Aggressive Staffordshire Bull Terrier in Texas

by Tony

Adopted male Staffy. In shelter over 200 days. Heart worms, enlarged hear, low stamina, ear infection, rear hips half out of socket, etc. Still seems to be good happy dog & were told was good at shelter with other dogs.

Brought our 2 dogs to meet & greet. They did some sniffing & just sort of ignored each other. Once we got home Staffy started attacking our older male dog. Lab mix - gold about 55 lbs. Found him in the neighborhood 13 years ago. Good dog. Great with kids never any signs of aggression except when we walk him & other dogs come into view. Starts to pull in their direction & will stare until you pull him in another direction. Kids can lay all over him, mess with him, etc. when he has had enough he just gets up & walks away. Not an overly affectionate dog, but a great family dog & very safe for people & kids to be around.

Other dog is lab/dane mix. Rescue. Have had her since 6 weeks old. She gets along well with our other dog but really neutral with the Staffy. The Staffy loves her & just follows her & sniffs her. Attacked her once when we got him home initially but soon started to love her. This is a big dog about 75 lbs, all black with some white markings, but she thinks she is a lap dog, sleeps in our bed & loves kids & people. However, she is sort of a recluse & unless she is getting full attention she goes into closet & just waits for her time to go play. Very needy & demanding, and was not a problem when there was just the two dogs. The golden dog is low maintenance. Couple laps around the park is fine & he relaxes the rest of the time. This black dog could play 24/7 & will bug you to death until you take her out to play. However, this dog, being female is terrified of loud noises & does not care to be around any other dog. Never aggressive She will raise her jowels & growl, pretty fiercely if you play like you are taking her treat or toy or try to move her when she is not ready, but that is her way of playing. No matter what we do with her she will only do the pretend aggression thing but ends up just licking you. The golden dog just wants to be in the same room or close proximity, but doesn't care to be held, cuddled, or played with for any long period of time. He will play for a few minutes from time to time with the black dog, but other than that he just lays around, takes his walks, & is otherwise an unassuming, quiet, easy going dog requiring little maintenance; unlike the black dog that needs 100% attention when with you & playing, otherwise she pouts & goes to her space. But as stated she also is very skittish. She was found on a busy road near a gas station. People said she was there for days just looking for food. We think the noise, bad weather, etc are what make her so skittish of loud noises. Thunder & lightening, fireworks, sirens, loud talking, dropping something that makes a loud noise, lawnmower, turn her into a cowering, shaking mess.

As for the Staffy, we have had him 9 months & the aggression to the golden dog is no better. We did some clicker training but it has not taken hold. We have a shock collar and muzzle but don't like to use. & have used it but we don't like to.

We are now living in a 325 sqft ravel trailer for 6-8 months & the confined space is putting a lot of stress on us all. The golden dog is in a constant state of heightened awareness & does all he can to stay his distance from the Staffy. If they get into each others space then it's go time. They do seem to lock eyes first & neither seems willing to back off, then they go at it. Usually it is the Staffy that lunges first & gets the top power position, but the golden dog doesn't just lay down & take it. They get pretty nasty & it is scary at times to try to reach in & separate. The Staffy is extremely strong & powerful at 66 pounds. Once the skirmish is over however the Staffy is wheezing, coughing, short of breath & has to lay down to stop the coughing/hacking. Obviously it is the heart worms & enlarged heart that won't allow him to have the stamina to withstand this heightened activity. Even on short walks or him trying to jump onto couch or chair causes him stress & the coughing/dry heaving.

It is truly sad that he was allowed to get into this condition. By all indications looking at his teeth, skin, marks he had when we got him, looks like he might have been used as a bait dog. His teeth are very worn down, lots of scabs on pads./elbows, etc. like he was in a cage a long time & maybe tormented with a stick to get him to fight. He has had all 3 heart worm treatments now & goes back in a month to see how effective the shots were. He currently takes Vetmedin, Furosemide, Enalapril , twice daily. However, nothing seems to stop the aggressive behavior between the two. Anytime we show affection to the golden dog the Staffy starts to stare & we have to be careful to avoid conflict. They don't share or like to be in close proximity with each other. However the Staffy & the black female dog will lay side by side, touch, etc & nothing ever happens. Actually the Staffy will back off the female if there is sharing involved, but usually the female just leaves & goes to her space.

