Pitbull turns agressive?

We have a 2-year-old neutered pit who has just recently started growling and snapping at our two teenage children, more so at our girl than her younger brother who is far more aggressive with the dog. He sleeps at the foot of her bed, though. This behavior is very recent and up to now, not typical. Is he suddenly developing aggressive tendencies? He has always been almost a “lap dog” around our house and very affectionate. He’s still affectionate with the kids, but now it seems something is perhaps changing. We’re baffled.

Answer #1

OK, the more I think about the situation, the more I think he is telling your family members “Hey…back off her. She is mine and I am the leader of the pack”.

Which means you should reinforce your dominance in the household :) Harley is right to recommend Cesar, but I do know that there are different ways of handing possession aggression v. dominance aggression, so you might want to read his book to figure out which course of action is best.

Me? I’d make sure to reinforce my dominance over the animal. Don’t let him on the couch or bed. Have whoever he growls at the most, feed him. Don’t let him walk through doorways first or display dominant behaviors like putting his paw on you or invading your space. Don’t let him on the bed :) And dont hand feed.

Answer #2

First…Get him OFF the bed and the couch…He sees you as HIS…and his placement with you on the bed and couch give him every reason to think that he is “above” everyone else in the “pack order”…especially, your children.

He needs some intensive obedience training…just the basics…sit, down, stay…things that he may already know, but will enhance his confidence as he gets pushed down in the pack order…because that’s where he needs to be…the bottom rung. You’re going to have to involve the kids and hubby into this obedience work…so Ollie understands, that EVERYONE is above him…even the “kids”. You’re the “chosen” one to enforce discipline when he snaps or growls…Push him away from you…let him know this is NOT acceptable.

But the first thing you have to do, is get him OFF the furniture…he won’t like it, but because Pits are very dominant, very smart, very active…you’ve got to nip this in the bud, before something does happen…and this is the first step.


PS…as for Cesar Milan…you can buy DVD’s where you can SEE exactly what he’s seeing without using your imagination (like in a book)…there are many episodes dealing with “human possessiveness”…

Answer #3

editor, amblessed didnt say anything wrong or bad and what implies he has an attitude to just “dump off the dog”? ..all he said was “dont ignore the warning signs” which is 100% correct and pinthea obviously isnt doing that since she is seeking help…your comment towards amblessed was uncalled for!

Answer #4

Oh another tip!

There is a great group here on FunAdvice called “For the love of our dogs” - composed of a lot of dog lovers with some amazing information/ knowledge! I’m sure they’d also be able to help:


Answer #5

We say “Ollie NO!, Bad Boy!” in a very firm voice and make him get off the couch. Sometimes a light swat on the nose to get his attention, point a finger at him and repeat the above. But we never beat him over it. It’s really pathetic how his drops his head and sulks away.

Answer #6

I would read up on Ceaser Millan, it more then likely is a pattern you have set for the dog, That type of breed along with Rottie’s, Dobbies, Chow Chow and others need a very dominate leader. You need to show this dog the rules and work with him day in and day, you can have a great dog if you spend the time to train him. You need to figure out what may have changed in your enviorment and how to fix it. Good luck and don’t give up.

Answer #7

What you say also makes a lot of sense. Here’s the scene: I and sometime my husband are sitting together on the couch. Ollie jumps up between us and usually puts his head in one of our laps or just rolls over in our lap. We pet him and all is fine. I sit on the couch with one of the kids, Ollie jumps up between us, they reach a hand towards him or pet his head and he give a little growl or even a slight “snap” towards them, and then relaxes. He sleeps on my daughter’s bed, responds to commands from all of us (sit, stay, up, no), and otherwise has no problem with any individual. I know I’ll catch some flack for letting him up on the couch or sleep on my daughter’s bed as this defies dominant status, but he really is a sweetheart, about 70 lbs and 60 of that is just big baby!

Answer #8

Do not ignore these warning signs !

Answer #9

Ollie is the leader of your pack and he is possesive dominant , which is one step away from dominant agressive. The advice you received so far is 100% acurrate and you should follow. Have everyone in your family treat him the same , if one says No , they should all ignore him or say no if he goes to them. I agree they should get as much love as possible , but there have to be boundaries and limitations , that you ( whom he posseses ) should reinforce on him , show him you own him and nothing is his, it’s yours. Watch cesar Milan , it changed my life !

Answer #10

To me, it sounds like he is guarding you. It could be that since you were home so much, he is extremely attached to you, and is growling at them to “warn them” not to come closer to you when you are home…although, if I had more examples of the situations where he growls, (who is standing where, his relationship to each person, etc), I could help you more.

And no offense to him, but please don’t listen to amblessed. Attitudes like that are the reason so many animals are dumped off in shelters after being sweet family dogs for so long. One problem surfaces, and they are thrown out like today’s trash!

Answer #11

Aw, totally understand – pits are my favorite breed (and I used to work in an animal shelter – seen a LOT of dogs!).

His behavior sounds like possession aggression (over you or your husband), moreso than dominant aggression. It seems like he is being “protective” or “possessive” over you. The biggest thing, in my opinion, is healthy negative reinforcement…how do you react when he growls or snaps?

Answer #12

Thank you. We adore Ollie, he’s a wonderful gentle dog and this is the only aggressive behavior to-date towards anyone in the home. I recently started working part time about a month ago, but my hours vary so Ollie is not home alone very much at all - someone is almost always here. But I’m not with him as much, and what you say is interesting because he will be sitting with me and if either child sits beside me or sometimes my husband, and goes to pet him, is when he will likely snap or growl. Interesting that he might react towards them and not me, whom you would think he’d be mad at!

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