hard to really see what's going on. A muzzle in public is a good place to start. Don't worry about what other people think. You are trying to do what you can to help this dog. That's all that matters. Best of luck to you and your friend.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you! Unfortunately we live way out in the middle of nowhere. No trainers here, that's why I am her last resort.

I haven't spent a lot of time with her yet either. What would you look for? Then what method would you use? Has anyone had a similar experience?

Thank you!!
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Female to female dog aggression is not something you can fix in my opinion....it is their personality and no matter how hard you try, you will never get this "cured"...

We talk alot here about "drives"...prey drive, social aggression, play/toy drive....Pits are bred to have specific drives as well....and as in our own breed, BYB dogs and poorly bred dogs still have the genetic background to have these drives genetically.

Pit Bulls are often defended by people saying how lovable they are...and specifically, I guess that can be true!! However, you are dealing with a dog who, as it matured, exhibited genetic drives to kill small animals....and be female/dog aggressive. I am afraid that this is the dogs genetic makeup and no amount of training will 'fix' this....even if you can modify her behavior slightly, you will still have to be vigilant and there will never be a guarantee that the dog is safe with small animals.

I also understand that your friend does not want to rehome this dog and give someone else the liability of her possible behavior....I totally respect that. You taking this dog into your own home is putting your dogs and yourself at risk, and seriously, that is not acceptable IMO....accidents happen, dogs get out of muzzles and if she hurts one of yours or you trying to stop something, you will feel horrible.

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Old 12-26-2012, 12:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I wouldn't worry about what other people think. This dog needs a muzzle. This most likely has nothing to do with a vet appointment and a spay. The problems started right as she matured from puppy to adult so it was going to be engrained in her unless something was done to stop it at that age. At this point, she just needs to be managed and trained.

My advice would be to muzzle, have a collar/leash combination that works for you and her in order to keep her under control, and start working with her in obedience. Get her trained so she pays attention to the handler at all times and is able to ignore everything else around her. I suggest showing/instructing the owner on how to do this and not doing it yourself as at the end of the day she is their dog.

Start slow, get her to only pay attention to the handler at first with all things obedience. Then start introducing distractions and other dogs. I would not try to get this dog acclimated to your home, no reason for it, and no reason to put your pets in danger because you want to help a friend out.

Once she has her obedience solid, and this will take MONTHS not days/weeks. You can try to introduce your dog around her. The fact of the matter is that you will not ever be able to trust this dog off leash around other dogs/animals. This is not something you will be able to train her to do, and all you can do is get her to ignore the things around her. This will not be a dog that you take to a dog park, or to a friends house with other animals and just let them run free. If she's killed once, she'll do it again and I would never put the lives of other animals in danger because I want this one to be more "normal."
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Bless you for taking on this monumental and difficult task.

From your comments it seems that you are fairly naive about training--not an insult, just an observation. ("If I do training sessions at her house what method would you suggest?") This dog will require lots of positive training, lots of training by you of her owner, some negative reinforcement, and assessment of her subtle signals related to the multiple, possibly inter-related problems she has. This would be a challenge for a very experienced Pit Bull trainer. You should first educate yourself extensively from reading this forum and other sites online. No one can sit here and write the novel that would be required in response to your post to tell you everything you will need to do. So, read up and watch lots of videos.

Second, I agree wholeheartedly that you should use a muzzle for all training until the dog totally accepts you as a pack leader. If you don't want people to react hang a sign on her that says "In Training".

Third, I would not expose the dog to your females or cats (or any other animals, dog parks, etc.). This dog needs intensive training with no distractions for several weeks/months at least, (with NILIF in-between sessions) and then incremental introduction of controlled, small distractions and re-training at each failure. Based on your description, I surmise that this dog is probably poor on a leash, worse on a long line, dog reactive on walks, has a high prey drive, etc. "Immersing" her in your pack would defeat your training efforts and result in chaos, based on your description of the dog.

