My pit bull is afraid of people...

by Natalie
(Pembroke Pines, FL)


I look at your website everyday! It is great! Anyways, I am writing because I have a pit bull mix, she doesn't look too much like a pit anymore, and a new pit bull puppy I have only had for about 2 months.

They are both very friendly but the youngest one (the complete pit) came from a home, where my understanding is she was confined to a kennel day and night. And was not socialized. She is 6 months old and she is the sweetest thing with us and my bf's 3 yr old son. But when she goes on walks or someone comes in the house, she will bark at them and sometimes even growl. I correct her at the moment and she usually stops but if someone were to actually approach her she will continue and try to run from them.

If the person actually sticks around in our house she will realize they are fine and eventually come around. But I really would like to get rid of the behavior all together.

When she goes to the dog park, she does not bark at anyone, but if someone tries to pet her she will back away and even run away.

Also, she usually is fine with dogs but she seems to hide her tail and get scared if a dog is too high strung...Sometimes she will growl, and a couple of weeks ago her little growl caused a dog to snap and a fight broke out in a second, nothing
happened because we were there and split it up the very second it started but it concerns me very much.

I am enrolling both of them in an obediance class in the next couple of weeks.

Let me know if you have any advice!

Thank you!

Gale's Reply:

Hi Natalie

What you are describing is very typical for a dog that missed out on early socialization opportunities as your puppy did before you got her. This can usually be reversed to a greater or lesser extent through counter conditioning and desensitization. The degree to which this is possible is different for every dog. Essentially, you want your pup to come to realize that good things happen when humans are around.

A lot of people have found Patricia McConnell's book The Cautious Canine: How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears to be very helpful in setting up a counter conditioning program for their dog. It's actually more of a booklet (30 pages) than a book. Very concise and straight forward.

Fear based reactions can get worse if left untreated or mishandled. So, I definitely recommend that you use a book like this to guide you or seek professional help from a behaviorist.

I'm glad you're enjoying this site. Please feel free to post back and let us know of your puppy's progress. Those two look so sweet together. Thanks for sharing the pic.

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 My pit bull is afraid of people...

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Dec 26, 2012
2yr male
by: zane

I got my pure bred pitty trooper about two months ago and he is scarred of any other "big" but me. he is right behind me at all times he loves my girlfriends but is very skidish around other males. I'm working on this now but what worked best for me was having him play out in the yard with me and two other men to get used to them. it has helped me greatly!

Mar 15, 2013
My pitbull is afraid
by: Veshan

Hi there , I have a 2 year old female Pitbull , she loves the family but she tends be afraid when we raise our voices at home , she is also afraid of strangers , she would bark agressivley when strangers are on the otherside of the fence but when they inside the yard she is afraid..can you help?

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