Staffy behaviour problems often relate to their compulsivity, hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentive temperament traits. They are generally not a fearful breed of dog but their extroversion combined with ADHD-like behavioural traits can make them difficult dogs to live with. Mixed-breed dogs tend to be more hyperactive and impulsive. As such, Staffordshire Bull Terrier mixes and American Staffordshire Bull terrier mixes tend to be the most surrendered dog breeds to the RSPCA.
Staffies tend to be easy to train and raising a calm staffy is possible. We’ll share our top Staffy training tips, that focus on building life skills such as calmness, impulse control, tolerance to frustration and focus.
Table of Contents
- Staffy behaviour traits
- Staffy behaviour change
- Can Staffies be aggressive?
- Dog Training Tips for Staffies
- Final thoughts
Staffy behaviour traits
A Finnish study conducted in 2020, found that 9.5% of Staffordshire Bull Terriers displayed tail-chasing behaviour, a compulsive trait. Similarly, other staffy behaviour traits observed in this study related to a lack of impulse control, excessive energy levels, inability to be calm and lack of ability to focus.
These behaviour traits make them a fun breed of dog but without proper dog training, Staffy Behaviour Problems can make them difficult dogs.
1 year old staffy behaviour
1-year-old staffy behaviour will often be lacking in impulse control. Other common staffy behaviour problems at 1-year-old include; barking, nipping, whining, aggression, increased energy, peeing and pooping in the house, jumping up, separation anxiety etc.
All dogs have a period of their life that is marked by rebellious behaviour. The teenage or adolescent dog phase in a staffy’s life, begins at 6-12 months and can last till around 18-24 months of age. Owners and dog trainers should adjust their training and behaviour expectations during this time.
Staffy brains are not wired to excel in impulse control and emotional regulation at 1 year old. Similarly, any fearful experiences that a Staffordshire bull terrier has during this time, are more likely to be stored in their long-term memory. Therefore, staffy owners should protect their dogs from traumatic experiences during this time.
18 month old staffy behaviour problems
18 month old staffy behaviour is often less chaotic than at 1 year old. At 18 months of age, most staffies will still be going through adolescence, although most owners notice a significant improvement in impulse control and emotional regulation around this time. By 2 years old most staffies start to calm down. By the end of the teenage phase, a staffy’s inhibitory neurones are fully functional. Similarly, communication between the thinking and emotional parts of the brain becomes more effective.
Staffy behaviour change
Staffy behaviour change can be attributed to pain, changes in living arrangements, hormonal imbalances, anxiety etc. Sudden behaviour changes warrant a visit to the vet in order to rule out any underlying health problems. Staffies can experience a behaviour change from 6 to 18 months of age, during adolescence. It’s common for learned behaviours to regress around this time including obedience commands, toilet training etc.
Aggressive behaviours such as barking, growling and lunging should be referred to a veterinary behaviourist for modification or medication.
Why do staffies talk?
Staffies talk to communicate their emotions, needs and wants. A staffy will often talk when they are feeling excited, frustrated or fearful. Similarly, if a dog learns that vocalising gets them something they want, they will repeat this behaviour in the future.
Staffy Aggressive behaviour
Staffies were originally bred for bull baiting and dog fighting. Gritty dogs that liked to bite and bite down hard when their opponent struggled excelled in both these sports. Therefore, this type of aggressive behaviour is in a staffy’s genes and it can be difficult to live with.
To prevent aggressive behaviour, staffy owners should focus on training their puppy in impulse control, calmness and tolerance to frustration. Most staffies make wonderful family dogs and meeting the parents of puppies for sale helps to avoid adopting a staffy with aggressive behaviour traits.
Can Staffies be aggressive?
Staffies can be aggressive, it’s in their genetic makeup to be. While all dogs can be aggressive, many terrier breeds were originally selected for their tendency to bite and to bite down harder when whatever was in their mouth moved. The original staffordshire bull terriers were bred for bull baiting and dog fighting, these dogs are the ancestors of the staffies we have as pets today. Therefore, just as border collies stalk and herd and pointers point, some staffies have a tendency toward being aggressive.
Similarly, Staffy breeders tend to select their breeding dogs based on the way they look. This is especially important for show breeders whose number one priority in breeding is to produce a conformation show-winning champion. Sadly, the best-built puppy in a litter, might not have the best temperament and sometimes that staffy will mature to be a top stud dog. This staffy stud dog’s genes will be amplified through the gene pool, increasing the breed’s aggressive behaviour overall.
Staffy Behaviour Problems – Why Are Staffies difficult dogs?
Without proper training and poor genetics, staffies can be difficult dogs. When adopting a staffy from a breeder or rescue, temperament should be evaluated for mouthiness and hyperactivity. Ideally, staffy puppy buyers would meet both parents of their puppy and observe how the parents and the puppies interact with each other and people. Any signs of compulsive, impulsive, fearful, anxious or aggressive behaviours should be avoided.
Why are Staffies so anxious?
Anxious staffies can be the result of genetics but training and socialisation can also be contributing factors. This is a breed of dog whose common behaviour problems include impulsivity, compulsivity, hyperactivity and inattention. These tendencies combined with improper training can create a dog that is anxious and difficult to live with.
To raise a calm staffy, puppy training should focus on building life skills such as calmness, impulse control, tolerance to frustration and focus.
Why do staffies attack?
Staffies attack out of over-excitement combined with an emotion such as fear or frustration. When a dog gets overexcited they aren’t in a state that allows the thinking part of the brain to function. They become unpredictable and if they don’t have an appropriate outlet for this energy, they can bite or attack.
Some staffies are more impulsive and hyperactive than others, making them especially likely to attack. Similarly, staffy training should not involve the use of fear and intimidation, it can increase fear and aggression. Positive reinforcement training is the best way to train a dog, particularly a staffy.
How to calm a staffy down
To calm a staffy down, they need to be trained in impulse control, calmness and tolerance to frustration. A 2-year-old staffy should start to calm down, being past the adolescent phase and having received the best training.
Similarly, staffies are high-energy dogs that need to be provided with healthy outlets to encourage calm behaviour. Providing stuffed Kongs, long-lasting chews, raw meaty bones, snuffle mats and licky mats can help to calm them down.
Staffy Behaviour Problems – Are female or male Staffies more aggressive?
Both female and male Staffies can be aggressive. Un-desexed females can become more aggressive when they are in heat. Similarly, undesexed male staffies can be aggressive towards other males, particularly if an un-neutered female dog is present.
Desexed female staffies are no more aggressive than desexed males. Aggression tends to be associated with behavioural traits such as impulsivity and compulsivity. Therefore the likelihood of a staffy being aggressive comes down to their individual temperament, which cannot be determined by their sex.
Dog Training Tips for Staffies
Staffies can be high-energy, impulsive dogs that benefit from training that focuses on building life skills such as:
- Impulse control exercises
- Calmness training and passive calming activities
- Tolerance to frustration exercises
- Arousal up and arousal down exercises
Staffy behaviour problems can make them difficult dogs but training can calm them down. They can be impulsive, compulsive and inattentive; traits that have been associated with aggression in dogs. Dog training methods that use punishment through tools such as prong collars, electric shock collars etc have been shown to increase fear, anxiety and aggression. Therefore, dog trainers that only use positive reinforcement-based methods should be sought for this breed of dog.