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My 10 week old red nose pittie has some strange behaviors. I have trained dogs and dealt with problem dogs in the past. My pit/boxer mix had been a bait dog for dog fighters when I stole him and rescued him. He had a lot of issues but I was patient, and a good calm-assertive leader and didn't encourage his unbalanced behavior and it didn't take long to correct. I normally don't work with puppies. Broly, my pup is actually my first young pup. My other purebred Boxer I had gotten when he was about six months old. I don't have a lot of experience with puppies and I need to know if this is normal puppy behavior and what to do about it. First, Broly HATES his feet being touched and his nails clipped. He literally starts SCREAMING and YELPING and trying to get away when I touch his feet. The first time I grabbed his paw, I had thought he was hurt. Obviously, clipping his nails doesn't hurt him, but he continues to cry and scream the entire time. He also helps when I grab his foot to put his jacket on him so he can go outside. Acts like I just broke his leg or something. I have tried a couple approaches with this behavior 1) I try not to reinforce his crazy, fearful state of mind and simply ignore the crying and continue to clip his nails. This is hard as his crying un-nerves me because I keep thinking I've clipped his nails too far or pinched a toe, but never have. I try and calm my mind and my body and get rid of any tension and relax in hopes he will relax. He doesn't. He will eventually freeze up and whine and act like I just beat him. I have tried to make it a daily habit of handling his feet and fiddling with his toenails, but he freaks out every time. 2) I tried to give him a treat Everytime I touched his feet but he would ignore the treat he was so scared. I'm at a loss on this one. I'm not creating this behavior as I'm not "comforting" him or baby talking to him while I mess with his feet, which would just encourage him to remain in that state of mind. He also sometimes growls at me when I pick him up. He never bites. Just growls. I ignored it and continued to do whatever I am doing, normally it's picking him up to fiddle with his feet. He also doesn't like to go into the "down" position. When I trained him the command "down" I had to do it a different way than the usual lure and treat method that I've done with all my other dogs. I literally had to wait in a boring room with him until he got bored and laid down, then I clicked and treated him. After that it took him about five mins to learn down. But lately, he's developed this behavior where he will act like he's been hit or yelled at when I tell him "down". He will try and run away from me instead of laying down and attempt to hide from me. He will also start to shake. A few times, I have put him in a sit and pushed on his shoulder blades and gotten him to lay down then treated him. Other times, when I corner him, he will very slowly and dutifully lay down, all the while shaking like a leaf the entire time and dropping his head in fear. He knows the command "leave it" and used to respond to it fabulously. All of the sudden he will slink away, shaking if I tell him leave it. Same with telling him no. You would think I have beat him the way he acts. I've never dealt with puppies much and apparently the same techniques I use on adult dogs don't work for puppies all the time-or at least not my puppy. He is super smart, I have taught him around 7-10 commands and he always responds enthusiastically and promptly with all of them except for DOWN and now he acts fearful whenever I have to tell him no or when I use the leave it command. He gets plenty of calm-assertive walks, where he follows me and doesn't pull. He's a very good heeler. He's training to be a diabetic alert dog. He is doing great with the scent training and was doing amazing with he obedience training and socialization until these fearful behaviors started popping up. The only real "traumatic" thing that has happened to him recently, is about a month ago, my brother's adult pittie attacked Broly and had thrown him down on the ground and was trying to kill him. He had his neck. Broly was screaming and I will admit I wasn't very calm at that moment. Thane, my brother's dog, has never ever been aggressive like that and it happened out of the blue. I was unprepared. My brother had to choke Thane to get him to let go of my puppy, who then ran helping into the bathroom and hid behind the toilet. I didn't overreact or baby him. I picked him up, made sure he was okay and then held a bag of ice over his head for a bit. I was letting him and talking soothingly when I had the ice on his head though, so I may have somehow taught him that this fearful behavior is good? I don't know. He is only ten weeks old and could maybe just be going through the puppy fear stage a little late. He was fine with Thane the next day and tried to play with him, he had no fear of Thane, so I doubt that Thane traumatized him by attacking him. Any ideas on why he does this frustrating behavior and what to do to fix it? A service dog has to be able to lie down at the drop of a hat when given the command and stay there for long periods of time. If he somehow continues this behavior where he's afraid to lay down on command, he can't beca service dog. When I had first trained him down, he would always do it, no real problem. So this and the fear of the word no and the command leave it are fairly new. The toenails and feet have been an ongoing issue. Help! I need some ideas here


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Sounds like you just got a soft dog, it happens sometimes when you don't get the pup from a reputable breeder. Keep working with him by messing with his feet as often as you can, try to maintain positive reinforcement. As far as Thane goes, for your pups safety, I would keep them apart. Bull breeds don't need doggy friends and it sounds like a recipe for a second disaster.
 

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If you haven't already have your vet check the dogs feet and structure. If everything is good. Do exactly as EckoMac suggested, any time you have contact make sure touching his feet is part of it. Reward when he is good about it and when he starts making his fuss walk away, ignore him and give him no attention. Sounds like his screaming and yelping must have worked for him in the past.

