Pit Bull Mix Aggressive To Other Dogs

I recently adopted zoey, a year and a half old pointer-pit mix. She is only 35 lbs, and was kept in a pen with extremely large rottweilers. When I found her, she was at a shelter which was located at a dump so that people could just drop dogs off, she had just had puppies and was missing chunks of hair and was full of cuts and scars. From the time we brought her home, she was the most timid submissive animal I had ever seen. Family members brought dogs around her, and she never had any problems with them regardless of their size. Recently, we thought that it might be a good idea to take the dogs to a friend's house and allow them to play in the yard with their dog. It was a female blue heeler, and for some reason, the two of them started going at it. I know that socialization is the best thing for dogs, but I am very very worried about how she will behave. I was thinking of getting a muzzle so that I could bring her around dogs and perhaps she would know that she didn't have to fight, but I spoke to a friend who is a vet tech and the owner of a pure bred american pit, and she says that a muzzle will make it worse. This is extremely discouraging to me, because she is so wonderful with my boston, and kids can pull on her ears and wrestle around with her no problem. I have tried to discuss this with other people, and some tell me to get rid of her or have her put down because the dog aggression was so abrupt that she could turn on me or anyone at any time.

This is a very difficult question to answer, especially because I have not witnessed the behavior at first hand; and because I have to be very careful that you are under no illusions about the safety/non-safety of your children and your dog. First of all, it seems likely that your dog may have been actually raised to fight. That is, encouraged to fight and possible been entered into illegal competitive dog fights. While she may not have been involved in a "proper" fight, she was possibly trained to start doing this – and maybe she wasn’t aggressive enough for her owners – or maybe being pregnant ruined her potential and thus she had the luck of ending up witha caring owner such as you.

The other thing which makes me think this is that she is non-aggressive in her own territory. Dogs trained to fight tend to be taken to a venue to fight and praised for being aggressive at that venue. This may explain why she only does this when you take her away from home. She is also likely to become very stressed when visiting away from home.

With regards to this, if this is the only time that she is aggressive it may be much more worthwhile not taking your dog away from home to meet other dogs. This would seem like the obvious solution. And with regards to using a muzzle, I have to say that if at any point you consider that any person or any dog is at risk from being bitten by your dog then she must wear a muzzle. There are muzzles which can be worn safely and allow breathing and even drinking while being worn. After all, if she does bite someone, or badly injure another dog, the decision will not be in your hands anymore.

However, there are some suggestions to try and resolve this issue. I stress these are suggestions that you undertake at your own risk, because it is not possible for me to assess the risk involved. Perhaps you could have your friend’s dog come to your house, let them play for several hours, and then take them elsewhere at the same time. You should start with neutral venues that are not heavily scented by other dogs, and try to find a place where there are plenty of natural distractions (maybe a stream) and very little human noise (that she may associate with a dog fight venue).