Five year old female pit bull suddenly being aggressive

by Jessica

Hello. I have a 5 year old female pit bull terrier. She has been socialized throughout her entire life and has gotten along well with other dogs, even cats, and all people. Our friends have a pit bull mastiff who she has also gotten along with her whole life. They have been in each others presence for so long and never a problem.

This male mastiff was the father of a litter of puppies nine months ago. Each of us took a puppy. So their "family" includes the male mastiff and another male mastiff who is now nine months old. Ours includes the female pit as well as a 9 month old puppy. Both the puppies are now larger than both the father and our female pit. (sorry if this is confusing).

What I am trying to get at is all four of these animals have been in each others presence since day one. They have constantly gotten along, no aggression whatsoever besides some rough housing that puppies always do.

Recently, our female pit has been getting really aggressive with the pups. Although she is much smaller than them now, she can still pack a punch. They get upset and will shy away and stay away from her.

However, last night she decided to go after the male pit mastiff when they were all playing with toys. He jumped up on a couch that she was on and got really upset and bit at him causing his mouth to bleed. He obviously fought back but didn't do as much damage, go figure.

Is there any reason a loving, well mannered female dog has suddenly become aggressive? There have been no real changes in either household and all of the animals have been together constantly.

I'm not sure if this has anything to do with it, but my boyfriend has also noticed she has been trying to hump his leg a lot lately. She is spayed. Could it have
something to do with this?

Gale's Reply:

Hi Jessica

Whenever you have four dogs, the dynamics become complex so it's really hard to say precisely what's going on. As you pointed out, the pups are now bigger than she is. She might be responding to their increasing size, their sexual maturation process (especially if one is female). She may not like their pushiness and may be feeling the need to "put them in their place" now that they're getting bigger.

To be thorough, I would suggest you have her checked by a vet to be sure there's no medical reason for her change in disposition.

Whatever the outcome of her vet check, it's important to begin taking measures to avoid conflict among the dogs as much as possible. These situations have the potential to get worse if left unchecked.

Make sure she's getting enough exercise and attention from you. It would be a good idea to give her some individual time--perhaps take her for a walk or play with her without the other dogs every other day or so.

Take charge of anything they might fight over like food or toys. They should have these only when you can supervise them or when they are separated from each other. And, for safety's sake, your puppy and your female should be separated when you are not at home. (Same for the mastiff and the other pup if they are going to be staying at your house.)

Finally, establish yourself as pack leader. This will help restore social order and relieve your female of the necessity to fight over the top dog position. You may find Patricia McConnell's book "How to be the Leader of the Pack...And have Your Dog Love You For It" helpful.

Good luck! Feel free to post back here if you have more questions.

For more information on obedience training, visit our Pit Bull Training page.

For help with behavioral problems, check out our Dog Behavior Training page.

Comments for Five year old female pit bull suddenly being aggressive

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May 26, 2011
dogs fighting
by: Gena

We have 2 pit bull, brother and sister, 18 months old that live inside. She has been neutered he has not. They have all of a sudden started fighting when they are around each other. We have separated them. What would cause this. He sometimes sniffs her like she is in heat and then they start fighting... They are usually around each other all day. I don't understand whats happening. thank you for any pointers. gena

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