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I got a pitbull from the spca a few months ago. He was originally surrendered due to financial issues but his second surrender was due to the person being unable to handle him.

He has a few other issues like wanting to attack the cats and the sheep and he bites severily when I sometimes pull him at the collar (usually when he doesn't want to go outside or through the gate or when he chases the cats or sheep), but other than that I have not seen any aggressive behaviour, not even with other dogs or complete strangers.

The other day I wanted to spray him with fly spray and spray wound spray on his ears where the flies got to him, and he went absolutely crazy. He growled and snapped at the can as well as bit it a few times and his eyes went crazy, like he was a different dog. He became vicious.

I have hosed him down before and he only cowered a little. I don't know if he's ever been fly sprayed and if he's just deathly afraid or if something happened with his first adoption, but this is an issue for me as I don't know what other "vices" he may have that could be dangerous to family members or friends. I also don't want him freaking out when the need for a vet visit arises.

What can I do to correct or eliminate this reaction?

  • Is this spray in a pressurized can or hand pump container? – Elmy Aug 3 '18 at 18:52
  • fly spray is hand pumped, wound spray is a pressurized can. Used the fly spray first and that already set him off – Ivanka Aug 3 '18 at 20:19
  • and after that he bit both the bottle and the can when I brought it near him – Ivanka Aug 3 '18 at 20:20
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I'm honestly concerned about the way you describe his biting you as if it's nothing.

and he bites severily when I sometimes pull him at the collar 

This should absolutely not happen.

But let's concentrate on the question at hand.

Spraying his ears
You probably startled him and he felt threatened by the can of spray.

  • In order to spray your dogs ears, you have to hold the can by or behind his ears. This is a vulnerable place where your dog cannot see them.

  • Spray cans make a hissing sound

  • They "spit" at him (he is suddenly wet when he didn't expect it)

To avoid aggressive reactions, you could wipe him instead of spraying. Wet a cotton ball in tap water and squeeze the excess out. Then add the fly spray to the cotton ball. Wiping your dogs ears with it will feel to him like another dog licking him.

Addressing his aggression
One thing that worked with our dog was to offer him a crate as his "calm place". He should sleep in the crate and generally accept it as something positive.

If he growls at or bites you, put him in the crate, close the door and ignore him for 10 - 30 minutes.

Potentially dangerous situations
Train your dog to wear a muzzle. There are several instructions on how to do that, like this video. It's important to let him wear the muzzle not only in negative situations.

When your dog is used to the muzzle, make him wear it when you visit the vet, when you take him to the sheep or when you have visitors.

  • Thanks a lot for the advice. he is used to the muzzle but doesn't like it as he scrapes it on the ground and walls and I'll have to get a stronger one (this one's leather) since he managed to tear it and bite through it. The biting when he's pulled at the collar has improved but still needs work. – Ivanka Aug 4 '18 at 13:24
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    The crate sounds like a good idea, will try that. What would you suggest about when I spray the other dogs or should I also wipe them since he reacted the same today when I sprayed the others, barking and growling at the bottle. – Ivanka Aug 4 '18 at 13:30
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    You could get him used to it. First show him the bottle, spray another dog, then show him the bottle again. Show him that nothing bad happened. But don't let him attack the bottle. He may sniff it, but when he attacks, remove the bottle from view, let him calm down and repeat the procedure. Confronting him with the bottle while he's excited will only increase his (negative) excitement. – Elmy Aug 4 '18 at 13:51
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    Will do so. Thanks a lot for the help. Appreciate it – Ivanka Aug 4 '18 at 18:29
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    You can also try to give him a treat every time he acts nice and calm near can or anything else. He should get sooner or later that being calm is rewarding thing. This can be applied to other situation for example, if he sometimes gets aggressive from thing X, give him reward when he's calm with thing X, and nothing when he is not – Shirru Aug 7 '18 at 9:06
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May be trying a dog muzzle will help a lot

  • As with everywhere else on the stack exchange network - we expect answer to be self contained. In what way would the dog muzzle help? What would be the advantages? Would it help calm down the dog (I doubt?) or restrain him? – Journeyman Geek Sep 8 at 6:40

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