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Canine Behavior/socialization between new pet and old


I have a shihzu that is unsociable with our new pit bull puppy. Our pit bull is a love and wants to play with him. It starts out ok but then the shihtzu starts snapping at her and does not give up the quest to play. I dont like to keep them trying as I am afraid they will get hurt. If you have any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated.


How old is the Pit Bull puppy?  How old is the Shih Tzu?  

It appears the older dog is establishing a social hierarchy.  The signals he is giving the puppy are appropriate and the puppy should be acquiescing (although still in the stage of learning).  Your Shih might be afraid of this puppy (I don't know how well socialized he is to other dogs).  If it starts out "okay" and the Shih then demonstrates "ENOUGH" and the puppy backs down, there is nothing to fear.  Interfering with this, trying to force the Shih to accept the puppy, is a huge error.  That puppy will quadruple the size of that Shih and is further able to develop (unless you HEAVILY SOCIALIZE HER STARTING NOW) a reaction to the Shih's social statement that can seriously injure the Shih before you can even get up out of your chair.

Find a puppy kindergarten for your Pit.  It should be ONLY positive reinforcement.  The trainer conducting it should have credentials you can SEE (not just membership in some national trainer's association).  Observe at least two classes before making a commitment.  Here is some info on a proper puppy class:

Unless there are serious temperament flaws, most puppies are "loves" in their neonate period.  It takes some degree of sophisticated evaluation to determine actual present temperament and predict what that means for the future.  A good and well credentialed trainer can do that.  NO CHOKER COLLARS, NO COERCION, only positive reinforcement.

I suggest you study Dr. Ian Dunbar's online course on Sirius Puppy Training:

Even breeds that don't really belong in "pet" homes (and there are quite a few out there) will benefit greatly from heavy socialization to people, children, places, other dogs, cats, etc.  The friendlier your dog, the better a companion she will be.  Ignore what you don't like, redirect to a trained behavior you can reward, and reward what you do like.  Keep the soon-to-be adult dog in mind at all times.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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