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Old 01-30-2015, 02:57 AM
sh605 sh605 is offline
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Default Need help with both dogs being aggressive, etc.

I have 2 dogs, both are giving me problems. My pit bull is very sweet and affectionate to me and usually friendly to my boyfriend and our roommate, and some people she is pretty familiar with like a few family members and friends. Anyone else she is very skittish and doesn't trust, she shakes very badly, growls and snaps if people come near her when we go out for walks. If they stand still and let her sniff them she may or may not calm down and let them pet her but this is the only way a stranger could touch her. She acts this way around women & children but especially men. She is the most aggressive towards teenage and adult men.

A couple days ago she was sitting with me in the living room and suddenly freaked out, barking and growling at the hallway. She never barks, just growls so this was really unusual. My boyfriend was in our room and our roommate was at work, there was no one in the hallway and the light was off so it was dark. I kind of got scared so I started yelling for my boyfriend to see what she was barking at and when he came out and walked through the hall towards us she kept freaking out but now she was barking at HIM and even when he came into the room and she could see it was him she still barked and started growling louder and snapping at him. I told her to stop and she ran behind me and balled up, shaking. Since then she has been even more aggressive to strangers who approach us, barking now but still frozen to the spot and her whole body shakes.

My german shepherd attacks other animals (cats, dogs, whatever) on sight, the only animals he tolerates are my pit bull, my cat, and my rats. Even then he occasionally tries to attack my cat and snaps at the rats in the cage. He doesn't attack my pit and treats her like he treats us, very affectionate and protective. He has to be locked in our bedroom when people other than me, my bf, or my roommate come over because he jumps, barks, and snaps in people's faces. I can't walk him except in the evening when there's no one around because he is much stronger than me and drags me to go attack other people, animals, or cars. When he's in the house all he does is attack shadows and lights, once he sees one he'll stare at the floor or the wall for hours, I try to snap him out of it but all that happens is he looks up, wags at me, sees the shadow from his wagging tail and freaks out again, pouncing and biting at it, or scratching at it so much it starts to damage the carpet.

I'm worried about the behavior but I love my dogs no matter how much they misbehave, however my boyfriend is at a breaking point and I also plan to move in the next month or so which will probably be impossible with 2 dogs that are not only restricted breeds but also aggressive and destructive. Not only has he damaged the carpet but my shepherd has broken windows trying to attack things he sees outside. There's so much going on that I feel a bit overwhelmed and this goes way beyond teaching them to sit, shake, etc. which is about all I know.
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Old 01-30-2015, 04:30 PM
StompinT StompinT is offline
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This is far beyond my level of expertise, and I think you need a good, experienced dog trainer to work with both of your dogs. In all honesty, it sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

I suggest you post this on the general forum where more people will see it.
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Old 01-30-2015, 05:39 PM
sh605 sh605 is offline
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Well that's not what I can was hoping to hear....

Can this be moved or do I need to make another post?
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Old 01-30-2015, 05:49 PM
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You 100% should get in touch with a trainer who can help you in person. I am not comfortable giving training advice in a situation like this over the internet except to say I would not be walking either of these dogs around other people nor encouraging any kind of interaction, and I would look at a harness and/or combo a head collar for the shepherd to help you better able to physically handle him should you encounter another person.

I would also explore the possibility of behavioral meds in the case of the shepherd.
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Old 01-30-2015, 06:18 PM
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I have to agree, a professional is really needed, especially for the shepherd. Your pit bull sounds like she mainly needs to feel more secure. Step one would be to stop letting strangers interact with her PERIOD. Do not encourage her to interact with others, don't let people hold out a hand to sniff, talk to her, make eye contact with her, NOTHING. She needs to learn that she doesn't have to worry about strangers, they'll leave her alone. If they want to stand there and let her sniff (as long as you're certain she won't bite and certain the stranger will ignore her) then that's fine but they should not then attempt to interact with her, she should feel safe to explore them without feeling that they might reach for her at any moment. After a few months of strangers leaving her alone you'd be really surprised how much more relaxed a fearful dog can become. right now she's just waiting for them to come at her, so she's paranoid and on edge.

I'd also suggest you do something called "counter conditioning". This is basically the process of changing your dogs emotions towards something (in this case strangers) from one (fear) to another (happiness for example). This is simply done by pairing the strangers with something that induces the new emotion you want, happiness. So pair them with something that makes your dog happy. For most dogs the easiest thing to use is food treats because they're easy to take with you everywhere, can be given quickly, dogs love them, and dogs are more likely to take them even when slightly nervous (whereas they might not be in the mood to play or do some other things they like). It's very important that you don't let the dog become too scared. If she's terrified then nothing is going to cheer her up enough to the point where she's happy. You really need her to be feeling good. So keep her far enough away from the strangers that she's feeling pretty good. She can see the stranger and may be a little concerned but she's not shaking/barking/growling or reacting in any way, and give treats to really make her feel happy. Do this anytime a stranger comes over, talks to you, approaches you, or whatever else can bother her. If teenage boys simply walking by bothers he then give her treats when they walk by. Feed treats in any situation where she can be uncomfortable.

