At About Ten Months Old he Changed. He Became Wary of People

wary of peopleBoss, an American Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross is now two years old.

Despite getting him at the tender age of five weeks old, Boss was very well socialised as a pup. They lived in London and took him out to pubs with friends and running in Regents Park. He was used to traffic and crowds.

Boss’ fear of people kicked in at about ten months old, coinciding with when he was castrated. There may or may not have been a connection; there is a probability that early removal from mother and siblings will have contributed, but I have sometimes found that this an age when perfectly friendly dogs can ‘turn’.

Now wary of people

The first sign of ‘aggression’ or fear towards a human is a crucial time. How it is dealt with can set the pattern for future encounters. Sadly, people instinctively show anger and dismay, they feel some sort of punishment is expected by the other person, and it is downhill from there. They only get advice on the best way to react when things have escalated out of their control.

With a dog of Boss’ physique they need to be especially careful because of the ridiculous laws of diagnosing Pit Bulls by their body measurements alone.

When Boss was brought in on lead to join us he was doing classic and prolonged ‘look-aways’, his whole body saying he didn’t want to be anywhere near me. He was yawning loudly. I took this photo after he had settled down a bit, but you can see he’s not happy – just look at his tail, his ears and his whole demeanor. It wasn’t long however before he was near to me accepting food, sniffing my face even, and though he seemed relaxed I didn’t push my luck! I sat still and avoided eye contact.

In cases like this the owners understandably avoid people when really the dog needs plenty of contact with people. This contact however shouldn’t be too close and they should not touch him. He should be at a distance where he feels comfortable and then he needs to associate people with fun and food, not fear.

It’s hard to find acquaintances and friends who are sufficiently relaxed and brave to work with, so creating positive associations with more distant people must be the start.

It is just such a shame the problem of Boss’ being increasingly wary of people wasn’t tackled immediately, with understanding, the very first time it reared its head.

It’s good to hear back from people after quite a long time. Sixteen months have elapsed: ‘He has made amazing progress…He is now able to walk past people and dogs without launching or showing signs of aggression. His recall is much better, thanks to the juicy treats! We are slowly making him realised who is the boss and its our judgement that he has to trust and not his own! And now that you have explained that its Fear Agression/ Anxiety that he’s experiencing we are able to judge the situation/ his body languages and moods’

Imprisoned With Fighting Dogs

Roxy had a verybad start in lifePoor Roxy is just ten months old, and probably a Labrador-Pit Bull  cross.

She had been living in one room, surrounded feces and urine, and the gentleman found her with two dogs he describes as ‘fighting dogs’ that intimidated her to staying in her corner. She is now living with a couple and their two-year-old son, and the adjustment is enormous. She is scared and confused. They have bathed her twice which terrifies her, and the water is still filthy.

She only poos once a day – on the sitting room rug. She holds it until she is alone at night. This is hardly surprising when all her life she has done it indoors, and because her new owners scolded her (she would immediately cower). She will be waiting until she’s all alone and nobody is looking. She won’t toilet on walks or in the garden (she won’t go outside alone).

Outside she is surprisingly calm unless approached by a person or until she sees another dog, when understandably she is very reactive. She has had no experience of normal dog to dog interaction. She will rear up, snarl, hackle and lunge.

I have started them off with ‘homework’ for a fortnight and shall go again. They need to start somewhere and the basics are gaining Roxy’s confidence, which isn’t done either by over-compensating as the were doing or disciplining her with a cross voice. She is super-sensitive and already showing signs of becoming overly attached to the gentleman, leading to possessiveness and growling. The toileting needs approaching in the right way, as does encountering other dogs on walks.

Roxy has had no healthy interactions with either humans or dogs, though I do wonder whether her very early days might have been different as she could actually be far worse. That is a tragic thought. You can see in the first photo she’s doing a deliberate ‘look-away’, showing her uneasiness at people looking at her.

The very first priority is a dog gate for the kitchen doorway. This will solve a lot of problems. Night time toileting will be on a washable floor, she will feel safe away from the’ barking chair’ at the front window and, most importantly, she can be separated from their two-year-old son if necessary.

 I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.