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pitter dispute

April 19th, 2007, 07:04 PM
Hello guys/gals.
Got a quick question for you all.
Just got a staf terrier, 2yrs old, spayed with all shots. The dog is very well mannered. HOWEVER, she gets excited, seems like first thing in the morning, and after play (running, ball, etc.), and wants to get frisky, grabbing on to the leg and humping. When you put her down, she gets aggressive, starts barking and growling and tries to bite (lightly). I've had stafs before, so I am not afraid of the breed, I know I can stop its attack if I have to. When she did this, I've thrown her on her back, holding her down by the collar and I growl at her. She will still fight and try to bite for another 3 or 4 minutes, but then she calms down and I start talking to her until I feel confident that she is done, and I let her up.
Then she goes to a toy or her blanket and chews on that for a few minutes, then she is fine again.
This is the only time she acts aggressive, or even barks. The last time she tried it today, when I put her down and said stop, she jumped up again, put her down, said stop, she turned around and walked away.
Am I approaching this properly? I really haven't had her long enough to know her personality well, and I don't want her to try this with my boys.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

April 19th, 2007, 07:40 PM
If it was me, I wouldn't have done an alpha roll just yet. I don't know where you got the dog from, and, personally, just wouldn't alpha roll a dog i didn't have any backround on. I have no idea, maybe you do know where the dog came from, a loving home, or what not. Just saying be careful.

I think you might be better off searching for techniques to encourage your dog to see you and your family as strong leaders, so there's no question who's in charge.

Here is the index of articles for,

may i suggest "who's in charge" and "nilf", great articles.

April 19th, 2007, 08:58 PM
Pinning a dog to the ground in a so called "alpha roll" can *cause* aggression, and is very dangerous to attempt. Dogs do not throw other dogs to the ground, neither do wolves. Rolling onto the back is an offered behavior of appeasement.

Pinning the dog down causes the dog to panic, some dogs struggle, some dogs freeze, many dogs will bite out of fear. It teaches the dog nothing, except to fear you.

Dogs have an opposition reflex, which is why when you push them, they push right back. Many dogs will get excited, and begin rough play, jumping and mouthing when you try to push them away.

You need to teach the dog a behavior that is incompatible with humping, such as sitting, or lying down. When the dog begins to hump, say "off" and use a treat such as a piece of cheese to lure the dog off and then tell her "sit" if she knows it, and when she does, praise and treat. If she continues to hump and is hyperfocused on that behavior, take her and put her in another room away from you in a "time-out".

Is the dog getting lots of exercise? This is a very active breed. Mounting in altered animals is usually a behavior related to stress, nervousness, or excess energy that is not being channeled.

April 19th, 2007, 10:35 PM
I agree with SableCollie.
IMO alpha rolling is a dangerous and unnecessary practice. When you alpha roll a dog you put yourself in a vulnerable position with an animal that is much stronger than you. Your face is in the dogs face, and despite what you may think you would not be able to fight the dog off if it decided to get at you.
There are some very sad cases of well meaning and otherwise experienced trainers/owners ending up injured or horribly disfigured when their dog bit their face after they tried to alpha roll them.

The best way to take care of this kind of behavior is plenty of exercise and by asserting your dominance in other ways. Don't let the dog eat until it is laying calmly. Don't let the dog exit or enter doorways before you, this also goes for stairs, you go first. Don't pet the dog when she asks, pet her when you choose to and then stop before she decides to end the contact.
No sleeping in bed, on the couch, or other areas that belong to you. You must establish what areas are for people and what areas are for dogs and stick those rules. She also shouldn't get things until she has done something for you, such as sitting or laying down.
These may already be things you know to do, but I would take a strong look at how consistent you are with them. Inconsistency is the biggest cause of these kind of behavioral problems, along with unknowingly reinforcing bad behavior.
When she gets excited and bites, growls, humps, aetc., that seems like a problem with pent up energy more than anything. That's not uncommon behavior from very high energy dogs, and you may just need to up the amount of exercise. Belive me, some dogs need/want more exercise than you might even think possible. One of my dogs can swim at the river for 6 hrs straight and still be ready to go, it all depends on the individual dog.
What are you feeding? This can also have an effect on her energy level and the amount of exercise she needs. Unused energy will make plenty of dogs act out.
I definately would NOT alpha roll because of that though. It seems like alpha rolling her has no effect other than exciting her more, which is counterproductive. If you're having to physically hold her down for 3-4 minutes while she struggles you're already past the point where you should correct the behavior, she's not going to remember why you're doing this, and as someone else mentioned "alpha rolling" isn't natural behavior for one dog to do to another. The main time that you see a dog physically take another dog and hold them down while the other dog struggles is when that dog is trying to attack the other dog, which is NOT what you want your own dog to feel you are doing.
Try putting her on the ground in another way. Assuming she already knows the lay down command make her lay down and stay there for a certain amount of time. Getting in a physical struggle with a dog is almost always going to end with them winning or at the least not learning anything.

April 20th, 2007, 12:36 AM
First of all, I want to say thank you all for your replies, and your input. I have read them more than once, and I have read the associated links you have given me. They all have something of value for me.
I see this tech is called an Alpha Roll. I did not know that, nor did I learn it in any book. I learned it by watching pitters. I knew the breeder of my first staff intimatly, I was with him every day for years and years, seen many litters come and go. To say that the mothers do not do this to their young is not correct, I have seen it many times, the female will pin the pup to the ground and growl at it, then she releases it. I used this many times in training my first staff Bushido, and she was a very beautifully trained dog. I know it works. I know from tumbling with my staffs how they can bite and where their power is. I am not afraid of a dog, nor am I afraid of being bitten to take the dog down without hurting it. If I put my face in front of the dogs, it is because I know I have the dog in such a manner that it cannot bite my face. That being said...
I do not believe in hurting a dog in any way. I believe that hurting it's feelings will do much greater good, but I am not going to allow a dog to become dominate because I am afraid of it. I feel that some of your advice is based on fear of the dog. If I am to become "alpha", I am not going to do it by trying to run to the fridge to get it a piece of cheese when it becomes aggressive. Heck, it just learned how to get cheese!
I know from reading alot of the threads here that you guys promote obedience through manipulation, rather than physical contact, which is fine for me for very basic training, but trying to get your dog to sit in the middle of an aggressive attack is not going to work either.
This dog has had more exercise in the last 2 days than it has in it's whole life, I know how active they are.
"If she continues to hump and is hyperfocused on that behavior, take her and put her in another room away from you in a "time-out".
I do not consider this a solution Sable. First, how do you gain control of the dog to put it in another room? And after you do, what did you gain? A respite at best. You did not become dominate, unless you controlled the dog to get it into another room. Thus, how did you gain control? I did read the "who's in charge" link papillonmama. This is the only part of the whole thread that you are basing your answer on..." Until you've successfully established your position as alpha, corrections like hitting, shaking, or using the "rollover" techniques described in some books will not work and can be downright dangerous to you. An alpha dog will respond to these methods with violence and you could be seriously hurt." The rest of the thread is about becoming the "alpha". I know the breed, I am not worried about the being hurt part. So how did you become "alpha"?...
"When you alpha roll a dog you put yourself in a vulnerable position with an animal that is much stronger than you. Your face is in the dogs face, and despite what you may think you would not be able to fight the dog off if it decided to get at you."
No offense MBIE, this is an 75lb pit, I am a 200Lb man. It is not going to over power me, I am not running away from the dog. If I had to stop the dog, I would. You are basing your assumption on fear of an animal. We used to track cats (puma) bigger than this when I was in my teens.
"If you're having to physically hold her down for 3-4 minutes while she struggles you're already past the point where you should correct the behavior"
O.K., I respect your opinion here, what do you suggest I do for that 3-4 min while she is charging and biting? What if she doesn't sit, lay down, or lay?

As I said at the beginning, I do respect all of your opinions and input. If I could apply any of it in this situation I would, and some of it I certainly will as I go along. My main problem is that the dog is new to my home, it is not a pup. I am not looking for a quick fix, but I want one that will curb this particular behaviour until further and more patient procedures can take effect.
Please feel free to kick me in the as* for anything I have said here, I really would prefere another method, I am just going by situation and experience.
Thank you all!

April 20th, 2007, 02:42 AM
No offense MBIE, this is an 75lb pit, I am a 200Lb man. It is not going to over power me, I am not running away from the dog.

If you feel you are already approaching the situation properly, why would you post to ask whether you are approaching the situation properly just to disparage the people that say "no, we don't feel you are".

Also, you keep mentioning that you don't fear your dog. I don't think you'll find many if any people on this board giving advice on the basis of fearing large dogs, or anyone that is suggesting that YOU fear your own dogs because of their size or breed. There are MANY APBT/staffy owners on this board, and there are quite a few people including me that prefer large dogs and are most definately NOT fearful of them in any way. You've made a huge assumption about people on this board that doesn't seem appropriate at all.
That said I do NOT understimate that powerful dog can overpower me or someone much larger when I put myself in a vulnerable position and the dog is exhibiting aggressive behvior.
I'm sorry, there is absolutely no reason to alpha roll a dog, even if you feel that you are large enough to overpower it. What if you had a 150+ lb mastiff, would you still feel you can overpower it? Do you think owners of 150+ lb dogs are using physical strength to overpower and train their dog? Not most of them because it is NOT effective on a dog of that size.
If there are other ways to train animals that it is NOT possible to overpower, then there are other ways to train animals that are smaller than you, rather than using your physical strength.
Obviously we all must use SOME kind of physical touch at times when a dog gets out of line, but IMO alpha rolling is one of the worst options and one of the easiest situations to cause your dog to injure you, and one of the worst options if you want to build trust with your dog and assert yourself.
Obviously you're not worried about injury, but if I were you I WOULD be worried about the trust issue.

Btw, I'm a 5'1 female that owns two large dogs and can keep control of both of them at all times without using heavy physical force, how do you explain that? I can also control 1,000+ lb horses without trying to physically overpower them (which is impossible), how is that possible by your logic? Not trying to be impressive just trying to show that MANY of us don't choose to or physically can't use that much strength to overpower and animal and we still find just as effective options.

Sorry, IMO alpha rolls are not necessary and not effective when you compare it to other options.

If I wanted to physically correct my dog I would utilize a collar and leash, I would not physically get on top of the dog, as I said, at that point you're battling to physically overpower the dog which is not a good situation.
The best thing to work on is not letting your dog get to that point in the firstplace.
For one I would keep the dog on leash at ALL times. I don't mean you have to be holding the leash but a leash should be attached to the dog always because it has not yet learned its place in your household.
You mentioned that your dog is not a puppy - well yes it's not. But when a new dog comes into your home it should be treated that way to a large extent. The dog has not yet learned the rules of the house and how do you expect it to learn unless you lead it every step of the way?
A way to confine the dog such as a crate is also helpful. I don't suggest using "time outs" because these don't work, but when the dog is getting aggressive to the point you feel you have to physically get on top of it and hold it down it's a much better idea to confine the dog for a little bit while you overthink a better angle to come at the situation.
For instance you say your dog starts growling and trying to hump your leg. I would make the dog sit or lay down and stay every time it is next to you that way you can attempt to correct for the dog standing up rather than waiting until it gets to the point where the dog is on you humping your leg and growling and being aggressive.
I've utilized training methods that many people on here don't agree with, such as prong collars, so don't look to me to say that you must DEFINITIVELY do what I say, I just don't think alpha rolling is ever a very good option.
Some of my advice may seem redundant or belittling to you but that is only because I can NOT see you interact with your dog. If I saw you actually interact with your dog I would probably have better and perhaps even different advice.
You are basing your assumption on fear of an animal. We used to track cats (puma) bigger than this when I was in my teens.

