My wild ones.

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    Judah adores people and other dogs. She pays attention to and acts on other dog's body language. If they don't want to play, she won't bother them. But if they do want to play, bring it on! Strangers are met with a wagging tail and a lowered head, showing her eagerness to be petted and loved by everyone. She NEVER barks out of turn. The only time she barks is when she's playing with Israel, Ruger or Arai, if I tell her "speak" (or sign it) or if she hears something untoward in the backyard at night.
    I've heard Israel's playful bark ONCE about a week ago when Judah was playing with a knuckle bone. She stretched out on her side when he walked up and he wanted the knuckle bone--she offered it by backing off. He then yapped at her and I nearly jumped out of my skin at the high pitched bark that came out of him. He did it only one more time and then took the knuckle bone. If someone comes to the door or comes home (except for me) he'll growl and let out a very low, scary rumbling bark (like Judah's protective bark). Otherwise he's a very silent dog.

    Israel, as we know, is an American Pit Bull Terrier. He now weighs 53lbs, up 17lbs since I first got him. He's not very tall, but APBT's usually aren't. I think he will reach 60lbs full grown and I have no intention of neutering him before July, when he should turn 1. Before I was terrified of ever owning an unaltered MALE dog, especially a pit bull. But he's no more vicious or aggressive than other dogs I've seen, including those that are altered.

    From the moment Judah and Israel met they got along. Judah has amazing energy and is a very balanced, calm dog. Like I said, she reads other dogs and actually pays attention to the signals--whereas most dogs don't know what's going on OR how to react. Israel doesn't feel threatened by Judah and vice versa. If Israel gets out of hand, Judah knows how to make him submit. If Israel is feeling frisky, he can make Judah submit as well. Interestingly enough, neither dog has humped the other.

    Together they weigh 126lbs and I had to control both of them while out today in the stores. Other people let their little raggedy dogs go free on RETRACTABLE leashes. I didn't let them get to the end of the 6-ft leashes except when there weren't other people or dogs around. Even then I could reel them in to 3-ft within a second. My hands are raw from them pulling in opposite directions and wanting to smell all of the other dog piss in the stores. Seriously, neither of my dogs have ever pee'd anywhere but in the backyard (or with Israel on the back porch a few times). Judah has gone to the bathroom ONCE on a walk--she almost always waits to get home in her environment.
    Anyway. My point is that other people couldn't care less if their dog is running all around and harassing other dogs. But if my dogs even LOOK at other people they are terrified. They're both commanding individuals. Judah is a decent size--73lbs--and tall enough, but nothing extreme. If she isn't wagging her tail, she's smiling at people. She has NEVER growled, snapped, or lunged at any dog or person and I doubt she has it in her.

    Today there was a small victory with Israel. He went up to a PetsMart employee and actually sought out to be petted--and leaned against her and wagged his tail. She couldn't believe that he used to hide behind me and avoid people like the plague. To see him then I wouldn't have believed it either.
    Now he knows that if he sits and is polite, that usually means he gets a treat--from a person. Food is a big motivator for this dog.

    In training class he is the best behaved, hands down. The other dogs bark at each other, at their owners, and have a very hard time paying attention to their owners. Israel rarely gets distracted and focuses entirely on me. I love the recall exercise because he's held back by the trainer and I walk to the end of a long line and then call him to me. He RACES at me and then sits as soon as he gets in front of me, body tense with excitement at being reunited. But he isn't at the end of the line whining or barking. He's just watching and waiting for his cue.

    While the other dogs strain at their leashes and bark madly at each other, Israel lays or sits at my feet, waiting for his next task. Annie, the worst of the group, desperately tries to get Israel riled up. Straining, two feet away from him, eyes bulging, barking in his face as aggressively as her spaniel throat can manage. And Israel just lays there, head turned the other way, leash loose so that he could easily get up and attack her if he wanted to--but he doesn't.

    There's no getting around that he's an APBT and they were bred to fight other dogs. I won't ever force him to play with strange dogs or even like them. My goal is to get him to ignore them from the start and he does that very well on his own. Our only issue arises when *I* move toward that dog and Israel decides that if I'm going at the dog, then he should, too. So he lunges and it's never with wild, maniacal barking. It's always lunge-snarl-snap. It's controlled, it's an instinctive REACTION, but it is NOT his default behavior and I'm sure very few people would know the difference or even care. All they see is a pit bull acting out aggressively. No one would think that it's the 20lb spaniel starting it, or the 12lb Schnauzer mix instigating. It's unfair to expect Israel to not defend himself and react, but at the same time in this society with people having dogs they shouldn't regardless of size because they have no clue when it comes to what makes a dog tick, all they see is a vicious beast who wants to kill, kill, kill. They would never think that dear Fluffy or Trixie is the one starting the whole thing to begin with. You don't see Israel spoiling for a fight, egging the other dogs on. EVER.

    The trainer is all about positive reinforcement. My method of controlling my dog involves very firm verbal commands usually followed with equally firm physical reprimands. I don't hit my dogs. I don't need to. With just a change of tone I can have Israel crawling on the ground and hiding behind Judah if he's done something wrong. I fight the knee-jerk reaction to make him come to me and then punish him, but so far I've been successful because I want a reliable recall. So even when he's been bad and I need him to come over to me, I'll praise him for coming to me. And oooh is that hard. And, too, my dogs know I am their source of food and shelter. If I want their food, they have to give it back to me.
    I'm tempted to get a leather prong collar--the spikes on the inside--for Israel in class because choke and pinch collars are not allowed. But if I'm going to properly correct him for attacking another dog I need more than a stupid nylon buckle collar to do that.

