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My husband and I rescued Duke, male Pit approx 3 years old, about 2 1/2 years ago. Feb 15, 2013, we decided to rescue a female pit/hound mix, Roxy, who is about the same age as Duke. We are having a problem with Roxy guarding her food and being aggressive towards Duke. Duke is twice her size and could easily show her who's boss, but he is a very kind and well behaved boy. Roxy on the other hand has clearly been abused and most likely neglected. She has had pups pretty recently from when we rescued her. She is sweet as can be with people and her and Duke often play together and get along famously. Last night was their 3rd scuffle they've gotten into and it was the worst, over a piece of lettuce that fell, of all things.

Roxy has started all 3 "fights," and they have all been over something food/treat related. When we got her she had all sorts of cuts, scabs, a swollen head, a huge slice in hear ear and a very timid, shy attitude. She has definitely come out of her shell, not being afraid of quick movements anymore, but we are having a hard time with her guarding and aggression towards Duke. We are working so hard to get her to learn the "drop it" command, but we can't get her to let go for anything, and that's the problem when she starts up with Duke. We think in her previous life, she had to fight for everything.

So back to last night they were both minding their own business when a piece of lettuce fell to the floor. Duke was right next to me so he sniffed it when it fell, and it seems like Roxy thought it was something of more interest than lettuce, saw Duke sniff it, and pounced on him biting him all over his face. We shouted NO, Duke tried to get away, but Roxy was relentless. She grabbed onto the back of his head and she wouldn't let go. We dumped water all over them and continued to say no and drop it and it wouldn't stop. It felt like forever, but in reality it probably wasn't more than 3 minutes or so. Roxy finally let go for a second and I managed to pull her back legs out and separate them. She was still trying to go after Duke, I had to hold her down for a good couple minutes before we could even check how they were. She ended up putting about an inch long gash in his head. The vet decided he would like to try to avoid stitches to avoid having to cut him open more for a drain. We are taking him back tomorrow for a checkup.

So today I'm outside with them and they start fighting again over snow. Snow! There's an entire 2 acre yard covered in snow, and Roxy tries to come take the snow Duke was chewing on. Luckily, I broke it up before any major biting occurred, it was mostly noise.

I know it takes time to rehabilitate a rescue dog. I know it takes time for 2 dogs to get used to eachother. We are looking for any advice as to if you think this is normal. Will they get over it? Does it sound like they aren't meant to be together? We are torn on what to do. Duke has been ignoring Roxy since last night. I feel like every little thing they do is going to explode into a fight. What happens if I drop a crumb by accident, are they going to want to fight over it again? I wish they could talk and tell us whether or not they are happy together. Sometimes they play really well, running through the yard, rolling around together, then other times, these fights break out. It's been 5 weeks they've been together. The first fight happened the 3rd or 4th day we had her, then it was smooth sailing for a bit. Then last weekend they came across a wild animal bone in the yard and we had another fight. Then last night happened and now today the snow fight. Any advice, thoughts ideas? Thanks for your help!
 

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Dog aggression is natural in the breed so there is always a good chance the dog may end up being dog aggressive. You said all the fights break out over food related things and she guards her food.

Do you feed them separately or in the same room/area? Do you use crates? Put them in the crate to feed them. Is she guarding from you also?
For the food fights why not kennel them in their kennels while you cook/eat/clean up? Then the fights over food wouldn't happen.

If its happening over random things its most likely not going to change and crate and rotate would be your best option.

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You are dealing with a breed prone to dog aggression and a hair trigger propensity to start shit, you can work with her on resource guarding, a solid leave it and better voice control over her would probably help. Also you should look into the 2 week shutdown, with a new dog giving too many freedoms before they are comfortable and know the rules usually leads to issues.

If I were you I would start crate/rotating and find yourself a good pit bull savvy trainer, it may be that if you get more experienced with body language and step up your management along with training that the dogs can co exist. If the situation is allowed to go on as is more fights are going to happen, someone is going to be seriously injured and you will need to keep the dogs apart 24/7. That may happen either way so if you aren't prepared for that please return her to the shelter and don't get another dog, bully breeds aren't exactly "pack" type dogs and most would rather be loners. Food and toys are huge fight triggers and should be carefully managed in a multiple dog home. Get yourself a breakstick and learn how to use it as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you so much for responding. Yes, so far the fights have been over food items. We separate them during feeding in different rooms and pick up ther bowls when they have finished. We do not use crates with them, we use their separate rooms. Roxy isn't guarding from us at all, only Duke. Like you said, maybe during our people mealtime/cleanup we need to have them in their separate areas to avoid a possible fight.
 

