We are not sure what to do, because now that Bruno has gotten more comfortable in our neighborhood and home and gotten better from his accident, he is showing much more aggression towards kids. In a neighborhood full of families and children, what could be worse?
It is a frightful thing because we don't want to scare children of course, and we don't want people to be afraid of Bruno-who we know to be a sweet and gentle dog. We don't want our landlord to even have to ask us to leave because Bruno is scaring the families. We want to advance the breeds reputation, not hurt it.
The ASPCA has a great resource for all kinds of behavioral problems, including an entire page on Fear of Children. The ASPCA of course advises avoiding children, which is impossible for us where we live now. If unavoidable, they recommend a muzzel. The problem with this is that it makes him look scary, which is the last thing I want, but of course I understand that ultimately a muzzeled dog is less scary than a barking, lungeing dog.
The ASPCA also advises using the "U-Turn" technique, which actually works well for us outside (We see children coming and we either turn around or stop and make Bruno sit and pay attention to us for a treat.) But this is impossible inside. Near and among the elevators is actually where he is the most aggressive because of the surprise of children when the doors open. The surprise seems to be the worst part of it and the hardest thing to work around, which is why I am seriously considering a muzzel.
Muzzels, however, don't fix the problem but only cover it up. The ASPCA recommends psychological treatment called Desensitization and Counterconditioning (DSCC) and seeking the help of experts.
I am hoping that over the next few weeks the muzzel combined with the U-Turn and treats will be enough to help Bruno, because he is after all a very reslient dog who learns quickly.
The other thing that worries me is that breed profiles and specialists sometimes say that when pit bulls demonstrate any agression to humans and esspecially towards children, they may need be put to sleep, because they are not demonstrating typical or desireable breed temperment.
(See this Rescue Site- "Note: A pit bull that shows unprovoked human aggression, especially with children, is NOT typical of the breed and is showing very poor temperament. Such a dog should be thoroughly evaluated by a trainer or behaviorist experienced in the breed for a final determination of their temperament and recommendation on how to proceed.")
Statistics on Dog Bites/Children:
"Studies of dog bite injuries have reported that:
- The median age of patients bitten was 15 years, with children, especially boys aged 5 to 9 years, having the highest incidence rate
- The majority of dog attacks (61%) happen at home or in a familiar place.
- The vast majority of biting dogs (77%) belong to the victim's family or a friend. "
Strangely, Bruno is extremely dog friendly and would never hurt a dog. He also snuggles with us on our bed and loves to lick our faces and gingerly accepts treats and shows no aggression to adults. After how much he has survived, I know that he is going to have a happy life, but I worry about 1) keeping him --because we plan on having children in the next 3-5 years, and 2) giving him up for adoption, because someone might not understand his unique needs and he could end up in the shelter again.
I love pit bulls and I welcome their good and bad qualities. Most of all, I want other people to love them as much as I do. I want to be a good owner who understands my dog's feelings and limitations. Hearing people say they are afraid of my pit bulls is the hardest thing for me to hear, so I need to to everything I can to help Bruno. If anyone has any advice or has dealt with a similar problem, please let me know.