Euthanizing aggressive dogs

Euthanizing aggressive dogs

A Jack Russell terrier type dog (not pictured) was killed in a local pound last week because of his extremely aggressive behavior, according to 4 Luv of Dog, a Fargo dog rescue. Because of the dog’s aggression, he was considered by the pound to be “unadoptable.”

My immediate reaction was shock. Was there really no one in the area capable of helping this dog? How can a group call themselves a rescue if they aren’t willing to rescue every dog? Why didn’t I help him? (In this case the pound would not release the dog to rescues due to its aggression, according to 4 Luv of Dog.)

My more logical self reminded me that I hadn’t volunteered to foster this dog even before I knew he was aggressive. I also realize dogs are euthanized every day, including healthy dogs, young dogs and friendly dogs. This dog was not friendly and probably not healthy either.

When is it acceptable to kill a dog due to aggression issues? Is it ever OK?

Obviously there is no correct answer. But sooner or later, anyone involved in dog rescue and even some who aren’t will play a part in making this choice.

Ace the mutt - Euthanizing aggressive dogs

My simplified answer: There are circumstances when the best choice is to kill the dog.

That being said, I also believe every dog can be rehabilitated to the point of living an almost normal and safe life. It’s just that resources are usually unavailable, the risk of a person getting injured is too great and more laws are out there banning dangerous dogs.

I admire the web master of 4 Luv of Dog Rescue for honestly posting info about the impounded terrier on its home page and admitting he would not be rescued. I’m sure the organization will get at least some negative feedback for its decision to post this info, even if the pound would not release the dog.

No other shelter or rescue group in the area was able to help the terrier either. Adopt-A-Pet of Fargo Moorhead did not. The F-M Humane Society did not. 4 Luv of Dog Rescue was the only group I am aware of that at least acknowledged the dog.

No one helped this dog, and everyone who is a true dog lover should feel at fault for the result.

Euthanizing an aggressive dog

My own parents – two of the world’s greatest dog lovers – had their aggressive spaniel “dealt with” when I was about 3 years old.

I’m not sure if Abby ever got a new home, but her chances were not good. Dog aggression is a serious issue, even more serious when a 3-year-old and a baby are at risk.

In his book “A Good Dog,” Jon Katz wrote about the intense bond he shared with one of his rescued border collies, Orson. Anyone who criticized Jon’s decision to euthanize Orson after the dog attacked multiple people is missing something. People are quick to criticize others.

Confinement, medical treatment and endless rehabilitation are always choices, but not necessarily options in the best interest of the dog or the people who love him. No dog is worth the life of a human.

As for the terrier supposedly euthanized in Fargo last week, he is one example of why more work needs to be done – more communication, more education, better information on training, on socialization, on exercise and adoption.

It’s not just the big dogs, the shepherd mixes and the pitbulls that end up as victims. It is every dog.

Do you believe it is right to euthanize an aggressive dog?

471 thoughts on “Euthanizing aggressive dogs”

  1. I’m torn on this issue because I haven’t had experience with dangerous dogs. But even one of the Vick dogs had to be euthanized. Even Nathan Winograd has written that there will always be psycho dogs. But a Jack Russell? I don’t want to think the dog was beyond redemption. I hope they exhausted every alternative and rescue organization.

    1. Just because a dog is small does not mean it is not a threat. Size makes no difference, thats as much of a discrimination as saying all Pitbulls are aggressive.

  2. It’s certainly unfortunate if a dog has to be euthanized for something that could have been prevented by humans. The bigger problem is that most cases of neglect or poor training could have been prevented. Psychological damage can begin with poor breeding too. When there are thousands of healthy, happy, well-balanced dogs that are homeless due to humans, I cannot see keeping a dog alive under medication to calm it from being aggressive or dangerous. Who could say that those dogs that are so aggressive are truly happy being that way.

  3. That is very sad.

    There are very very few dogs who are *born* mentally unstable and incapable of living safely with humans.
    Most dogs who are aggressive became that way as a result of something people either did or did not do. I think that by the time you wanted people to step in and help in this situation, it really was too late. The time to help these dogs is *before* we get to this point in the story, and as you noted, that can only happen with more education (& perhaps better enforcement against puppymills & dangerous backyard breeders).

    It is extremely time and labor intensive to rehabilitate an aggressive dog in the hopes that he or she will become “ok” or “near ok” to be around people. There are critical development stages, and if they were missed, you are always playing catch-up. Some dogs may never be safe with people. I understand that shelters have to care for many dogs, and that they simply don’t have the resources to even try with an aggressive dog in the hopes that he may get adopted. It is sad, but that doesn’t make it the fault of the people who care at this stage of the situation.

    Two of the saddest tales I ever read were from Lisa Duffey-Korpics’s book “Tales from a Dog Catcher.” One was a family that insisted on euthanizing a dog of a family member who had died, even though someone was hoping to adopt the dog! The other was a family that was creating an unstable, aggressive dog, and the dog was repeatedly biting children. Ultimately, they replaced that dog with a new puppy, and never gave him a chance, even though he was not aggressive when outside that environment. Wow, did I cry when I heard about these poor dogs!

  4. I maintain the 4luvofdog.com website. I had a very difficult time trying to determine what to post in regards to the status of that little Jack Russell terrier. But I felt that the truth needed to be told. What really upsets me is how easily his fate could have been different. Why didn’t the owner come looking for his dog? Why didn’t the owner put identification tags on his dog? Why didn’t the owner contain his dog in his own yard? I don’t know the dog’s exact story but I suspect he had been hit by a car (I do know he was taken to the emergency vet clinic) and was probably in pain and very scared. The dog may have been the sweetest dog ever but was probably too scared to allow anyone close to him. I do know that the gal who attempted to evaluate him tried very hard to get the little dog to trust her. The decision to let him go was not an easy one.

  5. Lindsay Stordahl

    Very, very good points, Shay. I will have to read the stories you mentioned from “Tales from a Dog Catcher.” I guarantee you I will cry as well!

    Thank you, Patti. I’m glad you posted the truth about the Jack Russell.

  6. There was a time when I felt that any dog could be rehabilitated given enough time and under the proper care. I am of the opinion now that “enough time and proper care” are very limited resources.

    After years of doing rescue, I am now of the opinion that many in the public have an incorrect view that rescues have problems and that’s why their people gave them up. This is very frustrating as so many of the dogs in rescue and in shelters are merely victims of circumstance beyond their control. They are perfectly nice pets.

    Many years ago a person I knew who was involved in rescue told me that she wanted the dogs going through her rescue to be able to give rescue dogs a good name, not reinforce people’s perceptions that rescues came with overwhelming problems. I thought it was a little heartless at the time, but now I find myself agreeing with her.

    While I am greatly saddened by the fact that so many dogs are being euthanized, I think rescues at times need to weigh carefully the uses of their often very limited resources and channel those to the most adoptable pets. Not that it isn’t with heavy hearts that they make these decisions.

    I still stand by my opinion that these problems won’t be eliminated until individuals start taking responsibility for their own pets, not passing that off onto county shelters and rescue groups.

  7. Thanks, Marie. I’m with you, enough time and proper care are very limited resources. Even those who are heavily involved in rescue are not always the most experienced or trained when it comes to dogs. They are often just passionate animal lovers who don’t know what to do with a wild, scared or dangerous dog.

  8. HI!—I just want to let you guys know there is a website for Rat Terriers, terrier mixes, whatever called rat-terrier.com—They are all very loving people (I am also a member) and they try to do anything and everything to get rat terriers into a loving home and plenty of active fosters are on this page all day long in case you ever get another rat terrier in a situation like this!

    I do beleive this dog could have been rehabilitated like the rest of you guys especially by someone that has had experience with many rat terrier fosters, it is sad that he had to be put to sleep but I also understand that it was hard to evaluate him and he could have had something terminal wrong with him too!

    Just a sad story all around, and yes I know this happens every day! 🙁

  9. Lindsay,

    The book is very interesting, and, fortunately, some of the stories have happy endings too.

    Marie,

    I agree with you about dogs coming into rescue situations. That’s why I think it is so important that anyone who has adopted a dog from a shelter or a rescue situation should remember that your dog is an ambassador for other dogs in need of homes. It never stops to amaze me how many chances we get for that. We get stopped on the street when we’re just minding our business on a walk, or we wind up in conversations with people whom I’ve asked if we can approach (she’s very friendly and likes to say hi to everyone, so I’m on the look-out for good body language from people).

    Nonetheless, there are still some people who are surprised at just how wonderful a dog can be, even though *someone* has surrendered her. The more you know, the more you realize how many dogs are surrendered for reasons that either have nothing to do with the dog (cost, relocation, etc.) or that have to do with obvious normal dog non-problems (dog got too big, dog needs exercise, etc.). But there are still a lot of people who don’t realize this. I view her good behavior & approachability as a great opportunity for us to help all those other dogs who still need a home, and I’m not shy about offering information on rescues.

    At one local dog park that I go to, it’s funny how “came from a shelter/rescue” is a source of pride. Anyone new coming is immediately asked which shelter or rescue the dog came from!

  10. Lindsay Stordahl

    People around here are proud that they have a rescue dog as well. It’s almost looked down on if you got your dog from a breeder or a petshop.

  11. On the subject of people not taking responsiblity for their dogs, I found a sad situation today. I take my dog running frequently in the country around Fargo, and today I noticed something that looked a little off on the side of the road, so I went to check it out, and it was a dead beagle mix dog. It appeared to be frozen to death as there was no trauma to it, no open wounds or anything like that. I wish I had found it earlier, before it was beyond help, but I guess that’s just not the way it is. I know people will take their dogs out to the country and just let them go when they don’t want them anymore…and that really doesn’t give a dog a fair chance at life. I hope that this dog did not suffer, and I also hope that people become smarter and realize that their actions directly affect the lives of their pets.

  12. Ugh, that is so horrible. Unfortunately that is what happens. I feel bad for that dog and how it had to die all alone.

  13. Just so everyone is clear– the pound that the Jack Russel was in refused to release the dog, due to his behavior. 4 Luv Of Dog Rescue had no choice in the matter, the evaluator (NOT a volunteer with 4 Luv Of Dog Rescue) made that decision.

    Let’s all hope his story will educate people on the importance of properly caring for and identifying your pet. I would be horrified if one of my dogs had to meet an end like that JRT, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  14. In my entire career of training dogs I’ve recommended euthanasia in only one case. The dog obviously had a chemical imbalance that didn’t allow him to process stress like other dogs. A dog’s capacity for training depends on their ability to process stress and as a result this dog had very little potential for improvement.

    The truth is that the main resource in rehabbing these dogs is EXPERTISE, not necessarily time or effort or a good attitude.

    I don’t want this to come across as boastful but I don’t think I’ve ever had an aggressive dog (except for the previous mentioned one) come to stay with me that hasn’t been turned around in a couple days and couldn’t be considered a very low risk. It’s completely dependent on me, though, and that is where I have to work heavily with clients to make sure that they adjust how they interact with their dog.

    Once you develop the expertise to fix a dog like this it is quite simple. The bleak truth, though, is that most rescues, foster families, adopting families, etc. don’t have this expertise which is why I can’t fault an organization like this for finding themselves forced to euthanize a dog that seems like a difficult case of aggression.

    It’s tough to know where the answer is. Is it in better training education for rescues? Is it better education for dog owners who are typically the ones creating these problems for rescues to clean up? Is it in the education of the people breeding these animals? I think the answer lies in better education for everyone dealing with man’s best friend.

    Good post, very thought provoking.

  15. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for your input, Ty. Thanks for pointing out the fact that EXPERTISE is the key link that is usually missing when it comes to rescuing or rehabilitating dogs. I often see a problem in rescues where the people are very dedicated dog lovers but they don’t understand dog behavior very well. Sometimes this is a scary combination, especially when there are multiple dogs in one area.

  16. I don’t like it when people act surprised that it was a JRT that was euthed. I don’t believe in breed discrimination and to imply that a JRT has less of a chance of being aggressive than say a Pit is incorrect in my opinion. Out of all the Bad Newz Kennel dogs (Vick dogs) there were 69, only two had to be euthed. Pits also scored higher than Beagles in temprament tests and actually came in second with the Goldon Retriever coming in first. I had a Cocker Spaniel as a kid that had to be put down because he was aggressive to strangers and actually bit a child. This was not our choice it was forced upon us by the local authorities. I do believe and with the Vick dogs as living proof that most dogs can be rehabilitated into adoptable pets. My first dog as an adult is a rescued Black Lab mix, he just had his fourth birthday, and I currently foster a Yellow Lab mix who is an amazing animal. I also rescued an English Pointer who had been dumped off on the highway almost 2 years ago. Luckily he was found in time to be helped (I wish the Beagle would have been) although he was on deaths doorstep and nothing but a skeleton I was able to rehabilitate him from a wild dog into a loving family pet. He now lives like a king with my brother and his wife.

  17. It’s very sad anytime a dog has to be euthanized. I’m a
    volunteer at my local ASPCA in Oklahoma which has a no kill policy. We had in the past a great dane that was so abused he was unplaceable. Our manager of operations was the only one there who could handle the dog. She personally adopted the dog where he will live out the remainder of his life in a good home. A truly “red zone” dog as Caesar puts it is very hard to rehabilitate;it breaks my heart when they are euthanized as people made the dog that way.

  18. Thanks, Sarah. I’m assuming you are referring to Jan’s comment that she was surprised this dog was a Jack Russell. I don’t think she was implying anything about pitbulls, just pointing out the fact that this was such a small dog. If you check out her blog (http://thepoodleanddogblog.typepad.com/), you will find that she is quite the pitbull cheerleader.

    Thanks for reminding me not to judge a dog by its size. I was surprised that a Jack Russell could be considered so dangerous, and I question the decision to kill him. I realize small dogs are just as likely (or more likely) to be aggressive, but when they bite they do less damage.

    Glad to hear you rescued that pointer!

  19. Thanks for your comment, Clifford,

    It’s scary when dangerous dogs are living in regular homes. I am glad that dane has a safe home with someone who loves him, but I also hope that his new owner will find the right trainer to work with the dog so he can learn to live like a normal dog and not be a threat to someone’s safety.

    And now I will judge a dog by its breed: An aggressive great dane is a bit scarier than an aggressive Jack Russell.

  20. I think it should be known, though, that 4luvofdog rescue is one of few rescues that does not discriminate breeds (ie, pitbulls). They do a great job of placing dogs in responsible homes. I think instead of “shaming” 4luvofdog rescue for being unable to save this one dog, in which the pound made the decision to euthanize, we should be thanking them for all the work they do in saving many, many others.

  21. Lindsay Stordahl

    I admire 4 Luv of Dog Rescue for taking in so many pitbulls, senior dogs and injured or sick dogs. 4 Luv of Dog Rescue is not responsible or at fault for the death of this Jack Russell terrier. The community as a whole is at fault.

  22. I don’t believe its right but I have had to do it just recently. My dog Jake bit someone. He was deemed “dangerous” in the city of Harker Heights Tx. We did everything we could to keep him. We had to put signs in our yard, get him training, take out an insurance policy on him. We moved up to Wisconsin to be with my husband’s family, and Jake tried to bit two different people. We had no idea what was causing his aggression but it was getting to the point where it was uncontrollable. We were willing to rehome him and give him to someone who could better manage him. We loved him so much. We took him to a humaine society who said they would work with him and try to adopt him out. Well when we got there the animal behaviorist told us that he would be unadoptable. Because of our living situation (living with inlaws) and everything that had happened my husband and I made the decision to euthenize him. It was extremely difficult because he was a young healthy energetic dog. He was abused when he was a puppy and I feel in my heart that his aggression had something to do with being abused. I feel that Jake should have been given another chance…and I’m still in the first stages of grief right now. We feel guilty for having to do this. We were told that it was pretty much our only option. We truly did everything we could for Jake and then some. All I can say is to just please make euthenasia your extreme last resort.

  23. Lindsay Stordahl

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dog Jake. I have never been through anything like that, and I can only imagine how hard it was. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  24. I’d put more faith in Jon Katz’s decision if it wasn’t clear that he needs his dogs to earn a living. I read his first book, Running to the Mountain, and the picture of Katz that emerged was of a very narcissistic man.

    He bought a cabin that his family could not afford just –guess his working wife either had to work more or pinch pennies at home. Or else they changed their minds about helping his daughter with college–that was one reason his wife opposed it.

    He had two labrador retrievers. He had them euthanized in the early stages of hip dysplasia–he says that he knew they would not want to suffer through the disease (Hello! Medical management, anyone?).

    What is clear is that he had just gotten a young Border Collie and wanted to spend all his time with the Border Collie. That Border Collie was Orson, whom he later euthanized for aggression.

    Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?

  25. REviews from Amazon with which I agree:

    179 of 199 people found the following review helpful:
    1.0 out of 5 stars Orson Never Had a Chance, January 1, 2007
    By C. Ward “dog lover” (OK, United States) – See all my reviews
    (REAL NAME)
    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life (Hardcover)
    I have been a fan of Jon Katz since I read “A Dog Year.” I loved “The Dogs of Bedlam Farm.” I expected this book to be a tribute to the dog that brought us those books, a final tribute about a man’s love for his dog. I expected the ending to be a sad one, but the actual ending was far beyond sad – it was heart-breaking and unbelievable. I honestly thought this man loved his dog, but I see it differently now.

    This is a story about a man who gave up on his dog, perhaps always intended it to be so. Perhaps a story about a man desperate for another book, another heartwrenching tale. Perhaps he tricked us all. After all, as he so eloquently writes, “I am a writer.” Maybe he is still suffering the “Midlife Crisis” he wrote about in “Running to the Mountain.” I can see in Jon Katz a man who makes rash decisions just because he feels like it, because he wants different circumstances, and this book proves it so.

    He writes in a loving, heart-warming manner of his loving, close, committed, special relationship with Orson, the dog he wrote about in “A Dog Year.” Then the tables turn and he writes of his horrifying “CHOICE.” Might I add SELFISH. In horrifying DETAIL he tells the tale of Orson’s fate and he doesn’t stop there. He writes about how much better his life is without this dog. This dog whose work was Jon Katz, but Jon Katz did indeed fail him, though he reasons and justifies his actions as best as he knows how as a writer. I feel like he lied to all of us who loved his previous books. He fooled us, but most importantly Orson.

    If any of you enjoyed “A Dog Year” or “The Dogs of Bedlam Farm,” I advise you not to read this book. Those two books touch the heart, caused me to be a better guardian, one in which I could relate to since I have herding dogs of my own. But how could I ever read those books again after reading this one? I can’t and won’t. It was all just a big lie.

