Pitbull aggression with dogs and worried about our newborn

by Christina

Hi Everyone,

I have a dog named Precious that is six years old and although she is very friendly and loving with people, she shows major aggression with other dogs and is very protective when people come into our house.

She has never bitten anyone, but at times she gets very nervous when she meets someone new and if they enter into our house I will put her up until the individuals sit down and I can introduce them. With newborn babies she has been good, but with the 2-3 year olds that run around, she gets that nervous look her eye and of course I get nervous and put her up.

Over this past weekend my pitbull was able to bite our fence and break the board towards the bottom of the fence. There were two dogs (neighbors) that were at the fence. I had only let her out for 5 mins, she went thru the fence, and fought the two dogs on the other side in their yard.

It took all my strength to get her off the dogs. I am 7 months pregnant and had to climb the fence. I am now just terrified when I have our baby that she may not like the baby. People say dog aggression and human aggression are different which I am aware of.

At first, I thought my dog didn't do any damage to the two dogs (that are half pit). When they went to the vet, the vet saw a deep tooth mark on one of the dogs neck and another deep tooth mark on the other dog on her stomach. Both dogs had to get staples with a drainage tube put in.

My dog also had really bad teeth marks/cuts in her right leg. So $1500.00 later that we paid for all three dogs in the ER, I am now heartbroken because I have never once in my life thought about giving my dog up.

This was the first time my dog ever got into a fight with dogs, but there have been other times (when I walk her / when she sees another dog) that she shuts her ears off to me and there is no calming her down. With all of this said, I have had training with a behaviorist (before the fight) and she also saw how Precious was with other dogs and said she is not a social dog, but that I could work with as far as trying to get her attention.

So my question is, although my dog is loving to me, is she always going to be like this since she is 6 years old? What happens when I bring the newborn home and I can't give Precious my 100% attention? I use to think I could trust her but after her fight (two days ago), I am now very worried.

It is no one else's decision for me to give her away, but like I mentioned before, I never thought of giving her up until this past weekend which is killing me inside.

Gale's Reply:

Hi Christina

My heart goes out to you on this one. As I'm sure you already know, a 6 year old pit bull that's dog aggressive and wary of humans is going to have a very slim chance of being adopted. She would most likely be euthanized if you took her to a shelter.

At the same time, you aren't sure whether you have the ability to manage her issues and ensure everyone's safety. I understand your confidence in Precious is shaken after this weekend. But, it's not her dog aggression that is the real concern. It's her nervousness around people and your ability to control her when she is in a situation where she may encounter other dogs.

It sounds like the behaviorist you consulted assessed her, but didn't actually work with you on her fear of people or your ability to get and keep Precious' attention. Or if she did, it doesn't seemed to have helped much.

Whatever the case with that, it's important that you know that there ARE techniques that can be used to re-condition a dog's responses. But, given the time frame you are working in, I think you need professional help to make it happen.

I would encourage you to find out who in your area really understands and works with pit bulls to rehabilitate them. I suggest you start by contacting rescues in your area and asking them who they use to evaluate and rehabilitate pit bulls. Two pit bull rescues that I know of in Virginia are Bully Paws and Ring Dog Rescue. Hopefully, this will lead you to find the right person to work with you and Precious and make the best decision for everyone involved.

Good luck. I'll be thinking of you and Precious. 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.

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