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Old 05-15-2012, 03:18 PM
j0equ1nn j0equ1nn is offline
Sean Smith
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 34

-Okay, thanks for responding. Yes I agree that the important question here is "How do I make him stop growling," it's just that up to then I had received various advice on that except for what I should do when the growling is actually happening. Many said it is wrong to back away because it confirms to the dog that the growling worked. Many say not to interfere with what he's growling over because it will confirm to him that his fears which caused the growling have a basis. Most advice seemed dominated by a fear of getting bit, but up to now I didn't get anything concrete. So I appreciate your taking the time to read what I said even though I was kind of pissed off, and share your thoughts on the matter.
-I know what you mean about morons who treat their dogs like children; I can understand how if you're in the dog-training business you might have seen enough people like that to have a hair-trigger on the matter. The idea of putting a 1 year old pitbull who can outrun me in a stroller would be pretty retarded if it were for any reason other than what I described. But yeah, it's actually a little-known fact that you can LEGALLY bring your dog on the subway or the metro (in NYC anyway, I expect elsewhere in the US too) if he's in a crate, and a dog stroller counts as a crate (on wheels) - so folks should take note of that.
-The sort of toys you leave your dogs with are the same sort of toys I leave Sam with. He gets this indestructible big blue rubber bone that he entertains himself with for hours, and one of those Kong rocker things you put treats in and the dog knocks it around trying to get them out - seems to keep him entertained and out of trouble (usually).
-As for the exercise, no I don't bring him to a dog park. The main reason is just that the dog parks I've seen are so small and crappy, and also Sam is so young and excitable he usually only has a couple minutes when socializing with another dog before the other dog gets sick of his crap. He is very friendly with dogs and even cats and swans (even though they despise him), as well as random people outside. I've never seen him get aggressive unless the other dog did first. But I am curious about what your objection is to the dog parks. What I do is, I got this really expensive crazy-durable retractable leash (the Flexi Giant XL), and taught him some commands so that he could run around with it without causing trouble. At any given moment if I say "come here" and he doesn't, he loses his freedom and has to walk next to me for a while. Before getting the full leash back he has to not pull for a while, then respond to "come here," "sit," and "lie down," then stay down until the command "you're free." He also knows "this way" which means to just go the same way I'm going, and stay on the same side of obstacles so they don't intercept the leash. He learned all this stuff in like a week, I was kind of impressed, and now he's totally safe running around in the park. He does like about an hour every day. It's a huge park (Prospect park in Brooklyn) with a lake, and I usually take him at night so I don't have to worry about too many people/dogs. He runs around, plays fetch with me, jumps to grab a stick out of my hand, and sometimes jumps in the lake and attempts to swim (not good at swimming yet). That's his main daily exercise, besides a few 15-minute walks, but I honestly don't know if that's considered enough.

Good to hear from you again. As usual your advice is a little different from others, but so far it has been the most effective with Sam. He's getting good with that "drop it" command. He'll do it for me almost instantly, takes a little longer with other people, but he does it. He's definitely learned it's a positive, play-associated command, as opposed to "leave it" which means he's into something he's not allowed to have. The "bring it" one is harder. He usually comes toward me, then stops and lies down with the object and I have to come to him to get the toy/stick/whatever. But sometimes it works fully. Since working on those commands his possessiveness has almost disappeared with all but certain types of toys. When he has anything made of animal parts (rawhide, bones, bully-sticks, pig ears), he gets weird. These are the things I only give him when I'm alone with him and planning to try to work with him about it. What's weird is that he will not chew them. He will just lie down near them looking nervous and sad, and go pick them up and hold them whenever I approach. Those times, I've been dropping treats whenever I pass by, so now he hardly ever growls at me, but still acts weird. He will even let me take the thing from him and toss it, and go get it like he would his other toys, but once he gets the thing he goes back to his weirdness, will not bring it to me. Best thing I accomplished so far was I came up and sat next to him gently, pet him and took his rawhide knot, then stuffed treats into the crevices of it and gave it back to him, then went in the other room. For about 20 minutes he actually chewed on it and enjoyed himself, looking happy, then stopped even though there were still treats in it, and went back to being weird. The treats are still in the thing, he won't chew it anymore.

Okay, now about the growling... My fiance always disengages from him the moment he starts growling, even if it's during play. She can't see a clear difference between that growl and the possessive growl, though to me they're very different. I've noticed that he tries to growl less with her when playing, because he doesn't want her to stop playing with him. With me, the possessive growling is the only kind I care about. By now when it happens I feel confident that he's not really about to bite. He hasn't snapped at me since the incidents I described back at the beginning of his being here. Usually what happens on the rare occasion that he growls over a toy/bone is I back away and call him to me. He hesitates, then comes over and acts submissive. This is his queue to pee on the floor, but that doesn't always happen. So I guess in a way I have been respecting his growl, but I always demand he change the attitude and approach me instead of me approaching him. If he's eating and growling, he will not come to me, ever, he keeps eating. I've also added to his mealtime routine that he has to lie down and stay while I put the bowl down, and wait for me to say "okay" before he can eat. He learned this in a day, no problem. But the growling is completely unchanged.

I tried what you said Maxi24, yesterday. During his breakfast I stood next to the bowl, without touching him, and dropped a couple little pieces of pork sausage on the floor. He gobbled them up. I bent down and tossed a few right into the bowl, no issue. During his dinner I had another idea. His meals are a mix of mostly dry food with half a can of wet food. I know he likes the wet food better. So what I did was I gave him a bowl of just the dry food. Then as he was eating, I added the half-can of wet food to the bowl one spoonful at a time, and mixed it up a little. He let me do this, did not growl. Once I had mixed all the wet food in I went in the other room. When he finished eating he ran in to me with his tail wagging wanting to lick my face and cuddle. Don't know what that meant but it seemed like a good sign.

I'm going to try the routine you described as well. I'll let you know what happens, in particular whether he keeps growling into an empty bowl.

One little obstacle here is that next week I am leaving the country for a math conference, and Sam is going to be staying with a friend of mine. Sam's been to the friend's place twice and stayed over, gets along with him, and listens to him pretty good. But I can't really expect my friend to follow every little detail of how to treat Sam. I'm a little nervous about it but it's my only option. If you don't hear from me for a little while it's because I'm in France without a computer.
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diarrhea, food timid, pit bull rescue, resource aggressive, submissive urination

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