    That poor dog never had a chance in the first place.
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    277 of 313 people found the following review helpful:
    1.0 out of 5 stars the poster boy of irresponsible dog ownership, February 1, 2007
    By pjf “pjf” (MD USA) – See all my reviews
    This review is from: A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life (Hardcover)
    So he has money to elaborately renovate his playfarm, to landscape and hire gardeners and helpers, to buy an ATV (the better to “commune” with nature — like he went to the mountain for solitude but quickly got MTV), and he didn’t hesitate writing out a check for a new dog not long after he euthanized his “soulmate”, but when it came to spending a few thousand for Orson to get a thorough vetting over, to build him a secure fence around an acre or two, or to even hire a competent dog trainer or a dogwalker to give him the supervised exercise the dog needs (riding on an ATV not much for an energetic border collie), Katz tells us it is immoral to spend that kind of money on a dog when there are people in his hamlet who live in tar paper shacks and hunt for food. Apparently not immoral, though, to spend the same funds on flowerbeds or repointing a fireplace, on ATVs or MTV.

    He tells us he can rescue fifty dogs for what it would cost to take Orson to one specialist. But he’s already told us in previous volumes he doesn’t believe in rescue dogs, in second hand dogs, but in getting “good” dogs from “good” breeders.

    This guy was too cheap and lazy to take his dog to even one canine veterinary specialist when the dog’s behavior worsened, or to build him a decent fence with a beware of dog sign, to hire even one good dog trainer. All of those things — vet care, training, fencing — are basic responsibilities that come with owning a dog. But he didn’t leash his dog when necessary (something he has a history of never doing), never put up proper fencing (Orson regularly got out of his NJ fence at home and even the puppy Clem was nearly mowed down by a semi at the farm), never supervised Orson properly around visitors. And then he was astounded when there were incidents. Orson changed his life, apparently, but he couldn’t be bothered to make the necessary allowances for basic dog ownership.

    This has been his pattern through multiple years and books. When his two labs got sick, when he decided Homer his second border collie didn’t love him enough, when Orson gave him trouble, he got rid of them or they got the quick needle. Nor is it limited to dogs. Winston gets plenty of page time in this book. Yet his first response when the rooster becomes ill is to go for his gun. With a neighbor’s care it survived to roam the farm again. Surprise, sometimes a pet’s care actually takes time, or costs money. Sometimes you have to accommodate a less than perfect animal. But not Katz.

    Responsible pet owners don’t justify euthanizing their pets because in the past poor people have shot their dogs when they get ill — as Katz rationalizes for not getting Orson a thorough vetting. Or because there are poor people living in tar paper shacks, so how can he spend money on a dog. That’s a mind boggling excuse from someone who used, exploited and down right set this dog up to be the “bad dog of Bedlam” so he could write lucrative books about the relationship, and who has spent money freely on just about everything else on his playfarm.

    When you take in a pet, you commit to reasonable expenses — a good fence. A leash. When the dog gets sick or his behavior inexplicably changes (or not so inexplicably given his mishandling and virtual torture of Orson) you get it vet care. And yes, sometimes it does require xrays, or a specialist. People with a lot less means than Katz do it routinely. And their pets are not even their cash cows.

    What is amazing is that this guy had the means, partially funded by Orson himself, and yet he did not make one single responsible effort — even while he crows about how he loves this dog. Not even to give it to a rescue organization – which wouldn’t have cost him a penny. I suppose he didn’t want them to succeed where he so publicly failed.

    He does try “shamans” and animal communicators. Perhaps he thought it would make interesting copy. How does he justify that with the poor people in the tarpaper shacks, and without trying conventional medicine? But without changing his own behavior, which without a doubt contributed to this dog’s problems, you couldn’t expect much. Then, when the dog doesn’t magically turn around, he dumps it like all the others.

    The story of another bad dog owner. Except he then crows about his lost soulmate, his sorrow.

    The only sad thing is that if this dog had been taken in by any reasonably responsible person or rescue organization, someone who’d provide an adequate fence and give him exercise, vet care and not taunted him continually with situations that he knew were triggers for the dog — letting workman and delivery people continually come through the front fence with Orson loose when he knew Orson had a problem about that, this dog would probably have had a happy, healthy life.

    You get the impression he got this dog, like the farm, as a mid life crisis egoboo. The badder the dog was, the more it fit his constructed image of them as the two misfits, “soulmates”, something he craved after getting tired of his “elderly sedentary labs” as he described his former two dogs. He screams at the Orson; he abuses him, he doesn’t provide Orson with a secure fence and he gets hit by a car, and it all makes salable copy. Then he and his wild dog go to the farm and it makes better copy. Then having encouraged or allowed Orson to get this out of control, he continues to set him up in adversarial situations rather taking the precautions any sane person would make. He doesn’t fence the dog securely from visitors, because it spoils his view of it as the “bad dog of Bedlam” who needed to be free. Then when the dog predictably fails in this chaotic environment, he makes a swift decision to kill him.

    Anyone who’s ever owned a sharp shepherd could tell Orson could have been managed with a little effort. He deserved that much. But it’s obvious this guy not only knows very little about dogs, but cares very little about anything but himself. (Even as he fires up the throttle on his ATV in the middle of the night, and gloats that there’s no nearby neighbors to be disturbed, he seems totally oblivious that he just left his sleeping wife) The efforts Katz needed to keep his dog safe were possible. They were within his means. But they were efforts he couldn’t be bothered with.

    He talks about how with the money he would save on not treating Orson, he could save fifty dogs. But there’s no mention of even a portion of the proceeds of this self serving book going to border collie rescue, to save even one dog. Or to the “poor people in the tarpaper shacks”. Instead he quickly writes a check for a replacement dog to one of his “good breeders”.

    Orson may have changed his life but he didn’t hesitate to ruin the dog’s life, to set him up in situations that he knew made him unsafe, to let him get hurt, to not get him care, to kill him for falling into the trap Katz set, and then pander to readers for sympathy. All while raking in royalies.

    This book reminds me of those people who let their dog roam loose in the streets, when wail crocodile tears when it gets hit by a car, who dump a dog at a shelter so riddled with fleas or mange that its skin is bare and bleeding, but drop in two weeks later to ask if it got adopted, and say how much they loved it. There are plenty of ignorant, lazy, selfish pet owners in the world, too irresponsible to keep animals. Katz is their poster boy.
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    148 of 166 people found the following review helpful:
    1.0 out of 5 stars Good Dog Meets Terrible End, October 28, 2006
    By Doxie Lady (New York) – See all my reviews
    This review is from: A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life (Hardcover)
    I feel exactly the same way as the previous reviewer. My husband and I don’t have border collies; we have dachshunds. Dachshunds can also be very protective of their owners and territory and also have a very strong prey drive. We have a dachshund that bit one of my neighbors while we had the dog out for a walk. Their cat was out and my dog went after the cat and bit the neighbor instead (he was in such an overexcited state he literally did not know what he was doing). Note: my dog was on leash when this incident occurred. He is never off leash outside our property. Luckily this lady was an animal lover and she was absolutely gracious about it.

    The incident taught me a very hard lesson…but a necessary one. I had to be absolutely vigilant about my supervision of this dog. How I introduce him. Where I walk him. I changed the leash from a regular 6ft leash to a 4ft slip lead (NOT a choke chain). I have also applied some local trainers’ ideas about noticing the early signs of excitement in my dog and learning how to channel the dog’s attention so that he never gets to the excited state. It has been over 2 years since the incident and we have had no other incidents. But, as I said, my husband and I are vigilant about our supervision. I do not take lightly the fact that my dog bit someone. I think I lost sleep for a month when it happened. But, that memory now serves as a constant reminder to me to maintain my awareness with my dog and be constant in my supervision – which really all dog owners should do with all dogs.

    I have all of the Orson books and I, too, was enjoying reading them. I thought, here is someone who understands what I am going through in dealing with an anxious dog. When I went to get “A Good Dog”, I was so excited because I had enjoyed the other two books. The writing was so lovely and the author seemed to have such a deep love for his dogs. I was a couple of chapters into the book and I could sense where it was heading. I skipped ahead to the last chapters and was absolutely devastated.

    For this man to euthanize his dog when he himself says that he owed Orson so much for saving him in so many ways is (in my opinion) unpardonable. To think that Orson could not be given to another person to try to rehabilitate is absolutely arrogant. I have to even sympathize with another reviewer that wrote in and asked why wasn’t Cesar Milan contacted? At least Cesar Milan always works to rehabilitate the dog – not put the dog down. But it didn’t have to be Cesar Milan…many other trainers could have at least tried to work with this dog.

    My suspicion is that the arrogance of the author extended too far. How would it look to the public if he contacted another dog trainer? Didn’t he write a book about common sense dog training? (And to think I almost bought that book…) I am sure that it would be just too humbling for him to try to consult another trainer on the issue – especially another well publicized trainer. Wouldn’t that say that he didn’t know what he was doing with his dogs?

    And did the author try to communicate with his “public” by putting a sign up that says “don’t pet the dog when he is behind the fence”? Even to friends. I know that this can be difficult. But, with my dog, I tell my friends who come over…do not rush up to the crate or gate and try to pet the dogs. Let me introduce you first. It is difficult for me to do that, but worth it to me. This saves my dogs and any unfortunate incident with friends and neighbors.

    In the end, I just wish the best decision had been made for the dog. This dog that the author owed so much…that he “loved” so much. I think I had the hardest time with the scene at the end of the book when the author talks about the Dog Star and about how Orson knew it was time to go and about how Orson was at peace. I wish I could have taken comfort from this scene, but unfortunately it just left me with the feeling that the author was somehow trying to absolve himself from this terrible decision that he made.

    (Note: I do understand that there are some dogs that are truly a danger to society. I also understand that it is necessary sometimes with truly dangerous dogs to put them down. I understand that Orson was a much bigger dog than my 16 pound doxie and could potentially cause much more harm than my dog ever could. But, I think that we sometimes label dogs too quickly as “dangerous”… I do NOT believe from what I read that Orson was truly dangerous. I do not think enough was done for him. I believe that if an offer had been put out to some trusted trainers that someone would have taken him. I wish for Orson’s sake that this had occurred.)

  26. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for your opinion, Sarah. I’m a huge Jon Katz fan, so you won’t catch me criticizing him. It is never an easy decision to euthanize an animal. I respect the decision he made about Orson. I don’t know if it is the same decision I would make, but Orson was a dog that was attacking humans and that is not something to take lightly. A life behind a fence is not a good life for a dog.

  27. We have a 5 year old Shar pei. When we got him, he was about 10 weeks old, and had a bad disposition against us, and other people, and dogs. He has serious allergy issues that we treat him for, and have had his ears, and eyes done. The dog has become more aggressive, to the point where it is hard to control him, even with a shock collar. He has outbursts at other dogs, and has started growling, and nipping at our 2 year old Grand Daughter. We are very concerned, and are contemplating putting him down. We love this dog, but feel that it is in the best interest of all, that this be done. We have spent over $9,000 on this dog, and a yearly maintenance of about $600.00.I don’t believe that the dog can be turned around to the point that he is trustworthy. We are very upset about this ordeal, and are having a hard time deciding. We cannot afford to put him through any professional training. The breed is know for this behavior in some ways. We have hesitated for a few days, but we need to make the decision. What to do?

  28. Lindsay Stordahl

    Well, nearly every dog can be rehabilitated when given the right resources. It sounds like you are at the end of your rope with him, though, and you do have to put the safety of yourself, your family and others before the dog.

    If you give him up, there is always that chance that he will injure someone in his new family. If you turn him over to a rescue group or shelter, he will likely sit there for months or years with little help on his behavioral issues.

    You could keep him in confinement in your back yard or in the house, muzzling him whenever he leaves your property and whenever your granddaughter is around. For controlling him you will definitely need a prong collar or a head collar such as a Gentle Leader or a Halti. Choke collars do not give you a lot of control. You may want to also consider an e-collar, and get help from a professional about how to use one.

    I do suggest speaking with a few trainers and looking into an obedience club in your area for some additional help. If you’re already spending 600 per year on his health bills, what’s another hundred or two on training?

    Ultimately the decision is yours. There is no right or wrong choice. I do wish that he could’ve gotten more training when he was a puppy and throughout his life so it would not have gotten this bad.

    I appreciate your comment and wish you and your family did not have to make this hard decision.

  29. Lindsay Stordahl

    Oops, I read your post wrong. I see that you are already using a shock collar, not a choke collar.

    I think you should go with your gut feeling. If you are willing to seek out a behaviorist to work with and pay for, then perhaps that is an option. On the other hand, it is not worth keeping the dog if there is a chance your granddaughter could get bitten.

  30. After adopting my dog (he was around 4yrs old), we discovered that if a stranger leans towards him, or he feels cornered by them, he will lunge at them and try to bite them.

    It took my grandparents a month for him to warm up to them.

    We went to a class and it was obedience training. We were hoping it would help, but everything they were doing my dog already knew. It didn’t help at all, and the lady actually told us she didn’t think Charlie could ever be around strangers ever again.

    Now, he trusts four people (and counting) outside of our family to pet him, and is comfortable around all strangers if they don’t try and touch him. If he feels cornered he knows now he can just walk around the person and he will be fine. There is hope for every dog.

    If you do try and help him it will probably take a long time. I would definatly find a trainer if you don’t trust he wont try and hurt you.

  31. Thank you for your replys. my wife and i discussed it last night, and we are going to put him down. The other thing that may be affecting this is that he has been on prednisone, and amitryptaline most of his life, and i wonder if the steroids could have caused part of this. As much as this hurts to do, i don’t think i can own another pet. Being the alpha in our house, i did not get the loving nature from him like my wife did. It was strange, but i guess that is part of being the Alpha.

  32. I understand and respect your decision. It is no easy choice. I am not sure if those drugs can bring out more aggressive behaviors in animals. Possibly in some cases.

    Perhaps with time you will want to find another dog.

  33. Jessi, I’m glad you’ve worked with your dog enough to get him comfortable around strangers, at least if they don’t want to touch him.

  34. I might mention that my Son has a female from the same Litter, and he is watching her very close. She is not quite as aggressive, but also getting worse. He bought the female first, and then bought the male for a playmate. That worked for awhile, but then the fighting started. The dogs i believe would have killed one another had they been left together. That is how we ended up with the dog. Now he is going to speak to the breeders, and let them know that this blood line needs to stop. We knew nothing about the breed at first, but the pocket book soon found out. This dog was a great companion during my rehab after a triple bypass, and has been my buddy.

  35. That is terrible that both pups ended up so aggressive. I’m glad your son is going to speak to the breeders. I’m sorry to hear about the trouble you’ve gone through with your dog.

  36. “No dog is worth the life of a human”?! I vigorously disagree!! Who are we to decide that? I’m against euthanising dogs. It is such a blessing that life is so short, though – for animals and humans alike.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I believe we should use all resources possible to save every dog that we can. Too often, though, these resources are not available.

      I do not believe it is worth keeping a dog alive if it will put a human’s life in danger.

  37. We have had to make this decision this weekend. We already have three rescues at home and we had two strays show up ( boy and girl) To make a long story short, a resuce group has looked at both and will accept the boy into the program, he will get neutered, shots and hopefully adopted. The girl is a different story, she’s heartworm positive and very dog aggressive and has growled at one of the rescue ladies. We’ve decided to have her humanly destroyed rather than take the chance of her hurting another animal or god forbid, human. I’ve been told be several people that she could re habbed etc, even though they’ve never met her etc. But we just can’t take that chance along with putting her through the heartworm treatment and she would have to be fixed. I’ve cried about this all weekend, but I know we’ve made the right decision for this paticular dog– and that won’t stop me from trying to rescue the next one though.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sounds like a difficult choice, and I respect your opinion. Heartworm treatment is no easy process, let alone trying to rehabilitate the dog and her aggression issues. What it comes down to is there just aren’t enough resources to help every dog.

  38. Thanks Lindsay! That was on eof the hardest things I’ve ever done 🙁 The good news is the boy dog is doing well and is getting better around stangers. My husband, Matt, sat on the ground with him and “Fred” just loved it, wagging his whole butt. We just need a great foster home and then hopefully he’ll get adopted

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      As you know, when you work in dog rescue long enough, you will eventually come across dogs that have to be put down. I’m glad “Fred” is doing well!

  39. I have three dogs which I love and adore. But Two are aggresive with strangers and now and again get in a scuff with each other, over dominance or food or a toy. I am in deep water with them and dont know what to do. I dont want to see them put down but am afraid they will bite the wrong person. They are awesome dogs for us other than that, I need major help with them. I have a toddler as well and dont really trust them with her. Any way I can get help, I would rather place them or the two of them with someone who understands them and can work with them and give them what they need, the thrid is young and has no issues, yet… please help, as my dogs need it…

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would definitely find a professional dog behaviorist in your area who can help you with your dogs. It may be best to re-home them, but please make sure they go to someone who knows what he or she is doing. If not, the dogs could end up hurting someone.

  40. I am also dealing with a very difficult decision about my 11-year-old aggressive terrier-mix, an adoption, who despite various types of training, is still intractably dangerous out on street walks. He barks, lunges, and wants to bite passersby, so I use a muzzle on him each and every outing beyond my city apartment, where we live. There’s much more to say, but I wonder whether this blog is still going on… Please let me know.

  41. I’d love to hear what else you have to say about your dog. I’m sorry to hear you are dealing with such severe aggression issues.

  42. Hi Lindsay,
    Nice of you, thanks for asking. I have a dear dog who is very good indoors but very barky and aggressive outdoors. I live in a city apartment with no back yard, but thankfully we can use a semi-private back courtyard for very quick pee trips, even though some neighbours get cranky about this. I adopted Jacky, the terrier/chihuahua mix, 18 pounds, aged 10, when my friend, his master, died. He’d lived in the suburbs all his life with a back yard and was used to doing a lot of barking, and he has a very high prey drive, has always chased, lunged, snapped, & bitten. He was never socialized around other dogs or taught to walk nicely on a leash. He is very aggressive out of the home without any provocation, a little insane, one would say. Indoors, in contrast, he is cuddly, obedient, and perfectly house-trained.

    Once he began living with me full-time, his outrageous out-of-home behavior needed urgent help, so I paid $550 for a professional trainer. Jacky improved a lot but then relapsed, as I could not keep up the jerk-correction method. I have been using the positive/treat methods now for months, which help somewhat around adults. But Jacky still barks a lot outside the apt., and he fearlessly, without any provocation, tries to lunge at and bite anyone who is moving, including toddlers and other dogs. I really think he has a sort of inherited aggression, pretty intractable. (Did you see the recent NOVA segment on wolves and foxes?) I use a chain Martingale collar (no-slip) and a snout muzzle each and every time we go out to avoid catastrophe. When we get to the wide open park space, he does fine, but he hates other dogs and goes ballistic when we encounter them. In short, second-by-second control and avoidance of close contact with people and other dogs is what I have to rely on in order to avoid injuries and being sued. Jacky threatens also to pull me off balance, which I don’t like, and sometimes my shoulder is bothered. Jacky gets 2 walks a day, plus the shorter pee outings. (I work full-time.) He gets the Kong and other treats indoors, plus a lot of affection. He gets regular vet check-ups and is in every way a very well cared for pooch!

    As for Jacky’s health: he is now 11, has an enlarged heart, a grade-3 heart murmur, and continuously rising liver enzymes. We think he has heart valve disease/heart failure. Nevertheless, he is very frisky, slim, alert, and eats lustily.

