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  1. Stopping Adult Pitbull from playing tug-o-war with leash?

    Hi all,

    A bit of background before I jump in to the core issues that prompted my post. My girlfriend works at a boarding Kennel in the SF Bay area. Amongst the dogs they board is a team of adult pitbulls, we estimate around 3 to 4 year of age. They have been at the kennel for about 6 months now, since their owner entered drug rehab. The owner has not visited them ONCE during that time period. They get daily playtime and walks, at least 2* 20 minutes. The owner is still paying for the boarding, but we expect that to stop shortly. What usually happens at that point is the managers of the kennel will try to adopt the dog out for a few weeks, and then give it up to the humane society.

    With that in mind, I have been going over there to work with the two dogs a few times a week (2 to 3) for about an hour. My plan is to give them some amount of basic training so it will be easier to adopt them out, should the situation come to that. They are EXTREMELY rambunctious, agitated, and dog aggressive. That being said, they are very sweet to humans, very playful, and - I think - very smart. They're okay on the leash, but only when they get tired out.

    They also both have the bad habit of playing tug of war with the leash. They're both very strong, and in most cases I can't get the leash out of their mouth short of tiring them out first. They've both picked up some very bad habits in the past few months, and I'm not even sure they were socialized or trained properly prior to entering the kennel.

    My question is this: what can I do to leash-train them properly, starting with breaking them out of the tug-o-war thing? Also, what other advice would you have for somebody in my situation?

    I've read all the threads in this forum and others, and I think I understand the basics of pitbull training. The issue is that I don't own the dogs or live with them, and therefore I don't control the feeding, the bedding, or really anything else that could $#@!ert me as the leader.

    Any advice would be appreciated at this point. I attached a few (bad) pictures of the two dogs for reference. The brindle one is Coco, the male, the black and white one is Sophia, the female. We think she's Coco's mother.








    Edit: I guess I'll answer a question that might come up later on. I can't adopt the dogs myself for a number of reasons. I just got my first job after graduation and live in an apartment complex. I also don't have the time, the dedication and the financial resources to treat two pitbulls the way they need to be treated --- with attention, care, and lots of exercise.

  2. #2
    My first thought is that they are EXTREMELY rambunctious and agitated because they aren't getting enough exercise. Now, I know that this isn't your fault and I'm glad that you are going and giving them a little more exercise than they would normally get.

    They are DA because they are pitbulls; but if you've done any research and it sounds like you have then you already know that and I'm preaching to the choir.

    It is nice that someone is trying to help and it is sad that their owner hasn't visited them but if he is in rehab he may not be able to visit. I know that you are judging from past experience that he will stop paying soon but you don't know that for absolutely sure and I will keep my fingers crossed that he continues to pay.

    With that said, training them to not to play tug-o-war with the leash; will first take lots of patience and practice. I'm not an expert in this area and I'm sure many others will chime in. But I would say find something that they like more than the leash and use it to redirect them from the leash. This may take some time and the thing that they like more could very well be different for both of them. I would also say, work with them separately as much as you can that way you can give each your undivided attention.

  3. You can try re-directing them from the leash with a small treat.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbre View Post
    With that in mind, I have been going over there to work with the two dogs a few times a week (2 to 3) for about an hour. My plan is to give them some amount of basic training so it will be easier to adopt them out, should the situation come to that. They are EXTREMELY rambunctious, agitated, and dog aggressive. That being said, they are very sweet to humans, very playful, and - I think - very smart. They're okay on the leash, but only when they get tired out.
    This breed of dog is not for the faint of heart. They need daily exercise, I notice a huge change in my dogs behavior when they are not walked daily. Dog aggressive is not uncommen with this breed and as long as you are aware of this and keep them supervised and seperated when you are not with them, it shouldn't be a problem. They need proper leash training, which obviously they have not had if they only behave when they get tired

