Pit Bull Chihuahua and American Staffordshire Terrier Socialization | Our Queer Life | Clara & Cole


 Pit Bull Chihuahua and American Staffordshire Terrier 


We learned early on that leaving Forest and Ocean alone for a prolonged period of time could (and likely would) lead to disaster.

When we brought home a second dog, the sexist rhetoric was ripe. We heard time and time again about how two female dogs couldn’t get along. Everyone had some personal anecdote to share about their own experience with female dogs. Employees at pet stores shared these incorrect assumptions with us as well. 

Surprise, surprise, this is all untrue in my experience. I believe those who believe two female dogs can’t get along, and use their personal experiences to back up those beliefs, are executing a self fulfilled prophecy. With proper supervision and facilitation, there is no reason for a dogs sex organs to impact their ability to get along with each other. 

The moments the dogs forget we are watching give me hope about leaving them alone together in the future. In those moments, they seem gentler and loving. 

I try and keep watch to step in between them when Forest wants a break. Each time, I walk to the water bubbler and offer water. Otherwise, Ocean plumb forgets to drink water and pants away all day. She ADORES her sister, Forest.

While keeping an eye on the dogs, I have found that if we stand over them, Forest and Ocean tend to end up brawling. In a playful manner, but I don't like to risk injury. When they start to wrestle, l offer them a couple of toys as a distraction and step back and away to give them more space. Usually this de-escalates the situation. If not, I take it as a signal to offer them both some alone time in separate rooms. Water and snacks included. 

As Ocean matures, I hope to extend the time they are able to actively play together. Thankfully, they have always napped together well. 


Typically, I try and set up in corners of rooms with my back to the wall. This creates a wide view point so I can keep an eye on the dogs. Forest is a couch potato and loves to nap the day away under a Sherpa blanket on the couch. Ocean Tuna would play all day if she could. She has puppy energy and a wiggly walk. Forest can play for quick five or ten minute bursts before tiring and taking space. 

I never understood the obsession of certain dogs with balls until Ocean Tuna. She can’t get enough, and will chew a medium chuck it ball until it splits. When they roll under the couch, she sets up shop next to the spot the disappeared, and howls until someone comes and rescues the ball for her. We have yet to find a ball she can’t damage or destroy. To make matters worse, sometimes Ocean has trouble sharing. She chases toy after toy, ball after ball. Even when we take out literally all the balls. 


With specific games like tug of war and hide and seek in mind, I can help the new dog siblings to play in a way that keeps themselves and their environment safe. The more detailed the plan, the easier the play, for me as the facilitator. 

Self directed play can leave more room for negative interactions and miscommunication.


By giving them alone time in separate rooms, and plenty of love and play, they have avoided any major incidents. 

Each day they spend an hour or two alone in a room with their beds and toys, and that seems to have eliminated the occasional spats they had when Ocean was younger. I question whether any grown dog would adore a puppy for all hours of the day. 

For the first few months with Ocean Tuna, we kept a play pen area with a bed, water, kibble, potty pads, and toys in each room for Ocean whenever she needed teething puppy time away from Forest. She never took to it, but we also never gave up. She has yet to destroy our furniture! When Forest was a puppy, she chewed up dresser after dresser.

Most days Forest and Ocean only bicker maybe three times. A little bark here and threatening snap there. We have never had bloodshed. I keep an eye on them and don’t leave them alone unattended. This is mostly because Ocean is still a puppy, and both come from breeds known for being reactionary sometimes.

Forest is a pit bull chihuahua mix, and both breeds tend to exude energy and excitement. This means I will always act in a preventative manner with her social interactions. 

Ocean Tuna is an American Staffordshire terrier, a breed often misrepresented as pit bull, also known for excitable peer interactions. I call her my cow because she acts more like a lab than anything else. Plodding along minding her own business. We got lucky with her. She can be competitive when it comes to toys and our attention. When Clara comes home from work, she and Forest will compete for attention and jump around. Typically, we put Forest in one room, Ocean in another, and Clara takes turns giving them each some one on one attention before we bring the whole group back together. 


When Forest tries to pick up a toy, Ocean runs over and scares Forest who proceeds to snarl and run away or growl, at which point I step in. I much prefer prevention and intervention to escalation and potential dog fights. In order to effectively prevent negative behaviors, I almost always stay within eyesight of the dogs when they play together. 

Like most chihuahuas, Forest loves to bug big Tuna and climb all over her. They both seem to enjoy this, and I always step in when the sounds start to grow in volume. Honestly, they always seem to be playing and enjoying themselves. Apartment life means I have to encourage them to play more quietly. Forest can be yappy. Ocean has really helped her calm down, and Forest rarely barks at outside noises now. She used to lose her mind when a stranger entered the building or stairway. 

At first I thought they might not warm to each other, but now I catch them snuggled up together during nap time.  When the time for naps comes around, Tuna craves cuddles and is scared of blankets. Forest likes space and to be covered in blankets. Overtime, they have compromised. Forest crawls under a blanket, and Ocean comes along after and lays down beside her. The older Oceans gets, the sweeter their relationship becomes.

Forest has trauma from a neighbors aggressive dog, and despite this, she has embraces Ocean. When we first brought Ocean Tuna home, we kept her on leash around Forest until we could ensure both of their safety. This helped Forest realize that we would protect her. 

We worked with Forest on bite inhibition from day one, and she never uses even half of her strength to bear down when using her teeth, even with toys. 

Once when trying to clip her nails she did put her teeth on me, but she never even pretended to bear down. Her self restraint helps me feel secure when she plays with Tuna. Even so, I always check both of them over for injuries after playing. This helps check my judgement and my anxiety when I realize neither have injuries. Not even accidental injuries. 

April 14: 

  • As Ocean nears a year old, her relationship with Forest continues to grow in a positive direction. 
  • Now if only they could walk nicely on a leash at the same time. Someday! 
  • They’ve learned that playing quietly earns them unsupervised time, and making noise and creating a ruckus attracts an audience. Sometimes they slink off into the office together and roll around on the floor. It’s adorable. Forest comes and gets me anytime she wants a break, and I refresh the water for each of them. 

May 29:

  • The ladies cuddle sometimes. Forest is still half chihuahua, Ocean is still an AmStaff and a puppy. Therefore, they do have the occasional meltdown and bark at each other. They love to play and Ocean almost always sits or lays down while Forest grumbles at her and mouths Ocean’s ears. It’s painfully adorable. 
  • Wall to wall carpeting was made to torture people with pets. (And people with young children, I’m sure). When Ocean joined the family, we bit the bullet and bought a heavy duty carpet cleaner. Even so, who wants to spends hours regularly cleaning the carpet? Especially one square foot at a time? Not anyone I know.

June 20:

  • I think Ocean peed on our bed. Clara thinks Tuna spilled a cup of water. It smells like pee. I’m horrified. I thought allowing her to sleep in our bed would eliminate this problem. I thought wrong. Until she turned a year old last week, Tuna only spent time in our bedroom while supervised. Safe to say that rule will return and continue for now. Forest never peed in our bed!