    The idea of tranquilizing meds has come up, but he has liver disease which would only be aggravated by such meds.

    Now one more complicating factor comes in: I live and work on the East Coast, and my 81-year-old father lives on the West Coast. Dad has recently become ill and needs help from my sister and me on a more frequent basis. To board Jacky with a pet sitter so I can travel, it costs about $35 per day minimum, which I am willing to do for a while. I do not have any friends or family who will care for Jacky, so I have to pay someone to do this (and I’m having trouble lining someone up right now owing to the aggressive tendencies!). It looks like I will have to fly often from now on to the West Coast to be with my father. I could not bear to fly Jacky with me each time; with his temperament, the trip would probably kill him.

    I have pondered trying to find a new home for Jacky, but none of his old master’s family want him. And I know very well that with his age, health conditions, and aggressive behavior, no one here in the city would adopt him, and really, no one in the suburbs would want him either. I could not bear the idea of giving him over to a shelter or rescue camp, as there, too, I think he would just suffer enormously and then die. I’ve read all the previous posts here and many other stories, and we know what happens so often to aggressive dogs who are surrendered. So, in short, giving him up is out of the question.

    So for the time being, I plan to board him when I travel (alerting the sitter not to walk him to avoid injuries, just to use her private back garden for outings), but I find myself wondering more and more whether the simplest and kindest thing to do would be to send Jacky to Dog Heaven fairly soon. I’ve talked this over with friends and family, and they say: Be safe. Don’t wait too long. It seems it really is just a question of time before someone gets injured. From my point of view, I have known this dog for 6 years and cared for him full-time the past one year, with my full efforts and devotion, and now, frankly, things are just not enjoyable. With spring/summer coming, more and more people will be out on the sidewalks, which makes Jacky go more and more ballistic. The vets and the trainer told me that at his age, he’s never really going to change and will never be trustworthy. To protect him, myself, and others, I am starting to hear that little bird whisper more and more often, Do the safe, kind, and humane thing. Send Jacky to Dog heaven. He would then have had a quite long, happy, and very well cared-for life, with a quick, peaceful end. And I would still be in one piece and my neighbours’ kids and dogs unharmed! I don’t think I would feel guilty for doing this, but of course, he is my little buddy, and it is still indeed a very wrenching decision.

    So that’s our story. Will look forward to your view – thanks.

  43. Lindsay Stordahl

    Honestly I wish I lived closer to you and I would think about taking him or at least pet sitting him while you visit your father.

    I totally hear you and would support euthanizing the dog in this case for all the reasons you stated. If you surrendered him to a rescue, there are no guarantees that they would not end up euthanizing him. The rescue I work with is “no kill” but we do put dogs down when they are extremely aggressive. I would also hate for him to go into a foster home and then end up biting someone, especially a child. I think if you surrendered him, you would be living with a lot of stress and guilt, constantly wondering if he’s bitten anyone yet (which is likely to happen). Let’s face it, people in rescue have good intentions but they aren’t always the best trainers, etc.

    Jacky has been lucky to have a long life. He’s lucky to have you care for him and put up with all his issues. If you can make it work, I congratulate you. But you do have to put yourself and your father first. You do not want to miss out on time with your Dad because of this dog.

    I would take a day and do all the things Jacky loves. Go for a long walk in the country or stay home and share a steak dinner and snuggle on the couch. Whatever it is that he loves, do that with him for a day. Then, if you are ready, let him go. Listen to your gut feelings.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope your dad feels better soon, and I’m sorry you have to face such a difficult choice. You obviously love the dog.

  44. Lindsay, I so appreciate your thoughtful and kind reply that clearly comes with a lot of experience with dogs. I forgot to mention that Jacky was actually, before the age of 1, returned twice to the Save-a-Pet shelter, the 2 different adopters unable to handle him, so from very early on, he seemed to have significant issues (again I think: genes). My dear deceased friend, however, bore with him and gave him a good home and back yard for about 10 years. I have thought, too, that he is lucky to have had such a long life and good care to this point! Everything you wrote rings true, and I really thank you for your support and suggestions. I will let you know how it goes. P.S. Dad is getting a major but common procedure today on his back, and hopefully he will get some relief very, very soon!

  45. Lindsay Stordahl

    I hope your dad feels better very quickly! Good luck with Jacky. I certainly respect any decision you make with him.

  46. Just a quick one to let you know that I have found a nice home-boarding agency in New Jersey. I’ve connected with a couple with a charming house and big back yard (Jacky and I visited last Saturday), and they will board Jacky for the week I will be on the West Coast visiting Dad. So some good luck for Jacky! Visiting was so nostalgic: that sort of country/suburban environment is where Jacky grew up and belongs. I hope he enjoys his vacation there!

  47. Lindsay Stordahl

    Oh that’s great news! I hope he enjoys it there and behaves himself! That should help you feel better about leaving him, knowing that he is in a nice place. Thanks for the update. I’ve been thinking about you guys!

  48. After I adopted my dog (boxer mix) from a local humane society, I discovered that he had severe anxiety issues. The first day I had him he nipped me twice when he became extremely anxious. The first bite occurred when I was attempting to walk with him on leash through a gate in my yard. He began to pull and lunge towards the gate and when I pulled him back he lunged toward me and bit my shin. He didn’t hurt me and it was more of a nip than a bit but it was still frightening. I was so taken aback by this that I stood there in shock. Once I was calm enough to walk with him we both walked through the gate. He seemed less anxious after waiting in the yard for several minutes but when i brought him into my house he became anxious again. At this point I felt like I adopted a crazy dog and I was uncomfortable with being alone with him in fear that he might bite me again or attack me. So I had him stay in the garage with plenty of food, water, and toys to play with, until my friend arrived home.

    The first time I left the garage, Kasho seemed content with my departure. Twenty minutes after initially leaving him in the garage I went to check on him. When I went to remove the mats Kasho seemed very playful and wanted my attention so I felt like this was good dog behavior, so I stayed and tossed the ball for him for over half an hour. He was fine until I tried to leave. He saw that I was walking towards the door and he blocked the door with his body and began jumping towards me. At one point he nipped at my face but luckily I grabbed a tennis racket and blocked him just in time before he could nip me again. His face must have hit the racket because he cowered away from me but then walked back towards me in a more calm submissive manner.

    After this incident I wanted to return him to the shelter but my friend convinced me that Kasho was anxious because he was in a new environment and that he was just experiencing anxiety. I decided to give him a longer period to adjust, given that he just came from a stressful shelter environment and the new environment could be adding to his stress.

    However, I’ve had Kasho for over two months now and I’ve witnessed him have fear aggression around other dogs, dog-dog aggression and redirected aggression towards my-self and my friend when we’ve intervened to prevent him from lunging at other dogs.

    He’s been in scuffs at the dog park on two separate occasions. In each event the other dogs were not being aggressive towards him. He is not aggressive towards all dogs, as he lives comfortably with our other dog and has played successfully with other dogs, but it seems to be with unfamiliar young dogs and confident dogs.

    Today he jumped our fence and a neighbors fence in an attempt to attack two other dogs who were on a walk. A few hours after this when he was inside, he lunged at our living room window when a man and two of his dogs were walking by our house.

    He’s been to obedience training and I’ve talked with several specialists who all suggest putting him down. But amid his negative dog to dog behavior, he can be a nice, loving, obedient dog when other unfamiliar dogs are not around.

    Part of me feels that it would be best to put him down to prevent him from hurting other dogs or another person, but I also feel like I should keep trying to rehabilitate him.

    Don’t really know what do. Any advice?
    Thanks

    We have two dogs in the household

    1. the dog sounds like he is a danger to other dogs, and to humans.

      there are gentle dogs who pose no threat to either dogs or humans, that are put to sleep in shelters every day across the country.

      i would put the dog to sleep in the most humane way possible. and save another life. or two.

  49. Lindsay Stordahl

    Gosh, what a hard choice. I hate to say either way without actually meeting him. Boxers are big, powerful dogs, though. Sooner or later someone will get seriously hurt if something isn’t done now about his behavior.

    I do believe all dogs can be rehabilitated. But in most cases the resources are not available for that rehabilitation. You have a very difficult case on your hands, especially since he is leaping over your fence. Unfortunately he needs a lot of exercise, and it’s difficult to provide this when he can’t run in your yard and shouldn’t be visiting the dog park, either. I realize it is also difficult to walk/run him on a leash when he wants to attack other dogs, but he needs to be walked every single day.

    I hate to hear about specialists who recommend putting dogs down, but in some cases it is the safest option. And a life of confinement (whether it’s in your house, a kennel or a shelter) is no life for any dog.

    So … really only you know the best answer and I would respect you either way. The dog needs a lot of patience, desensitization training, exercise, exercise, exercise and more patience.

    So, I would go with your gut feeling. If you feel unsafe around him, then maybe the answer is euthanizing him. Don’t put the dog before your own safety or the safety of your family/friends/strangers. Only you know if you can safely control this dog.

    Let’s say you are going to try to keep working with him. I’m assuming you have a muzzle for him? If not, get one. Use treats to help him associate the muzzle with good experiences.

    I noticed you said he got very anxious around the gate and also the door of your garage. Does he associate these barriers with you leaving? Doorways and gates would be one area to work on desensitizing him by walking through them with him over and over and over rewarding him when he is calm. And then doing the same exercise while leaving him on one side.

    I recommend positive reinforcement training with him because of his anxiety and tendency to react. I could see him reacting negatively to something such as a prong collar. I sharp correction around his neck could cause him to bite.

    While out on walks and also in your yard and at the window, I would use his favorite treats (like, his absolute favorite whether it’s chicken, hotdogs or whatever) to teach him to look at you with a “watch” command rather than focus on the other dogs. And keep working on all his general obedience to make sure you have control over him at all times. Can he sit and stay reliably 99 percent of the time with no distractions? Then progress to small distractions and keep challenging him.

    See if there are any other trainers in your area who might be able to help. Perhaps the humane society has some additional resources.

    Good luck, be safe, and let me know what you decide. Try not to feel guilty. You are not the one who failed on this dog.

    1. Thank you.
      I’m going to take him to dog aggression therapy to see if they can help us. His obedience is great when he is indoors away from other unfamiliar dogs, but outside it depends on if there are other dogs around or other animals.

      For exercise we usually run in the morning and walk for 20minutes at night. In the early evening we do training obedience drills. It use to be nearly impossible to get through the house door without him jumping on me and barking hysterically when I’d leave but with practice he now lies down on his pillow and waits until I leave before he gets up to look out the window. I’ve also been giving him treats when we begin to approach a house or a walker with a dog so that he associates dogs with good stuff. But even so, he still gets pretty anxious with some dogs and depending on the other dog he still will lunge or bark.

      I’ve been using a muzzle on him and he does not have use of the backyard anymore, at least until he can respect the fence again and his aggression issues are resolved. The backyard was nice for him to use to chase and be chased by our other dog, but at this point I can’t trust him in it, even when I’m with him in the yard and he’s not leashed.

      Thank you so much for your input. I will try walking back and forth through the doors and gates with him. Usually I use the gentle walker but since he’s wearing a muzzle now, I’m using a front harness.

      Fingers crossed.

  50. Lindsay Stordahl

    Well it sounds like you are doing all the right things. Keep me posted, and I wish you the best. I am happy to hear you are working with him and giving him a chance, but do be careful. Let me know what they suggest at the aggression therapy.

  51. Dear Missy,
    I, like you, am continuing to work with my aggressive dog, and I definitely ALWAYS use a muzzle when on walks: with an aggressive dog, you’d be foolish not to. My dog is small, however, 18 pounds, a terrier mix, and he has no aversion to the muzzle or to me unless I try to take a very yummy treat away from him. (I’ve learned NEVER to do that, but rather to distract him with the idea of a tastier treat; he drops the item, follows me, I give him a Milkbone and then swoop back to get the other item.) Anyway, I just wanted to chime in that you are being kind and brave to want to work with a fairly large dog with such aggression issues. Some would say you are courting disaster. Was he likely taken to the shelter for this very issue? Please realize that, like my dog, he may be help-able but he will never be actually trustworthy: it is up to you to control him 101% of the time. I have read a lot on the subject of dog aggression, and I just wanted to say that if at some point you feel that this dog is just too dangerous to you and others, that he is wearing you down psychologically, that he is perhaps hurting your own body as you try to walk him, you should not feel guilty for giving him a quick, peaceful, painless transition to Dog Heaven through euthanasia. I think this would be more humane than returning him to any shelter situations, where his problems would only continue, and worse things could possibly happen down the road, God forbid.

  52. Lindsay Stordahl

    Kim, thank you so much for checking back. I’m glad to hear it is going well with your dog. Thank you for your suggestions. It’s always helpful for dog owners to hear from someone going through a similar issue. There are so many aggressive dogs out there and loving owners who aren’t sure what to do with these dogs.

  53. Hi Lindsay,
    Another tip for Dogs That Pull & Lunge: put a regular body harness on them with good fit, not loose, and clip the leash not to the back but to the FRONT (at chest) ring. This will decrease the pulling by about 90%! A regular harness is easier on the under-arms of the dog than the Easy-Walk or other no-pull harnesses that can really chafe. With my system, a dog that likes to lunge at fast-movers (like my dog!) will still try to do that, but the rest of the time, the physics of pulling have been disarmed. It’s a great little adjustment that yields welcome results for ye olde human shoulder and arme!

    I am also curious: what is the latest with Missy and her aggressive boxer mix? I haven’t seen any posts from her here. I am always very interested in how others handle their aggressive dogs!

    Thanks, Kim

  54. Lindsay Stordahl

    I would also like to know how Missy and her boxer are doing.

    Thanks for the tip about the harness. I am not a fan of harnesses, however I’ve used the Gentle Leader’s anti-pull harness and that works well for an excitable pitbull I run. I never use regular harnesses except on very well behaved dogs, old and slow dogs or really small dogs. But, I haven’t tried clipping the leash at the chest, so I will keep that in mind.

  55. I used a chain Martingale on Fred for about a year, no-slip off the head, but he pulls hard against it, and of course the collar is designed to close tighter to a certain degree (but not actually choke!), and after months of this, I felt there could be damage to the trachea/esophagus of the dog. The Gentle Leader looks attractive but not secure enough. The Easy-Walk harness can be cruel in causing chafing.

    The regular harness now is much kinder to him, and as I said, the physics of pulling have been foiled through attaching the leash at the chest. I’m curious as to why you don’t use harnesses generally. Are you afraid the dogs will slip out? Not enough control?

    All the best, K

  56. Lindsay Stordahl

    I don’t use harnesses because I have no control over a dog on a harness if it’s over 30 pounds or so. I’ve had a few dogs slip out of them, too.

    I prefer prong collars because most dogs will not pull hard against them and therefore they will not hurt their trachea like the could with a regular buckle collar. I also use regular slip/choke leads on a lot of dogs or Haltis. The Halti is better than the Gentle Leader because it has an extra strap that clips to the leash and collar.

  57. We have a Yorkie, Buddy who was purchased at the mall and we found out later he had kennel cough. Well, that was just the beginning. Buddy was hospitalized when he was less than 6 mos. old. He almost died. We spent over $2K for his care and loved him to pieces but noticed a change in him when he was almost a year old. Before Buddy was 2 he was biting guests and growled horribley at men as if he was going to attack. Buddy is now 4 and living in a new home with me for the last two years with a Beagle (male) and a Dachsund (female). He’s been very aggressive with the Beagle even though he’s smaller. Training has cost me over $1000 but hasn’t worked.
    We’ve gone to the hopital with severe bits from him. I spent money on a behaviorist, a one on one trainer and more recently (last 6 mos.) he’s been on 5 mil. of Clomicalm the Vet recommended. We have an old school Vet whom I respect very much. The first time I brought Buddy to him, he had to use a muzzle , then asked me why was I keeping this dog. Buddy bit again last week and very badly with the live in person who’s home we share. This person is not a stranger to Buddy. I feel I’ve done all I can for him and have to make a horrible decision to put him down because he’s so aggressive and dangerous. Our neighbors no longer come in our yard and friends have abandoned us. We can deal with this becasue we love him and I know he loves us. But I do think when he was young and very sick, he didn’t end up being wired right. I hope I can be forgiven for the decision I’m making but I can’t afford to send him to a farm because I hear they take these poor dogs to fight with others. That would be a horrible death for my little Buddy.
    His trainer is very proud we’ve kept him alive this long and she told me I’ve done all that I can do except heavily medicate him but what kind of quality life would that be for him? I even looked into taking all his teeth out but the Trainer told me he’d still bit and make a very bad bruise .
    Does anyone have any ideas? We can’t have the grandchildren over unless they call first and we isolate Buddy which doesn’t make him happy. We can’t even go away for a weekend because we have no one to care for an aggressive dog. Believe me; this is tough. The guilt is overwhelming. He’s going to the Vet for evaluation next week. I’ll make the decision then. Thanks for reading this.

  58. Lindsay Stordahl

    I can’t judge you either way. You know what the best answer is. I hate to hear that a dog is going to be put down due to a behavior problem, but you said you have tried everything you can. You have to keep everyone else safe, particularly your grandchildren.

    I don’t know the exact history of your dog and your relationship with him over the years. But most of the small, aggressive dogs that I see are given no exercise. They are also carried around like babies and coddled so therefore they don’t get the socialization they need. They become very fearful of anything new. They are rewarded for any kind of aggression because they are picked up all the time and given affection whenever they growl or bark. This empowers them, as they are held at a higher status. Breeds like Yorkies need strong leadership and a lot of exercise, like an hour walk every single day at least.

    Now, I’m not saying you have done anything wrong because I don’t know your full story. You said you have done everything you can, so I just wanted to give you something to consider. You obviously love your dog very much, and I am so sorry you have to make such a difficult choice. I agree 100 percent that medicating him is not the answer. That is not a life for a dog. And a life in confinement is not a life, either.

    Please keep me posted.

  59. I have a Jack Russell named Arlo that has been with me for five years. He has shown aggression towards other people for about the last three years. I started working with a trainer in Austin who put him into isolation training. So he is now crate trained and stays in his crate 24/7 except for food and exercise. This has been going on for over a month.

    The problem is, according to my trainer, he hasn’t been ready for “phase 2” of the training, as he will still bite me (with muzzle on) when I correct him.

    I am moving from Austin to San Angelo in less than a month. The nearest trainer that works with aggressive dogs will be 2 hours away. I am afraid to take Arlo with me as I will be living with other people and another dog and he is not completely rehabilitated. My fear is he will bite someone and have to pay the ultimate price.

    My other fear is I can’t find another option for him. I asked my trainer to take him in and rehabilitate in house so he can be adopted, but she has no room for him. I can’t just adopt him to anyone as he has aggression issues and who knows what would end up happening…

    I’ve contacted the breeder, but they will not return my emails or calls. I do know that his dad was very aggressive.

    I emailed JRT rescue of Texas, and about a dozen other rescues, but they do not take aggressive animals.

