Pitbull's Attitude Towards Visitors

by Peggy

I have a year old pit, have had him since he was 6 weeks. He only likes people he has known for that time growing up--shows aggression towards other people and wants to bite them. He doesn't like it when people visit, but gets along with other dogs and doesn't show any aggression towards them.

He is alert the whole time visitors are here which could be a fews days if visiting for a weekend. He shakes the whole time and I don't know what's wrong or how to address it? I know he is protective but it's to a point where we can't have company cause he has to be in his cage the whole time besides to use the restroom.

I'm too afraid to take him out in public due to this situation. So he only knows the house and the fenced in yard. He is very loving to us and the kids that he knows and he listens. I'm just concerned about how he acts around others and I don't know if I should have him put down? What should I do?

Gale's Reply:

Hi Peggy:

You say he is loving to the family and comfortable with people who are familiar to him. Yet, he is hyper-vigilant and shakes the whole time when guests are present in your home. This sounds like it could be fear based aggression rather than pure aggression.

To be thorough, have him evaluated by a professional. If his aggression is fear-based, there's a good chance it's fixable through counter-conditioning techniques such as the those outlined in Click to Calm - Healing the Aggressive Dog by Emma Parsons.

However, rehabbing an under-socialized dog that's become aggressive is no small undertaking. It will require real dedication on your part to work with him daily and to ensure the safety of visitors and strangers who may cross paths with him in the meantime. You would also be well advised to engage the services of a trainer or behaviorist to guide you through the process.

If it turned out that his behavior is not fear-driven, then you may be looking at euthanasia. But, from what you've described here, this sounds like a dog who deserves a second chance. I hope you'll be able to provide him with that.

Good luck. Feel free to post back here and let us know how things turn out.

Comments for Pitbull's Attitude Towards Visitors

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Dec 23, 2011
Feeling your pain
by: Anonymous

Not easy feeling like you're being held hostage by your own dog is it? We have had the same problem with our almost 3 year old pittie.We adopted her from our local dog warden about a year and a half ago, she was between 1 and 2 the vet thinks. We have no way of knowing much about her past so don't know how she was socialized. We do know that she spent 12-14 hours a day in a crate for much of the beginning of her life.

Baby has ALWAYS been great with us, even our youngest who was 3 at the time she came to live with us. I am confident she would never bite one of us and would go as far as to say I feel she would protect us with her life.

Unlike you we have been able to take her out. She has no problem with other dogs at all. She will bark at people who we talk to us while out but really doesn't pay much attention to them if we are just walking by. Our problem is her at the house with guests. The kids can't have friends over, family can't come and feel relaxed. One trick I have tried which has worked pretty well is to give guests a baggie of small pieces of dog treats (small because they will be throwing them down every time they make a move or when they are simply sitting & the dog is relaxed and behaving appropriately (REINFORCE that behavior!). This has worked beautifully with my Baby! With 10 year old boys she becomes a mush ball & will flop right in front of them & go belly up so they can't even walk! I recently had a visit from my brother & sister-in-law whom she had never met before and honestly I was dreading 3 days of non-stop barking and crating her! Before they even came into the house I gave them each their own baggie of treats and put Baby on her leash and took her OUTSIDE to meet them. Of course she had to bark a bit but I took her back in the house and crated her before allowing my brother & his wife in. When I let Baby out of her crate they were already settled on the couch. She ran to them & sat on their feet waiting for her treats! My sister-in-law was able to get right down on the floor with her and play, just that quickly! I was amazed!
I truly believe that a dog can sense when someone is afraid of them so having your guests remain as calm as possible can really help! Good luck, there is hope!

Dec 23, 2011
Been there!
by: Amanda

I got my female when she was 8 weeks, and she was great, but is only 2 weeks younger than my daughter so as she grew up she became more and more protective of her, and my other daughter, and myself. I was scared to take her on walks, boarding her while i was on vacation etc. funny thing was, with out myself and my daughters around, she is a totally different dog, she loved everyone at the kennel, and is curious on walks. She is very protective and loud when people come in the house, but also has her ears back like she is scared or nervous. Now what i have learned to help her with this: When people come in, I hold her collar and make her sit until they come in, my male is very social so he gets to meet and greet first, and shows her its ok. Only when she is calm and quiet do i let go. if she gets routy, she gets corrected and she has to stay next to me. She is getting increasingly social, although she is nervous of other kids, i think because she worries about my kids getting hurt. Make everything be on your terms, and show your dog you have control of the situation. Let her greet on your terms, socialize on your terms and increase her boundaries as she relaxes. Also if you have a note on your door for guests to IGNORE your dog, it may help her relax. She can sniff them and get comfortable before she feels like she has to socialize with them. And recognize when she isnt comfortable, My vet told me as long as she is good with my kids and works well in our family, i dont need to force her to socialize. I put nysa in her kennel when i have a couple friends with kids coming and if she whines she stops as soon as she hears the kids, she feels more comfortable away from them.

Dec 27, 2011
how dare you say put down
by: Anonymous

how would you like someone to do that to you? ??

Apr 28, 2013
Similar Problem with otherwise gentle pit
by: Paul

Recent events have us desperately needing/seeking professional assistance and also feeling absolutely devastated at the thought of ever having to put our "Buehrle" down. He is a wonderful, loving, gentle, and fun 3-year old Pit with his family members, family friends and his chocolate Lab sister. He is not aggressive with other dogs. Our two dogs have the freedom they need and deserve to freely roam our rural yard, limited by the underground electric perimeter fence that we had installed several years ago. Buehrle has NEVER been aggressive with people or other dogs while on walks or on OTHER people's property. He has, however, randomly growled at certain folks that enter OUR property. Then the REALLY REALLY BAD DAY happened yesterday ... the unthinkable - he bit a solicitor that came to our front door while my wife and I were away. Not good at all - now we feel that we can't let him run free anymore & caging this beautiful animal would be a sure death sentence for him, as he is extremely sensitive to being alone or caged & would, without a doubt, end up killing himself or dying from the self-induced stress that separation induces in him. We are beside ourselves - love this dog SO much that can't even begin to think of life without him right now. Feel terrible that I somehow failed him ... showed too much love & not enough training??? Not sure, but we desperately need a professional Pit guy/girl to evaluate the situation & help us determine whether our dog's behavior can indeed be permanently modified. Wondered if anyone could please help us locate a Pit professional in our area (NW Indiana) so that we can help our boy Buehrle stay in the home that he loves and where he belongs. I've successfully raised several great dogs during my lifetime, but this is the first Pit that we've ever had the pleasure to raise & love. We desperately want to keep him - but need to know that he won't hurt anyone ever again. Any leads for professional pit training would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

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