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9 Reasons Why Pit Bulls Suddenly “Snap” + What To Do

Why Do Pit Bulls Snap

It’s all fun and games until…

Your Pit Bull snaps at you. Or at someone else….

Oh my! 

Why did your Fido get upset?

The answer to that question is just one scroll away….

Keep reading to discover:

  • If Pit Bulls are naturally aggressive.
  • 9 reasons why Pit Bulls suddenly snap.
  • 7 tips on what to do when your Pit Bull snaps.
  • And much, much, more…

Why do Pit Bulls snap?

Pit Bulls snap when they’re afraid or in pain just like any other dog. This behavior can also be caused by illness, frustration, possessiveness, and anxiety. Aside from that, Pit Bulls can snap when they want to protect something. In the case of female Pit Bulls, they snap due to maternal instincts.


9 reasons why Pit Bulls suddenly “snap”


#1: Fear

There are a lot of myths about Pit Bulls being more aggressive than other breeds. 

Or that they’re more prone to snapping or attacking without warning.

But this isn’t exactly correct. 

Any doggo can snap at someone, especially when they’re afraid.

When they felt that they’re in danger, their usual defense mechanism is to snap at the source of fear.

It’s similar to humans, we can get defensive when we’re afraid. 

And Pit Bulls are just like that. 

They’re likely to snap if they feel threatened. 

For example, they can associate a raised hand with hitting. 

Or a shout can frighten them and caused them to snap on reflex.

Reading tip: Why Is My Dog Suddenly Afraid Of Me? 9 Surprising Reasons

#2: Prey drive

According to PDSA, prey drive or predatory drive is the natural urge of animals to hunt. 

This was developed way back when Fidos aren’t domesticated yet.

At that time, they still need to hunt for their food like their wolf ancestors.

You may even have witnessed prey drive but thought that it was normal dog behavior. 

For example, chasing balls and ripping stuffed toys open are caused by prey drive. 

Aside from that, it can also trigger your Fido to snap.

Each breed has a different level of prey drive depending on the original reason why they were bred. 

Pit Bulls in particular have high prey drive compared to others. 

It’s because they were originally bred to chase and control livestock.

PAWS Chicago says that prey drive has five stages. 

These are searching, stalking, chasing, catching, and killing. 

But not all pooches show all the stages and they don’t have the same intensity for every stage.

These dog breeds are listed by PAWS to have a high prey drive:

  • Beagles.
  • Basenjis.
  • Whippets.
  • Shiba Inus.
  • Samoyeds.
  • Bullmastiffs.
  • Weimaraners.
  • Afghan Hounds.
  • Siberian Huskies.
  • Yorkshire Terriers.
  • Alaskan Malamutes.
  • Jack Russell Terriers.
  • Doberman Pinschers.
  • Australian Cattle Dogs.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Note: Prey drive and aggression aren’t the same.  Aggression is triggered by factors such as fear or anxiety. In contrast, prey drive is a natural instinct. However, both can be controlled with training.

And your Fido having a high prey drive isn’t technically a bad thing. 

In fact, a study from AVMA associates successful canine search work with a doggo’s prey and hunting drive.

#3: Frustration

Pit Bulls Suddenly Snap Because Of Frustration

Just like other pups, Pit Bulls can snap when they’re frustrated.

This can be because they weren’t given what they want at a certain time. 

In particular, restrained Pit Bulls commonly show this type of aggression. 

That’s why those who are constantly on leashes or spend a lot of their time tied up are more prone to snapping.

So the next time you see you see your doggo snap, observe what might have caused it.

If they do this the moment a leash is worn on them, then they’re frustrated by the leash.

Basically, your pooch is frustrated that they’re being restrained. 

As a result, they develop leash aggression.

Aside from that, your pooch can also get frustrated when they’re constantly teased. 

Children, in particular, have the tendency to provoke your Fido. 

In fact, a study was conducted about dog bite cases in the US. 

And they found out that doggos are more likely to bite children. 

Not only that, but they also discovered that teasing is the top reason for this. 

Specifically, Fidos display signs of aggression when kids start to:

  • Pull their tails.
  • Yank their paws.
  • Pinch their coats. 

#4: Pain/Injury

Most of the time injuries of Fidos are obvious. 