As I already said, no one is basing any assumptions on fear of an animal. And as far as your puma comment, I have no idea what that is supposed to prove to anyone. Were you jumping on top of and alpha rolling mountain lions? You tracked large game, most of my friends and my husband hunt large game, so I'm not sure what you're saying.

To say that the mothers do not do this to their young is not correct, I have seen it many times, the female will pin the pup to the ground and growl at it, then she releases it.

You're assuming an adult dog will react like a puppy reacts to its mother pinning it or scruffing it, or that an adult dog will definately react the same way when you decide to alpha roll it, that's just not the case.
There are situations that adult dogs don't react the same way as puppies, that's one of them.
Also, I've yet to see a mother dog hold a struggling puppy down for 3-4 minutes in some kind of dominance struggle between the two. At the age a mother might pin a puppy that puppy isn't even trying to assert dominance yet.
What is a natural situation between a mother dog and her pup is NOT a natural situation between your adult dog and you.

April 20th, 2007, 07:19 AM
I have no opinion on the alpha roll, which is why I didn't flame you when you mentioned it.

What I was trying to show you is that you need to put yourself and your family in a leadership role in your family, when you've established that completely your dog won't feel the need to mount your leg, with a strong leader she should never feel the need to challenge you again.

Right now, because she just arrived, she might be confusing the alpha roll for a challenge of dominance. There are other ways that you can establish yourself and your family in this role, if your dog is free fed, meaning if the food is down on the floor all the time, take it up, make specific feeding times, and only give a certain amount of time for the feeding. Only feed the dog when she is calm, and make her sit or lie down for the food, feeding the dog only after everyone who is above your dog in the "pack" has eaten. When you are giving a treat, make the dog believe that you ate something before she does, or even pretend to eat the treat, you are giving the dog some of your scraps, alpha's always eat first.

These are reinforcing techniques.

What you are trying to do with training is reinforcing that you are a good leader that your dog will look up to and want to obey, simply because they feel secure in your pack. Dogs need to know where they belong in the pack, if not, you will constantly be fighting for leadership, and this includes your children, your children need to be taught how to be alpha too, this way, there is no question for your dog.

You know what is triggering your dog to get overly excited, try practicing stopping the play before it becomes problematic. You could try training the dog in between play, using play as a reward. You should be the one to initiate play, before throwing the toy for fetch, make your dog sit. And when you see it getting out of hand you need to stop the play, give a command, we use "that's enough."

I know you're wondering why these non-aggressive techniques would work, it's very simple, pack leader doesn't need to use violence, in fact, it's often the less dominant dogs that will use aggressive force. You want to be the benevolent leader, the only way to get there is to show your dog what a great leader you are and how wonderful it is to be a part of this pack.

So yeah, I guess it is manipulation, but any time that you use techniques that mirror dog behaviour, including the alpha roll, you are manipulating.

Wen your dog tries to mount, a quick correction and whatever command you want to use, "off" "enough" and end all play until your dog calms down. If your dog is biting, I seriously believe that you should consult a trainer, because we are not there, we can only give you suggestions, and point you in the right direction. When looking for a trainer, do research first, consider what kind of training techniques you would be comfortable with, and what you think your dog will do well with. There are lots of techniques, and no dog is the same, some dogs do well with certain techniques and others will not even pay attention.

The alpha roll isn't meant to be done every time a dog is out of control, the same mother dog who alpha rolls her pup will try to ignore it long before she feels the need to pin the pup.

Check out the recommended books section of the bulletin board, there are lots of suggestions for training books.

Good luck

April 20th, 2007, 06:43 PM
You do not need to be "alpha" or "dominant". Dogs do not operate by a strict hierarchy as some people believe. Wolves do not have as strict a hierarchy as many believe (yes, I have interacted with captive wolves in the past, and I have studied wolf behavior for many years). What you need is for the dog to respect you. Respect is not created by force. (My mantra. Respect is not created by force. Respect is not created by force.) Fear is created by force. If you truly believe the dog does not respect you, then follow the NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) program.

