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Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15129
Experience:  More than 30 years of companion animal practice.
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I have a pit bull/husky mix who has recently become aggressive

Customer Question

I have a pit bull/husky mix who has recently become aggressive to any male who drives up when I or one of my children are outside. Previously, he would bark and growl at anyone until they got out of their car and spoke to him, then he was ok. Last Saturday, however, he attacked a man after my daughter went outside and after the man had petted him (he was wagging his tail). This dog has always been a wonderful family pet. He is about 5 yrs old. We are distraught. What options do we have?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Rebecca replied 7 years ago.
Hi JACustomer,
I am sorry to hear about Geezy.

Is Geezy neutered?

Has anything recently changed in the household situation at all?

How old was Geezy when you got him; how long has he been part of your family?

This is an "Info Request" to help me answer your question.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
He is neutered. We got him from the pound when he was about 3-4 months old. There have been no changes recently except we went out of town for a week during the 4th. Previously the UPS man came and my daughter went out to get the package. He had done his usual barking, then was ok, until she went out. Geezy acted as though he was going to attack but stopped short and responded to my command for him to come to me. My nephew just came to the house this afternoon and as soon as I went outside, he tried to attack. Nephew had to jump onto back of truck to get away from him.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 7 years ago.
Do these attacks only occur when family members are with Geezy? Is he out in the yard at all times, like when the UPS man comes, or only outside when you are with him?

When you were away for the 4th, where was Geezy? Was he with you, or in a kennel, or at home?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
We live in the country and Geezy is an outside dog. He has a pack of 2 other dogs, one that he went out and brought home, and one that was the puppy of the new dog. They ramble all around the "neighborhood" which is dirt roads. He stayed home while we were away and my aunt and uncle fed and watered while we were gone. This is not the first time we have left him for a week, but we only do it once a year with occassional weekends. My husband and I were away this past weekend, so he and his pack were at my parents house when he attacked this man over the weekend.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 7 years ago.
There could be one of several possibilities causing this behavior.

One possibility is that since Geezy runs with a pack, and is probably the lead dog of the pack, he is acting like an alpha male, head of the pack dog, and running off anyone he sees as a threat. If this is the case, letting him run loose, and do as he pleases whenever he pleases will only reinforce him to act this way. Spanking him, or yelling at him, will do nothing to change him, and may even make it worse.

Another possibility is that while you were away, something happened to cause this behavior. He may have had an incident with someone on your property; he may have been frightened by fireworks; he may have had an incident with another dog.

We will probably never know what started it, but now that these attacks are happening, they will only get worse, unless you change him. The first time he attacked, he may have found that it was fun or rewarding for him in some doggie sense, and now he will continue to do it. The only successful treatment for behavior problems is either training, behavior modification, or both.

First of all, he must not run loose and do as he pleases whenever he pleases. You may need to start keeping him inside when you are home. It probably would help to take him to an obedience class, and work with an experienced trainer on this problem. You will have to train him to accept strange men, and reward him for doing so. This should be done in a controlled, safe environment, with an experienced dog trainer.

This will escalate as long as he runs loose with his pack. If he is getting rewarded for the attacks (people running away is a reward for him), he will keep doing it. Yelling at him, or spanking him only confuses him; he probably does not understand that he is being punished for the attacks. Negative reinforcement like spanking and yelling rarely trains a dog to do anything but be afraid of you; dogs learn by being rewarded for good behavior. You need to train him to do what you want him to do.

This is a tough situation, because someone could get hurt. Until you get help with training him, he should be kept inside or in a kennel.

Good luck with Geezy. Rebecca
Rebecca and other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 7 years ago.
You are welcome.

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