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sounds like you just got a soft dog, it happens sometimes when you don't get the pup from a reputable breeder. Keep working with him by messing with his feet as often as you can, try to maintain positive reinforcement. As far as Thane goes, for your pups safety, I would keep them apart. Bull breeds don't need doggy friends and it sounds like a recipe for a second disaster.
It was a disaster. I rent from my brother, Thane's owner. He also has a blue heeler puppy. My brother has different philosophies...or should I say a lack of philosophies about training his dogs. He's a lazy dog owner and shouldn't have a pit. His dog before Thane was very aggressive towards people and had to be gotten rid of. He thinks he doesn't have to walk Thane-or his puppy cuz he has a big backyard. His very first pitbull was an angel and never had any behavior problems even though my brother never did anything with him. I think he just picked out on that dog because it was just a naturally submissive, low energy dog. But Thane had problems when my brother got him. He's been abandoned by some people who moved from their house and just left him in their backyard for who knows how long with no food. I don't think Thane had ever been in a house. I have a feeling he lived outside in the cold Montana winter the first year of his life. When he got Thane, he noticed he had a fixation on small animals. We had a cat but had to find it a new home because it literally lived under the chair where Thane wouldn't be in its face. He never actually tried to hurt the cat, but he'd state at the chair for hours, or be right up in the cats face, staring at it if it happened to come out and sometimes push it around with his nose. If the cat went somewhere he couldn't stare at it, he would literally lay close to wherever the cat was hiding and cry for hours on end. When my brother brought home his female blue heeler puppy, Jane, Thane got along with her right away. There were never any weird problems with his interactions with her. So when I brought Broly home from the breeder, I assumed it would be fine, but he started acting like he did with the cat...towards Broly. I tried to socialize him with Broly but all he wanted to do was push him around with his nose and stand over him...and do this weird thing I can only define as a bear hug to poor Broly, where he would lay down with his legs under Broly, and hold him down with his about. He'd cry outside my room all night. I eventually got him to stop the behavior, but ONLY when it is just me, Thane, and Broly. If my brother was around, Thane started to act aggressive towards Broly. He never growled at him or bit him though, it is very strange, not until the day Thane got sneaky and squeezed in the doorway as I was trying to come in with Broly and just attacked him. I hadn't realized my brother was home or I would have been carrying Broly. I figure because Thane had issues to begin with and is now in another home where he's allowed to do whatever he wants with no discipline and gets zero exercise other than stand outside in the yard and constantly bark (that's another thing Thane does is nonstop bark whether he's inside or outside the house) and his energy has culminated into obsessions and fixations. My brother started to get nervous whenever Broly was around Thane and thus I think that turned his fixation into aggression. I have told my brother he needs to walk Thane everyday and burn out some of his energy and give him some boundaries, but he doesn't want to hear it. He thinks he's a better owner than Thane's prior owners who just left him I the backyard all the time with no socialization because he brings Thane in when it's cold or at night, and he feeds him, loves on him and literally let's the dog do whatever he wants. He said Thane is "too hard" to walk because he pulls and he's tried everything to get him to stop. To prove a point, I walked Thane around the block once and he heeled for me and was a very good boy. Now my brother brought home this puppy that he is allowing to do the same things as Thane. It has the run of the house and poops and pees everywhere. I told him to crate train it, but he said it was rescued from some people who had it in a small cage all the time and he doesn't want to "traumatize" her. He thinks his dogs have human feelings and it's destroying the poor dogs. I already see some behavior issues popping up with !y brother's puppy. He thinks it's inhumane that I crate trained Broly. Lol. I'd work with Thane and his other dog and walk them, but I think it would make him mad as I've had friends with bratty dogs I the last that I worked with and hey got mad at me for "stepping on their toes"- and because the dog would listen to me not them. Personally, I think if my brother is going to let a dog live the way he has his dogs living, he shouldn't have a pitbull mix. He should have a shi tsu or a Chihuahua. Something that can't harm other dogs or people if they do become aggressive. I also do not have time to walk Thane and his other dog I addition to mine. I work two jobs. Luckily, Broly goes to work with me at both jobs and is never around Thane except going in and out of the door at night. If my brother isn't home I can let Broly out and supervise him with Thane, but if my brother is home, I've just started putting a shock collar on Thane so I can bring Broly inside when we get home from work and so I can take him out of my room to let him potty. It's sad I have to do that, but Thane is a ticking time bomb and when he wears the shock collar he behaves. I only had to shock him one time and now he avoids Broly. It's so strange he picked Broly as a fixation though. He goes to the dog park and plays with all the dogs occasionally when my brother eventually gets tired of him barking and jumping on him and needs to wear him out the lazy way without actually having to walk him and spend time or energy training him. He also plays with my parents' pitbull American bulldog mix. I'm currently searching for a different place to live where Broly isn't at constant risk. Even though the shock collar works in short distances from my room to the front door and back in keeping Thane in check and even though Thane isn't aggressive towards Broly when my brother isn't home, I still think he's a ticking time bomb due to the way my brother doesn't do a damn thing with the dog. Some people should not own pitties. Those people are the ones who give pitties a bad name, when in actuality, it's the owner being irresponsible, lazy or in some cases abusive. A high energy dog like Thane should not be locked up in a tiny house day in and day out with no mental or physical stimulation or boundaries...or any training whatsoever. I guarantee his blue heeler puppy will grow up to have problems too and it really frustrates me. But just like telling people how to raise their kids, apparently people don't want me to help them with their dogs. At least I know Broly will grow up to be a well rounded and behaved dog as I am a responsible owner. My boxer and boxer pit that I had before Broly used to be the most amazingly behaved dogs, that I got compliments. And I got one as an older adult and the other at seven months. I'm sure Broly is going to be an amazing dog too. Sorry bout that guys. I really had to vent about my brother and his dogs. It really bothers me. And of course because they have a roof over their head and are fed and not beaten or anything, the humane society would consider him a good dog owner Poor Thane never had a chance. Not with his prior owners and now my brother both being lazy, irresponsible dog owners. Thane will probably end up going the way of his predecessor, my brother's last dog-an American bulldog who was people aggresive- due to killing someone's cat or small dog one day.

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