Canine Behavior/PItbull


Hi there.
   I have a pitbull as a house dog. He's very playful and energetic. I enjoy him a lot, but the problem is that I wants to keep him out over as a look out on protecting the house; however it's hard to do that because after trying to test him, he chews on so much, climbing counters, eating up stuff, or even when we close our room door, he scratches at the door and he also barks for no reason at things that we cannot hear or see. I wants to keep him out so badly because I don't want him to be a kindle dog all his life. I hate when i have to lock him up. Please help me. He is 11 months old in counting. I don't know how old is that in dog years but any ways, your help in advice would be appreciative. He's American Terrier/ Gotti.

I'm not 100% sure I'm following your question - what is a 'kindle dog'?

But, if I'm getting the gist, you're finding you have to crate or otherwise confine the dog when he's unsupervised. Is this correct?

At 11 months old, your dog is still a puppy. Our role as pet parent is to teach him the appropriate things to put his mouth on by providing him lots of opportunity to engage with acceptable things, while preventing access to inappropriate things.

In other words, while he's confined, you should be giving him things like food stuffed Kongs (breakfast and dinner can be delivered this way). It's not only excellent mental exercise for your dog, but also teaches him that this toy is an appropriate place for his mouth to be. It's extremely reinforcing because every time he engages with it, he gets flavor and food out. Chewing on it is soothing simply because chewing is soothing. So by confining your dog so he can't access things like furniture and counters, but has a Kong or two available, you will help him develop a habit of chewing on the right thing. then, when he's out of the crate he'll be more likely to seek out and choose the items he's had available in the crate.

Other items that would be appropriate things for your dog to engage with include:
marrow bones
bully sticks
Nylabones (the polymer ones last significantly longer than the Nylabone edibles).
Everlasting Treat Toys

All of the above need to be supervised the first few times so you know how he engages with them. We want to be sure he's not going to bite up large chunks that may be choking hazards.

Dogs are generally considered puppies until they're 3 years of age. It's not inappropriate to confine this dog for another several months when he can't be supervised (while you're at work or sleeping at night). Many dogs sleep every night in their crate for their entire lives. It's their safe space and they'll choose to nap there during the day if they have access as well.

Testing your dog shouldn't be giving him the run of the house for several hours. Instead, it should be putting the crate in a single room and confining him to just that room for a short period (e.g. while you take a shower or while you run through a drive-thru to get dinner) less than 30 minutes. If he does well in that situation on several occasions, you can increase the length of time, but still in that space - just that one room, or perhaps you baby-gate him and his crate in a hallway.

I usually start with a crate or playpen. Then I graduate the dog to his crate in a bathroom a hallway or the kitchen. In your case, if you use the kitchen, you'll need to make sure the counters are cleaned up and you might need to invest in a deterrent device to teach him he can't/shouldn't get up there even when you're not home.

Such a deterrent device might be a Scat Mat (see link below to some video) or a Ssscat! which is a noise/air spray, with no physical punishment (see video link below).

Once the dog has graduated to, say, just a hallway and has demonstrated he's able to successfully hang out there without causing damage, then I might open the bathroom door in that hall so now he has the hall and a bathroom. Every few weeks, when the dog has demonstrated he can handle that much space, I'll increase the space a little bit (one room or one hallway) and build up his ability to be in the whole house - or most of the house.

There is nothing wrong with having certain rooms always off limits. In my house, my dogs do not have access to the formal living room/dining room without supervision. Initially that was for potty training purposes for a puppy. But I've kept it up now because it makes that space a special occasion place where I let them run around and wrestle each other. Generally, they just have no need to have access to our formal living space without supervision, so they don't.

Scat Mat - on a desk.

Less obvious, but still successful reaction - for a trashcan picker

Ssscat! this is a pressurized air canister. it emits a tone before it sprays so the animal can learn that the tone means get out of the way. I like this video because it's a bengal tiger! The screeching noise in the background is a bird - this is in a zoo.

With both of these tools, you set it up so that the tone sounds before the punishment (air spray or static shock). After a couple of exposures, you should be able to set it for Tone ONLY and that should be sufficient. After another week, you can probably set it up and not even turn it on - just have it in place and the visual will be enough to prevent the undesired behavior.

I'm not a big fan of positive punishment (adding something that is unpleasant to the dog's environment), but when you can't be present to redirect the animal to a better choice, then these tools can be very handy. They are particularly useful because the timing of the punishment is perfect and consistent. You know it's a successful punisher because it only requires a couple of exposures to eliminate the undesired behavior.

Of course, if the tool goes away too soon, the dog may resume the behavior again because the visual is gone. This is why I say keep it set up and on (tone and punishment) for a week, then switch to tone ONLY as that should be plenty sufficient to warn the dog to move away and avoid the area. Then, after another week, you should be able to leave it in place, but powered off. You may want to switch it on just randomly, maybe one day per week or every couple weeks, just in case he should decide to try again. But, really, that probably won't be necessary.

These tools are in conjunction with providing appropriate things to occupy him such as the Kong toys or other chew items as well as management - ideally just preventing access to certain areas. These tools are for those places where you can't prevent access to the room, but need to discourage him from interacting with that specific thing.

Kongs for beginners

Intermediate Kongs

One Way to Load a Kong (for advanced use)

I also encourage you to read the books
After You Get Your Puppy , by Ian Dunbar, DVM

Perfect Puppy in 7 Days , by Sophia Yin, DVM

I hope this proves helpful. Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance.

Los Angeles Behaviorist

Canine Behavior

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

©2017 All rights reserved.