Pit Bulls

My friend recently adopted a friendly little 2 yr old pit bull from a shelter. They had had her for a few weeks and she was being fostered part time so they could get a better sense of her personality. They had found her as a stray.
We first noticed that someone had taken a lot of time to do some advanced obedience work. She seemed very well trained. We also noticed a deep fear of objects such as brooms and long sticks. She goes to work with him and so is surrounded by people coming and going all day and 4 days into it, she seemed like the perfect dog.
After about 5 days of perfect behavior, meeting people, going into stores with no issues, etc. he was out for a walk with her in his yard. There was a jogger out on the street and even though he was nowhere near them, she completely lost her mind and wanted to go after him. My friend got her settled down and went back inside. His cat happened to be near the door, and the dog immediately turned on the cat. He luckily was able to grab her and took her to the sofa. She seemed to be over it all, was relaxed until she saw the other cat asleep on a chair. She then turned on that cat. Again, my friend was able to prevent an attack.
I have no experience with pits; I’ve heard enough about them that I would not want to own one. He just lost his pit mix (who had no aggressive tendencies). He is now freaked out but doesn’t want to lose a second dog so quickly.
Any chance this dog could be rehabilitated?

5 days of perfect behavior after…what? Five days after going into work with him?

I’m kind of confused about the timeline…and also what “fostered part time” means?

It may just be that the dog is totally overwhelmed with too many changes in too short of a time period. Or, this may be the dog’s real personality - high prey drive toward animals and things that move fast.

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Yes, that sounds like excessive prey drive to me. My neighbors had a dog like that–a lab/pit cross who was friendly to humans, but 3 times it got loose and attacked (and nearly killed) smaller dogs who were being walked or jogged past. After Animal Control got involved, the owners were required to put the dog through all kinds of training, but they never succeeded in eliminating the prey drive. Dog was put down after the last attack.

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My thought as well and, IMO, the breed really doesn’t have much to do with it. The breed may have a higher pretty drive than other breeds but assuming that ‘pits’ have this issue may be sidestepping all the other questions that these replies brought up.

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IMO, if he wants the dogs to live with cats and go everywhere with him, then no. There’s lots of pit bulls and pit mixes in shelters, and he’s only had this one for a few days. There’s probably another dog out there with an easier temperament.
There is a person on Instagram. It’s called the Toby project and it’s centered on a pit bull being rehabbed for reactivity. She uses positive methods. It’s interesting because the dog is better, but still a lot of work.

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Agreed; lots of dogs have a high prey drive and/or will chase things that move fast. But many of them aren’t as large and/or powerful as a pit bull/bully type. My friends have an English Shepherd that is very similar, but far less scary looking than a pit bull. Because they only have a 4’ fence, he is not allowed to be out in the yard unsupervised because anyone traveling down the sidewalk going faster than a walk is too much for him to resist.

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Sorry, trying to condense my post! He got the dog Sunday, took her to work daily, took her into stores, took her for walks, and during all that time the dog was perfectly behaved. Thursday after work is when she started the new behavior.
She was in the humane society and the shelter worker has been taking her home every night for a couple of weeks. So she has been partly in the shelter and partly in her home with other dogs and cats and AFAWK had no issues.
Thanks!

Sounds like an awful lot of activity for a dog he just got.

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Yikes, this is like dropping a 5 year old child in a foreign country and expecting it to learn to read in the first week - it’s very likely that the dog is just overwhelmed, tired, and anxious.

I would not entirely rule out rehabilitation, but would proceed with extreme caution.

If she was back and forth from the shelter to a home it’s possible she was still on her “best behavior” there as well. Eventually the real dog will emerge, and it may not be very similar to what it appears to be at first while still in the “honeymoon phase”.

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Thanks, that is his biggest concern…he does not want her put down. Dog has been amazing otherwise and this came out of left field. But it was the first time she had seen something moving quickly too.

Speaking purely from POV of a cat lover, no, I wouldn’t risk my cats living with this dog or totally trust rehabilitation. I’d return to the shelter to see if the dog could not be rehomed/refostered to someone with no small animals and with time/experience to put in some intense training to more thoroughly evaluate.

But nope. For the cats’ sake, at my place, the dog would be gone.

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Although I get that, I have had golden retrievers with high prey drive and they never went after a jogger.

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No, but not all dogs hunt the same way. Sporting breeds don’t tend to hunt by sight, and it’s actually discouraged when training a sporting breed.

Sighthounds and herding breeds certainly do hunt/work by sight. Terriers…not sure what is ‘typical’ for them but I would think it would not be uncommon to think they do whatever works.

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Maybe so…he picked her because of her outgoing, loves everyone personality. We looked at another dog, a very shy one, and he knew that environment would be overwhelming to her.
My sister ran a rescue for years at Petsmart. She had animals that did great in that environment and others that couldn’t cope. This one seemed to be very comfortable in it. She has a bed at his business where she can sleep and get away from things and she chooses to be out among the employees, sleeping at their feet.

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Dogs are very adaptable. But if we consider this dogs history she lived somewhere before the shelter then the shelter then part time foster and now with her new dad and going to his work daily. If this was a horse we’d be screaming about ulcers.

She might be not be suitable for your friend. She might be awesome. I dunno, but I’d bet money that all of those changes have been stressful and exhausting for this dog.

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I get that, but there were no signs she was stressed about anything. We were really quite amazed at how well she had settled in and picked up on the routine. She had a bed where she could get away from everything and only occasionally used it.

The best behavior theory is something that worries me. It seems like from her training, that someone went to lengths to get her well behaved. I guess my concern is that they were trying to train this out of her.

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I totally agree. He has a 20 year old cat who is a bit frail. It wouldn’t take much to do him in. And he can’t get out of the way by jumping on a high shelf.
Dog will be kept separate until a final decision is made.

Hmm hmm. Could be the dog fits the best behavior theory. Could be that her stress signals, like attaching herself to the people instead of snoozing on her bed have been mis interpreted.

I think if this were my dog, the response would be the same regardless of what I thought was triggering the behavior. If I’m upset that my dog suddenly starts going after joggers and cats, I’m probably not going to risk continuing to take her to work or leave her unattended with my cats until I’m quite sure I have a better understanding of this dog I just got.

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The “honeymoon phase” of dog adoption is very well known. Seriously - google “dog adoption honeymoon period” and you will find articles and articles saying the same thing.

The fact that your friend didn’t know this, or anticipate for it - that’s not a great sign he’s really ready to have this dog. His previous experience with a great bully mix has lulled him into a false sense of security - that they are all easy going but misunderstood and/or dog adoption is easy.

As for why the dog is in the shelter - who knows. I would not use the fact that the dog has obedience training to come to any conclusions.

What this friend should do immediately is find a way to maintain the safety of the cats - meaning not leave the dog and cats unsupervised. A gate that the cat can get under might be quick and easy for now. And contact a dog trainer. With any luck, there may be a solution, but the cats are definitely a concern right now.

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An experienced trainer or even someone at the shelter ought to be able to test for prey drive (and not by using a cat or smaller dog as prey!) I’m not sure how they do this but I vaguely remember a discussion about it with the Animal Control officer during the drama surrounding my neighbors’ dog.

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