Your GSD sounds a little more complicated. His triggers a varied, he's just generally "reactive". Whenever a dog doesn't have a specific trigger it makes things harder. I honestly think he probably needs medication since he's reactive towards so many things, has such extreme reactions, and is also obsessive. Until you get a professional to help you out just keep managing him around his triggers to keep everyone safe. Make sure you are giving him enough exercise. Obviously that's hard since you can't take him in public but there are ways to exercise at home, if you need ideas start a new thread and I'm sure you'll get lots of ideas. Also try to do some daily training and find some fun toys to work his mind and occupy him during the day to tire him out and keep him from being obsessive and anxious. Try feeding him out of toys. Work on self control type training exercises that teach him to hold sit stays during distractions (like tossing treats, wiggling toys, running by him, etc.) or teach him to leave temptations (look at "It's Yer Choice" or "Doggie Zen" videos). Others will have some more ideas. We can help you find a good behaviorist, you want to make sure you're going to someone good or they could make things for worse.


I really admire you for sticking with your dogs despite their problems. I also have a fear aggressive and reactive dog (a little worse than your pit bull, not as bad as your shepherd) and I know how hard he is, I can't imagine having two big dogs with those issues, especially with how severe your boy is. You can't expect that they'll ever be "normal" but with work and help from a pro I bet you'll see great improvements. Keep us updated.
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:32 PM
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That's a huge liability you have as long as you keep the pit bull. One mistake in management and containment and a tragedy can happen and the dog won't be the only one paying the price. You should contact a professional trainer and seek out a behaviorist immediately. You'll be hard pressed to find a rescue or a private home that would be suitable for a dog with a temperament issue that will push the dog to lash out like that. I'd honestly consider euthanizing a dog like that and have done so with my own extremely human aggressive pit bull in the past.
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Old 03-20-2015, 08:55 AM
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You really really need at the very least an experienced trainer to work with you in person, and possibly a behaviorist. Ask your vet for a referral to a positive reinforcement trainer. It sounds like something that could be fixed somewhat easily using the right methods but if you let this go untreated or approach it wrong then it's downright dangerous for you, the public, and your dogs.

For now, limit walks to quiet times when you won't run into strangers, keep your shepherd separated completely from your small animals. IF people come over you need to separate your dogs in a quiet, safe space and only allow them to meet strangers during a controlled training session.

If you can not afford a trainer many ASPCAsband humane societies and animal control centers offer training in lieu of giving up a dog
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Landshark! View Post
That's a huge liability you have as long as you keep the pit bull. One mistake in management and containment and a tragedy can happen and the dog won't be the only one paying the price. You should contact a professional trainer and seek out a behaviorist immediately. You'll be hard pressed to find a rescue or a private home that would be suitable for a dog with a temperament issue that will push the dog to lash out like that. I'd honestly consider euthanizing a dog like that and have done so with my own extremely human aggressive pit bull in the past.
Ditto this- about both dogs. When your dog starts getting dangerous, it's time to PTS. My dog is at that point right now, and Ive made that decision. it's not an easy choice, but unpredictable HA is way too dangerous to tolerate.
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Old 03-20-2015, 12:25 PM
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I want to add that if you don't have a safe fenced yard for your GSd, please use a muzzle on walks and preferably have someone stronger than you walking him! It sounds very much like that dog at the least needs medication and may need to be put to sleep especially the attack of the lights and shadows sounds like a severe OCD, anxiety, or even psychosis issue.

With your pit and fear aggression, it's harder to say online. Some fear aggression is quite fixable but you really need to work closely with someone experienced to keep it from quickly escalating. Some dogs can overcome fear aggression very well and safely, some are beyond help or have other personality issues underlying. I wouldn't jump to saying your dogs need to be euthanized but I think for your shepherd that might unfortunately be where you're headed, and your pit bull will be a lot of work to avoid that and keep everyone safe.
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Old 03-27-2015, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Landshark! View Post
That's a huge liability you have as long as you keep the pit bull. One mistake in management and containment and a tragedy can happen and the dog won't be the only one paying the price. You should contact a professional trainer and seek out a behaviorist immediately. You'll be hard pressed to find a rescue or a private home that would be suitable for a dog with a temperament issue that will push the dog to lash out like that. I'd honestly consider euthanizing a dog like that and have done so with my own extremely human aggressive pit bull in the past.
Quote:
Ditto this- about both dogs. When your dog starts getting dangerous, it's time to PTS. My dog is at that point right now, and Ive made that decision. it's not an easy choice, but unpredictable HA is way too dangerous to tolerate.
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I have to agree. It's terribly sad for an owner to have to face this. But think of the very possible alternative. Very sad indeed.
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