So our problem is with the Staffy & the golden male. I am writing this at 5am or so, I was awoken by a low gutteral growl. The Staffy was on the floor sitting about 3' from the golden dog as he lay in his bed on the floor. They apparently locked eyes & neither was going to unlock. Fortunately I woke up with the growl & eased out of bed & as soon as I got on the floor the Staffy tried to jump the golden dog. I was fortunate enough to intervene & stop any contact. The Staffy was intent on attacking. As i pushed him back from the other dog he kept trying to get around me to get back at the dog.

Now here is a funny. At times we can walk these two on leashes & they will walk side by side, touching, sniffing the same stuff as we walk, bump into each other, cross each others paths & nothing happens. It's like the other doesn't exist. However there have been a few occasions where we walk them together & they stop for something, bump or look at each other & the fight is on. At times just when we are leashing them, if they get too close during the leashing process the Staffy goes after the other dog.

Last thing, the Staffy will still even snap & try to bite us if we pet him too hard in certain areas. I am sure from pain we don't know about or from past experience of someone hurting him in that area. If we make the mistake of petting him & it startles him or if you come from a direction to where he can't see you or at times if you try to pet him straight on from the front of his head. Not sure if this is from being treated badly or what but it is unusual that he is still doing this to us.

This dog would probably be great in a single dog home, but even then there is the fear of snapping.biting others & especially small kids,& we have 5 grandchildren. He has snapped at the teenage boys, but is perfect around the 3 grandkids we have under the age of 5. He just walks around with them but no signs of aggression. Maybe its due to their small stature. But he does snap at other people at times if they try to pet him without him sniffing them first & without him initiating first contact.

This dog has become my shadow. When we got him home, I was with him 24/7 for several days as my wife was away on a trip. So I presume I am his pack leader. When I am out of his sight he whines, whimpers & barks until he can see where I am then he will come to where I am & just follow me around. If I sit, he sits, If I walk he walks. If its bed time he has to come to bed & be in the room with me. We all sleep in the same room. The female & Staffy in the bed with us. The golden dog on the floor. He has always slept on the floor since we got him. He sleeps right on the side by where my wife sleeps & if anything he is my wife's dog. He is still scared of me & it might be my voice .

So we are at a crossroads with the situation between the old golden dog, male and the Staffy male. We can't continue to remain on high alert for these two & when other people come around. Either we need to figure out how to stop this behavior between these two or we have to get rid of the Staffy.

Last, another strange phenomenon. Where we are staying now in our RV is on a couple acres in the countr. People out here allow their dogs to roam freely. There are 4 dogs that came over the first day we arrived. One is a large male Boxer, one is sort of a beagle/ dashound male, one is a male sort of airdale & one is an old terrier but he does not come around much. These 4 dogs have not been an issue at all for the Staffy. They came up to him the sniffing process began & not a single problem. . The bulldog seems to like our Staffy & they sniff each other the most, but there has not been one act of aggression between any of these dogs. Now that I don't understand especially with the aggression between the Staffy & our dog even more heightened in these closed quarters.

We hate to think of giving the Staffy up. He deserves a good home & to get healthy so he can be a real Staffy. But it is unfiar for our golden dog who has now become scared to death to go anywhere without knowing where the Staffy is.

We need expert advise on how we stop this or advice if that means looking for another home for the Staffy. Last thing we want is for him to misinterpret the actions of one of our grandkids, especially those little ones & for him to attack & maul one of them.

Thanks and can't wait for your guidance..

PS we think the staffy is about 6 years old but was only neutered about a 1 year ago..

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May 29, 2018
Nothing In Life Is Free
by: Adam G. Katz

Employ the "Nothing In Life Is Free" approach, so that your dog starts to view you as the "pack leader." If your dog doesn't see you as the leader, then your corrections will be meaningless. So, if you're doing subtle things (inadvertently) to undermine your leadership role around the house-- it will be counter-productive.

All the best,

Adam G. Katz is the author of, "Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer!" -- which you can find at

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