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PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 6851
Experience:  15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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My fiancee and I rescued a 3 year old American bulldog/

Customer Question

My fiancee and I rescued a 3 year old American bulldog/ Bassett hound mix about a year ago. He true is an amazing dog. He's loyal, affectionate, great with people of all ages. Just an all around good dog. I have worked with bully breeds in the past ( animal shelter volunteer) and was very cautious when I would introduce him to other dogs. I would say his attitude is somewhere between dog tolerant and dog selective, leaning to the later. But, over the course of the year he's made some great progress to become more dog tolerant.
So during the course of the year I would slowly start to bring him around my parents and sister's dog. My parents have 2 female labs, 12 years old and 5 years old. My sister has a male giant schnauzer, 3 years old. All are altered and have been together for years. We started with walks with each dog individually and then gradually it proceeded into pack walks with all the dogs together. Next we integrated then into a fenced backyard. Everything went ok, some corrections given by the older lab but besides that its a good start. After a few more good encounters we decided to move inside the house. This is where things became a little more challenging. He began to walk around with his tail up, on constant alert. It seemed he was never truly relaxed. He would walk up to the other dogs , who were all laying down,and just start to growl and bark at them for no reason. Again, the older lab would correct him any time he would do that to her. The other dogs just ignored him. As the year passed we would bring him into the house with the dogs intermittently progressing from a short duration at first to long durations. Always keeping an eye on him, making sure he wasn't getting too pushy with other dogs and making sure we corrected unwanted behavior.
So finally about a month ago we had a family get together and we decided to bring our dog. It went perfect! He finally was relaxes the entire time, layed with all the dogs, shared bones, played nicely and even went for a swim with the other dogs. Needless to say we were happy as can be. His behavior inside and outside was excellent. We felt that he finally found himself a spot in the pack. The next time we were invited over to a family get together we were excited to bring our dog. We arrived at the house and the entire vibe was off. As soon as we walked in and the other dogs came to greet he went on high alert. Marking everything outside. He began to correct the other dogs as they were greeting people as they arrived. Any noise the other dogs made was meet with a growl from him. He put the other dogs on edge and they were sketched out. It got the point where I had to remove him and take him home. The day before this get together he had an encounter with a really aggressive unaltered dog. It put him on complete defense mode. Hair stood up on his back he showed his teeth and snarled. It was the first time I've seen him like that since we've owned him. Could this one event have affected his attitude with the other dogs? Are we going to have to start from square one, or is this an isolated incidence?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 10 months ago.

Hi, John.

Since you know that your boy tends to be selective with dogs, it can be expected that the incident with the intact male set him on edge with stress and kept him in a grumpy mood for an extended period of time. If this happens again, give him at least 2-3 days to cool down before offering any introduction to other dogs (even if he's already established friendship with them).

I would give him a good 2 weeks or so of calm, collected time within your home and on walks before trying another introduction with the labs. The problem here is that they're not within the home together all the time, so varying things can set your boy's mood on edge and make reintroduction into the pack difficult. Dogs don't always form friendships where they can just come and go without any stress. If your boy already has something that has bothered him recently, it's likely going to cause a reaction for him when he meets other dogs (even if he knows them). Giving him time to recover from this stress before allowing him to be with the labs again will be imperative.

Did my response help to answer all of the questions that you had regarding your companion? If you have other questions, please reply and I’ll help you further.

Once you're satisfied with our dialogue, please take the time to use the star rating system at the top of the page to leave a rating for me. Until this is done, the website will not compensate me for helping you.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks! It kind of makes sense the more I think about it. Could that also be the reason why he was getting super pushy with the male giant schnauzer? My dog has always had an issue when the schnauzer acts up. Weather it's barking at people or at other dogs walking in the street. Henry, my pup, would be quick to growl at him. But with time, and with us correcting him it's become almost a non existing issue. I would hate for this to send us back to that start, which is my only fear because we worked so hard to get this far. Any advice for the future?
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 10 months ago.

It absolutely could. His behavior would likely be changed toward most dogs, if not all.

It sounds like you have found what works best, ***** ***** him socializing after a rough encounter with other dogs having recently happened will give you the best results. As mentioned above, try to keep yourself on positive ground with him by making sure that he hasn't recently been stressed out.

You've also been at this for a year or less, so time should also yield more positive results the longer he's allowed to build positive relationships with the other dogs (and while not stressed out). I imagine he finds the small behaviors that the other dogs show to causes him to growl to be stressful, and thus reacts accordingly. Keep up your work with him in these areas and make sure that it does not escalate. You've done a great job getting to this point, so keep a close eye out for any changes that seem like they may be concerning. If you absolutely reach a point of concern, it can be of great value to have an in-home evaluation done with he and the other dogs so that a behaviorist can look for body language that you may not see. Sometimes a brand new set of eyes on a situation can help greatly. I hope this isn't the case, because you've done such a great job and he's come so far. But keep that option in your back pocket if stresses continue to rise or you see more small 'unpredicted' behavioral flares from him.

Once you're satisfied with our dialogue, please take the time to use the star rating system at the top of the page to leave a rating for me. Until this is done, the website will not compensate me for helping you.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 10 months ago.

Checking in. Did you have any additional questions for me to answer or any points to clarify? Let me know if you need any additional assistance.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 10 months ago.
Hi John,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?


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