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Growling at adults in the house

I have a 5 month old male named Boss. Around 3.5-4 months he began getting aggressive over a few things. His crate, food , chew toys, and the trash can, and just being petted? Its not a constant and seems to come and go. He will hunker down and pull his ears back and growl in his most ferocious tone. I am 52 years old and had a dog(s) for at least 45 of those 52 years, all breeds including Pitt bulls. I have never observed this behavior. One second he is happy chewing on a raw hide lying beside me the next he is growling at me or my wife , ears back, hair standing up across his back and increasing his loudness. He bites my wife's feet ( aggressively when she opens the trash can ( foot peddle type). He will lay under my stool when I am on my laptop happy as a lark. I leaned down to pet him and out of the blue he will do the same thing, hair raised, ears back and viscous sounding growl.

At first I thought he needed a " who's the Boss lesson( like my Father taught me) , but refrained thinking it would worsen the problem, he's still a baby. I usually say his name and say no firmly and take the toy , or move from his bowl of food, or quit petting him. He then cowers and his tail wraps it under his back legs and he curls under my legs, but still growling? The most challenging part is when he's laying by my chair content on me petting him and with no warning displays threatening gestures. I am 5'11 and solid built and I have to say its quite intimidating ( he's built like a bank vault).

He's great with my 14 year old son and they play very rough a lot. He loves tug a war and will sometimes play fetch with a brief game of tug getting the ball out of his mouth. He is good with my Daughter mature female dog and plays with her as long as we let them play. He's great with our cats? He cant quit wagging his tail when he see's them ?

The aggressive behavior is only with myself and my wife ( he has actually bitten her!). Any suggestions will help. We knew we were taking on a rambunctious breed. But a few people we casually know have them and we liked their noted clown like behavior. We are trying to figure out what causes the behavior and eliminate it. Its progressively getting worse!

I have noted the feeding routine. He either will immediately eat as long as we are 5-10 feet away of he will circle his food looking at us both with his tail tightly wrapped under his hind legs, ears back watching to make sure we stay our distance. We never crowd him as it results in him growling and me verbally scolding him. The trash can is a mixed bag. He will actually bite feet or hands when you throw something away.

Any help is appreciated, we love Boss and half the time is a cute , fun and an entertaining puppy, however this behavior is unacceptable.


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  • This is always a subject of controversy, what works for one dog may not work for another and there is always disagreement over methods.I can only tell you what worked for ours.

    We have an 8mth male between 4 and 6mths he displayed some aggression towards us though not to the extent you appear to be experiencing. I work long hrs and would quite often get an emotional wife on the phone saying we had bought a bad egg.

    We found water sprayers worked we had one in each room the minute he showed aggression he got a blast of water We only had to do it a handful of times then the sight of the bottle was enough to send him on his way. He is a different dog now so loving and displays no aggression issues. I like the method as it causes minimal discomfort.

    We have also learnt he is also a bit of a talker and his growling is not always a sign of aggression. Good luck
  • Thanks for the advise. I am willing to try anything. He is a talker too. However last night after I entered the forum he bit my wife's hand when she opened the trash can. We followed our method and firmly told him NO! I picked him up while growling and put him in his crate, which probably wasn't the best thing to do. However 30 minutes later he was playing and acting normal?
  • We did the time out for a while but it sometimes meant physically removing him from the room and I did not want to put him in the position where he bit. I'm sure in a few months time he will have found his boundaries and be laughing about his previous bad character
  • I had to resort to pinning my bull terror pup, and I held her in that position until she completely went limp, or submitted to me. I felt horrible doing it but she didn't even seem to notice anything else that I tried. And I had to do it over and over and over, just like everything else that we did over and over and over. But it was worth it. She will be 3 soon and is a sweet dog with no aggression.

    If you want him to use the crate willingly as an adult, don't use it for punishment (time out). Every bull terrier I have been around loved their crate and willingly spent time in it, like hanging out in "their room".
  • I guess that's what I am going to do. I have held him down and repeated the word No, letting him struggle trying to get away. He always cowers afterwards and cuddles up to me.