    I want Arlo to have a second chance. I am angry and heartbroken about the situation. I don’t want to fail Arlo. His behaviors go far beyond my skill level. I am running out of options, but I can’t fathom driving him to the vet to be euthanized. I want him to work with someone with the experience and ability to rehabilitate him. Unfortunately time and money are not on our side.

    Sad situation. I wish I wasn’t part of the problem, but I shouldn’t have denied that it was a problem for so long and sought help sooner.

  60. Lindsay Stordahl

    Gosh, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this and I wish I had a solution but I don’t.

    I do believe he can be rehabilitated, but only if time and resources are available. It sounds like he has neither. I’m not exactly sure how aggressive he is, but you don’t want to be living with a ticking time bomb. It’s not worth a serious injury to a human.

    Thanks for admitting that you were part of the problem. The owner is often at fault and usually in denial. Still, I know you love your dog and have always wanted what is best for him.

    I’m sure you’ve asked all of these rescues if there are any other rescues/trainers they would recommend? And can your trainer recommend any other trainers who might be able to take him? Could there possibly be a trainer in San Angelo who could help and lives closer than two hours away?

    Personally, I would never keep a dog in complete isolation under any circumstance. That is no life for a dog. Jack Russell terriers need a lot of exercise, like 10 miles of running per day. And they are intelligent dogs. Having no outlet for his mental and physical energy will only frustrate him further.

    I really do wish you the best. Thank you so much for sharing.

  61. Thanks for the kind words Lindsay. This has been one of the hardest times in my life. Fingers crossed that we can work out a solution for little Arlo. I’ll never have another dog if I fail this one. I don’t deserve the privilege.

  62. Lindsay Stordahl

    Best of luck to you! I hope something works out, but be safe. Trust your instincts and do what you know is best.

  63. To Kat

    These stories are so sad. I always feel for everyone involved, including of course the dog. A life in a crate is no life, and a biting dog is no pet. Seems euthanasia would actually be the kindest thing in this case. Once your vet does it, Kat, I think you will feel relieved and that you did the right thing. It was not necessarily your fault, if you adopted this dog well after puppyhood and if he really comes from an aggressive gene line. Genes are truly powerful (see the NOVA segment on foxes and wolves–changed my thinking forever), and sometimes no amount of absolutely vital early socialization and tons of exercise will tame a biting animal. Be safe, and take care. ~Kim

  64. Hi Lindsay,
    Hope all is well with you. Just thought I’d let you know that my little pooch is hanging in there pretty well. I so sympathize with the various dog owners that write in here. If Jacky, the beastie-boy, tended to bite even me, that would probably be the end of him, but thank God he only wants to eat others, children, squirrels, etc. Hence the muzzle on every single exit from the home. I feel so sorry for him at times: he really seems to have a deep, deep issue. Aged 11 now & adopted, as you’ll recall, he’s been with me for 16 months, gets 2 decent walks every single day plus several other shorter outings and fun things at home, and STILL he goes ballistic at certain stimuli. Screeching and running kids particularly rile him up, as well as the mere sight of other dogs. The muzzle and a very attentive hold on the leash are what lie between Jacky and the needle. For warmer weather, I am using a basket muzzle, more air flow. The nylon one is really fine, too; he manages to bark lustily and pant despite it. The basket muzzle is great, by the way, for beasties that like to eat yuchy things off the ground (no doubt you know this already — but for others, maybe a good tip). Have a good day, Lindsay.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Kim, thanks for the update! I’m glad Jacky is doing OK. Thanks for taking such good care of him!

  65. I had to Euthanize my Shepard/Mix yesterday. Dan was a rescue dog who we adopted 10 months ago. We were told that he was 14 weeks old when we adopted him. He was on the small emaciated side. When I brought him to the vet, I was told he was more like 6 months old. I was familiar with dogs and already owned a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Dan had issues right from the start, mostly involving food agression and territorial problems. We worked with him all the time. He seemed to be getting better accept with the food, so we enlisted the help of a trainer who was well experienced with Shepards. We put Dan on a very strict regiment, he was crated from the day we bought him. He was not allowed in our bedrooms. We tried to re-establish the pack order in the house. It was not until we had him 6 months when he bit my wife and I on the same day. There would be four more biting incidents. Some involved food, some territorial, and one simply unprovoked and un -predictable. This dog had character and was a great dog 99% of the time. We went two months without any incident and it seemed like we were making great progress. He put on weight and his demeanor seemed to mellow where he was always relaxed. Then he bit my daughter on the hand- unprovoked followed by a loud growl. She is an adult. We struggled with our decision. After discussing with the trainer and our vet we had to put Dan down. We could not risk him biting our kids in the face or causing further damage. Both my wife and daughter had to go on anibiotics after the bites. It was one of the hardest days of my life bringing him to the Vet. I have worked in Emergency Services for 30 years, and have never cried as much as I did on that day. We knew Dan probably had a tough first 5 months growing up on the streets and being in shelters. These were important developmental months for him and he was not socialized correctly. We were told that we were playing catch up with him, and his behaviour would probably continue to excacerbate itself in different areas everytime we corrected one. We know we made the correct and responsible decision. We did not have the means and resources to train dan 24/7 which is what the trainer said would probably take just to maintain his good behavior. The dog would never be able to be trusted. I stayed with Dan until he was gone. It was the toughest thing I have ever gone through, but I was with him and he did not die alone in some cold shelter.

    Thank You

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you so much for sharing your story about Dan. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I know you made the best choice for your family as well as Dan. I can tell you loved him very much, understood him and knew when to help him go. You gave him the best possible life he could’ve had.

  66. Hi Lindsay,
    Long time no talk! How are you and your pups? Fred & I are very well, enjoying the park these summer months. But I have a problem! What have you ever used that works well to stop a dog from barking? I got a complaint from a neighbour yesterday, distressing! Today I am going to look for a nylon muzzle that will keep Fred’s mouth more closed as we exit and enter the building–those are the only problem zones for barking. (In the park, he wears the basket, to stop eating from the ground, and he can bark freely with that, but there, it is OK.)

    Thanks so much for any suggestions! Also, what do you think of the devocalization operation?

    Kim

  67. Lindsay Stordahl

    A lot of dogs are calmer and quieter with the nylon-type muzzles on. Others are not.

    You could get an electronic anti-bark collar which would give him a vibration when he barks. You would of course want to reward him with food the second he stops barking. I’ve seen some dogs that have responded very well to these collars. They become much calmer, happier dogs because they are in relaxed state of mind. They get to go out and enjoy themselves more often.

    I’m sure you’ve considered this, but if he is food motivated, just distract him with hotdogs or chicken or whatever his favorite food is when you are walking through those problem zones. Teach him a command such as “watch” and reward him for looking at you.

    I am not in favor of devocalization operations. It seems inhumane to me when there are so many other options. Now, does that mean it should never be considered? Of course not. Every dog and every situation is different. I would use it as a last resort. And in Fred’s case, I know he has a lot on the line because of his aggression issues, so if this devocalization surgery would help keep his behavior in check, then maybe it would be worth it.

    Glad you two are doing well! Ace and I are enjoying our summer time outdoors, too.

  68. Thanks, Lindsey, for the quick and detailed reply! I do use food to distract, but even that, in certain situations like close-contact in hallways, does not work. You know Fred. Alas. I am hoping that I can find a muzzle that fits him just that bit tighter around the snout, so as to muffle his volume in the halls, keep his mouth more closed. The vibration collars put me off–I have never tried them but don’t resonate to the idea. Maybe I should consider them. Absolutely, devoc would be a sad, last resort. I hate the idea, too, but if that or the needle were his only 2 options… I LIKE that Fred barks in the big park when a strange man gets too close to us! He is a truly great little body guard, and I weigh only 99 pounds! No, I will not do devoc.

    I think that since I own my co-op apt. and am basically very considerate and abiding by all rules and not taking Fred out too early or too late, we will be OK. You know, the kids in the building truly make more and longer noise than Fred and the other barkers!

    Thanks for writing to me, Lindsay. I’m glad you and Ace are well!

  69. I keep seeing articles like this that seem fine with euthanizing animals because they are aggressive. Why are humans putting their stupid lives above that of animals? Humans have no more right to life than any other creature. It makes me sick to constantly hear the disregard for animal life. Humans capture animals, train them for generations to make them submissive, then kill them at the drop of a hat if they do something a human doesn’t like. It’s no better than slavery. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously a selfish person.

  70. How do we euthanize a dog who is so aggressive the vet cannot get close to her? She’s a Queensland Heeler, 8yrs old and starting to slow down. Extreme aggression and we’ve done training, everything books and people have suggested. We are very careful with her as she has bitten both my husband and I. Keep her confined when we have company. Walk her daily which she loves and she loves riding in the car – barking at people. We have thought of euthanizing her but haven’t had the heart to do so. In any event, as she ages and there will come a point when she needs medical treatment we are left with a dog that the vet cannot get near. Is there any way, legally, to euthanize your own dog when the time comes for her to go to doggie heaven? I believe for her the most humane way would be to have my husband give her the shot since she loves him and he is allowed to touch and pet her. We live in Southern California.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m not sure what the laws are on that. That would be a good question to ask a vet. Otherwise, you would have to look into tranquilizing her first or something like that. I can understand why you would not want to go that route.

      Can she see a vet if she wears a muzzle?

  71. To Rich;

    Thank you for your story. I am a multiple pet household and took in a dog a year ago that my vet thought might be ferrel. I have been in denial of this and just thought she was abused and that my patience, love, training and routine would change her. She was not a puppy when we got her but young enough that I thought she could change. All my dogs and cats have been rescues. Sadly I will be taking her to the vet tomorrow to be euthanized. She has not bit me, but has jumped our fence and aggressively gone after children, my other dogs, our visitors and has killed one of my cats. The hardest part for me is that I feel like I failed her. She is sweet towards me but does not always trust me. I have cried for several days, but do know this is the best for my other pets (especially my senior dog) and my neighbors.

    And for Peggy;

    The dog that I have been talking about is an 85 pound Akita mix. She will not go into a car, under any circumstance. I had asked my vet to come out to the house to do this; he was not comfortable with that just in case anything went wrong. He gave me a frequently used sedative, you may want to ask your vet about it when the time comes.

    Thanks to all the understanding people on this website; it is a very difficult and gut wrenching decision to make. No one should be so easily to judge others until they can walk a day in their shoes.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Jen,

      I am very sorry you have to make such a hard decision. I believe I would make the same choice if I were in your shoes. It sounds to me like you are doing the right thing. Take care.

    2. Jen,
      I am sorry about your situation. I’m sorry in my delayed response as well. Two weeks after I put my dog down two pitt Bulls with a history of aggression killed a 9 year old girl in the city in which I work. It was at this point that I knew my family and I made the right decision for us in putting Dan to sleep. When our trained and Vet both agreed he needed to be euthanized we could no longer be in denial. The vet told me, we could euthanize him now, or after he bites someone in the face, but it was inevitable it had to be done. I am sure the case was the same with you as well. It is a difficult decision, but a responsible one as well. Not all dog aggression is the same and in many circumstances the dog can be retrained. however the comes a point when euthanizing your dog is a matter of protecting your family as well as yourself from liability.

  72. Hi. Thanks for this post. This is an extremely important subject for me.

    I am extremely uncomfortable around dogs. My mom’s dog, who is 11 this year, is one of the most frighteningly aggressive dogs I have ever been around. I grew up being afraid that he would bite me. He was the first dog I’d ever had and the only dog I grew up with.

    When he was young, he was pretty good. We would take him on wailks and he was well-behaved. This is something I’d say was always positive about him, and even today, he can behave on a walk. I would occasionally give him a bath and brush him.

    Somewhere, though, he changed. He began to hate baths so much that he would lunge at my mother and not let go if she tried to bathe him. He would become aggressive if you even attempted to brush him. The vets had to administer general anesthesia when we were finally able to take him to get groomed.

    What scared me was about 10 years ago, my little brother was petting him, and he lunged and bit him in the face. He narrowly missed my brother’s eye. Since then, he had become so destructive that we cannot leave anything out. If we try to take anything from him, he will attack us. He has bitten every single member of my family and my boyfriend. I have a scar where he bit me when I was petting him.

    A couple of months back, he got out when he wasn’t supposed to, so my boyfriend and I went to go get him. My boyfriend patted his knee and called forhim, and then the dog lunged at my boyfriend and snarled, chasing him through the house and finally getting a hold of his leg. I could not stop him. I was so scared I started crying. We did nothing but try to call him over and he just went berserk.

    My mother does not think he is dangerous. I literally do not have people over anymore because I am afraid he will bite them, too. I have told her that I am too scared to try to take him to dog training or dog obedience school (he hates cars), and so she tells me to just deal with it, and that considering euthanesia is cruel. But I think it’s crueler to put your family and other pets at risk. He can be nice sometimes, but as he’s gotten older, the times when he’s nice are outnumbered by the times he’s aggressive and destructive.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I am guessing that your mom is adding to his aggression by nurturing him when he is unstable. That’s too bad that she is putting a dog before you and her other family members and even herself. This dog is a serious liability and she could face a lawsuit if he ever bites someone who decides to report it. The right thing would be to get professional training with a trainer who will come to your house. The other reasonable option would be to put the dog down.

      1. Thank you for the reply!

        I am willing to look and do what I can before we resort to something like putting him down. How can I usually go about finding someone specialized in working with dogs like that?

        Even though I’ve told my mom that I feel like the best option for the sake of everyone’s safety would be to humanely put him down. It would be extremely hard for me, and everyone, especially my mom. I’ve recently had a cat put down because she was suffering from a miserable disease, and even then, I felt tremendously guilty, like I did the wrong thing, or took the easy way out, I guess.

        Thanks again.

  73. I am in mourning now over my Chihuahua that we just put down on Monday. I’ve been searching for answers before, and now after, looking for comfort or confirmation on my decision. I’m grateful to find it.

    I heard of him in his previous owners’ home being thrown across the room and striking a coffee table (by the man). The story was that he just laid on the floor stunned and afterwards limped as if in pain. The owners’ did not get him vet care (and did not intend to), and being a huge lover of animals and rescuer, I coaxed the woman to let me “take him to the vet.” Then, afterwards, I convinced her that he was too much trouble for her having her hands full with a new baby. It worked, and we took him in not knowing anything about him. He was 11 pounds when we got him. At his vet check last month, he was 19 pounds (yes, I called him “Fat Chihuahua” — the breeder needs to be investigated, in my opinion).

    I got him vet care, and he soon became part of the family but biting everyone in the house except me. He was sweet to me, but a high-anxiety dog. He immediately became attached to me, always wanting me in his sight or near him. If crated, he would just whine and bark incessantly (for hours!). Any time anyone came in the house, he barked incessantly and then went for the attack. After he bruised everyone with a painful bite– some of them more than once (family and visitors alike), I finally learned that the command “no” turned him around on a dime. So, I thought I had this in the bag. He spent every day sleeping under the blanket between my legs on the couch while I worked all day on the laptop. Of course, I had to be vigilant in restraining him when people came into the house. It was stressful, but do-able, for the first 11 months.

    Then, about two months ago, he started aggressively attacking my 10-year-old, male Llasa Apso. The Llasa is very laid back and just sleeps all day. He has arthritis in his back. He and the Chi clearly did not like each other from the start, but they just avoided each other. Recently, the Chihuahua attacked the Llasa every time the Llasa came near me. There was never any warning (stance, growl, etc.) — he just pounced and viciously bit the Llasa before I knew what was happening — many bleeding ear wounds for the Llasa over the past several months. To make matters worse, our female, 9-pound Dachsund/Min Pin mix (resued from the humane society) would get in on the attack on the Llasa (every time!) and not let go! Everyone who helped to break up these dog fights got bit every time.

    So, in distress, I started keeping the Chi and the Min Pin Mix on leashes in the house. If I left the room, they went with me to protect my Llasa (the younger dogs could not be trusted). However, as the story goes, because there are so many people in and out of my house, something was always bound to go wrong. Someone would forget to put the gate up or not have a dog in their control, etc. The Chi would get away with at least one vicious attack on the Llasa every week, and if the Min Pin was there, would also attack. So, my poor defenseless old dog suffered attacks by two young, energetic dogs at least once a week with bleeding wounds each time.

    Having had dogs since I was a child, and being a rescuer, I knew I could find an answer to rehab these dogs. I was not giving up. I am a dedicated, persistent dog owner. My Yorkie was aggressive, but we kept him till his dying day. I would never give up on a dog. However, everyone in my house was afraid of approaching (hugging) me for fear of a dog bite and had to be cautious when entering the room. I tried crating, training collars (vibration only), treats/positive reinforcement, searching for answers online, and finally a dog trainer.I walk and play with my dogs every day. The trainer had behavior modification training and believed we could do this. So, I did what she told me to do during the weeks, but the Chi seemed to get worse. I know he sensed my stress. Although I could keep him on a leash in my presence, I couldn’t really trust that my family would be vigilant with him when I was not around. My husband and kids told me that there was a noticeable change in my stress level. I was stressed in keeping the dogs under control, but I was also stressed with others in the house when they failed to do what was necessary to protect the Llasa, often resulting in my anger. I became a train wreck. The household was in an uproar, and the stress was thick.

    After months of researching, training, hoping, then an attack, I would torture myself with thoughts of having to put the Chi down. I’d cry for days thinking about it, there wouldn’t be a dog fight for a few days, and I’d get lulled into thinking there was hope again. Then, the next attack, and the cycle continued. I felt too sorry for the Chi to put him through re-homing not knowing how the next owner would treat him or tolerate him, or how he would act and then have to be re-homed again or worse. It was just not an option in my mind.

    Monday night, I had the two young dogs in my bedroom with the door closed while I was painting a cabinet. I was on the floor and one of my kids’ friends came into the room to ask me a question. I was talking to him and didn’t notice that my Llasa wandered into the room until I heard the frightening sounds of a dog fight. The Chi had pounced on him so quickly that I didn’t know what was happening (I never saw the Llasa come into the room until the dog fight). Then, the Min Pin Mix got in it. I was on the floor and could not fully reach them, because the cabinet door was open and preventing me from moving. I was twisting to reach them and finally broke up the Chi from the Llasa. But, much to my surprise, the Chi latched on to the Min Pin’s face (which they were always the best of friends!! He never showed aggression towards her before.) My husband came running by then and broke up that fight. The Min Pin had teeth marks at the top of her eyebrow and alongside her snout. The Llasa had a bloody ear again.

    After the fight, I realized that I had excruciating pain at the side of my knee. I’m afraid that I tore my MCL — today is Thursday and I am still limping in pain (cannot bend or twist my knee). My fingernail also bent way back so that it was bleeding. When my adrenalin is high in breaking up a dog fight, I don’t realize my injuries (whether a dog bite or this) until after the fight is broken up. This is when I made my fateful decision. I knew I couldn’t wait another day because I would change my mind again. I had my husband call the vet and take him over. It’s not because I’m an uncaring dog owner that I didn’t be with him till the end. It’s because I’m so loving and soft-hearted that I couldn’t have done it or would have been tortured (like I am now anyway).

