Puppy is Getting More Aggressive

Our seven month old puppy is getting more aggressive the older he gets.

Our first addition to our family is our dog Frank. We adopted him as a young puppy and he is now a little over 7 months. We want to be the owners of a pitbull that proves they are not the bad breed everyone thinks.

Frank is very smart. He has mastered sit, stay, lay, shake, roll over in just his first few months. He is great on walks and is friendly with all strangers and other dogs.

Since he was a little puppy he would have "episodes" where he would jump and bite at us. We tried different things such as walking away, bitter apple spray, laying him down to keep him from doing it, etc.

We thought it was maybe because he did not get enough energy out so increased our walks and made them longer. This also did not work and often coming back from a walk he would have an episode.

He is now over 50 pounds and the episodes are becoming more frequent and aggressive. I think that when he was a little puppy it was more playing and trying to get our attention but now its aggressive (teeth showing, bark aggressive, hair standing, tail up)

I am curious if anyone else has had this issue. We had him neutered and it did not help at all. Is it just his age? Will he grow out of it? What's your opinion on a shock collar? my last resort :(

Gale's Reply:

It would be interesting to know what kind of things trigger these episodes that Frank is having. Is it random? Or do certain situations seem to make it more likely that Frank will snap?
If you can't identify any triggers--it just happens
out of the blue--then it's a real mystery.

I would suggest having his vet examine him to determine whether there's any illness or abnormality that would explain his behavior.

Will he grow out of it? He might. But, from your description it sounds like his episodes are getting more intense as he's getting older.

If your vet finds nothing wrong, my best guess is there is something you may have unwittingly done with him when he was younger that reinforced this behavior. Maybe it was kind of cute when he weighed 5 or 10 lbs, but not at 50 lbs with a full set of adult teeth.

The picture I'm getting is of a dog who is obedient to you, friendly to other dogs and strangers, but who also feels entitled to your attention whenever he wants it. If that's the case, you may find the NILIF program (nothing in life is free) helpful. Patricia McConnell has written a wonderful booklet along similar though less stringent lines called How to Be the Leader of the Pack - and Have Your Dog Love You for It!.

I am not a fan of shock collars. In fact, I believe using one in this instance could make the situation worse. I understand your desperation though. You've tried several things that haven't worked. At this point, I think you would do well to hire a behaviorist to help you sort things out and get Frank on the right track.

I would stress, however, that before starting Frank on any behavior modification program I would get an "all clear" from the vet first. Good luck. It's sounds like you've done some great work with Frank on obedience. Feel free to post back and let us know how things are going. Perhaps others will chime in in the meantime.

Comments for Puppy is Getting More Aggressive

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Sep 17, 2011

My pit was a stray I rescued from a shelter at 3 months old. He has always been playful and he is now 3 1/2 years old. He will sometimes (in his playful mood) bark, growl and lunge at us BUT we know he is only playing. Honest! And, at a younger age, I taught my pit what a belt is. ONLY a flick on his rear (he has always seemed sensitive in that area) Now, I can just say "belt" and he runs and gets in HIS own recliner. Thus, I have enforced a word to correct him BUT I want you to know....I have NEVER abused him. NEVER ! I spent thousands on him as a puppy (serious sickness) and have never regretted a cent of it. BUT know, your pit may be beyond this enforcement. I would NEVER attempt this NOW because if he is truly aggressive and not playing...he may really hurt you. Please have a vet check him out to be sure his signs of aggression are not due to injury, pain or something else. Praying for you and your pit.

Sep 17, 2011
aggressive behavior
by: becky and jimmy

We had similar problem w/our pit when he was a puppy..Did you try a TAKE DOWN?...next time he does this,put him on the ground [in our case, we were on the bed wrestling with him], lay on top of him and hold him there for several minutes, or until he quits struggling to get up..you may have to do this a couple times..it worked with our dog! He is now 4 years old 91 lbs..mix pit/mastiff and have nener had this issue again...Good Luck my friend..wished ours was as socialized as yours..you have done wonderful job ... and u are right as pit owners we hav got to do our best to change their image...

Sep 17, 2011
A Caution
by: Gale

@Becky and Jimmy:

I appreciate your desire to be helpful. But I feel the need to point out that there is the potential for dog, human or both to be injured in a take down type maneuver.

So much depends on a dog's individual temperament and how they perceive what is happening to them in the moment. It seems to have worked for you with your dog. But, I can imagine any number of dogs might have felt compelled to bite under those circumstances.

And owners have been known to use too much force in the heat of the moment of trying to wrestle down a powerful dog. After the dust settles, they discover they've injured their pet. And, then there's the question of how the trust between dog and owner will be impacted by this kind of tactic.

While I'm glad this worked for you in your situation, I wouldn't recommend it as a wholesale solution.

Sep 17, 2011
observation of Frank this morning
by: Anonymous

It honestly could be at a random time where he outside and has just gone to the bathroom, or we we have just gone on a walk and he has just drank water and comes back into living room and starts doing it, or even we are petting him and all of a sudden jumps up and starts doing it. I would say the only "triggor" is when he tell him no for something.

This morning he had the episode while we were drinking our coffee in the living room. Frank was chewing on his bone and then without us doing anything (getting up or moving) he starting attacking my husband (no trigger seriously) We tried to NILF method and my husband stood up and let him just bark and nip a little at him. After 20 min he calmed himself down. We are going to continue to try this "ignore" method. I really DO NOT want to do a shock collar because I fear it will make him worse and I do not want to hurt him :(

Thank you for all the advice. We will def think about taking him to the vet. We have noticed his eyes are really red.

Sep 17, 2011
Call tino
by: Anonymous

Yeah, contact tIno from peaceloveandpitbulls.org

Nov 21, 2011
A few tips
by: Anonymous

I am no dog trainer but I have grown up around "aggressive" breed dogs and might have some info you can use.
Exercise- Your dog needs to be exercised regularly. And if you want to attempt a new disipline technique, i would def get him real tired first.
Lease and Mussle - If you can determine when he has his "issues", and can put a mussle and a lease on him before hand. When he starts acting up, you can grab the lease stay strong until he calms down.
If you want to attempt this. Introduce the mussle and lease with love. Ex. Pet him with the mussle before you put it on.
It sounds like you have some problems. Please be while dealing with him when he is not on a lease or in a mussle.

Oct 24, 2015
Pup getting more aggresive NEW
by: Tania Moreno

I have a four month about five old pit. I just took her to vet about a week ago and everything checked out well. For the past couple of days she starts getting very aggresive with everyone in our house.I have no idea if it has to due with her loosing two teeth in two days but truly She is a sweetheart to new people and to us, and I understand she's a pup and is playful and I don't mind but I don't like where she starts getting more aggressive towards us. What can I do?

Feb 11, 2019
Latest NILIF technique update
by: Thomas

The latest update for NILIF dog training technique: https://k9deb.com/nilif

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