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Canine Behavior/6 YEAR OLD FEMALE PIT

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I HAVE A 6 YEAR OLD FEMALE PIT(HOLLY) THAT I GOT WHEN SHE WAS ABOUT 11 WEEKS OLD. WHEN WE BROUGHT HER HOME WE ALSO HAD A 3 YEAR OLD FEMALE LAB. RIGHT AWAY HOLLY SHOWED SIGNS OF FOOD AGGRESSION TOWARD MY LAB, BUT WE WERE ABLE TO BREAK HER OF THAT FAIRLY QUICKLY. WHEN HOLLY CAME INTO HER FIRST HEAT, SHE BECAME AGGRESSIVE TOWARD THE LAB AGAIN, AND AGAIN WE WERE ABLE TO PUT AN END TO THAT AS WELL. AND WE WERE ABLE TO BREAK HER OF THE ANIMAL AGGRESSION SHE HAD SHOWN TO OTHER ANIMALS FROM OUTSIDE OF OUR HOME. EVENTUALLY WE WERE ABLE TO INTRODUCE NEW ANIMALS TO OUR HOME WITH NO SIGNS OF AGGRESSION FROM HOLLY WHATSOEVER. APPROXIMATELY 3 WEEKS AGO, WE RESCUED AN 8 WEEK OLD MALE GERMAN SHEPARD/RED-NOSED PIT MIX AND THE INTRODUCTION WENT VERY WELL! SO, WE THOUGHT ALL WAS WELL, UNTIL HOLLY TURNED ON MY NOW 9 YEAR OLD LAB, SEEMINGLY UNPROVOKED AFTER HAVING THE PUPPY IN THE HOUSE FOR JUST A FEW DAYS. (AND, I SHOULD MENTION, WE ALSO HAVE A 1 1/2 YEAR OLD FEMALE GOLDEN DOODLE THAT HOLLY HAS NEVER BEEN AGGRESSIVE TOWARD). ASSUMING THIS WAS ONLY A TEMPORARY ATTITUDE PROBLEM, WE LET HOLLY KNOW THAT THIS WAS UNACCEPTABLE AND CONFINED HER TO HER CRATE FOR THE NIGHT. THE NEXT DAY WENT BY WITHOUT ANY ISSUE, BUT THE FOLLOWING DAY HOLLY ATTACKED OUR LAB AGAIN. AFTER THE 2ND INCIDENT, AND WITH A HEAVY HEART, I DECIDED IT MIGHT BE BEST FOR HOLLY TO BE REMOVED FROM OUR HOME, SO, SHE WENT TO LIVE WITH A RELATIVE WHOM HAD STAYED WITH US FOR A LITTLE WHILE RECENTLY. BEING AN ANIMAL LOVER AS WELL, I KNEW SHE WOULD BE WELL TAKEN CARE OF. MY RELATIVE ALSO HAS OTHER ANIMALS. SHE HAS A FEMALE PIT-MIX, AND A FEMALE LAB MIX THAT HOLLY GETS ALONG VERY WELL WITH. HERE IS THE PROBLEM WE ARE NOW FACING...  SHE ALSO HAS A FEMALE HUSKY/YORKIE MIX THAT HOLLY HAS STARTED BEING AGGRESSIVE TOWARDS. AGAIN, SEEMINGLY UNPROVOKED. THIS IS WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS OR RECOMMENDATIONS AS TO WHAT WE SHOULD DO ABOUT THIS BEHAVIOR? IS THIS COMMON AS PITS GET OLDER?

Answer
First: BRING YOUR DOG HOME ASAP.  I don't care how well she knows this wonderful relative with such a kind heart, she is now adapting and making a statement of social hierarchy due to stress.  I'm unsure how a hybrid of Husky/Yorkie can occur; unless there is a DNA test, we don't know what that dog is, but if it IS a Husky/Yorkie hybrid, this is not a "mix" that bodes well for that dog's ability to withstand a full blown attack from a Pit.

Second: you are seeing a statement of rank opportunism between your Pit and your yo Lab, who is now showing signs of aging (perhaps not to you, but definitely to your Pit).  This is the direct result of adding a puppy to this mix.  I don't know how you "let Holly know that this was unacceptable"....roll over? scruff shake?  physical punishment?  Confining her to a crate is A VERY BAD IDEA.  If you can count to TEN, a dog will have broken the connection between its behavior and what happens next.  When you confined this dog, you immediately demoted her in social hierarchy; for 24 hours she took a "lay of the land" and then went right back to her rank opportunism.

I cannot FIX THIS in a text box.  You need to find a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  Your dogs must all be evaluated separately and then together, observed by a professional (NOT A DOG TRAINER), so that you can then institute a behavior modification protocol that puts ALL your dogs on Nothing In Life Is Free, rewarding the most obviously "dominant" (I use that word advisedly) first (for attention, going in/out, being fed, anything and everything).  The puppy is a serious problem for me.  At 8 weeks of age, this puppy is now in a FEAR PHASE.  The GSD/Pit hybrid is also a problem; is it likely, as he matures, he will enter this "mix" in social hierarchy and be stronger in temperament, thus provoking a real dog fight with your Pit?  I have no idea.  Most dogs (males) will acquiesce to a bitch but there is no guaranty.  It is quite difficult to determine, with certainty, the adult temperament from a very young puppy but one can make an educated guess.  You are in NY State, presumably in your own home; Cornell University should be able to refer you to a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist in your area.  You can also look at the following links:

http://certifiedanimalbehaviorist.com/page6.html

http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSAppliedBehavior/caab-directory

Meanwhile (and I INSIST that you hire a CAAB or you will risk your loved dog's life): put her on a house tab (lightweight leash); observe her; should she make ANY move toward any of your other dogs, pick up the tab, whistle, clap your hands, walk in a rapid circle with her, get her attention, ask for "sit", reward lavishly, release the leash.  This will change her "thought pattern" = re-direct her.  As for interaction: greet her first, pet her first, feed her first; confine the young puppy in a comfortable space (kitchen) because he should not have run of the house anyway, but do not deliberately keep your dogs apart.  Allow the puppy interaction with the other dogs under your supervision.  Knowing you have a dog aggressive dog means you cannot and should not add another dog to the mix, ever.  When your Pit returns home (AND SHE MUST), for a few days she will be confused and most likely seem quite reformed.  Don't be fooled.  She's going to go right back to her behavior and this time perhaps more aggressively.  Dog to dog aggression is considered a precursor to dog to Human aggression; while this is not always the case, one must take the possibility seriously.

FIND A CAAB.  It might be necessary to re-home this 8 week old puppy; perhaps your wonderful relative will consider taking HIM??

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

Expertise

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.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. 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.

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

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

Education/Credentials
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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