Oscar’s Issues

Ooh my little Oscar. Let me just start out by saying I love him. I do not regret adopting him. I will not stop socializing him. I love him.

That being said…he all of a sudden has an issue, and I have no idea where it came from or what to do about it! I have had him for about 5 months now, and have been socializing him since day one. He has been great with my fosters (Sassy, Chelsea, Wickett) & of course, with my forever dog, Princess Lucy. He has never shown aggression towards any of them, at any point. He in fact, has been wonderful and loving with all of them. Especially with Wickett, our current 12 week old foster puppy! Oscar just lays down, letting Wickett pounce and bite him, never getting angry or being too rough.

He might look mean here, but he was really just gently playing with Wickett!
He might look mean here, but he was really just gently playing with Wickett!



So, continuing on with the story…If you remember, shortly after I got Oscar, I took him to a big dog event. He was the perfect pittie that I hoped he would be. He wasn’t overly excited; he didn’t ever growl or even get anxious. He happily wagged his tail at every dog we passed, even the anxious stressed out ones that weren’t so friendly. Nothing negative or bad happened. We were able to sit and people/dog watch while my son played in the bounce houses. Oscar literally laid down, basking in the sun, watching MANY dogs go by, and didn’t seem to care one little bit.

Oscar just sitting, watching lots of people and dogs go by
Oscar just sitting, watching lots of people and dogs go by



Now, let’s fast forward to last weekend’s pack walk. It was a very large group, and a new park. Everyone was sitting in a large circle, dogs were excited…and Oscar went nutso! He was pulling, and whining, and barking. He aggressively went towards another dog that was very pleasantly saying hello. Ok, so I thought maybe it was just the new setting & over-excitement that made him act like that! He had NEVER done that before. Never. Seriously. Never. I have taken him to a couple of events, as well as plenty of walks at local parks. That along with the foster dogs that have come and gone, I had no reason to believe that this was going to be an ongoing issue. But, unfortunately, I was very wrong.

I took him to the Pittie Party yesterday…and the same issue was apparent. He was pulling like crazy, whining and barking to get to the dogs that were in eye sight. So, I walked him around the whole place, letting him sniff and get used to the surroundings, yet staying out of reach of any dogs. He seemed to calm down a bit, and I thought “Ok, maybe this will be fine.” Then we came across Lola & her sister Yage! We stopped to say hello, and Oscar started up all over again. So, I pulled him away, and we kept walking on. Again, he seemed to calm down again. So later after he was hot and tired, we came to Lola again. Lola’s mom suggested letting them say hello because Lola is SO friendly and won’t react. Lola, being as friendly as ever, basically just looked at Oscar….and he lunged at her face, while making a nasty growl sound. Ugh! Lola was a lovely little lady, and did absolutely nothing, and I was quick enough to yank Oscar back, so a bad experience did not occur.

This sadly, proved it is clear….Oscar has become 100% leash reactive to dogs. This worries me. And stresses me out, to say the least. I have had that dog before. The one that I could never take anywhere, for fear of running into an unleashed dog.  I do not want to have THAT dog again. Especially when he is a pit bull. I want Oscar to be a positive pit bull in every way possible. I just am so baffled. I can’t understand why this change has happened. He has not had a single bad occurrence since he’s been with me. He hasn’t come in contact with any aggressive dogs, or had any negative instances on his leash. I walk him regularly, so it’s not like being out for walks or in new settings is a new thing to him. Where did this come from? And why? And what do I do now? I found myself almost in a state of depression yesterday. I was just so upset. Oscar is SO sweet, and such a lover. WHY is he acting like this??? Is it going to affect future fostering? Will he ever turn towards Lucy, or a person like that? (And I would ask all of these questions no matter what breed he was. My previous dog that had these issues was not a pit bull.)

I know that me being anxious or stressed only feeds into his issue, but I can’t help feeling that way, at least not when we are around strangers. The last thing I want is for anyone to get hurt. But we will continue working on it, to fix both of us. It’s just…so frustrating for something like this to come up out of the blue. However, I will research, and practice, and socialize him until this is fixed. I made a commitment to him when I rescued him, and that includes the promise to resolve any issues he may have. Hopefully resolution will come sooner than later, but I’m in, no matter how long it takes…

Dreaming of the fun he could have had at the Pittie Party!?!
Dreaming of the fun he could have had at the Pittie Party!?!



7 thoughts on “Oscar’s Issues”

  1. I feel your pain. You come into my house and my doggies are the sweetest most loving dogs EVER, but if I take them out on a leash they go nuts around other dogs. My girl especially, she can’t even greet humans on a leash, off leash she’s A-ok. Luckily I’ve never actually had an incident but I would love to have that fixed in her. She’s already 6 though and it wouldn’t been an easy fix for me.

    Good luck with Oscar! Keep faith, he’s still very young!

  2. Oscar is adorable. I love that last picture. Also, I am sad that I missed him at the event yesterday 😦

    In the instant that Oscar lunges at the other dog (the once or twice that he has done it), what has been your immediate reaction? If you somehow unintentionally showed anxiety, like you said, it feeds his anxiety. (I know I do this when I see a bicycle and I know my dog freaks out when he sees them..) Maybe you could try a distraction technique? For instance, when it happens, call his name in a high pitched voice and redirect his attention to you. Use a treat even. But give the treat to him when his focus is off from the other dog and has been redirected to you. So you’re rewarding him for looking at you when you called his name; and not rewarding him for reacting to the other dog.

    My dog doesn’t care for treats outside but lately i’ve tried distracting him when I see a bicycle by asking him to Sit. When they ride by, we say hello and move on. So I think he is slowly learning that it is ok because he has stopped darting off with me flying behind him.

    Maybe distraction will work for you too?

  3. I agree with Shalini, I think distraction (as well as practice) will work wonders. I will be there Wednesday and we will get started on the practicing with Maggie. And if it doesn’t seem to be getting better soon, I think it would be worth talking to Michelle and seeing what advice she has to offer. After all, she’s a professional.

    Don’t fret though my dear, Oscar is not “broken”, and everything will be just fine. Just look how far Maggie has come! I never, ever thought I would be able to take her and walk her around and event like yesterday. I have the utmost faith in you and Oscar and I know that everything will work out!

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