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Yes, I was just looking into the breadsticks and we are getting one today. We have been working with Roxy for the past 5 weeks on training, especially the drop it command, and we can't get her to let go of anything. She is very determined. It's mostly confusing be ause they get along so well when they play outside and inside. But as soon as something edible comes into the picture, all hell breaks loose.
 

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Even a dog with a great drop it or out is not gong to let go during a serious fight. It confuses the hell outta me how you have let them get into this many fights!

As others have said Dog Aggression is part of this breed. Some are more prone to it than others. The dogs need to stay separated. This is not something that was abused into Roxy. It's just part of her breed.

Crate and rotate, keep Duke safe and if DA is to much for you don't own these kinds of dogs again. <<< Not trying to be rude here, but DA is something that many people either can't handle or it just doesn't work for their life style. To many people try to act like Pit Bulls are for everyone and they are not. They take a specific kind of owner and the average pet person is not capable of handling dogs like this. Nothing wrong with the dogs, they are just not for everyone. Most peoples idea of a dog is a lab, which these dogs differ from immensely.

With so many fights already Roxy is aware of whats going on and ready for it now. These fights get worse and worse. If you don't separate them Duke is likely not to walk away from it one time and I would hate to see someone lose a pet and then resent another pet for the harm done.

Enjoy them separately, walk them together on leash if they can do that since that is not a situation where food is likely to become involved. Then they still now each other but are not loose to have another accident.
 
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There is no negotiation the "drop it" command. Say it once, then grab the top of the dog's muzzle and grind their lip into their teeth. when they let go, a quiet "good dog" without excitement is enough of a reward. should take a stubborn dog about 3 tries before they learn.
Honestly, you do not sound even remotely in charge of the situation, and dogs and eventually people are going to get hurt. You dogs need to be trained, and I don't mean the "obedience" classes at petsmart. You say sit, the dog sits or they get their head pulled up by the collar and their butt pushed down by your hand/foot, whatever. you've got to make doing the right thing easy and the wrong thing a very bad idea, using as little force as possible and as much as necessary to get the right answer, all the time. You know what my "poor, abused, mal nouished, food aggressive" street rescue does when I tell her to "leave it"? Drops it like it's hot. I don't worry about a dogs' background, I worry about how they behave. And aggression is not tolerated. Ask my two dogs about the time they fought and I slammed a kids' rocker in the middle of it. They quit.
 

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There is no negotiation the "drop it" command. Say it once, then grab the top of the dog's muzzle and grind their lip into their teeth. when they let go, a quiet "good dog" without excitement is enough of a reward. should take a stubborn dog about 3 tries before they learn.
Honestly, you do not sound even remotely in charge of the situation, and dogs and eventually people are going to get hurt. You dogs need to be trained, and I don't mean the "obedience" classes at petsmart. You say sit, the dog sits or they get their head pulled up by the collar and their butt pushed down by your hand/foot, whatever. you've got to make doing the right thing easy and the wrong thing a very bad idea, using as little force as possible and as much as necessary to get the right answer, all the time. You know what my "poor, abused, mal nouished, food aggressive" street rescue does when I tell her to "leave it"? Drops it like it's hot. I don't worry about a dogs' background, I worry about how they behave. And aggression is not tolerated. Ask my two dogs about the time they fought and I slammed a kids' rocker in the middle of it. They quit.
Wow this is the most idiotic thing ive read in awhile.....First off you can not "train" dogs not to fight or to "drop it" when fighting....this breed fights to the death.....you must not have two full apbts because i doubt a chair would stop them unless it knocked them out.....why would you preach this instead of being responsible and crating and rotating and carrying a break stick at all times...smh
 

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I would recommend separating them until they are fully trained. Crating can be better than "rooms" just because you can crate a dog in an area you spend a lot of time in that way they are not shut up away from people. Every time they are getting in a fight over something the behavior is being reinforced. So they are more likely to get in fights again and eventually your other dog may decide to attack her first. This is a very bad experience for him and it can even make him shy or reactive around other dogs as well.

Honestly I have tried the using the method Chloe! described to get one of my dogs to drop something a long time ago. She wouldn't let go even if it made her bleed and it was just a toy. She thought it was the greatest game ever. She has a high pain tolerance and really can be stubborn. It's not fun to hurt your dog and training can be done without pain with excellent results.

Imagine if you went to work and you speak a different language than the person training you. Every time you get something wrong instead of letting you know and showing you how it was supposed to be you just get yelled at or hit. You wouldn't be very cooperative I bet.

You might want to try using the techniques in this video for teaching drop it. She has lots of good training videos so you might want to watch a few.
Dog Training Tip of the Day- Tugging with your dog - YouTube

Teaching drop it for fighting would most likely not work well.(You want to prevent fights). She could be taught not to resource guard but you might want to bring in a trainer for that if you cannot train it yourself. You would need both dogs on leash and with collars they will not slip out of on. You would need to teach her focus exercises first and probably a leave it command.

Here are some more of her videos that I think might be helpful.
What not to do to your best friend and why, dog training - YouTube
'Leave it' from dogs and people- clicker dog training - YouTube
Building Attention: Game 1 Clicker dog training - YouTube
 

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Wow this is the most idiotic thing ive read in awhile.....First off you can not "train" dogs not to fight or to "drop it" when fighting....this breed fights to the death.....you must not have two full apbts because i doubt a chair would stop them unless it knocked them out.....why would you preach this instead of being responsible and crating and rotating and carrying a break stick at all times...smh
the fights are over food. when the food agressive dog walks towards food, before the situation escelates, a quiet "leave it" should take care of the situation. You don't let a fight happen by removing the fought over object. And the OP doesn't have two full apbts either, but two "pibbles", just like most people that have "pit bulls".
 

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Sorry to say this but you will have to decide to either manage the situation with a serious C&R system with everyone on board, re-home to a good family who only wants only one dog or pts.
DA is inbred. You can't just make it go away, you can take the time to manage it, work with a behaviorist but each fight will become worse and more damage will occur. You state food is the culprit for all fights but are you positive? I have been through this and we C&R for almost 3yrs. Each altercation became worse (each time my Mastiff being the aggressor). I've spent thousands of $ repairing wounds and body parts refusing to accept this couldn't be fixed. My dogs were well managed and knew commands but in the midst of a dog fight all that went in the wind. Other's will tell you I'm wrong but I lived it. Unfortunately in the end when my Mastiff broke his barrier for the final time it broke my heart and I put him down. Not because I was tired of it or the fact he bit my wrist hard enough to break it. I know he wasn't trying to harm me, he was after my pibble. It was because I couldn't risk the children in my life to be caught up in an unexpected fight and not being able to protect them. They got along great in the beginning then one day things changed and our C&R life began.
 

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First off Hollys post is great. People who think once their dog had reached such a level of intensity as a fight causes and can easily listen and HEAR their owner drop something they view as a threat is absurd! Once you allow your dog to get that far you have already failed and shouldn't expect your dog to listen since you haven't told her HOW yet.

I also want to add we don't even know if she has a pit bull or a bully breed or a mutt. None of this "pit bull" in quotes bullshit. The pit bull is the American Pit Bull Terrier. These were rescues I'm assuming didn't come with papers. Stop labeling dogs as a type pit bulls by their looks. If you don't know your dogs bloodlines you have a dog. Like me. All dogs can get into fights and I hate seeing anyone blame a breed especially when we don't even know what breed the rescued dogs are. How do we know how they were bred to assume these dogs have the rare fight til death trait isn't a fair assumption to make on mutts IMO. ANY dog can kill any breed can bite. Treat them like dogs. Keep them safe. Too many fights already I wish you sought help earlier. Nothing we can change about that now of course. The more they fight typically the more damage will occur and intensity is greater each time. Stop allowing them to be in a situation where they are together until you learn to manage the situation. Especially if you are alone! You need an experienced trainer. This isn't something you can experiment with. As with the snow fight proved its not just food and they are escalating and you don't want either dog to have lasting effects or your first pup to start retaliating and getting bad habits. Crate and rotate is the way to go. (Meaning they never hang out, walk, play, eat together) Let them live with each other and get used to each other without interacting while you research all you can and find someone to help you reintroduce them. It's NOT curable but CAN be managed with the right information. You MUST be prepared to live separate lives with them in case they never get along. You made a commitment before researching the potential risks. It's not your dogs faults so you must be prepared to keep them separate possibly forever. They can live happy SAFE lives being crated and rotated.

How long did you wait to introduce them to each other? Do you switch rooms or give them their own rooms every time the same room they are always in?

This is a great site, water does nothing as I'm sure you found out.
http://leerburg.com/dogfight.htm

Instead of crates insert "their rooms" in place but follow this until you get more knowledge and know how. You don't want anyone or anything to get in the middle.
http://www.pbrc.net/rotate.html

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