    I’ve been crying since Monday night (devastated, uncontrollable crying bouts). I haven’t worked in days and can’t even talk to people. I know it was the right decision in my heart, to protect people and my Llasa. As one reply that I read stated, “It was a mature, responsible decision.” I just don’t know what else I could have done. I feel like I did all that I could within my power, resources, and knowledge; but I truly don’t believe he could have ever been trusted fully. I’m so heart-broken and second-guessing. I also feel so bad for all that I put everyone through (family and friends who were bitten and afraid). Thanks for listening. It’s so good to have a support system of people who know what I’m going through. :* (

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Jill,

      I am so very sorry for your loss. I know you did everything you could for that little dog. I hope you are at peace with your decision, and I hope you feel better soon.

    2. Jill, I am sorry you had to go through this situation. As someone who faced a similar circumstance, your guilt is normal but not necessary. It will take a little time but you will come to realize that your decion was the right one for both you, your family and your pet. Stop beating yourself up. What you did took a lot of courage and showed you are a responsible pet owner.

      Rich

  74. Lindsay and Rich,

    THANK YOU so much for your sympathy and empathy! I’m still very sad, but I’m starting to push my guilt over Brodie away. Every time I picture him, I start crying. (I’m doing it now — ugh). I miss him so much! I truly appreciate this forum to express my emotions and thoughts and have acceptance and understanding.

    I’m definitely doing a little better. Even thought I am very sad, I know in my heart that it was the best decision for everyone in my household. Since that fateful day, the stress level is non-existent. My remaining two dogs are so relaxed and pleasant now that their mourning period seems to be over. There hasn’t been one dog fight in the house since then. It’s a normal house again.

    The healing continues. The scars remain. Thank you again for your time and understanding. God bless you. ~Jill

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hey Jill,

      I am so sorry for your loss, but thank you for sharing the process with us. It is helpful for others who are going through a similar situation. I really don’t know what you are going through. I have never had to face that type of difficult decision.

  75. I’m trying to help save a 7-year Lab/Boarder Collie who has been deemed aggressive by his last owner. Diesel was medicated by his last owner for several years, his female owner became very ill and Diesel was reported to be aggressive towards the hospice workers. Due to the reported aggression I can not find a rescue to take him. I have three dogs of my own and two cats and I’m not in a postion to take in another dog, any ideas? I have placed him with a foster family, but they reported they felt unsafe with Diesel. I feel awful, Diesel seems fine with me, yet I can not take another dog :(.

  76. Mara, I am sorry but I think you already know the answer to your question. Some dogs with aggression can not be rehabilitated. The signs of aggression have been reported by three different sources. If this dog hurts someone, especially a child you will feel guilty the rest of your life. In addition, anyone who wants to claim this dog must be told of the aggression. I was in the same situation with my dog and was in denial for the longest time until he bit my daughter, unprovoked. Please be careful and above all truthfull to anyone who would like to take this dog.

  77. Lindsay Stordahl

    I agree. If he is in fact as dangerous as you say, it might be best for him to be put down. I suggest scheduling an appointment for him to be euthanized, then get someone to watch your own dogs on that day while you take him for a long walk and do all kinds of fun things with him. Then say goodbye. Just be safe and don’t put the dog before yourself or anyone else. Thank you for giving him a try.

  78. These stories make me so sad and i can relate to all of them. After the loss of my lab/sharpei mix 4 years ago i finally decided on having a new doggie join our family. after searching all over for a dog that could work for our family I decided on a beautiful and cuddly long haired dachshund. Well, Loui looks like just the sweetest thing but is not. On the second day of being home he developed a dislike for my brother. He snapped on him and we understood it was because of being under new circumstances. But the agressive behavior towards my brother has not stopped. We have now had Loui for 4 months and his behavior has only gotten worse. He has killed our little cockatiel, bitten my fiancee and tonight he bit my 7 year old sister on the side. Living with Loui is like livi g with a ticking time bomb and i never know what to expect. He can be the sweetest thing to me and snapthe next. I was told by a rescue 2 months ago that taking him to the vet and putting him down would be the best thing. i cannot even bare the thought of that. He was most likely abusedin his old home and has a hatred for men. I wish there was something elese i could do but at this point there are such few options. He is so upredictable. He doesnt not even want to go for walks anymore. I wish i didnt have to make this hard of a choice

    1. Mari,

      I really feel for you. I know the pain of indecision and potential loss. (My story is posted on this site.) The only advice I can offer is to do all you can first (while protecting people and animals), so that you don’t feel the looming guilt of “did I do everything I could to save him.” You need help with this.

      My vet told me that I should put Brodie down. I refused, because I didn’t feel like I did everything I could for him. If I did it when she suggested, I would still feel that looming sense of “I should have done more.” I utilized a behavior modification trainer, and while Brodie’s obedience got better, his aggressive behavior (and protection of me) became worse.

      If possible (considering your willingness, time, and finances), consult with a behavior modification trainer in your area to assess and work with him first. If behavior modification doesn’t work for him, at least you’ll know in your heart that you did all you could for him. Hopefully, you’re using a crate to keep him and all others safe.

      Re-homing him with a single female might be an answer for you. I didn’t think it was for Brodie, because my fear of him potentially being abused, neglected, and in another unstable situation didn’t sit right with me. If he bit other people (and there’s no doubt in my mind that he would), who knows what would have happened to him. I couldn’t bear that thought.

      Although the outcome for Brodie and me wasn’t what I hoped, I know in my heart I did all I could. It was the right decision even though I miss him terribly and still cry to this day for him. It’s never an easy decision, but it is a right decision in certain situations. The stress level for me and my family is so much better today. Calm and peace have returned to the household.

      Hope this helps, and I will be praying for Loui, your family, and you. Jill

  79. My dog is snaps and just has aggressive spells rally often . She is a Lab border collie cross.
    I have tried everything I can think of. Please I have little kids in the family and if it goes to far they might get hurt !

    1. Molly,

      I can hear the desperation in your post. Have you tried a behavior modification trainer (different from obedience training — depending on your time and finances, of course)? You definitely need someone with experience to help you determine the best course of action for your dog. It might be worth a few dollars one time just to have him assessed by a behavior trainer.

      If the dog has bitten your children, I think your decision to remove him from the household is clear. Perhaps you can find him a good home with a single person willing to deal with his behavioral issues?

      I wish you the best in determining the right thing to do for your family, others, and your dog. ~Jill

  80. Thank you all for sharing your stories.

    We adopted a lab/shepard mix at 4 months old about 4 years ago, Nellie.

    I was very good at socializing and exercising her as a puppy. I would take her to the dog park and/or petsmart at least weekly.

    She was always a bit of a bully at the dog park – but she never hurt any of the other dogs. Her walks became a chore and REALLY unpleasant as she got bigger so we paid a trainer to work with us.

    Despite the training, gentle leaders and all sorts of contraptions she never did get the concept of NOT pulling and after a pretty nasty knee injury the walks/runs all but stopped.

    Our weekly visits to the dog park became less and less frequent as well because she would go bananas in the parking lot…jumping/pulling/flipping around (even with a gentle leader on) and barking all the way to the entry gate (she matured to 65 lbs.)

    Her aggression at the dog park also became concerning. She would pin smaller dogs and nip at the larger ones. It made me so uncomfortable that the last time I brought her I had her muzzled…that seemed to make her more aggressive with the smaller dogs.

    I should mention we had a dwarf rabbit before we adopted her. The rabbit had full run of the house (he was litter trained) and I never worried about him because he could outrun her. There were occasions when he would hop up to her and they would touch noses…but if Nellie moved even an inch the rabbit would run away. I mention this because she of course would try to chase him.

    Last fall I had her connected to a run anchored in two large trees and harnessed while I did yardwork with my kids. A neighbor was walking by with her small dog on a long lead and allowed the her dog to venture into our yard – about 10 feet from Nellie’s extended lead. She lost her mind, barked and flipped like a maniac and actually snapped the run wire from the tree. Luckily I was able to pull her off but she managed several puncture wounds and the dog needed stitches.

    We raised our “security” for her – no more runs, secure (not break-away) collars, house gates, etc. and we even scraped up the money to fence in the yard (literally dug the first post hole last Tuesday).

    Friday night my daughter’s friend was leaving and didn’t shut the door all the way. Nellie escaped and while I was driving around our neighborhood looking for her she wandered in to a neighbor’s yard and just about killed their yorkie. The owner of the yorkie was kicking her, at one point pinned her down by her neck with his foot, but there was no stopping her – she was going to kill that dog. She never once turned on the owner and once contained and their dog safely taken inside he told me it was disturbing how docile she was immediately afterward.

    I was absolutely devistated. Thankfully, the yorkie is going to live…but suffered broken ribs, a punctured lung and several bite wounds/lacerations.

    We’re now being held liable for over $3000 in medical bills (which hopefully our homeowner’s insurance will pay), facing possible charges by the state’s attorney’s office – those will probably be a small fine and requirement to register her as a “dangerous dog” and our Community Association will ask us to move if we keep her (it’s against the community bylaws to own a dog registered as “dangerous”).

    All of this pales in comparison to how bad it would be if that poor dog had died or suffered permanent injury. Worse yet, our neighborhood has tons of kids and cats/small dogs…the thought of a child instinctively grabbing their pet and getting caught in the middle makes me dizzy with fear.

    I’ve contacted every rescue within our state and surrounding states, visited our vet and our trainer. No rescue or sanctuary will take her because of the “potential risk”, medication will help but under no uncertain terms can we ever trust her 100%, and like someone else here mentioned – the trainer warned that we may be able to solve the small animal aggression but it was likely to reappear with a different target. General consensus: euthanasia.

    I’m am beside myself with the guilt, self-blame and utter despair like all of you express here with your situations. I’m taking her tomorrow to put her down, and my heart is just broken.

    1. Christy,

      I totally empathize with your situation. I feel so badly for you. Sounds like you’ve done all you can for your dog. I know what it feels like to have absolutely no control over the situation, especially when it leads to so many consequences for others and you. Sounds like you’ve made a responsible decision, and I will be praying for you and your family as you go through this difficult time. ~Jill

  81. Thank you for these stories, reading them is helpful after recent events with our beloved family dog.

    We adopted him at 8 weeks of age from a shelter, he was fairly ill with kennel cough at the time. We tried to do things the “right” way and engaged in 6 months of obedience training with him and socialized him early. We regularly engaged in puppy playtime at the Humane Society as well as visiting the dog park. However, despite obedience training, behavioral problems started to crop up. Some of them may have been related to us not knowing how to best give him boundaries and structure (first time dog owners). We did our best to get this figured out. However, more serious problems developed, namely resource guarding. He would steal items and then snarl and snap at us when we went to retrieve them. We tried to always “trade up” for a better item but he was a very smart dog and I think he figured out that if he stole items he could get a treat out of it so this really wasn’t all that helpful. The aggression was escalating despite consulting with trainers at the Humane Society so we hired a behaviorist to come to our home. She gave us a training program to follow that involved keeping him muzzled, avoiding even looking at him unless he was behaving properly. She emphasized complete enviornmental control – virtually impossible to achieve with young children in the house. These methods seemed to make things worse, if anything. The behaviorist told us to rehome the dog. This did not sit well with me as I was so dedicated to helping this dog and felt like having had him since he was a baby that we should be able to work it out. Also, I felt her view was a little rosy – had I brought him to a shelter as she suggested he would likely have been euthanized there.

    Eventually things escalated so that he attacked me in a resource guarding situation. It was very scary but fortunately I was able to slip out of my hoodie and get away from him with some bruising/abrasion injuries. He was a rottweiler mix and therefore a big dog (should add that the shelter we adopted him from told us he was a beagle mix – whoops!). At this point it seemed we wouldn’t be able to make things work but an opportunity cropped up to send him to boot camp. Not my first choice for training options overall but we really felt it was his last chance at this point.

    Boot camp worked wonders. The trainer said he was particularly tough to train and suspected that he had just been born with a more challenging, independent minded temperament. Things weren’t perfect but the trainer worked with us and our dog and eventually we were able to settle into a nice, mutually respectful relationship. He was such a social, friendly guy who loved people and other dogs. Most of the time. He had some territorial tendencies and didn’t respond well to delivery people. He developed fear aggression at the vet’s office which was so hard to see as it brought back such bad memories of his “dark teenage days.” Recently I had cut back on our dog park trips because of his tendency to still exhibit resource guarding at the dog park – he loved to play keep away with another dog but if a third dog tried to join in he would tend to attack them. He exhibited good bite inhibition with no injuries until recently when he gave two dogs a small puncture wound. I was so hypervigilant watching for triggers for this behavior, it was stressful. I always tried to be so vigilant with him, although he was great with our kids and neighbor kids I know the rule is to never take that for granted.

    A few days ago we were out in the yard, the kids were playing with the neighbor kids and our dog was relaxing in the yard with us. The neighbor mom and I were right there. All of a sudden, our dog ATTACKED the neighbor boy. It was horrifying. He is so much bigger than the boy. It took me a moment to understand what was happening as it was so inconceivable to me. The attack was self-limiting and I must say that our dog used decent bite inhibition in that he did not break the skin but left teeth mark bruises on the boy’s cheek and shoulder.

    We didn’t see a provoking event but I have no doubt there was one. Unfortunately, this 5 year old boy is the one I try to keep an extra close eye on as he has demonstrated poor dog sense/boundaries – I’ve caught him picking on the dog before. Perhaps they shouldn’t have been outside together – but we were all outside together every single day. Our dog was seemed so sad if he couldn’t join the crowd. My thought is that regardless of a provoking event we can’t have a dog who will react so dramatically to it, as unfair as that is. I already do my best to be vigilant with him but will always have somewhat divided attention given that we have two kids (and two cats) as well. He was such an outgoing, social dog, a life with strict restrictions would be torture for him. Additionally I can’t imagine how bad the social implications would have been in the neighborhood and with our friends who have children. I did call the dog trainer who worked with him who agreed that at this point, given his difficult history, euthanasia was the recommended option.

    We took him in for euthanasia about two hours after the event. I stayed and held him in my arms. For the first 24 hours I was devastated but felt confident that I had proceeded with the only true, responsible option. But now the doubts and guilt have set in. I suspect that anyone who witnessed the horrifying sight of my dog on this vulnerable child would have proceeded the same way. But I loved this dog so much. I would have done just about anything for him. But we could never have trusted him again and are not in a position to have 101% control of him. Nor do we know anyone who could have done it for us. I feel I chose to put child safety over my love for me dog. I wish things had gone differently. I am literally sick with grief. 🙁

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. You loved your dog very much and you had to do what was right to protect your family and others. You gave him a good life.

    2. Rachel, sorry for what you had to go through with your dog. I can tell you not to feel guilty but you will have to come to that relization on your own. I have no doubt that you will. In my posts above I talked about the Pitt Bulls killing a young child soon after I put my dog down. I knew then that it was the right choice. Your life will be less stressful now…I know that for sure. The tension that is caused by a dangerous dog is high, and you do not realize how stressed you really are until you deal with the problem responsibly. You and your family and innocent people must come first before the dog. It sounds cold but that is how it was explained to me by my vet and a professional trained. These people are pros and know more than me and I trust them to offer good advice. On top of it, they are animal owners as well, so they do care. Good Luck and give yourself a break.

    3. Rachel,

      I’m so sorry for your difficult decision and loss of your beloved pet. I know exactly how you feel — not only grieving your dog but also the guilt and regret that results from having to make that decision.

      It sounds to me that you did absolutely everything you could think of to help the dog and protect others, and yet you still had no control over the situation. In that, you should rest the thoughts of your decision to do the only responsible thing left to do. If the dog attacked a five-year-old child in the face (!!), it is possible that the local authorities would have forced you to do it eventually anyway (perhaps at the next attack? or the next?).

      I was heartbroken and guilty for about two months over the chosen loss of my aggressive dog, but Rich is correct in telling you that you will soon realize this stress is gone, and you will eventually be grateful for it. Just recently I said to my adult son, “I’m still sorry having had to put Brodie down.” And my son (who is an absolute animal lover) replied, “But he hurt people.” You should keep that in mind when your thoughts pour guilt on you. You did the responsible dog-owner thing. Grieve the loss of your dog, but work out the guilt quickly so you can enjoy your family and life again.

      You will be in my prayers,
      Jill

    4. Oh Rachel,
      I’m so sorry to hear your story.
      I can tell you from my own experience, you really gave it your all. In fact, as I read your story, I kept reflecting on everything you did do that I did not do for my dog early on and yet we both ended up in the same horrible spot.
      It’s been almost 3 weeks since I had to put our dog down – I promise – it gets better.
      You simply had no other choice.
      Best wishes to you and your family-
      Christy

  82. Thank you. These supportive words mean a lot to me. I am sure I will have to read them again from time to time when the guilt surges. One woman from the vet’s office told me “No one is really to blame for this. Don’t blame the boy, don’t blame the dog, and don’t blame yourself. It was simply a terrible accident.” So I try to remind myself of this. Just a perfect storm of factors that led up to it happening, and if it hadn’t happened this time, it likely would have a different day.

    So hard. Best wishes to anyone else suffering the loss or potential loss of their dog.

  83. I have an 11 ½ year-old Italian Mastiff (Jack) who has occasionally shown signs of territorial aggression, which seem to be getting worse as he gets older. He is also partially blind and is pretty hard of hearing, and is showing signs of progressive aging such as being very thin and having a hard time getting up. He typically is only this way (aggressive) when we are not home, or my husband is not home. He seems to be protective of me and of our home. He mostly stays outside in our 3 acre yard, and very rarely crosses out of our property line. His aggression typically goes like this (when I have witnessed it anyway.) Someone pulls into our yard, he doesn’t recognize the car, starts barking like crazy and jumping up barking next to their car. Since he is about 120 pounds and has a very loud and scary sounding bark, of course people are usually fearful and exhibit signs of this fear. As soon as I hear him barking, I immediately go outside and tell him to come, and he’ll usually come right over, maybe after a few more barks. This is when I am home. However, we have heard stories as well from when we are not home. We live in a small subdivision where people walk by our home usually several times a day when it is nice out. We heard a story from a neighbor about a year ago that they were riding bike on the road and he ran all the way down past our property line and ran them into the ditch. The just of it is he acts aggressively toward people visiting (sometimes, not always) when no one is home such as delivery people, but only intimidates and looks scary to those who don’t know him. He has only gone out of our property line once or twice to intimidate. However, yesterday, we came home and he had just had an incident with a neighbor. The neighbor said he was walking by and Jack barked and walked down the driveway toward him. He got just past our driveway and Jack came all the way down to the road and bit him on the pant leg. He said it didn’t leave a mark but just really scared him because he wasn’t sure what was going to happen. So now my husband says we have to euthanize Jack ASAP. Please tell me your thoughts on this and if you think the same or if he has any hope. The sooner the better. Thank you! -Ashley

    1. I should probably add that we do have two children, a 3-year old and a 6 month old. Since he is an outside dog he only has interaction with them when we are around and has never shown signs of agression towards them. However, since his is becoming deaf and blind I need to be 100% sure that he wouldn’t be startled by them. My dog is really a very sweet boy, and I love him very much. I’ve had him since he was a puppy and really don’t want to see him go this way. However, I love my children more and could never live with myself if something happened to them because of this. Please help with any advice!

    2. Ashley, With all due respect, your dog needs to be physically controlled, not allowed to roam freely (even on your property). He should not be able to roam off your property at all. From what you said, he is able to leave your property and go after the neighbors because he can. If he is free, he is able to attack passersby and frighten visitors. He should not be able to cross your property line or even enter the driveway where visitors enter. I believe you could avoid most of your problems by fencing him in (a physical barrier) or by keeping him on a lead. You could build him a run if you have a problem with the chain thing. Aren’t there leash laws in your area? Maybe I’m missing something.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Yep I agree 100 percent with Jill. This is not a dog that should be euthanized. This is a dog that should be fenced or leashed. I do not think he is likely to bite you or your children. He sees you as his pack or family members. But it does sound like he could very likely hurt a stranger, neighbor or visitor if he is not physically controlled. Not to mention, you are asking for a lawsuit.

  84. My beloved German Shepherd has come to this point and Im devestated 🙁 we had him since a pup and when my parents divorced he went to live with my dad, who became very ill with diabetes. He bit my dads landlord unprovoked, but even then we still wanted to give him a chance. It isnt until now, my dad lost his place because he cannot see and not work that my german shepherd has come to live with me. He went from a beautiful grassy yard, to being chained up and muzzled because I live with my boyfriends parents. He is anxious and unhappy being this way. This is no life for him, and I am beyond depressed because I cannot get him the resources he needs like training. I walk him everyday but he trys to attack my boyfriends family. I am beyond myself with guilt because I know it is my fault, i live in fear that he may hurt someone, but Im not sure if my psyche can handle putting him to sleep :,(

    1. Jessica, I’m very sad for your situation also. I would definitely try getting him to a Shepherd rescue. That’s really good advice. They would potentially have the resources he needs. Best wishes.

  85. Lindsay Stordahl

    Sorry you have to go through this, must be very hard. One thing you could consider is contacting a no-kill rescue group, preferably a German shepherd rescue group, to see if they could help you re-home him.

  86. That is really sad. I am sorry to hear that you and your dog are going through this. It’s so hard. I agree with the other posters. It sounds like while your heart is in the right place and you care for your dog, you just aren’t in a position right now to be able to provide for him the controlled, safe environment (safe for the humans too) and the training and behavioral modification he needs. His only real chance at life is to see if a rescue can provide him with that or if there is a dog trainer (or similar) out there who is willing to take him on as a pet. I can tell you, as someone who recently had to euthanize my dog, you need to do everything you can to give him a chance before you move to euthanasia. I hope that you will be able to find an opportunity for him. If not, I have to agree, that a life being muzzled and chained is no way to live. Good luck to you and your dog.

  87. i have an aggressive Pyrenees mountain dog. She wasn’t always that way. She got out of the yard a few years ago and we could not find her for 3 days. We finally found her at the local shelter, hunched in a corner like she’d been beat. She has never been the same since. She turned on her companion dog without notice. We had to separate and finally give away the other dog. She has become very aggressive towards people too. I have considered having her euthanized, but I feel like we are betraying her love and trust, because she is very protective and gentle with us. Not sure what to do. If we call the humane society to take her, she will become aggressive, I’m afraid she would have to be killed on site or worse yet bite the workers. Would love some advise.

    1. Mel, I really feel for you. I know what you’re going through. It sounds like you are trying different things to help manage your dog. Depending on how many resources you have, I would highly recommend doing all you feel you are able to do to help him with a behavioral trainer (make sure it’s not just an obedience trainer but one that has experience/expertise in behavior modification). I agree with all that Rachel says. Do all you can within your power so that you can successfully re-train him or rest knowing that this was beyond your control. I wish you the best. Jill

  88. Mel, sorry to hear you and your dog are going through this, it can be so hard. Has she bitten anyone? Is her aggression predictable (i.e. she always react to certain people/situations) or is it more sporadic? I think your best move at this point would be to hire a behaviorist, preferably a veterinary behaviorist. S/he may be able to give you some new insight into the aggression and a professional opinion on whether the dog can realistically be rehabilitated and how to do it. It’s so hard to have a dog who is loving at home but with serious aggressive issues with others. It sounds like you have some realistic insight into her behavior. My post is above, but we also had a dog who in most ways was a great dog, but we were struggling to manage some aggressive tendencies. I knew what his triggers were (i.e. going to the vet, certain situations would trigger resource guarding with other dogs, territorial aggression with delivery or service people, etc.). Knowing his triggers meant that while managing them was stressful, I could do it because I could anticipate when he would behave with aggression. Then one day he attacked a little boy. In doing so he crossed the line into unpredictable and of course when children are involved it changes things as they are so vulnerable. My point being that if her aggression is unpredictable it decreases the likelihood of safe management.

    I would agree that the Humane Society is not a good option in this case. She doesn’t sound like a dog who can be safely re-homed. If you decide you cannot keep her I think that the most humane thing would be to take her in to your own vet so you can do things in the least scary way with you by her side to comfort her. My dog had vet aggression but they were successful in sedating and euthanizing him without much drama. Alternatively you could contact your vet and ask if administering a medication prior to coming in is a good idea.

    Ugh. So tough. It sounds like you are a good mama to your dog. Best of luck, keep us posted.

  89. Hello…

    We rescued Beck from a Shepherd rescue group when he was approximately 10 weeks old and he is almost 5 years old now. We decided to rehome Beck when we had our son, who is now 6 months old. I gave him to a great, young newlywed couple that were searching for a companion for their Golden Retriever female dog. This was the perfect environment for Beck. I divulged to them very openly that Beck showed a lot of food and territorial aggression and that they would need to be careful and address that. (On a side note, I have had a trainer work with Beck and he told me that he was just wired this way and needed consistent training/ maintenance). Nonetheless, they fell in love with Beck immediately and I brought him over to meet their dog and to see how he would react to this environment. The female dog was territorial and growled a little when Beck got near, but Beck did not react in any negative manner. After a while they were doing fine together. We all decided that it seemed to be a great fit and environment for Beck. I checked in with them periodically and things were going great. It’s been over 2 months since he has been there and things were apparently going well, until I received a call telling me that Beck had been recently getting into fights with their dog more often and that he bit the wife after a bad brawl with their dog. To separate the fight, he grabbed the female dog and she grabbed Beck. After they broke them up, they say that Beck turned and attacked the wife- after the fight was over- causing her to get stitches. They called Animal Control and were told to keep him under house quarantine for 10 days, since he was up to date with all of his shots. Up to the point where we rehomed Beck, the trigger seemed to be food. They tell me that Beck’s aggressive behavior was becoming very unpredictable. No clear triggers.
    I’m glad he called me before sending Beck to a shelter, (we all know what would’ve happened since Beck has bitten a human), but, unfortunately, I can’t take Beck back into my home at this point due to his aggressive nature and the risk of him possibly attacking my 6 month old son (or anyone else).
    I spoke with the person that runs the rescue group here (she has dog-sat Beck and loves him, but is aware of his aggressive tendencies), and she informed me that she could not, under any circumstance, try to foster Beck because he has bitten a human. So, as you can see I have a very large dilemma in deciding what to do with Beck at this point. It’s very difficult to rehome a dog that has bitten another human being, and I am concerned that this aggressive nature will hurt someone else or another animal. Does anyone know if there are any rescue groups that take in aggressive animals like this and work with them? Is euthanasia the responsible thing to do at this point? If so, I want to be the one making the decision so I can ensure that it is completely peaceful for him. Any advice, suggestions, comments would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Joe, I’m so sorry to hear of your difficulty with a dog you nurtured for years. It seems that you did the best you could for your new family by re-homing him. Unfortunately, Beck doesn’t feel the same. He was in a home with two adults (assuming based on your story) for nearly five years, and then he was suddenly displaced (not “re-homed” to him) from the only real home he knows and placed with strangers and another dog to boot!

      Unfortunately, he bit the woman in a dog fight, but it seems that his bite was due to the chaos and adrenaline from the dog fight. I’m not seeing (based on your story) that he would just simply attack the woman unprovoked at this point.

      Unless you are willing to take this dog back and work with him, the only other options are as you suggested. Could you set up a run/kennel in your yard with a good weather-proof doghouse for him? This would prevent his interacting with your baby if you fear his biting the baby. If not, if you can find a shepherd rescue that will take him and work with him, that would certainly be the best for him. It seems your choices are limited based on your willingness and resources.

      I had a small dog many years ago with food aggression, and I took him for training for many months. This was one of the issues we worked very hard on. He would obey me when I told him the command not to take his food, but he would certainly attack the other dog we had in the house if that dog came near his food bowl. So, training is not always foolproof. A behavior modification trainer might be a better way to go, if you decide to train him.

      I wish Beck, your family, and you the best. I hope his life is spared and everyone lives happily ever after. Please let us know what you decide. ~Jill

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      Joe,

      I am sorry that you are in such a difficult situation. There are rescue groups out there that take in dogs that have bite histories. Sometimes when dogs go into the right home, they can do very well and live safe, normal lives. Obviously I really have no idea about Beck since I haven’t even met him, but it does sound like there are triggers – mainly possessiveness, which would trigger him to fight another dog. It doesn’t surprise me that he turned on the wife. When dogs are in an excited state of mind, they will sometimes lash out at whatever or whoever is there.

      But to answer your question, you could try to find a rescue group to take him. Based on what you’ve said, it does sound like he could be rehabilitated if he goes to someone with experience helping aggressive dogs. Be honest about his aggression if you try to place him with a rescue group. If you can’t find a rescue group, I understand how you would decide to euthanize him, and only you know if that is the right decision. Do not risk your son’s safety.

      Not sure if that is helpful. Thank you for your comment. Whatever you decide, I hope you can accept your decision without feeling guilty.

  90. Joe, I am so sorry to hear about this difficult situation. Are Beck’s new parents definitely ready to be done with him, given the circumstances? It certainly sounds like a one dog home would be more ideal but I was thinking it might be worthwhile to have a behaviorist do a home visit for assessment and advice if they are willing to try to work with him. Maybe you could offer to contribute financially to this consult? Just a thought.

    I wish I had some great piece of advice to offer you. Territorial aggression and food aggression are both issues that need to be managed in a controlled environment and training a dog with those issues is a process. Plus it sounds as though he has been “practicing” these behaviors for quite some time. Certainly Beck should always be fed separately from the other dog, etc. Does he have any human aggression? Is that part of the territorial aggression? Does the person running the local rescue understand that the bite of the woman was a matter of transferred aggression during a dog fight? From what you’ve written here it does sound like Beck’s home should be childless.

    These are just my brainstorming ideas. Short of finding a rescue who can take on Beck or finding the perfect person who can take him on (like a dog trainer) I think that quite sadly, euthanasia may end up being the option for you. Get a professional opinion before you go to this, though, so you can be sure. If his problems are unable to be managed then it is important to keep everyone safe and I can only assume that Beck is not having an easy time of it either. I am glad to hear that you are dedicated to making euthanasia as peaceful and loving as possible if you have to go that route. I’d suggest spending the day doing something he’d enjoy as well.

    Good luck to you and Beck.

  91. I came across this site today and thought I’d add my $.02 from the perspective of a long-time dog person.

    I have owned and trained with German Shepherd Dogs since I was a pre-teen (>40 yrs.) and have owned many over time, often two or more concurrently who have all coexisted peacefully. All of my dogs have been raised and have lived in the house as members of the family have been trained using primarily positive reinforcement. I have been involved in the sport of schutzhund (advanced obedience, tracking, protection) for many years and have trialed and shown at the regional and national level. In addition to training with my own dogs, I have been involved in rescue and working with shelters for many years, helping to assess, train, socialize and place dogs of all breeds who, in my experience, are often mislabeled as aggressive when most simply need structure. I would not consider myself a novice with dogs.

    I currently own a 2 1/2 year-old, male, healthy, OFA’ed dog whom I have had since he was approximately 11 weeks old. He is the only dog in our household which includes 2 cats and 2 adults, myself and my girlfriend, both of us are in our early 50’s. The dog’s issues with dominance/impulse aggression first manifest themselves occasionally as an adolescent, primarily with challenging behavior directed toward my girlfriend. We’ve managed it somewhat using normal behavior modification techniques…lots of obedience work (his obedience, btw, is excellent) and making the dog defer to us for everything…which has helped somewhat but not completely. As the dog has reached physical and social maturity his behavior has gotten worse. He has bitten her, hard enough to break the skin and require a doctor’s visit for antibiotics and has bitten me severely enough to require a trip to the emergency room…for trying to trim his nails. I have never had an issue trimming any of my dogs’ nails before nor did I with him prior to this incident. He has since come at me while trying to brush him as well and a couple of times for reasons only he knows. I can no longer groom or provide basic maintenance care for the dog without muzzling him and foresee a time when he will refuse to allow himself to be muzzled as well.

    Based on my observations, I believe the dog has anxiety issues that, when coupled with self-confidence, provide for a very dangerous combination, especially for a large, very strong dog. I mention self-confidence primarily to differentiate what I am observing from fear aggression in which I would expect the dog to retreat if possible. This dog does not retreat; he advances. I am convinced that this is an entirely genetic trait and that it comes from the sire as I am personally aware of several dogs, mostly males, who share almost identical issues despite having been whelped by different bitches and having been raised and trained in diverse households in different parts of the country.

    This is a dog whose potential for handler aggression makes him unsuitable as a police K9 and for whom re-homing would be irresponsible. At some point with some dogs who are dangerous to humans, someone has to be the adult and make the right decision. I have to be that someone for my dog.

    I’m sharing this information here hoping that it helps someone who is beating him/herself up for doing what needs to be done understand that as sad and tragic as it is, it is probably not your fault. Some dogs are just wired wrong and the more resources we waste on them the fewer we have to spend on those being euthanized in shelters every day who might have made perfectly wonderful, sociable companions and/or training partners.

    1. KC,

      Thank you so much for sharing your expert opinion here. It’s refreshing to hear from an experienced trainer saying, “Sometimes, it’s just what responsibly must be done.” It helps to take the guesswork out of it. It makes me feel better about the difficult decision I had to make (I believe that my dog was genetically disadvantaged coupled with his previous — prior to my — living environment), and I’m sure it will help many others looking for answers on this site.

      On a side note, I’m sorry about the difficult decision you must make also. You obviously have a big heart for shepherds. I wish you and your family the best in this regard.

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you, KC. Very valuable information. I am sorry to hear you have to go through this with your dog, but your comment will be a big help to others. For those of us in rescue work, sometimes it’s good for us to remember that we can’t fix every single dog. No amount of love can fix certain dogs. Some dogs really are just too dangerous for society.

  92. KC-

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. It is immensely helpful to me, especially as my dog’s temperament was so similar to what you describe. It is good that you have extensive dog experience so that you were able to readily recognize how very different your current dog is. Being first time dog owners, It is naturally my inclination to assume that it was something we didn’t do well enough in puppyhood led us down the path we were on but man, we sure tried to fix and manage his problems. Ultimately, we weren’t able to, and as you say, had to be responsible adults and do the heartbreaking but safest thing for humans. I miss him a ton, but we were able to adopt an adult lab/newfie from a dingy shelter and he is an amazing dog.

    I am so sorry to hear about your dog and all the difficulty and injury you have been through. It sounds as though you’ve given him a good life. Best wishes to you all.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Rachel, I’m so happy you were able to open your heart to another dog. So sorry about the loss of your first. Thank you for your comments here.

  93. I’ve been struggling with this decision for years. My husband and I have a rottweiler mix who we took in as a stray about 6 years ago. At first she was fine with my other dogs. Then she began to get in fights with a couple of my dogs in particular.We took great measures to keep her away from the others. We separated the front and back yards, which was quite expensive. She sleeps in the garage at night and we rotate dogs in our two yards. It’s stressful and complicated, but somehow we have managed. Still, one of us invevitably makes a mistake. Oops, we let the wrong dog out. Or there’s the occasional bite from under the fence that occurs. My dog lover friends have said there’s no other option but to euthanize and I ignore them. Shes such a wonderful dog otherwise and gets along great with my pyrenees and chihuhua mixes. I feel guilty that I’ve held on to her for so long only to take her life now. I also feel the guilt of the trauma that I’ve put my other dogs through. She lives isolated in the backyard most of the time. That’s not much of a life. A couple weeks ago she got a hold of my old blind and deaf dog under the fence. The wound wasn’t bad but it was bleeding. I just feel like I’ve run out of options. I feel as though it’s irresponsible to rehome her and take a chance that she hurts other animals. There’s no where to take her anyway. I’ve reached out to several groups. Seems the only humane thing to do is to euthanize. I just can’t imagine that drive to the vet. Thanks for listening.

  94. Anna,

    What a difficult situation! And one I am all too familiar with. My circumstances were very similar to yours, only involving small, indoor dogs. My story is above on this blog. Where your story involves fences, mine involved inside gates — keep two dogs in the living room with a gate to separate the one in the kitchen and vice versa. I was vigilant and constantly stressed, because someone else of the many in my household unknowingly would come along and open a door or move a gate resulting in a dog fight (two young dogs on my old, arthritic dog).

    Like you, I had to decide what was best for my family, myself, and my other dogs. Re-homing did not seem like a viable option for the aggressive dog, because he also bit many people. It was the hardest decision, and I cried for many months afterwards — questioning myself, feeling guilty, and missing him. But, on the bright side, the stress in the household became nil. The lack of stress is something you can only appreciate after the stress is gone.

    The only thing I might consider doing differently in your situation is keeping the aggressive dog fenced in one yard as his permanent home (and not doing the switching back and forth thing). Set him up well and remove all access for the dog under the fence (add chicken wire to the bottom of the fence or whatever works). He’s a large dog, and with the proper shelter, he should fare well outdoors. Give him toys that will stimulate him. Spend time with him alone in the back yard giving him love and attention as you have available (even just short intervals throughout the day), and then with the other dogs separately. It is not the worst thing in the world for a dog to live alone in a large yard, especially when he has such a loving owner. Dogs are animals, not people. But, when all is said and done, only you know if you can handle this type of lifestyle.

    I wish you the best in making your decision. It’s not an easy one. Jill

    1. Jill, I did read your story. And boy I could relate! Thanks so much for posting that and for your kind response.

      What I didn’t clarify in my original post (for simplicity’s sake) was how many dogs I have—all female dogs. Four share the front yard just fine. So that yard is taken. The back yard is for her (like a time share) and two others that can be out together, but not with her. There really isn’t another choice but to share the yard (just not at the same time). Gosh, it’s so complicated. I live in South Texas, which has the worst dog population problem I’ve ever seen. That’s why I have so many dogs–they’re just everywhere. Seems like I take one in every 2- 3 years. I’ve found homes for many I’ve rescued off the roads but the ones that I’m left with are dogs that are hard to place because they’re black or blind or deaf or too nondescript or whatever. I do what I can to make this situation work. But I worry so much about the future. What if I lost my job? What if I had to move? I’m really trapped here. That’s another reason I resist euthanasia. Seems like it’s an easy solution, an escape rather than the right solution.

