Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

Raising a Puppy: Mia the Blue-Nose American Bully Pit—37 weeks old

A day in the life with Mia the American Bully (Bully Pit) puppy. 37 weeks old, 65 pounds, 18 1/2 inches from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders (the withers).

A wide chested, big headed, blue nose American Bully Pit is sitting on a blacktop and she is looking forward. Her right ear is in the air and the left ear is flopped over. There is a playground behind her.

37 weeks old (8 1/2 months)

Testing the Boundaries

I have been noticing Mia testing the boundaries. Not so much with the humans, but with the other dogs. For example if Bruno or Spencer are about to pick up a dog bone she will rush over and grab it before they have the chance. If all dogs have a pile of food in front of her she will rush to eat her own and then turn to quickly eat the other dog's pile. She has also been trying very hard to be one step ahead of Bruno and Spencer while on a leash on a walk. If she is being walked by herself she does not work so hard at being a step ahead, heeling nicely. She has also been biting on the base of Spencer's tail knowing that he hates it. Spencer will run to me so I can tell her "No" and then he wags his tail when she backs off. Bruno and Spencer usually give in to her. Spencer will get a human to stick up for him, bringing issues to their attention, and getting obviously happy when the human sticks up for him. Bruno just walks away. He will put her in her place if she pesters him enough, hence why Mia bites on Spencer's tail and never Bruno's. It is however not the other dog's responsibility to put Mia in her rightful place, which is equal with the other dogs. It is the humans responsibility. As soon as you decide you are going to put that burden solely on the dogs you risk the chance of having dog fights. If the humans decide to do nothing about it, you also not only risk the chance of having dog fights, but are not being fair to the other dogs in the pack. When it became very clear Mia was testing her limits and pushing her boundaries as far as she could I spread the word to the rest of the family. Watch Mia and correct her if she pushes the other dogs around, tries to get the toy or bone first or bites on Spencer's tail.

Often times when people notice a dog having dominancy issues they make the mistake of constantly trying to set the dog up, over-doing the corrections and practically harassing the dog as if all you need are some training sessions. Balancing out a dog is a way of life, not a temporary training session. Remember the rules you have in place and correct the dog when issues naturally happen. Make it a way of life remembering to satisfy the dog's natural instincts. No one is going to try and set Mia up, follow her around hovering over her or spend a day in a training session. Instead we will all be going about life following our own rules and watching her closely making an extra effort to stop her when she crosses the boundary. We will pay attention to her behavior and be more aware of how we react to it.

A blue nose American Bully Pit is sniffing the backside of a blue nose Pit Bull Terrier.

"I'm going to bite it..." Notice her little teeth showing. She is parting her mouth ready to bite on the base of Spencer's tail knowing he does not like it. Spencer had come over to me for protection. She is actually testing me at this point to see what she can get away with. I lean forward making eye contact with her and she closes her mouth.

A blue nose American Bully Pit is looking at the backside of a blue nose Pit Bull Terrier.

She still has not given up on the idea. She is testing to see if she can bite his tail if she does it slower. I obviously have not been convincing enough yet for this bull-headed baby.

A blue nose American Bully Pit is looking up and she is standing close to the backside of a blue nose Pit Bull Terrier.

Her mouth opens again. I lean in towards her and she closes her mouth and looks at me. Notice her eye contact. After a few silent corrections Mia opens her mouth wider about the chomp and I give her a verbal correction "Attttt, NO!" as I stand up stepping forward and pointing in her direction. Spencer wags his tail. He loves it when a human protects him. This time I say it like I mean it. Not only the tone, but deep down inside, I meant it. Don't harass my Spencer-Puppy.

Close up - A blue nose American Bully Pit is standing behind a blue nose Pit Bull Terrier. A person has her hand on the back of a Pit Bull Terrier.

Mia then tries to push her way between me and Spencer. She wants me to stop petting him and pet her. I ignore her demand, nudging her way from squeezing between us. This demand for affection is another symtom of trying to be an alpha dog. It would have been perfectly reasonable to send her out of the area, but I could see her giving up, so I let it play out.

Close up - A blue nose Pit Bull Terrier is sniffing the back of a blue nose American Bully Pit that is laying down on a rug. There is a person touching the ear of a Pit Bull Terrier.

Mia lays down at my feet giving up on both the tail biting and demand for affection. My correction was not too harsh as she stopped the behavior clearly giving up on the idea without running away in fear. Laying down and relaxing is her submitting to both me and Spencer. Spencer is still there standing over top of her and she is at my feet going to sleep.

A blue nose American Bully Pit is running down a carpet and she has a toy triceratops in her mouth.

Later the same day Mia submissively brings me a gift, her triceratops dinosaur toy.

A blue nose American Bully Pit is walking across a tiled floor and she has a toy triceratops in her mouth. Her head is level with her body.
A blue nose American Bully Pit is standing across a tiled floor and she has a toy triceratops in her mouth.

I give her affection petting her and scratching her back as she wags her tail turning in circles holding her body low to the ground.

I hug her and she drops the toy for a second to lick my leg before picking it back up, happily twisting herself in circles once again. Her entire body language is that of a submissive, happy dog. She will no doubt still test her boundaries because she is a born alpha type. Lucky our family has what it takes to keep her remembering her place, below humans and equal with the other dogs.