It can be seen as a limp, wound, or swelling. 

But there are also instances when your pooch’s injury can’t be seen directly. 

And because you don’t know that they’re in pain, you can accidentally touch the area where it hurts.

As a result, your Pit Bull snaps at you.

They can even lash out when you’re just trying to make contact.

Because they’re thinking that you’re causing the pain or will make it worse. 

Not to mention that their injury brings them major discomfort and stress.

So it’s important to immediately figure out what’s wrong with your pooch. 

A trip to the vet can help you with this. 

The vet can perform a physical examination to pinpoint what’s bothering your Fido. 

Moreover, they can check inside your pup’s mouth to see if something’s stuck and it’s the one causing them pain. 

Once it’s confirmed that your Pit Bull is indeed injured, try to give them some space to rest and recover.

#5: Health condition

According to VCA, medical conditions can also cause aggressive behaviors such as snapping. 

For example, painful conditions such as dental disease or canine arthritis. 

It can make Fidos cranky and cause them to snap. 

In fact, AKC says that 1 out of 5 pooches suffers from this condition. 

Although it’s mostly older Fidos that develop the condition. 

However, there’s no harm in knowing the signs that you should look out for:

  • Taking a narrow stance in the rear limbs.
  • Muscles in the rear limbs are wasting away.
  • Hesitating or finding it hard to stand from a lying position.
  • Difficulty going up the stairs or jumping onto a bed or couch.

Furthermore, infectious agents can also cause your Pit Bull to snap. 

And hormonal imbalance also has the same effects. 

Lastly, there are also conditions that can cause brain damage.

Which can make your pup do unreasonable behaviors like snapping.

Also, if you notice that your pup is lethargic, vomiting, or has diarrhea, tell your vet about it.

#6: Possessiveness

Pit Bull Possessiveness

Your Pit Bull can also snap if they’re trying to protect their toy or another object they find valuable.

This condition is called possession aggression

And it can be directed towards you, other humans, or other pets that will approach your Fido. 

But it’s not only with objects that you Pit Bulls can get possessive with. 

Most of the time, their possessiveness can show when they’re having their meal. 

They may suddenly snap if someone walks close to them if they’re chewing a bone or in the middle of dinner.

If this happens, it would be best to leave your Fido alone while they’re eating. 

#7: Maternal instinct

If you have a Pit Bull who recently gave birth, then you should be careful when approaching their pups. 

Your pooch can snap at you because they don’t want you near their puppies. 

Maternal instincts are the ones behind this behavior. 

After giving birth, your doggo will have a strong urge to protect and care for their litter.

AKC says that this is particularly strong during the first 3 weeks after labor.

Although this can be a normal reaction from your doggo, it’s recommended that you tell your vet about this. 

Because this type of aggressive behavior can stay even after the litter is gone.

Spaying can also be another option to stop this aggression.

#8: Conflict-induced aggression

Fidos are intelligent creatures. 

And they can quickly learn that certain behaviors can help them get what they want from you. 

As a result, they can associate aggressive behaviors as tools to achieve a reward. 

That’s why they would snap, bark, or snarl at you or other people. 

Also, conflict may arise if your fur family gives rewards or punishments inconsistently. 

An example of this is when one family member easily gives in to your pooch’s demand. 

Then another person would punish them for the same behavior they displayed before.

And this can happen to all pooches, not only to Pit Bulls. 

VCA Canada calls the above-mentioned situation as conflict-induced aggression.

What’s more, physical punishment can also trigger this aggression in your pup.

However, the aggressive behavior might not show immediately. 

It can happen when you attempt to hold them in the future. 

So if your pooch suddenly snaps at you, try to think if you’ve recently hit them as a punishment. 

Furthermore, conflict-induced aggression can also cause your Pit Bull to aggressively challenge you. 

They do this to keep a toy, their sleeping area, or the attention of another person. 

To get their challenge across, they might suddenly snap at you. 

#9: Protectiveness of their territory

Another cause of snapping in your Pit Bull is when they get protective of their territory. 

This can be directed towards people or other animals that approach their property.  

Usually, Fidos would get territorial with those that they’re not familiar with.

That’s why most dogs would bark at visitors that come to your house. 

They regard them as strangers that can threaten their territory. 

