A woman contacted me recently about training. She and her husband have four Yorkies, and recently brought an 8-month-old pit bull into the home. Two of the Yorkies are seniors, aged 8 and 10. The pit bull, who weighs 90 lbs. already, has attacked the 10-year-old Yorkie who, fortunately, did not sustain serious damage, thanks to the fight being broken up.
Although the caller was out of my service area, I spent some time talking with her. Her husband jumped on the call as well, to tell me the dog was not actually a pit bull, but a “Bullie,” apparently a newer breed where “the violence has been bred out of them.” Hmm. Apparently not. This is absolutely nothing against pit bulls in general, but this particular dog had already attacked one of the Yorkies. Since he was still an adolescent, I expressed concern that his behavior might worsen as he grew into a young adult. For now, the couple was doing what in behavior parlance is known as “crate and rotate” in order to keep the dogs separated.
My guess is that the husband wanted this dog. The woman wanted to protect her Yorkies, although she was willing to try to change the behavior of the new dog. I don’t normally advise owners about aggression issues after simply speaking with them on the phone, but this situation had disaster written all over it. It’s not that a dog-aggressive dog can’t be rehabilitated; I’ve done just that with many severely aggressive dogs over the years. But in this case, I suggested they rehome the dog into a home without other dogs, or at least without small dogs. Here are a few things I told them: - This dog showed you who he is when he attacked your Yorkie. Believe him.
- There is such a size differential between the dogs that you are chancing major injury or death of the Yorkie. - Consider what it would be like to live in a home where someone has brutally attacked you. Even if the person were restrained, think about the constant stress their presence would cause. And constant stress, whether in people or dogs, can cause all manner of physical
issues such as ulcers, as well as a depressed immune system, which opens the door for all manner of illness.
- Think about the guilt you would feel if one or more of your Yorkies was killed, and you knew it could happen. I honestly don’t know how much of an impression I made. The woman thanked me sincerely for the time spent talking. I had already referred her to a qualified trainer in her area before we had gotten deep into the conversation, and if she calls, I hope he’ll tell her the same thing I did. My book Keeping the Peace: A Guide to Solving Dog-Dog Aggression in the Home mentions some of the things I told the woman, but I’ve shared those points here as well because sometimes framing things in a different way can help someone to see the truth in a situation. I only hope it helped and those Yorkies live long, healthy lives. ______________________________________________________ You can find my books, seminar recordings, blog, and more at www.nicolewilde.com and follow me on FB @NicoleWildeauthor. My dog trainer mentoring service can be found at Dog Trainer's Friend. And if wildlife photos are your thing, check out my Instagram at nicolewildeart.