    {klb♥photography}, lisacat, and 5 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. teamaskins 97 months ago | reply

      Well said. I agree with you about your dog's behaviour. Just because it's a pitbull doesn't mean it has this default behaviour...they are all individuals. Sometimes when I mention to people that we have a staffordshire cross people say, 'oh that breed' as if he is agressive by default...but I have had no such experience. He is very loyal and obedient, with a very gentle nature.

      I find it's the fluffy white dogs on our walk who start barking furiously from a distance, then the owners pick them up as if afraid of our boy, when he would just love to play...and hasn't made a sound at all (he too doesn't bark except on rare occasions in the yard - or the postman goes past the house).

      I love the photos of your boys, they are adorable.

    2. This Year's Love 97 months ago | reply

      The little dogs really ARE the worst because their owners think everything they do is cute and funny. I tell people, "Now imagine a Rottweiler or pit bull doing that. Do you still think it's cute?" and they immediately say, "No! Of course not!" Just because the big dog can do more damage doesn't mean the behavior is any different than a 5 pound Chihuahua.

    3. recursive_1 97 months ago | reply

      Pit bulls are generally human submissive and dog aggressive. So becareful here.

      And Israel just lays there, head turned the other way, leash loose so that he could easily get up and attack her if he wanted to--but he doesn't.

      Yeah, that is what my pit bull does too. However, my dog does have a bit of an issue with dog aggression. When I first got her it was fairly bad. After awhile she learned I didn't like and she merely looks away from other dogs that are aggressive with her. But I have no illusions, if a fight broke out, she'd finish it. So keep an eye out for dog aggression and if it ever does surface, nip it in the bud by letting her know you don't like it.

      I'm tempted to get a leather prong collar--the spikes on the inside--for Israel in class because choke and pinch collars are not allowed. But if I'm going to properly correct him for attacking another dog I need more than a stupid nylon buckle collar to do that.

      I have one. Since the APBT has such heavy muscles in their neck, I've found that the prong collar really gets the point across without lots of tugging/yanking, and so forth. I'd argue it is probably safer than your standard choke collar as well, but YMMV.

      Overall, Israel's behavior sounds alot like my dogs behavior (now). It also sounds like you are doing the right thing in terms of training. Keep it up and Israel will be a good "breed ambassador" and those are desperately needed.

    4. This Year's Love 97 months ago | reply

      recursive - It's so frustrating trying to socialize Israel with dogs who are not under control and then be expected to control my own dog with inferior tools. At the time when he's approaching another dog who's staring him down aggressively I need/want to be able to physically correct it because he goes from 0-60 in a heartbeat. He doesn't acknowledge anything until the dog has moved on and I've dragged him away--then he's back to normal and staring at me waiting for his cue. I can't correct the behavior with a stupid clicker or a treat, which is what the trainer at PetsMart suggests. Perhaps if I bring in a muzzle and a prong collar I can ask the other owners to let their dogs formally meet mine and I can be able to properly correct Israel since up until now it's just trying to remove the situation all together rather than address the problem then and there.

      Seen on your photo stream. (?)

    5. recursive_1 97 months ago | reply

      I know what you mean. My dog does have a dog aggression problem, it is better now, but still I don't trust her to be non-aggressive with other dogs. Still I have people with those retractable leashes letting their dogs charge my pit bull. They look at me and say, "Oh my dog is friendly, don't worry." I looke right back and say, "Well mine isn't always friendly." They get a shocked look on their face then reel in their little rag mop. My wife who is walking the rottie comes next and explains the situation while their dog meets our rottie who, like Judah, loves other dogs and people. I don't mind these encounters too much because I use them for training. I always keep an eye on Petunia and if she shows the slightest sign of becoming aggresive I check with a slight/quick tug on the leash/prong collar. I'll often augment it with a firm, "Be good." So far, she has improved dramatically and other dogs have charged barking and yapping and she just looks across the street/yard/parking lot/etc. Sometimes I almost expect her to sigh at how annoying the other dog is.

      I'd say the prong collar is all you need. The muzzle might actually work against you in that people might see it and say, "Oh a dangerous dog," when that is absolutely not the case. Or bring the muzzle and keep it in your purse/bag/whatever. That way if you think it could help, you can get it, but otherwise it wont send the negative signal right off the bat. That and don't be too afraid to touch your dog if he is being aggressive. Pit bulls were breed to respond to humans and their touch. Your touch may calm her, let her now it is time to back off/settle. At least that works well with my dog. I've been able to control my dog with little or no trouble by merely squating down next to her and putting an arm around her with my hand on her chest (in front of her legs). She could easily break free, but she knows that is the last thing I want. Of course, maybe you are really lucky and Israel is just great with humans and dogs...still it never hurts to be prepared.

    6. This Year's Love 97 months ago | reply

      The muzzle (a simple net one I got for Judah during nail trims before) would only be for the other dogs in class if I wanted him to get near them and not worry that he might take a bite out of them. I would never want him to wear it full time and give both he and other people the wrong impression.
      I am definitely not afraid of handling my dogs in the middle of a fight, whether that's foolhardy or not. If/when Israel does show too much intensity when looking at another dog I'm already correcting him physically before he's lunging. And the times that he lunges without any real warning (like when we have to walk our dogs next to each other and have them ignore each other--ha!) I usually bypass the leash and collar and just grab hold of his scruff to get a good hold on him and lift him up to calm him down. He instantly snaps out of it and sits down, staring at me and waiting for my next command.

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