      Well, thanks for the suggestions. She does seem like the happiest dog on Earth out there—I swear. Sometimes I look out and see her tossing a toy around by herself, having the best darn time. Or I see her soaking in the pool that I have out there for her (it’s so hot here!). If she has it bad, she doesn’t know it. She’s just so friendly and full of love. I’m tearing up just thinking about how lovely she is.

      Thanks again, Jill.

  95. Anna,

    It sounds to me as if you know what the most right thing to do is. Not long after I had to euthanize my dog, I heard someone say “Just because we do right, doesn’t mean we get to feel right.” That helped me to remember the logic of my decision and at least feel confident I had done the most right thing even though I was absolutely heartbroken. Your dogs are lucky to have you. You obviously have a huge heart for animals and have really done your best to accomodate a difficult situation. It sounds as though you have explored options for her and not found a viable one. It’s not fair to anyone – you, your rottie mix, or your other dogs. Dogs can be so tricky and sometimes despite our best efforts we just cannot keep everyone safe and keep the dog too. You have given this dog a good life, no doubt she knows she is loved. It is good she has been with you and not someone else, oftentimes dogs with aggression issues are mistreated.

    Your second post about her being friendly and full of love makes me cry. The details of our situations are different but we too had a rottweiler mix who had issues. But I would say that he was 80% a GREAT dog. He had such a good heart. Some people who had met him (in the absence of any of his triggers) couldn’t believe that he had serious issues because he had so many good qualities, too. I think of that quote about “there are no bad dogs, only bad owners,” and think whoever said that had no idea what they were talking about. Dogs with problems aren’t all bad – it would be easier to know what to do if they were. And being a loving, dedicated owner is sometimes not enough to fix serious problems in a dog. Problems can exist despite being a great dog parent.

    Good for you for rescuing so many dogs. I wish you the best. It’s so hard.

  96. I used to think that I could never make such a horrible decision- that no matter why there was something more I could do for my pets.

    We adopted a dog from the shelter in 2009, who early in his life experienced severe medical issues, and developed severe anxiety.

    Over the course of three years he occasionally had freak outs they resulted in serious injuries to my other four dogs. None were fatal, several were serious, and each time we consulted with another behaviorist, tried another medication, altered training programs, everything we could do to try and keep him safe.

    Our dogs lived in a crate and rotate schedule- everyone was crated when we left the house, everyone was fed at separate times in separate rooms, No toys were left out. We eliminated every risk we could. We even reinforced the crates with zip ties and climbing carabiners.

    Everything changed July 2012. We were in the middle of a whole home remodel, we only had one working outlet. Is was 95° out. We crated all five of our dogs in our office, with plenty of room between each crate, and turned on the window air conditioner. We then went out for dinner.

    When I came home I knew something was wrong. Our dog with anxiety managed to break out of his crate, ripped the door off of one of our other dogs crates, and ripped her throat out. We will never know for sure what caused this attack, but we assume it was fireworks continuing from the Fourth of July.

    I will never forgive myself for the painful death that our dog went through, and I have so much guilt for euthanizing our dog with anxiety. We tried everything and it wasn’t enough, and with a cat or dog being euthanized in the shelters, I could not in good conscience pawn this dog off on someone else when there are thousands of happy well-adjusted dogs who die every day simply for a lack of space.

    Rescues have a finite amount of resources- and I would rather see a rescue spend $5000 to help find 10 or 15 or 20 healthy dogs a family rather than see them spend it on one dog damaged beyond repair. It’s cruel and heartless to look at it simply by cost, but until we live in a world where people take responsibility for their pets, it is an unfortunate reality that we must make decisions on which dogs we will save and which dogs will die.

    I never pegged myself as the type who would give up- I’ll even admit that I judged people who euthanized their “problem dogs”. But until you’ve been in their footsteps, racking up thousands of dollars in veterinary bills, being unable to take vacations, and find yourself in a near panic every time you leave the house worried about what might happen… you can’t understand the decisions that are made.

    1. Becky, I don’t really know what to say other than I am so sorry you had to go through this. Thank you for sharing such a difficult story with us, and I hope you and your family are doing ok.

    2. Wow, this really hits home. We just made the difficult choice to euthanize our 26 month old male terrier (ABD-Boxer-pit something or other mix) after 2 straight years of treatment for food, environmental and staph allergies. While his allergies got worse, we couldn’t find a food he would eat and he had constant staph and yeast infections. Needing two shots per week, two to three baths per week and expensive food ($100 more per month than Blue Buffalo) that he was the least allergic to was difficult. Piling in cortisone shots to reduce his nflammation after giving up on food trials was tough, especially when they seemed to lose efficacy faster each time. But when he lunged at a three year old twice in one day, our minds had to be made. Now, a week later, i am still wracked with self-doubt emotionally, but rationally, we couldn’t get this dog better after two years and seven thousand dollars in vet bills. When we would go out of town (for family business, as vacation funds went to vet bills) we always came back to a dog who looked sicker than when we left. We made the decision to do this and it was so hard, but when you are between a rock and a hard place, nobody should judge. The poster bore did the right thing and I pray we did, too.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        So sorry to hear about your loss. I can’t imagine how hard it is. Thank you for sharing your story with the rest of us.

      2. You made a great effort in helping this sickly dog for two years. I know how you feel. I rescued my dog and put all kinds of vet bill money into him, not to mention the fees for a dog behavioral trainer. Did I mention how much I loved him? It was all worth it in the end to know that I did everything I possibly could before I made the fateful decision. I think you will soon rest assured knowing the same in your heart.

        I’m so sorry that you are going through this now, but just know, with tears and time, it gets easier. I still think of my dog and still question my decision, but it’s not the same overwhelming feelings as at the start. It will get easier, especially remembering that a three-year-old is far more important and the dog is no longer suffering physically. My condolences. I wish you and your family the best.

      3. I am sorry to hear what you and your dog have been through. Sounds like he was dealt a bad hand health-wise and you did what you could do manage his symptoms and improve his health without any real success. And you had to put a young child’s life first. You did the best you could in a difficult situation. You will feel better, like a lot of things it just takes time to heal. I’m not sure I will ever be completely free of self-doubt but four months later I certainly feel better than I did. It is unfortunate people judge. You are emotionally vulnerable know so try to be selective in who you share all the information with, try to restrict it to people you can trust. Best wishes.

    3. Thank you for your comments, It is nice to have found this site. It has been on my mind daily since that horrible day. If any one had been a help, If I had known any one with the facilities to let me board him until I could have found a place for us. There was no one and at the time I had no idea where my son, grandson and I were going to stay, It was a horrible time all the way around. I could not ever be God or declare life or death to any living thing. I hated the situation especially after all the promising my dog we would one day have a big yard. I was looking forward to the day it would be just me and the dog. It does help to have others understand. It doesn’t bring him back but it lets me know others understand how devastating this situation can be. I do hope all dogs go to heaven and I hope the Lord will grant me the pleasure of spending time with that dog. I hope Justus can forgive me. Thank you again, Happy New Year and may none of us have to face any hard decisions such as these.

    4. I’m so sorry to hear your story. I am fearful that something like that will happen to me. I have been through dog training w/ my adopted dog of a year (5-year-old dog) and he has attacked my elder dog w/ medical problems who is very defenseless. he is blind and now has kidney disease. I work w/ him every day and his aggression has escalated for seemingly no reason. I have to separate the dogs from one another, though he usually gets along w/ our yellow lab. I don’t know what to do. He is on Xanax and it has had no effect on him. It seems despite my efforts and love and affection, he is worse on a daily basis. I am debating whether to have him put down or not. Our local human society said they would euthanize him and he is ‘unadoptable.’

      1. I forgot to mention that he has bitten me about five times w/in the last year, and the last one was so bad that it has left a scar on my hand. He is a Jeckly/Hyde type of personality. One minute he is the friendliest dog in the world, it seems, and next thing you know he is about to attack you or someone else, or my elder dog

        1. Melissa, I was just about to ask if the aggression was specific to your older dog when I read your second post. I was hoping it was because then re-homing him into a single dog home might be successful. What are the circumstances that he has bitten you under?

          My dog very much had the Jeckyll & Hyde thing going on. People who had only seen his wonderful side had a hard time believing that he had serious problems. And, as you state, I also found that all the love and devotion I had for him ultimately couldn’t fix that (accompanied, of course, by professional help). It still makes me sick to think about. But that’s just the way it is.

          The fact that you have had professional help, have continued to work with him, haven’t found any inconsistency or warning in his attacks, and that he doesn’t inhibit much bite aggression (if I read into your post correctly) suggest to me that the risks are probably just too high. Of course you know your dog better than anyone. I find this article from ASPCA on aggression to be helpful, particularly if you read about the risk factors towards the bottom of the page, it may offer some concrete measures of his aggression and guide you in your decision making: http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/aggression-in-dogs Actually, this article may be useful to anyone with dog aggression issues.

          I am sorry to hear about the struggles with your dog. I wish you both the best. I hope that your older dog will be able to find some peace as well for his later years.

  97. Oh my gosh, Becky, I am so sorry to hear your story. How doubly heart wrenching to suffer the loss of both of your dogs. You did everything you could for your dogs. It sounds like the situation was a tragic accident and no one is to blame for it. How very sad. You did the only thing you could do as a responsible dog owner by euthanizing your dog. There were no other viable options. I can relate in that I too have quietly judged others from a far as well – until I became a dog owner and was faced with an impossible situation. I certainly have learned my lesson. I am sorry for your loss and hope that you will be able to move forward and heal by letting yourself off the hook. It has gotten easier for me even though I felt like it never would.

    1. Thank you Rachel for your comments to Becky, I was so caught up in my own story that I neglected to comment to Becky concerning her heartache. Thank you for the things you said and the way you shared the hope that one day we could forgive ourselves and move on. I am glad you were here today and I pray you have a Happy New Year without any pain, too.

  98. We have a 6 year old mutt (probably a pit mix) and a 13 month old baby. The dog has been showing aggression toward the baby, and we have just sadly reached the conclusion that the dog has to go. We have gone through the thought processes described here, and also judged others in the past for doing this, but sometimes situations become very clear. We have mounted one last campaign to try to rehome her, but with her issues and age the chances are slim to none, and we have a “euthanasia deadline” coming up I’m just writing because people here know what we are going through and how difficult it is, and it was nice to find some community regarding this issue.

    1. Very sorry to hear about your issue. I know it’s a hard choice, and I do hope you find someone to adopt your dog. Still, an aggressive animal can’t just go anywhere and you have to put your baby before a dog.

  99. Elizabeth,

    I’m very sorry to hear of your situation. It’s a difficult one. Let us know how you are doing in the future. Community for this issue has been very helpful. Glad you found this blog. It definitely helped me a lot to know that others understood what I was going through. Hope to hear from you again. Best wishes to you are and your family.

    1. Tomorrow morning is our home euthanization appointment with the vet. I am wracked with doubt, and trying to remember all the times our dog Maebe has snarled, nipped, and growled to tell myself that we are doing the right thing. She is a good dog 90% of the time, but that last 10% is what’s important, yet the 90% is what’s making it so hard. She’s always been a bit anxious and skittish, and another thing I am telling myself is how unhappy she is, and how this will relieve that. I have certainly felt judged by some dog rescue people who haven’t met her, but after two rehoming efforts fell through because she doesn’t get along with other dogs, and meanwhile my son started walking, which meant that Maebe is even more disturbed by him, I am more confident we are doing the right thing. But I am still tortured– after my son is in bed, she just relaxes with us on the couch and seems harmless. I think it will actually be a relief when it is over. It’s so sad, and I am so confused because riddled with doubt at the same time that I am confident. Hard mental space to be in.

      It’s especially hard to read stories about dogs who are way worse, and who have actually done a lot of damage and violence. But I also keep telling myself better to act a week too soon than a day too late. And she is not going to change.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        You know what’s best for your own family, and although it’s hard, I also know a child has to come before any dog. There will definitely be people who will criticize your decision, and just know that it’s because they don’t understand the situation.

        My own parents chose to euthanize their spaniel when I was about 3 years old and my brother was a baby due to her aggression. As far as I’m concerned, they are the world’s greatest dog lovers, and they raised three kids to love dogs as well. Since then, they’ve had several loving, safe, happy dogs.

        I am so sorry you have to go through this, and thank you for sharing your story with others.

      2. Elizabeth,

        I know how you are feeling right now. I spent many months going back and forth over my decision until the last attack on my old dog was so vicious, I ended up injuring my knee trying to save my old dog from the attack dog. I could no longer think about my warm feelings towards my attack dog who was also very good with me 100% of the time and terrible with other people and dogs 100% of the time. I had to put myself aside along with my attachment to him and put other people and my other dogs in the forefront of my mind in making my decision.

        You will grieve, doubt, and feel guilty at times, but just rest assured the crying and negative feelings will soon lessen making it much easier to deal with. Your baby is more important. Your attitude is totally correct in that, if your dog attacked your baby, you would feel 10 times worse and the end result for your dog would be the same undoubtedly.

        I wish you and your family the best.

        1. Jill,

          Thank you so much. It’s been really hard to find ideas that were expressed in the interest of both Maebe (the dog) and my son. Ultimately, gently passing surrounded by her friends and getting treats and hugs seems like one of the least bad things that can happen to a dog.

          I do still feel that we failed her from early on, or acted to soon, etc., etc. My husband has different (less patient, and less naturally inclined) attitudes toward dogs than I do, and I feel I let him influence me too much, but of course it’s his life and dog and son, too. It’s all so sad. At the same time, now my son can toddle freely throughout the house, and that is as it should be.

          Like the Jack Russell in the post at the beginning, I feel like the world failed Maebe, and I feel terrible about my part in that world.

          -Elizabeth

          1. Elizabeth, I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a canine member of your family is so hard and in our more complicated situations where we have chosen euthanasia for behavioral reasons, there are so many “extra” emotions that arise. You are so wise when you write “better to act a week too soon than a day too late.” You weren’t in denial of the risks and of all the warning signs Maebe was giving. Sometimes the “most right” decisions still feel terrible. My grief is certainly less intense than it was four months ago but I just miss my dog. The good times, anyway. Not the stress. One trainer used the analogy that having a dog with aggression issues in your house is like having a loaded gun lying around with children in the house.

            After my dog died I spent a lot of time reading and researching on-line, trying to find data that would reinforce my decision and help to ease my guilt. ASPCA has an article on aggressive dogs that I found helpful, in particular reading the risk factors for deciding whether or not you can manage an aggressive dog:http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/aggression-in-dogs Perhaps you will find it helpful, there are several concerning risk factors that apply to your Maebe.

            I wish you the best, I hope you can soon let go of the guilt and begin to heal.

        2. Hi. I am also dealing with a difficult moment. I have rescued a 7 year old Golden Retriever just 5 months ago who was in the shelter about to be euthanized due to biting a stranger on an active road where he was laying. I first thought he bit due to an injury or pain, that maybe he had been hit by car, the shelter wasn’t sure. They have no vet on the premises.
          I knew that if I offered him at least a behaviorist and good health care that he would have a good chance at life. If not, I would euthanize him humanely. Not have this horrific place do it and dump him in a landfill.
          I must mention, I am in the dog rescue business.
          I have Goldens of my own and know that this behavior is not normal for this breed. I have heard of it but, not experienced it. I just wanted to give him a chance and love to hopefully cure him of whatever it was.
          In 5 months, he has been quarantined to a back area of our home and has access to outdoors during the day. He goes on long walks too daily. He loves soft toys, and tennis balls. Which he has sooooo many.
          He also, 90% of the time is waggy. The other 10% showing teeth and growls and attempts to attack on a tough moment. These moods are coming from no where.. We are not sure what triggers them. He has bit me once, my brother twice and charged me a couple of nights ago trying to viscously attack me, which I was trying to hide behind the door and wall. If he wasn’t wearing a cone on his head, I would of been attacked and bit. I also have a serious injury to my elbow from this ordeal just trying to get away and hide from him. This went on for a while before I could get away from him. Thanks to my husband throwing treats over the gate.
          The behaviorist is a DVM and she has had him on Anxitane, a healthy anti anxiety medication, which has made a huge difference in his behaviors. However, not a full guarantee. He still on occasion has his rough moments.
          We have two 6 and 7 year olds in our home which is a serious risk. I and my brother are the only ones who can be around him. No dogs, kids or husband have contact. He growls at all of them. I am juggling and now his attacks are coming more frequent and without much time to warn. He is a beautiful dog on the outside and 90% of the time on the inside. He runs to me with 4 toys crammed into his mouth looking for me to love on him. I have loved and kissed his face and nose a thousand times in 5 months and have given him first class care. But, the time has come. He is not getting better and now there are lives at risk. My children, most of all.
          Today is his euthanasia appointment and I have cried for 4 days. I am in the business to save animals and I go to the nines doing so. Not to kill.
          I have spent 4,200 on this guy in 5 months and he is still sick.
          He also has spinal damage and pains and atrophy in the hind quarters. He has yeast and staff issues of the skin which pop up on occasion, which is why he is wearing a cone most of the time.
          He has been labeled by our DVM Behaviorist, as Defensive Aggressive.
          She feels deeply that he was not born with it. She feels he has been abused by previous owner.
          I cannot place him in any home legally, due to his history. He can’t stay here any longer due to his bit history. I am sick and hurting so so deeply and I can’t stop crying… I want to wait another day or two. What can I do? I have loved him and cared for him for months. There is nothing else I can do… :'(

          1. Maci, that is SO sad. What a wonderful person you must be that you laid your heart on the line to try to give this dog a chance at life. The pain of this type of situation I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and you were willing to risk it and go the extra mile to give this dog a home and attempt rehabilitation. I am so sorry to hear that it didn’t work out, though you have clearly done everything possible to try. It sounds like there is just psychological damage there that can’t be done. At least he has been shown love these last five months, and will die accompanied by a loving pet mom. Better than the way he would have gone without you. While he ultimately couldn’t be saved, you have given him an invaluable gift – a loving home. And now you are being a responsible pet owner/parent, in that you are recognizing that safe rehabilitation isn’t possible, and if he can’t find peace in this life, he will at least receive a peaceful death.

            I can relate to the pain you are experiencing – it’s awful. Nothing I say will be able to blunt that. I am very sorry for your loss and hope that you and your dog will soon find peace.

          2. Thank you.
            He has now passed ~
            My heart is in pain and my soul empty today. He left last night with family and both Doctors by his side. He was in my arms. I wish he was here with me and this was not the case. But, I know he finally is pain and fear free. I know for the last 5 months he had whatever he wanted and the best of the best. I was able to kiss him a thousand times on his nose and hug him, when no one else would. I tried to make up all the pain and hurt that he had gone through. He doesn’t have to worry about anything ~ any longer.
            The room was filled with love and he knew it. I love him and he loved me. Godspeed my precious boy.
            The rescue business is not always easy. There is hurt and yet happiness. But when you see these types of cases where dog owners have tortured, abused and neglected there animals and the world ignores it makes an endless fight and effort to save them alone. There needs to be laws set in place for ownership of an animal and proper care. It should be made illegal to adopt an animal from anyone other than Licensed by the State and Pure Breeders. The sale of animal should be prohibited. There are far to many animals being abused,dumped and or abandoned right this very moment.
            Godbless my sweet innocent boy who deserved only the best.