    Accept for sleep at night he gets very upset when placed in his crate and will snap at your hand when latching it. But I cant let him run loose when I am not here. He will literally destroy the entire house! His saving grace right now is he loves playing with my Son and always wags is tail and plays with him. zero aggression, knock on wood! I am exhausted. The breeder suggested a shock collar?
  • BulliesofNCBulliesofNC Richlands, NC
    There is a ton of other discussions just like this one that pertain to a young Bull Terrier in their adolescent stages which is showing signs of dominance or aggression. It seems to be a topic that comes up often.
    I encourage you to read through some of the past articles on this Forum where guidance and advice has been provided.
    In the event you can't find these articles please let me know and I will link several of them for you. I'm not trying to discard your concerns it's just I've commented in various other discussions with the same information over and over.
    - Steve Gogulski
    "It's not just a Dog, it's a Bull Terrier!"
  • BulliesofNCBulliesofNC Richlands, NC
    Just one example on a quick search - http://www.bulliesofnc.com/BTforum/discussion/2223/pinning

    - Steve Gogulski
    "It's not just a Dog, it's a Bull Terrier!"
  • First I would absolutely get a different/new trash can ( seems the simplest solution ) . The water bottle works for us as well . Mine always gets a treat when she goes in her crate .
  • So He just aggressively bit me on the hand. I will need stitches. Strong willed? This seems excessive for any breed of dog?
  • It sounds like you have issues that you need some professional help with. I don't know if you were trying the pinning method but I am not a great believer in it. I stopped doing it with ours as I could see it would lead to a bite. Hope your hand is okay and you get the issue resolved
  • Agreed. Was petting his ears while he laid in his crate? Door open and he really tore into me. I then I pinned him and told him NO and bad dog. he did show remorse and curled up under me, but I was in the ER till 3am...... very frustrating I thought I was getting a clown who loved human affection? Hes great with kids, other adults, Vet, etc.?
  • I agree with @Mickjameslenehan, pinning method is not for everyone. We tried it couple of times with our bully when he was 8 months old but stopped doing it cause we could see it was making him more aggressive and could lead to a bite. I also agree that you might need some professional help.
    In a meantime I would recommend you the book by Cesar Millan: Be the Pack Leader. It really helped us to understand our dog better, create stronger bonds and helped to set boundaries and limitations for our strong-willed pup.
    Now at 5mo old he is testing you, wait till he enters adolescence. 12 to 18 months was a nightmare for us - growling, stubbornness, disobedience, selective hearing and bratty-ness. Like a real teenager! That's why you need to take care of his issues now. It is much easier to fix puppy behavior issues than fixing grown up dog.
    Good luck!
  • Maybe when he is in his crate just leave him be. That is their personal space. When mine was younger I was mistakenly feeding her in her crate. She knocked over her bowl and I reached in to clean up and she snarled and nipped my hand. That is the last time I have been careless around her crate even though she is super sweet I know it is her space. Good luck! He is young and moldable, don’t lose heart.
  • Mine is crate aggressive if she is in it so I know better than to stick my hand in there . I did not get her until she was around 5 months and attribute the crate aggressiveness to how she was treated prior to my getting her . For me I am ok with that being her space when she is in it and I and my family respect that . My husband and I have been bitten more by the bull terrier than any other dog we have owned but I will say the majority of the time it is not really aggressive more like testing ,rough play . I have 3 rescues the bull terrier a pit bull we got when she was 1yr old and a hound /pit mix we got at 1yr old .The bull terrier is the hardest most challenging dog I have ever owned . Good Luck
  • Its not so much the crate. I leave him alone since the bite when he's in his crate. ( I need my hands) He is also obsessed with peoples feet. he "muzzle bumps' them and puts a lot of pressure on your feet. When he does this he's waiting for you to move your feet then he attacks one of your feet!

    I have thick hunting gloves and have resorted to wearing them. ( realize he will associate them with something negative) but allows me to reach down and grab his muzzle and pry it off my foot and tell him NO, without getting stiches! IDK, I have a young Son who he has never been aggressive toward until tonight. Again his feet? I saw him pressuring my Sons feet and realized what he was doing. I asked Boss to come to me and he of course ignored me and pressured my Sons foot. When I got near him he snarled which scared my son. I put on the glove and reached toward him and he attacked the glove, snarling, growling and biting.

    I am giving him my best for one month at that point I will decide if he is improving or worsening. Obviously I am not keeping a dog who attempts to bite the household multiple times a day. Its exhausting, un-nerving, and stresses the Dog when I discipline him.

    He can be a typical puppy one minute then turn into a biting snarling maniac the next?
  • You may want to make his own place/dog bed(besides his crate) in the room where all family members socialize the most. When he misbehaves you should send him to his palace and ALL family members should ignore him for an hour or two. So he knows he was a very bad boy and no one will tolerate his bad behavior.
    There are some articles which may help you to deal with food guarding and aggression to family members:





  • Please don’t wear gloves to handle your pet

    Seek out a Proffesionals trainer before things worsen and you have serious issue

    Worse case scenario your child is injured and or you have to reboot e the dog

    This is a 6 month old pup ?

    He is playing and testing and you need to address it and put things in order quickly

    If it were my dog I would smack his ass and say NO when he went after someone’s feet

    By putting on a glove you might as well be putting on a puppy bite sleeve

  • Meant to say re home not reboot
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