Giving it up for adoption by another unprepared person would not be cool--but giving this dog to someone trained and experienced and willing to rehab a PB would be the best thing you could do for it, and that your friend could do for herself.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Very helpful! THANK YOU!!
So you don't think it has to do with anything traumatic? It just seemed strange that the aggression started with the extreme fear of thunder. If my math is right she didn't start this until 4 or 5 yrs old. Isn't that past maturity? Please don't think I am questioning you, I am just trying to make sure I understand why =)

I know she will never be like my dogs. I am also not an advocate for putting dogs down but my instincts are that she is too much of a liability. But I would hate to just give up on her and not try. I don't know, this is a hard situation.

Many years ago I personally had a couple of pit bulls. Your right, the truth is that they need a firm handler/owner from the start! I also got tired of ignorant people telling me not to let them around children.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cusack's Human View Post
Very helpful! THANK YOU!!
So you don't think it has to do with anything traumatic? It just seemed strange that the aggression started with the extreme fear of thunder. If my math is right she didn't start this until 4 or 5 yrs old. Isn't that past maturity? Please don't think I am questioning you, I am just trying to make sure I understand why =)

I know she will never be like my dogs. I am also not an advocate for putting dogs down but my instincts are that she is too much of a liability. But I would hate to just give up on her and not try. I don't know, this is a hard situation.

Many years ago I personally had a couple of pit bulls. Your right, the truth is that they need a firm handler/owner from the start! I also got tired of ignorant people telling me not to let them around children.

It has been my understanding and experience that PB's don't mature until much later. Four or five sounds about right.
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billsharp View Post
Bless you for taking on this monumental and difficult task.

From your comments it seems that you are fairly naive about training--not an insult, just an observation. ("If I do training sessions at her house what method would you suggest?") This dog will require lots of positive training, lots of training by you of her owner, some negative reinforcement, and assessment of her subtle signals related to the multiple, possibly inter-related problems she has. This would be a challenge for a very experienced Pit Bull trainer. You should first educate yourself extensively from reading this forum and other sites online. No one can sit here and write the novel that would be required in response to your post to tell you everything you will need to do. So, read up and watch lots of videos.

Second, I agree wholeheartedly that you should use a muzzle for all training until the dog totally accepts you as a pack leader. If you don't want people to react hang a sign on her that says "In Training".

Third, I would not expose the dog to your females or cats (or any other animals, dog parks, etc.). This dog needs intensive training with no distractions for several weeks/months at least, (with NILIF in-between sessions) and then incremental introduction of controlled, small distractions and re-training at each failure. Based on your description, I surmise that this dog is probably poor on a leash, worse on a long line, dog reactive on walks, has a high prey drive, etc. "Immersing" her in your pack would defeat your training efforts and result in chaos, based on your description of the dog.

Giving it up for adoption by another unprepared person would not be cool--but giving this dog to someone trained and experienced and willing to rehab a PB would be the best thing you could do for it, and that your friend could do for herself.

No offense taken, I do not claim to be an expert That's why i am asking for help. I don't want to do harm first. Thank you for your help!!!

I guess what I mean by that is... I have only trained dogs in my home. I can correct and train them 24/7. How do I go about training when I am not there but a couple of hours everyday? Will it work eventually in such an extreme case?

I have helped other dogs overcome these things. Not a lot of dogs and none of them had all of these problems at once LOL

I wish there were someone who could/would be willing to take her in!! Believe me, this is a last resort!
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Old 12-26-2012, 01:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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First of all, unless they bring the dog inside and are willing to work with her there's no way you or they are going to be able to make any progress.

You cannot rehabilitate a dog that lives outside in a kennel 24/7. They MUST be under constant supervision so that their training doesn't backslide.

Thunder fears can be worked with (Google Thundershirt). Small animal aggression can be (somewhat) controlled but I would never trust her alone with any small animals.

Female-on-female dog aggression is VERY difficult to work with. I would suggest not even trying and simply rotate dogs (crate one while the other is allowed freedom and then switch).

If they do not plan any of that and are just going to keep her outside 24/7 - please convince them to euthanize the dog. It would be more humane.
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