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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?
  • 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!"
  • 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!"
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