If a bitch is constantly pinning her puppies and growling at them, I would say she has a low tolerance for dogs in general. I have worked at an animal shelter for years, I have seen many litters, even-tempered bitches hardly ever "disciplined" their pups, the ones that disciplined frequently were dog-dog aggressive on some level.

I believe the only way to get a behavior consistently and humanely trained is through positive motivation and management. Motivation means treats, toys, praise-whatever your dog really loves to teach it appropriate behavior. Management means preventing a problem in the first place (like crating a dog when it is not supervised).

For a time out, just take the dog and put in in another room. Lead it by the collar if you can, calmly and quietly. No yelling. This is called "negative punishment" which means something the dog likes (interaction with humans) stops because of its behavior. It works just like a time out for kids works. "Positive Punishment" which is something the animal dislikes starting because of a behavior (alpha rolls, yelling, hitting) can and does create fear and aggression in animals and is frowned upon by many respected trainers and behaviorists today.

I would not play roughly with this dog, or encourage jumping at all, because by what you have said, it sounds like the dog gets over-stimulated very easily. I would teach the dog appropriate behaviors (a dog that is sitting, lying down, or fetching a toy cannot be humping at the same time.)

Here are some links about the "dominance/alpha" theory (some require adobe acrobat, which is a free program):

And here is one about training impulse control in dogs that are easily aroused:

I'm sorry that we feel differently about this issue, but thank you for reading and considering all the posts, and I hope you do solve the problem with your dog. :)

April 20th, 2007, 10:56 PM
Thanks again for your patience and replies everybody
The only reason I was stressing that I was not worried about attack, was that everybody seemed to be stressing not to do it because of the danger. I was just trying to say that, if that was the only reason not to do it, I was o.k. with that risk. I was not arguing for the sake of being argumentative, sorry if it came across that way. I do respect your opinions and appreciate the feedback.
Because of the dogs age, and her behavior being very aggresive in this situation, it is something I wanted to address more quickly than any other bad habits that she may or may not have. That, and I don't know the past owners, nor how she was treated. It may be the attitude she has gotten away with for the past year, but I want her to know it is not acceptable here. I do not want to hurt the dog in anyway, and I have never considered this technique to be hurtful to the dog, that is why I used it.
You have all given me insight that I will put into place and practice with her, so please do not feel your time spent writing these in-depth posts was wasted on me, and I am sure Boo will appreciate them also in time :)
Again, thank you all, I will fill you in on our progress over the next weeks.

April 20th, 2007, 11:11 PM
Actually, I was more concerned about the dog than you. :D (Sorry bout that), but yes, I would consider alpha rolls psychologically damaging at the least, and of course there is possibility of physical harm to the dog, especially when they struggle.

I hope that you will be able to solve this, just remember to be patient, and don't hesitate to consult a behaviorist if you feel you need more help. And do keep us updated on progress! :)

April 23rd, 2007, 02:35 PM
She is still young and just very excitable. No one has taken the time to teach her how to calm down. Now thats your job. If you try to match her energy with an intense 'roll' then she might just try to match you back and it becomes a stand off. I don't think you want to go there. Instead lets find a place of understanding and better manners.

The problem with the 'alpha roll' is that is is based on power and intimidation. If your dog decided not to believe that you were more powerful, then she might very well come at you in advance of your 'roll' or just afterwards and then what recourse would you have but to get more violent. Not pretty.

The other part of that thought is you are setting a boundary after the bad behavior - which can have it appropriate moments, but since you know she does this every morning why not just choose to set her up for success?

When you get up with her put her on the leash first thing. This gives you an opportunity to create a productive interaction. Start asking her to do things, sit, stay, down. Get her mind busy and working with you. Do your morning chores and then take an extra 5-10 minutes playing and teaching. don't get her up to a level 10 in her energy - thats when things start to go wrong. Instead keep things at a lower level of energy (5-6) and practice playing and then calming, playing and then calming. This will teach her boundaries on her energy levels.

This is your house and your rules - let her in on that fact.

Without getting into a huge discussion of dogs & wolves and hierarchies - no matter what, it's about who sets the rules and boundaries - that is always the human. Really very simple.