12 week old American Pit Bull Terrier Biting/Aggression Issues
I have two puppies: a 16 week old half boxer, quarter lab, quarter dachshund mix (male) and a twelve week old American Pit Bull Terrier(female). We are NOT planning on breeding them-we want them to be companion animals. We brought her home when she was six weeks from a house with terrible conditions, and I knew she needed work put into her. I noticed she was very aggressive towards him when he walked by her food bowl (they get fed in separate parts of the kitchen) and she would gobble down her food and try to steal his by bullying him away from his bowl. It has now escalated and when she is eating and he is not and he even walks by her, she charges at him and I have to break it up. Also, she bites way too hard when they play. I assumed she would grow out of it as she got older, but what has happened is she is bigger and bites harder and now she draws blood. She makes him yelp and he has a three inch long gash in his ear where she bit too hard and he yanked away. I don't know what to do to help the problem. My little boy is very calm and submissive- he will lay in your lap and lick you all day if you let him. She is very hyper and just plays way too rough. I understand her being territorial about her food, but it just seems like she is being overly aggressive. I was raised with APBTs and never had problems like this. Can anyone give me some advice?
Normally, puppies learn bite inhibition from playing with the other puppies in the litter, from a very young age. If they are separated from their littermates too early, or are deprived of opportunities to learn at that formative age, they must be carefully managed later. Jean Donaldson has two excellent, short books available: "Fight" and "Mine!" The latter specifically addresses resource guarding with very clear, step-by-step instructions for a program of systematic desensitization and counterconditioning. She also discusses bite inhibition in its various forms. At any rate, it's very important that you address these issues now, before any humans or animals are bitten or otherwise injured.
Consult your vet on the appropriate time to spay and neuter. Some vets recommend to wait until the pups are older but some say that if the dogs are in good physical health, they can be fixed quite young with no ill effects. There is inconclusive evidence as to how spay/neuter actually affects behavior, and it will affect different dogs differently no matter what, but the general feeling seems to be that many dogs do settle down a bit following the procedure.
Additionally, since your female seems to show some signs of anxiety, you may look into such products as Bach Flowers (Rescue Remedy is the one most commonly used), the Thundershirt, or talk to your vet about pharmaceutical remedies to help reduce her stress.
Since you say she seems hyper and excessively energetic, make sure your girl is receiving enough exercise. Walk the dogs separately if necessary (if they have different exercise needs or energy levels).
If you're feeling overwhelmed, consult APDT.com for recommendations on positive trainers near your location, who can help you set up a program of management and behavior modification.
She seemed to pick up on bite inhibition with us early on, she just didn't seem to be able to apply it to our other puppy. She learned not to bite humans because we would make a loud yelping noise and then quit playing to teach her that she doesn't get rewarded for that behavior. When she bites the other puppy, he still plays with her. In any case, I think I'll check out those books to see what advice I can get out of them.
In terms of exercise, I take them both on long walks. My fiance will walk with them on days that I go running, and she always ends up running away from him to catch up with me and she will run with me for about half an hour. It always worries me because she is so young and I know that her body is not fully developed enough for that kind of workout. Even after we come inside on those days, she's a ball of energy. I'm hoping that will calm down once we get her spayed.