pit bull behavior

I rescued q pitbull from a shelter late last summer/fall and hane noticed that when we walk toward her, sometimes she backs upcontinuing to face you as apposed to moving out of the way altogether. Is this a trait of a pitbull or is there some underlying issue there?

She is just getting ready to attack, no big deal… You honestly can’t picture her getting ready to pounce on you? Normal pit behavior of course…

I’m just playing but don’t not take me seriously if you feel intimidated by her. Do you see a mangy dog or do you see a fierce and/or untrustworthy pit bull?

She probably has trust issues and with the picture you give me I would guess is out of fear. She is still a dog and if your a dog loving person, it shouldn’t take long for her to trust you.

If you have any doubt in your mind about her, figure something else to do with her because she needs guidance…

Good Luck

Backing away from you how, exactly? Is she slinking backward with her ears pinned down, looking up at you like you’re a threat? Or is she simply watching you? If the latter is the case, then she’s likely only interested in seeing where you’re going or what you’re doing, or she’s waiting for you to tell her what to do, or she thinks you have a treat, etc. That’s fine, if that’s the case. That’s normal dog behavior. If, on the other hand, she’s acting tentative or afraid, then you need to contact a professional pet trainer for advice. Pit bulls can be wonderful pets, but if they’ve had a history of abuse (which is especially likely if she’s been adopted), then you’re going to need to train her constantly and give her a lot of attention to gain her trust, preferably under the guidance of a trainer, like I said before.

Dogs often come from a shelter with baggage. In this case it could be more of a matter of keeping you in view while trying to get out of the way.

Haven’t you ever had a dog before? They all do this from time to time and some simply do it more often than others. She’s watching you to see what you are doing or where you are going. She is focused and waiting for direction. If you want her to move, try telling her “out of the way”, “move” or “get” and follow it up with gently nudging her out of the way with your knees.

It could just be that she has good ‘hind end awareness’. A lot of dogs are not comfortable backing up because they’re not used to using their back end for anything more complicated than following their front end around. So for her its just as easy to back up out of your way as it is to move sideways.

You’re halfway to teaching her a cool trick. Next time she backs up, click or mark it, reward, repeat a bunch of times, then add a cue and you have a trick she can do.

Echo this. What’s the rest of her body language?

I have a rescued pit bull who does something that might be like what you describe. Simone follows me everywhere and part of her “pack behavior” involves physical contact – she’s a very “touch”-centered dog. She will walk up behind me and touch her nose to the back of my calf all the time; it’s just a way of saying “Hey. I’m here, I’m backing you up.”

Sometimes when I turn around, she’s now right in front of me and she’s not sure how to get out of the way – nor does she really want to get out of the way; she likes brushing past. So as I walk toward her, she’ll back up carefully while gazing at me, trying to gauge whether I’ll be walking that way a long distance, in which case she needs to turn around, or if I’m about to change direction again, in which case she’s going to stay right with me and just back up enough to be polite.

You may be able to tell by her body language whether she’s just keeping contact like that, whether she’s cringing, or whether she’s confronting you in some fashion.

Contrariwise, some dogs are better than others at turning around in a small space. If it’s a confined enough space that she has to get out of your way in the first place, then it might be confined enough that she’s not confident in her ability to turn around.

My dog does this. It’s kind of “following from in front.”

Yaar. Mine (friendly, uber-socialized, self-confident, not pit bulls) do it when they’re expecting something exciting is happening or brewing, and they want to be polite and yield to my path but don’t want to miss the action. NajaBro’s working collie bunny-hops backward so as to be poised for a leap and dash should any hint of motion in the “tennis ball” area be eminent.
I’ve seen alert, overtly-aggressive dogs do it when they’re looking for an opening but not directly challenging you, the body language is totally different. I’ve also seen submissive/fear-bitey type dogs do it when they don’t want to turn their back but are doing their best to present a brave front while still scuttling out of the path of direct threat. I’ve also seen defensive dogs (such as lactating bitches) do it when they’re protecting something behind them. In any of the cases where it’s a worrisome signal, the body language is very obviously entirely different from a friendly, relaxed dog who is looking for the action or keeping a happy eye on its favorite human. In no case is it a “breed” issue.

I’d take a small bit of exception to the notion that the dog is “especially likely” to have been abused if she was adopted. This is something of an urban myth surrounding shelter dogs in general. I suppose it’s correct to say that an abandoned/surrendered dog is more likely to have been abused than one purchased from a contentious breeder, but it’s not all that correct to say that a shelter dog is likely to have been abused (per se). Neglected, under-socialized, yes. Directly abused, probably far less likely than the general public seems to believe (and especially when it comes to pit bulls, fostered by anti-pit-bull propaganda from groups like the HSUS, etc where the lore is that every random-source pit bull at the shelter is likely to have been a “bait dog”, or whatever).

IOW, what everyone else said: I’m wondering more what her eyes, ears, shoulders, and tail are saying than the “walking backwards to yield instead of moving aside” in and of itself.
And also agreed with the “shape it and make it a trick” poster :wink: