Monday, July 2, 2012

Reader Mail!

Here we have another edition of Reader Mail! If there is a particular question you have about pit bulls, please drop me a line at, I'd be more than happy to answer any and all questions!

A red-nosed pit bull
This one comes from Elizabeth. She writes, "I have a 2 yo Red nose Pit. His name is Capone. He is a wonderful dog when he is with my boyfriend but when I'm with him he doesn't listen he pees and poops in the house. He pulls me when I walk him and he doesn't let anyone near me, he wants to bite them, anyone even children. And I love him dearly but I'm scared he will hurt someone!"

Thanks for writing in, Elizabeth!

Capone has issues that many young male pit-bulls have- he is territorial, acting tough, hard to handle on a leash... This makes me wonder if he is neutered? If not, I would strongly suggest neutering him as soon as possible.  It will help with marking (peeing) in the house, aggression and territorial issues  and there health benefits for him as well. You can read more about this here.

Secondly, I would recommend getting a muzzle right away. I recommend a basket muzzle for a strong male dog, rather than a nylon one that may slip off. If he has bitten in the past or threatens to bite anyone, especially children- this is a must. He should wear it outside the home and inside if guests are over. It is for everyone's protection, including his. If he does bite someone- depending on where you live, you could have to put him to sleep. Once he is muzzled, you can work on the other issues.

 If crate training is done correctly, your dog should like being in his crate
If he is peeing and pooping in the house- I suggest crate training (Info on Crate Training) him or putting up a gate to block off a small space for him that is easy to clean - usually the kitchen works best for this. The smaller the area he is confined to- the less able he will be to get away from the smell of his own urine and feces, and dogs hate being around that and will not soil their own "den". They tend to hold it rather than go when they are in a confined area.

For pulling- I suggest a prong collar (read about prong collar training here)- if he barks and lunges, use a sharp yank of that collar with a firm and loud "No!". Your confidence will become apparent to him and he will start to know you are in control. If he listens to your boyfriend and your boyfriend can help you- start putting Capone on his back and place your knee on his chest- he will struggle at first, but soon he will know that you are in charge. If he breaks the rules you put in place for him, place him on his back and stare into his eyes and say "No" in a confident deep voice.

Your situation with Capone reminds me a bit of this dog, Buddy, who Cesar Milan worked with on "The Dog Whisperer." Check it out here or watch part 1 below.

Best of Luck to you!


  1. After reading how you suggested to handle this situation I am appalled. By implementing harsh and painful punishment to attempt to control an already aggressive animal you are setting yourself up for failure. And to suggest to "alpha roll" a strong pit bull for breaking the rules is seriously delusional. Holding a stressed, possibly fearful and aggressive animal on its back to "let them know who is boss" is a fantastic recipe to get bitten. Cesar Milan has done some good in the dog training community but for the most part he bases all of his training off of wolves (who may be a close relative but are by no means our typical domestic dog). His technique is heavily based on negative reinforcement, which why would anyone ever choose negative reinforcement when positive reinforcement is a gentler more effective approach? Also jerking his prong collar sharply and yelling no at him? Prong collars are not intended to be jerked sharply first of all and second by jerking and yelling at him, he is likely to become fearful of you and whoever else is around him thus creating a much more difficult problem to solve. I hope for Elizabeth and Capone's sake she does NOT heed your highly misguided, so called advice and finds an actual trainer who hopefully uses positive reinforcement techniques.

  2. Sorry to hear you disagree. I stand by neutering, muzzeling, crate training and using a prong collar on an aggressive dog. Having a pit bull- a dog with the ability to do serious damage with one bite- means you have to be OVERLY cautious. I am not a professional trainer and advice from one like Cesar Milan may be helpful- but this is what has worked for us. Our dogs are not fearful but have a healthy respect for us. I never wanted to use a prong collar or ever hurt my dog- but a few swift tugs will break his focus (like kicking him from behind like Cesar does in this video). My dogs are my children and positive reinforcement is always preferable- but Capone has the capability to be dangerous and Elizabeth and her boyfriend need to make sure he understands he is not in control in their household. Elizabeth, I agree- don't attempt to pin your dog without your boyfriends help.

  3. I also agree with neutering, muzzling if necessary, crate training and using a prong collar correctly. Any dog has the ability to do serious damage, and I agree a person needs to be overly cautious when they have an aggressive dog one such way would be to not put their dogs in situations where they get the opportunity to act out. Also I would love to know how your dogs display their healthy respect for you, vs being afraid of you? Pinning your dog on the ground accomplishes absolutely nothing, other than maybe terrifying or enhancing your dogs aggressive tendencies. Yes Capone does have the ability to be dangerous and sounds like he needs some serious work, and like you said you are not a professional trainer, and neither is Ceasar Milan so hopefully she seeks the guidance of a reputable trainer such as Ian Dunbar.

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