Ex-fighting foster dog

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pibblelove
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Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by pibblelove » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:00 am

Hi there. We currently have a foster dog that is an ex-fighting or ex-bait dog. He's very sweet with people and is very well-behaved in most ways. However, he has SERIOUS small animal aggression and he doesn't understand how to play with other dogs. We let him meet our 9-month old pit puppy who is very submissive. We thought she would be the best one to introduce him to. He doesn't growl at her at all, but when they "play" he rolls her over and bites her pretty hard. From what my mom says, he also doesn't back off when she yelps. I've never seen a dog fight so I don't know if he thinks he's playing or if it's normal for a fighting dog not to growl. I'd like him to be able to get along with big dogs to make him more adoptable. Any advice? He is reactive to dogs on walks as well...

Also, any ideas on what to do about the small animal aggression? It would be nice if we could get him to the point where he ignores our cats. I don't expect to EVER leave him alone with anything that small, but it would be nice if he could hang out with me without the cats being locked up or him being on a leash.

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Nettle
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by Nettle » Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:49 am

You need to be realistic here.

This dog will never be safe with other dogs, will never like other dogs and will always want to kill small furries. Anyone who claims differently doesn't know much about dogs.

Find him a home where he can be with people and not other animals, where the people are committed to keeping other dogs away from him and live in the kind of location that they can do this, and are not planning on going on holiday for his lifetime.

It's a tough call.

Oh, and keep him away from your puppy or you'll end up with a fear-reactive pup as well, and that takes a lot longer to undo than it does to cure.
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Sarah83
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by Sarah83 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:27 am

I'm with Nettle I'm afraid. And even if you do manage to get him so that he'll be in the same room as your cats and not go after them it probably won't apply to other cats. Mine happily lived with 4 rats (after a hell of a lot of work) but didn't hesitate to go after the new rats I brought in or wild ones.

troop
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by troop » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:59 am

Im inclined to agree with the above answers im afraid (sorry). If it was just a case of unsocialised i would say it would probably be possible to train him out of it but as this dog is an ex fight dog (i would imagine thats why it goes in for kill rather than growl a warning to) i wouldnt risk your smaller critters and yes you could make your pup fearful if not careful. Im sure you could spend plenty of time training this dog to get used to walking past strange dogs at first and its probably best to be able to do this first before meeting any dogs face on or off lead. Good luck and hope this pup finds a great home and well done for taking him on x

pibblelove
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by pibblelove » Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:23 pm

We're not planning on placing him with small animals. I am only concerned abou our cats. The puppy is not at all afraid. She thinks he's playing. Honestly, I'm not sure he isn't. He doesn't bite her throat when he could and most of the time she doesn't act like she's in pain. I think he thinks he's playing. As for not knowing much about dogs, I've grown up with supposedly "dangerous" breeds; rotties, dobes and now pits. The problem is that we've never had a former fighter. I don't know if his body language is different because of that. Also, he'll be euthanized if we feel he is dog aggressive. I'd rather try to fix the behavior than give up right away.

emmabeth
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by emmabeth » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:30 pm

Since you don't know whether he was a fighter or just a bait dog, or heck even just a dog who play fights too hard and gets himself all knocked about, err on the side of caution.

These dogs DO play hard - is that something you want your puppy to do, because whilst it may be ok within your own group of dogs, dogs that assume OTHER dogs want to play as hard as they do tend to get told off, and then end up in fights with other dogs.

Play-fighting is after all, practice fighting and its a very very fine line between the two - so I would teach BOTH dogs impulse control and stop sessions of play fighting before they get too rough (and by that I mean, 'too rough for frailer/gentler breeds').

Keep the foster dog away from your cats - even if he did learn to leave them alone this won't transfer to other cats so you would be putting your cats at risk unecessarily.
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Nettle
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by Nettle » Sat Aug 06, 2011 3:51 am

We can only go by what you tell us, and you are now supplying contradictory information.

You said
pibblelove wrote:he rolls her over and bites her pretty hard
pibblelove wrote:he also doesn't back off when she yelps.

This is pretty serious if it is actually what is happening.
pibblelove wrote:I don't know if he thinks he's playing or if it's normal for a fighting dog not to growl.
It's normal for dogs intent on damaging other dogs to be silent when they attack. They also tend to go in for a gut hold rather than a throat hold.

Then you say
pibblelove wrote:most of the time she doesn't act like she's in pain


does that mean the rest of the time she does?
pibblelove wrote:he has SERIOUS small animal aggression


This isn't going to change.

Then you say
pibblelove wrote:We're not planning on placing him with small animals. I am only concerned abou our cats.


but the same applies. Even if after a long programme of de-sensitising, he comes to accept your cats, you may never be able to trust him alone with them.

You say
pibblelove wrote:As for not knowing much about dogs, I've grown up with supposedly "dangerous" breeds; rotties, dobes and now pits. The problem is that we've never had a former fighter.


