This is very hard for me to write as I hate to do anything to cast my dog in a negative light. But, perhaps by sharing this information, I can help a rescued Pit or other dog – any breed – from being “re-homed” after a brief period of adoption. This is a straight-from the heart blog and probably not going to be too polished. Forgive me.
To put it bluntly, Maggie came after me yesterday when I was in the kitchen. I didn’t know what was happening. All her hair was raised up, she snarled and growled, bit me repeatedly (but didn’t break the skin), scratched me, and, I think worst of all, came at me several times at a dead run and leaped on my back. I’m bruised and scratched, but it’s my back that’s hurting me since last night.
Naturally, I got control of the dog and put her in the crate for a cool-down (she did not get beaten) while I did research and called the Canine College. A billion thoughts raced through my mind: Had I done something to set her off? Would she do this again? Was Jamie safe with her? What the hell happened to my good dog that stayed with me 7 hours while I struggled with a migraine? Should I re-home her? What the heck was going on?? I was so confused.
After speaking with Daryl of the Canine College, he explained to me that it is very common for dogs, especially the larger breeds, to want “hard play” when they get wound up or excited. He further explained that Maggie could have bitten me and broken the skin, and given me a really bad dog bite any time she wanted, but she didn’t, because she was controlling her bites because she was playing. Daryl also said this is very common behavior for the Shepherd police dogs when he is training them, and it’s important to re-direct their energy. Bottom line is, there are several restrictive measures I have to take with Maggie and I will get further counseling on Saturday.
Why am I telling you this? Because Pitbulls get a bad rap, and I think if people know that, once their rescued Pit is comfortable, they are going to want “hard play”. Knowing this, then, maybe owners will get the idea out of their heads that the dog “turned” on them when what they are doing is showing their owners that they want to play. I certainly did not know what to think. Right now, Maggie has to wear the leash in the house along with her training collar so that if she does this behavior, it will be easier for me to correct her. She also has to be crated more often and again, I will get further advice on Saturday. Daryl assured me it was not aggressive behavior directed toward me and that my family was perfectly safe.
My husband says that Maggie has 2 speeds: “balls to the wall” and “super submissive”. Maggie is still a young dog, and through exercise and re-direction of energy, I will help her get past this negative behavior. She is a very good dog and I love her very much.
Please, please, do not give up on your rescue animal! Remember that you do not know his/her background or puppyhood. Dogs start forming their personality with humans at 8 weeks old. If you take in a rescue pet, you’re going to have some baggage to deal with!
Again, this post is hard for me to write, but I want to reassure you that IT IS WORTH IT to work with your rescued animal. Maggie is a good girl, and her behavior has NOTHING to do with her breed (except she does need lots and lots of exercise, but I knew that) and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that she looks at me as the person to play with. Sometimes, our ideas of play do not match up. But doesn’t that happen with humans, too?
Please think of Maggie today. She is greatly upset by the incidents of yesterday and is being very quiet. She is an extremely smart dog and she knows she stepped over the line. I have to be firm with her and honestly, that is very hard for me to do. But for the successful socialization of my dog, I will do it.