The Pack Analyzed

A blue nose Pit Bull Terrier and a blue nose American Bully Pit are laying on a green orthopedic dog bed pillow and chewing on bones near the side of a brown leather couch.

After Mia is reminded of the "you can't boss around the other dogs" rule she is able to relax and chew her bone inches from her brother Spencer the Pit Bull Terrier. The dogs have eaten bones next to one another in the past quite often, but in the last week I had noticed Mia slipping back into trying to be alpha over the other two dogs. Mia was showing signs that she was worrying a little too much about where all the bones were and which dog got to chew them. Bruno had started getting up and walking away from her when she had a bone and if Mia saw another dog about to pick a bone up she would rush over and snatch it up from under their nose.

A brown with black and white Boxer and a blue nose Pit Bull Terrier are laying on a green orthopedic dog bed pillow chewing on bones. In between them is a blue-nose American Bully Pit standing and chewing a bone.

When Mia first came to live with us she was a toy and bone stealer, running around trying to rule the roost, harassing the other dogs. If you interrupted her while she was busy she would sometimes growl. With the help of Bruno and Spencer we got her under control. It took a little bit for me to see the subtle signs of her slipping back into that behavior, but once it was recognized it was nipped quickly. This is why balancing out a dog is a life style, not a training session. Dogs live in the moment and their temperament is a direct reflection of the humans around them. In just the last couple of days Mia is calmer and more relaxed. I notice that when I walk up to the front door to open it and say "back" she responds quicker stepping back a couple of steps further to give me room to get the door open where as before she reminded me of a tank always pushing forward. It took more effort than it should have to get her to move out of the way and honestly I had not thought much of it. It appeared to be just the way she was. But when she suddenly acted more respectful it became obvious that it was not just the way she was, it was a result of her acting like an alpha dog. When I was feeding her breakfast, instead of sitting down staring at me she lay down and waited calmly. She has also stopped harassing Spencer. I had stepped up my own attitude to my momma-bear mode. Things were busy around here and Mia's temperament had changed as a reflection of my own stress. I can clearly see it now, the more stressed I was the more alpha she acted. I was not being the strong leader she craved so she decided to help me out and be a stronger leader. She is a great reminder that if one cannot get their dog under control they should think hard about how they themselves are feeling inside because one cannot hide that type of thing from a dog. Dogs know if you are stressed, anxious, afraid, worried, angry etc... and they read it as a weakness.

There are three types of dogs born in every litter. Picture them in a line. There are the alpha dogs in front leading the way, the dogs in the middle who don't really want to lead, but they will if they have to, and the dogs in the back of the line who are very submissive naturally wanting to follow. They don't want to make rules or tell anyone what to do.

Alpha Dogs - Mia is a front of the line dog, also called an alpha dog. Without strong leadership this type of dog can become very pushy and overprotective. They tend to be very smart with a lot of personality. They will refuse to be ruled by anyone who is weaker minded than they are. In extreme cases they can become aggressive with humans or other dogs. Not because they are mean, but because in their minds the pack's survival depends on having a strong leader and they are confident that they have what it takes to be that leader. They are the soldiers ready to step up and rule the home if needed. You need to earn their respect in order to lead them. Size means nothing. The tiniest dogs can rule the extra large dogs. The power is all in the mind, not the amount or size of muscle on the body.

Middle of the Road Dogs - The dogs in the middle are easiest to train, but are also easily bored. They need to know the humans are capable of leading the pack. Without a stable-minded leader they are prone to testing their limits and can become overexcited and anxious, which is often mistaken for happiness. They do not necessarily want to lead, but they will if they feel it is needed. Because they are not born to lead, a lack of a strong being to guide them can stress them out and cause them to become unbalanced. They may obsess over things and become destructive to the home.

Back of the Line Dogs - This type is very sensitive and cautious. They can easily become timid, nervous, anxious or fearful. They are not born leaders, nor do they want to be leaders. They need to know someone is taking care of things in a confident, consistent manner or it will cause them stress. They do not feel they have what it takes to keep the pack safe. They are easily upset and will often resort to alarm barking. They are prone to submissive urinating issues and may handle things by hiding. In worst cases they can develope fear aggression towards humans and or other animals.

If I had to label my own dogs I would say Mia the American Bully is front of the line alpha, Bruno the Boxer is middle of the road and Spencer the American Pit Bull Terrier is standing in the back of the line behind both of them. Our family needs to be consistent leaders to keep the pack balanced and happy, which means we have to be aware of how we are feeling deep down inside. The dogs need calm, confident, consistency from the humans around them in order to keep them balanced. It is a lifestyle, not a training session. Seems dogs were put here on earth for a reason, to keep the humans in check. Read about Different Dog Temperaments.

Space Invader

Stephen was working on a project in the middle of the living room floor. Mia spotted him, grabbed a toy and wiggled her way over to him happily wagging her tail with the toy hanging out of her mouth. She didn't give a thought to what she had to step on to get him the toy. She walked all over his project and had to be sent away. Bruno and Spencer would not have dreamed of walking all over those objects on the floor.

Puppy No-nos

A blue nose American Bully Pit is looking at a broom.

No pawing at the broom Mia, you silly pup.