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New Pit/Bull breed mix owner - advice and DA

Hello! I'm the proud new owner of a pit/bully breed mix from a local shelter. She's around 3 years old, and 40 pounds, and I've named her Mya. A little background - I was a herding dog person for many years. I always had a Border Collie or two and I also raised 4 guide dog puppies. I like drivey, fun, stable dogs with lots of energy and biddability, but I moved to the city and the BC I had at the time (age 13, now deceased), couldn't handle it. Tess was extremely sensitive to noise and chaos etc. So I was dogless for a couple of years when a friend who volunteers at the shelter told me about a dog she said I had to meet who had been found hungry on the streets, who had crazy high drive and biddability but wasn't coping well in a shelter environment. I met her and she learned sit, down, and speak in like 10 minutes once she'd run around. Anyway, I brought her home and she's absolutely fantastic. She's incredibly quiet in the house, and learned to fetch and relieve herself outside quickly. She's got me sold on this whole bull breed deal for life, honestly, but I do have a question regarding DA.
Mya hasn't met any other dogs since I brought her home because several people marked her as dog aggressive at the shelter, but I'm not sure what they meant by that. She does have a few scars on her legs and underside. She doesn't express any interest in other dogs at all, but I'm a first time bull breed owner. I've read a lot of this forum. Should I just keep her away from other dogs completely or should I just approach interactions with caution? What about agility and frisbee and dog classes, where there are other dogs in close proximity? Can DA dogs with good focus and training be trusted off leash around other dogs in those circumstances?
Thanks in advance. I've attached a few pictures of Mya. What a difference a month makes.
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BCdogs

Good Dog
Super Moderator
Really pretty dog!

My answer is it completely depends on the individual dog. While I believe you can minimize reactivity in pretty much any dog, suppressing dog aggression is a whole different story. I know that I would never be able to trust my DA dog around other dogs.

I'm not a sport person, but my understanding is dogs have little to no contact during sporting events. They're usually all crated in between taking their turns. So it may be entirely possible for her.

As for introducing her to other dogs, that's your choice. My advice would be proceed with extreme caution if you choose to do so. On leash at all times, proper introductions by leashed walk before even letting them attempt to greet, etc. Make sure you're really paying attention to body language, but keep in mind many bull breeds will be absolutely silent and give little to no warning before an attack.
 

Beret

Bullyflop
Oh, she’s super cute!

I’m a sport person, and Garp can be tricky. He’s extremely intolerant of males, gets along swimmingly with females, and tends to be very tightly wound in high-stress venues.

We do agility among others, and I made sure we had a very reliable recall before we started any off-lead work. Even still, I’m cautious and constantly observant about what is going on around us the entire time. He dragged a traffic handle for most of his first foundation class and until I was confident that his drive for the game was sufficiently built up enough that I trust him not to disengage. We haven’t had an incident in that environment while he’s been under my physical or voice control. We’ve had brief outbursts (snarl, snap, etc) that have very quickly been corrected and diffused.

So, he is off leash in the presence of other dogs in that environment, but only under very controlled conditions, and only when he’s actively engaged in a course. And it took us 3 years to get to that point where I was comfortable both with his focus and foundational work, but also with reading him and knowing his triggers.

Dog sociability really does operate along a spectrum, it’s not often as black and white as “loves all other dogs vs. wants to fight all other dogs”, and often it’s a pretty fluid state. A lot of those decisions are made through really getting to know and understand body language, etc in general AND really getting to know your own dog’s nuances.

It’s definitely doable for some handler/DA dog pairs. But it is a LOT more work and a lot less casual.
 
Thank you both for your input! She is pretty cute and she knows it.

Yesterday an off leash dog around her size ran up to her barking and she lunged to the end of her leash with raised hackles, high tail, and a growl I hadn't heard out of her before. The dog stopped in his tracks and ran back to his owner, but Mya wasn't able to settle for like 20 minutes after that. I don't know if that was aggression or reactivity but it's convinced me that I definitely need to be cautious. Also, she's killed a raccoon and 3 squirrels so far.

Beret, that makes a lot of sense and that's encouraging to hear it's possible. She's such a fun dog and I would hate not being able to do sports with her. So far she's had solid focus, but the way she reacted yesterday makes me want to do some work in the presence of other dogs.

I guess what's most important is getting to know her really, really well as an individual dog. I still don't really know her triggers. Is it important to get a break stick for any bull breed owner or only if you know your dog is DA/has a history?
 

FetchingInTheRain

Little Dog
Premium Member
She's looks gorgeous! Welcome to the bully breed!

She sounds like my girl Raine an awful lot. She completely ignores other dogs unless they come for her or me. She loves people however.

Any bull breed owner should get a breakstick as it can happen to anyone. Hey who knows, your dog may be the victim of another owners mistake and if neither of you have a breakstick.. :eek:

I agree with BC on meeting other dogs but being ready to pull her away and look for any signs of her showing aggression. I'm sure you could contact the shelter and see what they meant by DA as sometimes they simply mean she doesn't care for dogs but may be able to tolerate them. Even if that was the case some dogs are DA but can meet another dog they absolutely love!