I have not said YOU don't know much about dogs - I am very impressed that you have come here for help. No breed is inherently 'dangerous' or inherently 'safe'. However any dog used for fighting has learned to fight other dogs, and when it is a bred-in characteristic as it is with Pits, you can't take it out of the genes. And although it is possible to keep Pits all their lives and never have them know about fighting, once they DO know, there is no going back.
pibblelove wrote: I'd rather try to fix the behavior than give up right away.
To save further misunderstanding, please could you specify what behaviours you want 'fixed' and please be very precise about what you tell us because that is ALL we have to go on :wink: We love to help, but we are also realistic. From what you have told us so far, this dog can be managed, but you can't train out what is bred into him and what has been happening to him in the way of being attacked and defending himself. You will never convince this dog IF he has been fought that other dogs are for any other purpose than fighting.

Over to you :) tell us what we need to know.
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emmabeth
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by emmabeth » Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:28 am

I think the major danger is that you could get this dog to be polite and tolerant around other dogs - and then he overreacts to being told off politely, or to another dog being reactive only instead of a spat it may likely end up with the other dog dead.

The problem is that fighting dogs (regardless of their breed, please do NOT think I have a downer on, or a problem with pitties!) have a VERY high pain threshold and they ENJOY fighting. They may not go around picking fights (professional boxers generally don't either) but if someone starts something BOY will they finish it and they get a massive massive adrenalin buzz from doing so.

It may be that he has never been used for fighting at all, and it may be that hes never started a fight in his life, but you don't know this and therefore it will be safer to assume that he has, and he will, especially given the fact he doesn't back off when a puppy yelps (and thats a HUGE clue, very very few dogs will not back off if a pup yelps!).

He can have a perfectly nice life not interacting with other dogs or living with another dog - plenty of dogs do given a sensible owner. There is no reason you cannot put in the groundwork of teaching him how to greet other dogs politely, but do so with safety first in mind at ALL times (so long leads, muzzles where necessary) and on the understanding that you may never achieve the ultimate goal of having him live with other dogs or run free and play with strange dogs.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

pibblelove
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by pibblelove » Sat Aug 06, 2011 12:40 pm

I guess what I want to know is how to teach him to be polite with my cats. He's crated when we're not here and that will never change, but when we ARE here, I'd like him to be able to be out with us and not kill my cats. We would never adopt him out to a family with small animals, but he has to stay with us until his heartworm treatment is done. Also, I was hoping for tips on getting him to be polite with other dogs. I really don't think he's trying to injure the puppy. That may be me being naive, but he doesn't go for the gut like someone said either. He bites her forelimbs. Of course, this isn't really appropriate either, but it's not as bad as some things he could do. I'm not concerned about her developing a fear reaction because she plays pretty rough with our other foster dog and enjoys herself. If he can never learn to play nice, okay. But if anyone has any tips that might get him to play more gently, they'd be great. He's an awesome dog and he'll be slightly more adoptable if we can say that he can get allong of another big dog visits his family.

Erica
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by Erica » Sun Aug 07, 2011 8:23 pm

As far as the foreleg-biting goes, that's how the Malamute I dogsit plays with his housemate, a Mastiff. Ami (malamute) will bite and shake Zeus's legs, and Zeus doesn't feel a thing and just play-bites back. That might just be how your dog plays.

Also, do you know that the dog is a ex-fighter, or does he just have scars? It might be from something else - raccoons, cats, fences, barbed wire, people...but it might also be fighting.
Delta, standard poodle, born 6/30/14

pibblelove
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by pibblelove » Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:06 pm

The investigator that tested him said they look like dog-fighting scars but he was found as a stray, so we can never be sure. However, he does have pieces of his lip missing, something I've never heard of a small animal doing to a dog. He doesn't have as many scars as other, confirmed, fight dogs I've seen have so maybe he was tossed out on the street early... He's got scars on his tongue, face, chest and forelimbs, but none on his hindquarters...

We haven't had him very long but we're already thinking he might be a liability. He might have to go back to the shelter and be PTS... And I would hate for that to happen. I really love this dog an I really think he would o wonderfully in a single pet home with owners that understand that he needs to be kept away from small animals... But he might not get that chance.

chay
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by chay » Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:20 pm

i am by no means an expert, but just from reading this thread my worry would be not that he is TRYING to hurt the puppy, but that just by the experience he (may have had) in his past he may hurt the puppy seriously without even meaning to.

by dissuading the rough play, you risk nothing - by letting it keep going even if you don't believe he's TRYING to hurt, he may do so by accident OR as emmabeth says, something happens one day that pushes him the wrong way and it all goes wrong.

i really hope he gets the chance to find a home that fits for him, good on you for working with him. i'm sure other folks will be back to offer advice as to how to approach greeting other dogs politely/safely - i really hope you get to work with him further to see it pay off.

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Nettle
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Re: Ex-fighting foster dog

Post by Nettle » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:05 am

The fighting /bait is pure guesswork, then, and shelters are not clever for bigging this up and telling it to people as if it is the truth.

Smaller animals (foxes, raccoons etc) can damage the mouth in the way you describe, and so can other dogs, but the lack of scarring behind indicates that he may not have been used to fight other dogs - but is no guarantee. If he was found on the streets he may have been trying to kill other animals for food - and this might include cats.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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