Aside from properties, pooches can also get protective of their hoomans

Your Pit Bull can suddenly snap at people who try to approach you or any member of your fur family. 

It’s because they perceive the stranger as someone who can potentially harm you or your family. 

Sometimes it’s not even the person, but it’s what they’re wearing or carrying. 

Maybe they’re bothered by a uniform or a suspicious-looking mailbag. 

Although they do this out of loyalty and care for you, it’s still a behavioral issue that needs to be controlled.

You can solve this issue with early socialization training. 


What should you do when your Pit Bull suddenly “snaps”? 7 tips


#1: Don’t punish them

When your Pit Bull suddenly snaps, don’t punish or yell at them. 

This would only worsen the situation. 

It can even promote fear, anxiety, and more aggression in your pooch. 

According to VCA, punishment may temporarily fix an undesirable behavior in your Fido. 

But it can also cause new problems and aggravate those that already exist. 

Editor’s pick: 13 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Hit Your Dog (Check #7)

#2: Set a calm routine and environment

A fixed schedule or routine can help control your Fido’s aggressiveness. 

Thus it also prevents them from suddenly snapping at you or anybody.

Since they know what to expect for the day, they have no reason to be afraid or become protective.

It’s also important that you’re calm around your Pit Bull.

Because pooches can sense it when you’re stressed. And it can affect them in the wrong way. 

As a result, they can display aggressive behavior like snapping.

Many fur parents also suggest that giving your pup chew toys can help. 

Plus, a calming bed will also make them more comfortable and relaxed.

#3: Avoid potential triggers

When your Pit Bull snaps at you keep them away from whatever triggered that behavior. 

For example, your pooch snapped at you when you touch them. 

Then stop what you’re doing and give them some time to cool down. 

At the same time, keep an eye on them to see if they’re injured or in pain. 

Furthermore, they can also snap at visitors. 

If this happens, you can safely confine them in their crates until your guest leaves.

#4: Desensitization exercises

If the reason why your Pit Bull is snapping at people is territorial, then you can try letting them get used to it. 

You do this by inviting new people to your home more frequently. 

This will result in your pooch gradually adjusting to the new stimuli. 

And eventually, their snapping behavior can stop.

Note: Desensitization exercises aren’t always effective. It’s best that you consult a professional before trying this method.

#5: Give them calming supplements

You can try giving your Pit Bull a calming supplement when they suddenly snap. 

These supplements come in different forms. 

So you can just choose what your Fido prefers.

Here are some of the best-selling pet calming supplements in the market:

FETCH says that these products mimic your Fido’s natural pheromones.

Pheromone is a chemical released by pets to help them communicate. 

And some pheromones can relieve stress in your pooch. It’s called the calming or appeasing pheromones.

Warning: Avoid using sedatives to calm your pooch down. It can the risk of your doggo developing seizure or low blood pressure.

#6: Consult a vet

To identify the real why you’re Pit Bull is snapping, take them to the vet. 

In doing so, the vet can perform a physical examination of your Fido. 

And it can rule out the possibility of injuries as the cause of the snap. 

The vet can also conduct a blood test to find out if a health condition caused your pooch’s aggressive behavior. 

Moreover, tell the vet other relevant information if there’s any. 

It can be unusual behaviors or other signs of sickness like vomiting or diarrhea.

These details are important so that the vet can make their diagnosis.

#7: See an animal behaviorist

If the cause of your Pit Bull’s snapping isn’t an injury or a health condition, then take them to an animal behaviorist. 

They’ll help you analyze your pup’s behavior and come up with some solutions. 

These solutions are more likely to be in the form of training or conditioning methods.

Read next: Top 25 Most Affectionate Dog Breeds That Love To Cuddle

Are Pit Bulls naturally aggressive?

Pit Bulls aren’t naturally aggressive, they’re just like any other dog. 

According to ASPCA, Pit Bulls are noted for their gentleness, affection, and loyalty. 

And they even have a history of being popular family pets. 

To learn more about Pit Bulls, you can watch this short video: 

https://youtu.be/pgnZsw8U4t4

Pit Bulls got a bad rep when people started to breed them for fighting. 

It was then that talks about their aggressive behavior surfaced. 

But Pit Bulls only become aggressive when they’re abused or neglected. 

This can also be triggered by a lack of training and paying no attention to their health.