    Quote Originally Posted by umbre View Post
    They also both have the bad habit of playing tug of war with the leash. They're both very strong, and in most cases I can't get the leash out of their mouth short of tiring them out first. They've both picked up some very bad habits in the past few months, and I'm not even sure they were socialized or trained properly prior to entering the kennel.
    You need to get them properly changed, they need to be walked seperatly to start leash training. I would suggest a training collar or harness for both. perhaps a martingale collar that applies pressure when pulled or maybe a harness that the leash clips to in the front so they have to work harder to get at the leash. Both will stop pulling which I $#@!ume that they are doing. The harness will whip em around back to you and the martingale, again, applies pressure without choking. Every time they misbehave just stop walking. When they turn around to check out whats wrong reward them for checking in. Teach them that pulling/tugging etc applies your breaks. Their reward is that they get to walk when they behave

    Quote Originally Posted by umbre View Post
    Also, what other advice would you have for somebody in my situation?
    Do the best you can do with training them. Read books and threads on this site about the subject. You are already doing these dogs a great favor by making them more adoptable should it come down to that

    My biggest piece of advice to you would be this: Realize that these dogs are high spirited, that they can be dog aggressive and that they do VERY well with positive reinforcment. As long as you keep working with them and do your best every day (or as often as you can) then no one can ask for more








    Edit: I guess I'll answer a question that might come up later on. I can't adopt the dogs myself for a number of reasons. I just got my first job after graduation and live in an apartment complex. I also don't have the time, the dedication and the financial resources to treat two pitbulls the way they need to be treated --- with attention, care, and lots of exercise.[/quote]

  5. #5
    I volunteer at one of the local shelters here in the SF Bay area...who knows, maybe one that might get these dogs if if comes to that. We have a dog there now who thinks it's great fun to play tug with the leash. He's a big young AB mix of about 75lbs who has been with us now for about 4 months. He has never been too bad with me for some reason because he somehow seems to know that I won't put up with it and more than he wants to pull on the leash he wants to get out of the kennel. Some of the other staff have worked with him by using a toy as an exchange when first entering the kennel. He loves toys so this works well. Once he is busy with the toy it is easier to get the leash on him and he (with the toy in his mouth) leave the kennel. The toy is soon dropped and then he seems to get over the leash issue. I have noticed however that when he is bored he tends to go for the leash again because he has learned that this gets him attention which is what he is seeking. I have also seen him use that same mouthy behavior on people who have tried to interact with him who let him get away with it and it escalates to mouthing on their hands so I have been working a lot with him on being calm and quiet. He doesn't get to go for a walk or play with any toys until he has sat by my quietly for petting and done some good sits, downs, leave it and watch me. Then and only then does he get to go for a walk. Hope some of this helps and thanks for taking the time to work with these dogs!

  6. Thanks for all the great input so far. I was indeed only bringing up DA as a reason why they're not getting as much exercise as they could --- they can't be let out with the other dogs to play. I will bring them a toy and a few treats later in the day and see if that helps with the leash tugging.

    Thanks again for the input!

  7. #7
    Good Luck!! Keep trying and you will make some progress with them. It is nice that you take the time to spend time with them.

  8. My pit occasionally goes to a kennel, and when we pick her up, she is sooooooo worked up, we have to let her run and play very actively for at least 20-30 minutes to get all the cabin fever out of her system. IMO, I think you have to something similar before you even try to train them ...

  9. We let them play together for 5 - 10 minutes before taking them out for walks now. They've made great progress --- I picked up some liver treats, and they've been responding really well to them. They will still grab at the leash occasionally, but a firm 'NO' usually gets them off of it. They've learned sit, stay, and come. Making really strong progress considering I only spend about 2 hours with them, 3 or 4 times a week.

    Thanks again for all the invaluable advice. I will snap a few pictures of the two of them together this coming week.

    Regards,
    B

  10. I hope they find a good home with a responsible owner!

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