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Pit attacking leash and biting

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    I searched for a similiar thread and didn’t find one (but if there is, please let me know).

    Over this past winter, my husband and I adoped a 15-16 month old pit from a rescue organization that had fostered him for 7 months. So we’ve had him for about 5 months now.

    In the time we’ve had him, he’s been a wonderful dog, and we’re working hard to be good ambassadors for the breed.

    An issue has emerged, though, which we’ve been trying to sort out, which is one of attacking his leash and subsequently, attacking whoever is on the end of the leash.

    I first experienced this when I took him jogging one morning in late winter.  For some reason, 10 minutes into our jog, he turned and started to jump at me, over and over again, nipping at me.  I finally got him calmed down and we walked home, but I was shaken and upset.

    After that, it has become a matter of attacking his leash.  He’ll suddenly turn on the leash, clamp down, shake it and pull it, as if we were playing.  What’s worse, though, his that he jumps to get more of the leash and has now bitten my hand a number of times.  I’ve got mostly scratches, but it hurts and the scariest part is that I can’t seem to stop him.  It’s as if he gets possessed during these times.  He listens a little better to my husband and will usually stop once he says “No” firmly.

    We’ve tried bitter apple, which hasn’t worked; we’re going to get a metal leash, and we’ll continue obedience training.  (I’ve tried to telling him to “drop” the leash, but to no avail.)  When he bites me while getting his leash, I’ve yelled “ow” or made other hurt noises as some trainers have suggested, but he doesn’t seem to notice or care.

    I’ve also tried to figure out why he attacks his leash — he’s fine walking any other time than that — is it that he’s tired, bored, hot, cold, etc, but I haven’t found any patterns that would lead me to a reason.

    Finally, he’s sometimes a mouthy dog when he likes to play and will nip/bite while playing, which we’ve been working hard to discourage.  I’m not sure if this is related to when he attacks his leash, in that he thinks he’s playing and so continues to bite…

    As far as we can tell, he’s not an aggressive dog — he loves children and many of the people he’s met in our lives and he’s generally good with other dogs and loves to play with them.

    If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or related experiences, I would really appreciate hearing them.

    Thank you.


    You mentioned that he grabs it and pulls “as if you’re playing.”  Do you play tug-o-war with him?  This could be confusing him.  If it’s ok to play with some ropes, then why not his leash?  My pit loves to try and grab the leash and play with it too.  It can be rough because they do get pretty excited and don’t always understand that it’s your hand, not the leash.  It doesn’t sound as if it’s an agression issue, just more of an obedience problem.  When my dog does this, I give a firm, “NO!” then choke up on the leash, pressing his nose.  This forces him to release the leash, I then grab the leash closer to his collar so there’s no room for him to get ahold of the leash.  If he continues to grab for the leash I give a sharp tug and say “no” again.  This usually helps him understand that the leash is not a toy and I am not playing.  Whatever you do, DO NOT try to pull the leash away from him! He will view this as playing!  Try to give him a “no” and a sharp tug on the leash BEFORE he gets a hold of it, to remind him of his manners.  Like I said, if my pit does get ahold of the leash, I grab the leash right by his nose and press his nose.  He lets go every time.  You have to be consistant though.  Don’t let him play tug-o-way one minute, then decide it’s a nuisance the next.  Also, if you’re leaving the leash dangling loose it could be tempting him, try holding it with only a little slack in it so that it’s not smacking him as you run, then maybe he’ll be less tempted to play with it.  It would be a little bit different if this was an agression issue, but since it’s just a really obnoxious and rambunctios play issue, it’s just about getting your dog to understand that playing with the leash is not acceptable.  We also got a chain leash, rather than a nylon one, for an amount of time.  This can discourage the tug-o-war with the leash pretty quickly.  At any rate, your dog just needs to be taught that this manner of play is unacceptable.  Be firm and in command, then continue your run.  Continue with obedience training as your pit is still such a puppy at heart!  Mine is about the same age and he still acts like a puppy more often than not!



    My recently adopted 11-month old pit mix does the exact same thing described here while on leash, usually after 15 minutes of jogging.  She spontaneously becomes possessed, grabs the leash, trashes it, and jumps and bites.  This doesn’t happen often – certainly not every time I take her for a walk or a jog – but when it does, it’s incredibly upsetting.  I was wondering if your dog ever grew out of this behavior or if you eventually discovered the cause of it.



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