      3. Hi Elizabeth, we are in the same boat and I cant stop crying. My 4 year old springer has snapped at kids and now our cat, actually breaking skin on the poor thing although not serious thank god! Its always random and unprovoked which is the difficult part. We have been to a behavioural specialist. Aside from keeping her caged around kids (we have 2 little boys) and now the cats we have been told she cant be trusted. My heart is broken and it has now come down to find an appropriate home with no kids or pets or put her down. She is the same, the sweetest loving dog 99% of the time but what if one time it was too late? I guess I just needed to tell my story and wondering what others have done! Even our vet is brokenhearted because she is really a sweet loving dog!

        1. Oh, how sad, Christina. Heartbreaking that she isn’t safe living with the rest of your family. It sounds as though there is hope for your dog, though sadly not with your family. It seems she would make a lovely pet for a childless/petless adult or couple, if you can find the right one. Any chance your vet wants to take her in? I imagine your vet already has some pets though. Does your vet know anyone or can the behaviorist recommend anyone? Intervening at this point is so smart, before their is a major incident with a child. Who knew dog parenting could be so hard!?! Best of luck.

          1. Lindsay Stordahl

            Yes, best of luck to you Christina. So sorry to hear of your situation, and thank you for sharing about it here.

        2. When my fiance moved in with me he brought a male welch springer with him. I had a female miniature dachshund that he was scared to death of. That springer had been a show dog re-homed by the breeder for attacking his mother and sister. My fiance accepted this and the dog was fine when it was only the two of them – literally. We arranged to get a standard dachshund puppy thinking the puppy would be in between in size. We were a little nervous so we talked to the vet about his aggression and she immediately said – “oh, Springer Rage”. Google it! He started taking Prozac. When the puppy came home at 9 lbs and 9 weeks things where good at first but then went downhill fast. Finally one morning the springer attacked the puppy for no reason. Not near his food, toys or even his master. A screaming puppy is hard to take. Well my fiance said enough. I had to take him to the vet that afternoon. It was very hard but my fiance realized that he had attacked at least a dozen puppies and small dogs over the two years he had him.

          1. Lisa, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. These situations can be so tough. Wishing you and your family the best.

      4. I had to make the decision to put our dog to sleep (last night was when we took him in). He has been getting worse and worse with strangers over the 4 years we had him. He has nipped/bit 4 or 5 peoples pant legs that have come to the house and my nieces finger when she was shaking it in his face for something. I couldn’t trust him with children and I have 3 sons that could VERY rarely have a friend over because of the dog. I would have to put him on a lease in our room, to know that nothing would happen. Then as soon as I let him out of the room he would run barking & looking for whoever was here. Once he saw someone a few times…he was better…but I still felt like i couldn’t trust him. He was a 30 pound cockapoo that we got from a breeder 4 years ago (and looked like a cocker). He was SO loyal to me and always at my feet….would have never done anything to hurt myself, my husband or children (although he did snap at my 9 year old 2 weeks ago when he went to grab him by the collar to take him out of my room). I wasn’t even thinking I could go to the vet but felt like I HAD to at least drive there with him to comfort him in the car. I cried all day off and on yesterday knowing what was coming, most of the way to the vet and sobbed when I had to say goodbye so my husband could take him into the office. I didn’t want to let him go, but I had to. I saw him standing there clueless as to what was going to happen and made the decision to not care what the staff thought of me and go in to be there for him. I didn’t want to regret not going in. I cried pretty hard in there and had a hard time leaving him once he had passed. I couldn’t even look as they did it, I just was rubbing his back and felt him go limp. Once I was able to look…I had wished his eyes weren’t still open. I feel like I will have a hard time getting his face out of my mind. He also suffered from bad yeast infections on his skin that were getting very bad/smelly despite all we did to take care of it and the expensive, only available online, new food he has been eating for 6 months. He would lay by my bedside until I got up in the morning (even if the whole house was up 2 hours before me). I had a very hard time dropping the kids off at school today and coming back in knowing he wasn’t here waiting at the door for me. I staying in the car an extra 10 minutes crying in the driveway 🙁
        I’m just hoping someone who has been through this feeling can tell me it gets easier…..I’m SO sad!!

        Thank you for listening,
        Diana

        1. Diana, I am sorry for your loss. It is such a hard thing to live with a dog with aggression issues, and so painful to make such a hard decision. You did what you felt you had to do for human safety, and kid safety in particular. It DOES get easier. The first few days for me were the absolute hardest, I could barely function I was so overwhelmed with grief. It does get progressively less painful, though I think most of us will always ache for the dog we lost and were unable to effectively help. Best wishes to you and your family during this difficult time.

          My kids have the book “Dog Heaven.” I intend to tape a picture of our dog inside the front cover. Not sure if this is what your kids need at their ages but maybe something to look into.

        2. Lindsay Stordahl

          Diana,

          I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I have never been through anything like that, so I can only try to imagine what it must be like. I hope you hang onto all the positive memories and that you are at peace with your decision.

      5. Dear Elizabeth,
        I went on this site because I was reaching out for some help as we just had to euthanize our 17 mo old dog for very similar reasons as you.
        We have been to about 5 trainers, behaviorists and multiple training classes yet continued to randomly get bitten. My hands are scarred yet each time I made excuses for why the event occurred. I don’t have a small child at home but an older son who was bitten many times as well. I kept trying and trying to make this work but it was getting worse.
        I’m somewhat relieved yet sad, heartbroken and devastated for the loss of a life I hoped to share for a decade or more
        Thanks for sharing your story. It showed me I’m not alone

        Amy

      6. This is pretty much the same story as me. I have a very loving, cuddly wee dog called Abbie. She is such a lap dog and quite lazy! she is a bit nervous in general and when I had a baby last year I was wary as she had no been round babies before. Abbie coped so well and we were so happy, but now my daughter is 14 months old and walking around.. She is fascinated with the dog and really likes to touch her and let her lick her hand. Abbie however does not like the fact that my daughter can now move around. Its like cat and mouse all day with my daughter chasing the dog. The dog has never been aggressive towards her but she has grumbled/growled when she gets fed up of her. I end up putting the dog in the kitchen behind the baby gate and my daughter and I are in the living room. The dog lets me know that she wants to go through to the kitchen but once she’s there she puts her face at the bars and looks at me whining to get back through again. I can just tell that she is trying to say “can I come back through, but only if the baby doesnt touch me”? My daughter hasnt done anything bad to the dog, she is very gentle and says “awwww” when she claps her. I just know my dog wont learn to love her as she was like this with my little cousins before my baby was born. I feel that she would suit another home without children or one where children rarely visit. I feel awful because at night when my daughter is in bed, the dog is the most loving and loyal. I love my dog, but I love my daughter more. This has been on my mind for years (ever since she reacted this way when meeting my cousins for the first time). I have had dog behaviourists out to the house and tried all kinds of training. I know the dog isnt jealous – I did a lot of research into introducing a new baby to a dog before we brought the baby home and I can just tell its not jealousy. She just doesnt enjoy the company of children.

        1. Jennifer, you don’t have an aggressive dog. Just one that is afraid of children. Do you scold the dog when she growls at the baby? Are you teaching the baby not to chase the dog? Even toddlers can learn. You could try a soft muzzle on the dog if you are really worried. I think this will resolve as the baby gets older. Remember to show MORE attention to the dog when the child is around and mostly ignore the dog when the baby is not around. Most people naturally do the opposite. Is the dog crate trained so you can have her in the room without watching her all the time. Just letting her out when you can actively supervise.

          I would consider a new home without small children as a last resort. When my first son was about 9 months he crawled over to the chair where ny dachshund was sleeping and wacked her on the head. The dog growled. I yelled at both of them. The baby did it again the next day with the dog getting madder. On about day 5 the dog left a small red mark on the baby’s cheek. I didn’t know what to do. Secretly I thought I was a horrible mother to have allowed this but I also wondered how dumb is this child. Turned out not dumb after all. He never hit the dog again and they became best buddies. And if you read all these posts my son is the one who rescued “Bob the Biter”.

          Good luck and patience.

          1. After rereading your post I have to state even stronger. You don’t have an aggressive dog. It is perfectly natural for your dog to tell the baby “Stop I’ve had enough.” I’m certain you do it when the baby is doing something you get tired of. The dog hasn’t bitten, really just scolded. Growling is how dogs communicate “knock it off!” Of course teach the dog that growling is not okay. And teach the baby not to chase or grab the dog. For your piece of mind try a soft muzzle like this one http://www.petco.com/product/109945/Petco-Nylon-And-Mesh-Dog-Muzzle.aspx Also make certain the dog has somewhere to go – a crate or under something so she can get away from from the baby when she is tired of being chased. Encourage the dog to sit with you and the baby when the baby is calm like reading a story. Take the dog and baby for walks everyday. Good for everyone. Don’t think that because your dog didn’t like your cousins that she can’t love your child. Totally different situation. Your child is part of the family pack and those children were outsiders. Please give them time to become buddies.

            I raised two very rambucous boys and always had small dogs and cats in the house. Some liked the kids more than others but there was never a serious problem. And both boys now on their own have multiple dogs and cats.

    1. Christopher, I don’t know where you are but I am struggling with this decision right now with a jack russell terrier/boxer mix who is almost 3 years old. Just this last weekend my mom and daughter were petting her on the couch and for no reason she just turned showed all her teeth and tried to bite my mom. The next day she bit the back of my child’s head but not enough to break the skin, and then her hand but again didn’t break the skin. She is scared all the time. We rescued her when she was a puppy and I feel as though this is all my fault. If he is attacking but not breaking the skin is she still really aggressive. She did bite my boyfriend in the thigh to when he was sitting at the table. If he didn’t have jeans on I think it would have been much worse. She also bit another man who I thought was too much in her face but she let him pet her and actually was licking his hand kindly and then chomp. At the time I thought she just didn’t like the man…. Please let me know if you can help she is beautiful and just fine when it is just me, but it can’t always be just me. dreamroomsart@hotmail.com

  100. Becky and all the other loving dog owners who have tried their best to keep your pets till the end, my heart and respect goes out to all of you. Thank you! I am faced with a similar situation and going back and forth whether to euthanize our seven year old mixed dog (most likely a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix). We adopted him from an owner who abused him and he had huge security issues. Since then, he grey up to be affectionate, intensely faithful (one man dog) and very intelligent. It feels like he understands everything, if only he could talk. He’s loving most of the time, BUT just snaps and bites if someone crosses him or passes by him. Everyone has to be 10 feet away from him especially when he’s in ‘that kind’ of a mood. Here comes the harder part. He has bitten everyone in the family over the years, 2 or 3 times over, doesn’t accept at all to be leashed, let alone being muzzled. The last bite, a vicious hand bite and the looming possibilities of having to move to a much smaller apartment have narrowed down all options. We’ve tried so hard to reform his habits, but there seems to be no improvement. The ironical part is he usually gets along with other dogs…so if there are any slim chances of placing him in a permanent shelter home, that would be another option. But what if he feels betrayed by his family for having abandoned him? What if he lands up into depression (like he did when a family member moved out..he waited days and months and cried every night)? Should we euthanize him, even though he is still strong and healthy? I know the reasons to euthanize is very obvious (aggression) but if you had two options: which would you choose? To peacefully put him to sleep or to have him placed far away in a home.

    1. I am going through the same thing with our 5 year old pit mix. He is wonderful 90% of the time but bites people very easily. Over the years he has nipped at family and friends and has most recently bit two neighborhood teenagers. The city tells us that we have to get rid of him. He can go to any other city…just not this one!! That doesn’t make a lot of sense. I keep going back and forth between “putting him down” and trying to find someone else to take him but I don’t know of anyone that would be completely safe with him.
      Any suggestions??

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Sorry to hear about your trouble. I can understand how difficult it must be to make that decision. You don’t want to end his life, yet you don’t want him to become a danger to someone else.

        Have you contacted any rescue groups about him? Be honest about his aggression and that he would need special care and someone with experience. You could also contact some local trainers to see if they know of anyone would might be able to adopt him. Best of luck.

      2. Shari, that’s a tough one. I’d have to agree that it doesn’t make a lot of sense that he go to another city but at least they aren’t forcing you to euthanize, this way you can explore your options. Heartbreaking, though. How serious were the bites with the teenagers? Was it provoked? I’d agree that you could check with rescue groups and trainers to see if there is a safe way to re-home him. My guess is the odds are low of re-homing a dog with a bite history but of course it depends on what kind of rescue groups operate in your area and what the biting situations were. You may end up back at the point where you feel euthanasia has become the only viable option but if you explore other options first, you can at least know that you did everything you could. And who knows, maybe something well pan out. Best of luck to you.

    2. Vio,

      This is a very personal decision that only you can make. No one can make the decision for you. Despite my dog biting every family member in our house (some 2 and 3 times), repeated attacks on my old, defenseless dog, and getting bitten while breaking up dog fights, no one could tell me to put him down. I tried for a year to control the situation without much success and much stress for everyone in the household and visitors (who wants to get bitten by a dog???? It wasn’t fair to anyone). I alone had to make that decision. It was only when I finally realized the safety of people and my stress health was more important than my love for the dog was I able to become rational instead of emotional. It was a process to come to the realization that I did all I could do. In tears, I called all of the local animal shelters (private and county), and all of them told me they would end up euthanizing him due to aggression. Why would I put him with strangers in a shelter full of stressed dogs so he could await his fateful day? Why would I re-home him knowing that, even though his surroundings changed, he wouldn’t be changed? To me, it was putting my problem off on someone else, just like it was done to me. I didn’t want him to go through anymore instability, which could worsen his behavior anyway.

      This was my first aggressive dog, and I have a new respect for dog lovers who are at their wits end with an aggressive dog. For anyone who has not gone through this, they should not judge. We love dogs; this is why we are struggling with the decision to start with.

      I wish you the best in making your decision — the one and only decision that is best for your family, you, and your dog.

    3. My heart goes out to you. I couldn’t stand the thought of my little guy being abandoned by me, and that’s why we made the choice to have him euthanized. I was with him until the end. I held him and cried and sang our silly song until the last breath. I was the last person he ever saw, until he was released of his demons and crossed the bridge. For me, that brought peace to my heart.

      it’s not a decision that anyone can make for you though

    4. Vio, I am sorry to hear that you and your dog are in this tough situation. It certainly sounds like you have a strong bond between you and your dog. His aggression sounds pretty hard to manage, especially if others need to keep such careful distance from him. How serious are the bites? Some trainers/behaviorists believe this is an important factor in the decision-making, here is the scale: http://reactivechampion.blogspot.com/2010/11/ian-dunbar-seminar-aggression.html Though certainly you have to look at all the factors, in the incident that led us to euthanasia of our beloved dog his bite inhibition was only level 2, technically, but he bit multiple times on a young child, combined with having other types of aggression and lots of training.

      The only other thing I can think of is to consult with a veterinary behaviorist, if you are able to.

      Our veterinarian told us that euthanizing for serious aggression was “the same” as euthanizing an animal with a terminal illness, like cancer. She said it’s harder to swallow because the dog has a perfectly healthy body but it’s the mind that is affected and it is just as serious as other medical conditions.

      As others have commented, only you know the situation best and only you can ultimately make the decision. I felt that I couldn’t have safely rehomed my dog due to his bite history. And honestly, I couldn’t have beared to re-home him. After being so dedicated to him and advocating for him and working so hard to improve things for him and loving him, I just couldn’t have chanced the unknowns of it. But of course that is me. Aggressive dogs are sometimes treated harshly. And I felt like if there were any way for him to live safely, I would have provided it. I don’t mean to imply what you should do, but just that if you do re-home that you are very careful about where. I know that our local shelter would have euthanized my dog.

      No easy answers. I wish you the best of luck. Keep us posted.

  101. Jill, Whoever you are, you say all the right things. Vio, we just put our aggressive dog down and it is truly the loneliest decision. No one knows you, your dog, your life, etc., as well as you do. All the advice (even contradictory advice) is well-meant, but delivered without the knowledge you have of what you and your dog are capable of (or not). Ultimately we thought that sending our dog to a shelter would be selfish of us, because it would be miserable for her, and let us off the hook for having to take the responsibility to end our dog’s life gently and among friends. But that decision was based on our knowledge of our dog and selves (and accounts of what happens in shelters). Best of luck, believe me I know how painfully difficult it is.

    1. Jill, it takes a responsible dog owner to make the tough decisions. It will get better with time. Don’t second guess your decision.

      Good Luck,

      Rich

      Elizabeth, it could not have been said any better.

  102. Hi there, I adopted a black retired K9 narco Labrador last Nov. He was friendly and I was told that he has feed bowl aggression. This was easy to deal with as I just dont let him see me with his bowl in my hand. However, over the last 4 months , he has become aggressive ( lunge at and bark) towards children and strangers walking by. When my husband came home last one night (3am) , the dog charged and barked at him. I immediately ordered a metal gate to be installed separating the kitchen from the rest of the apartment. I kept him there when my husband is at home. One day, he bit my husband when he offered a treat up him thro the gate. ( puncture wound on the thumb , needing stitches). Incident no 2, I was walking him in the neighborhood and a neighbor approached me and just asked me what breed he is. I answered and in a split second, she touched his head and the dog suddenly barked and jumped at her. I restrained him and carried on my walk. A week later the lady called me and asked me to pay for her medical bill of $5,000. She showed me the bill, my dog has made puncture wounds on her face, needing 13 stitches. I then started to muzzle him whenever we are in close contact with other ppl eg in the elevator. Incident no 3, he bit my 82 year old mother ( I was not at home then) when she stood next to him while he was eating. She needed 9 stitches on both her hands. Now, he barks at my husband whenever he sees him . My husband now hates the dog and wants him dead. Tonite he even said” you have to choose, it’s either me or the dog”. What should I do? In all the 3 incidences, the dog was not entirely at fault.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So very sorry to hear of your situation. Have you been in contact with the person you adopted this dog from? Could the dog go back to the original person who trained him?

      I don’t feel right telling you what to do about euthanizing the dog or not. That has to be your decision.

    2. Molly, what a tough situation. I love the idea that you adopted a retired professional. That’s really cool that your dog had such an important job and clearly you want to give him a nice, loving home for his “retirement.” However, his issues sound pretty significant. Especially scary that he bit a neighbor on the face – and a serious bite at that. You are obviously a dog lover when you say that in all three incidences, the dog was not entirely at fault. Particularly in the second incident you mention, I’d say that your dog WAS at fault. It’s not fair to put it on yourself, or on the neighbor for making a mistake that many people would make. Though certainly family members need to fully grasp his food issues and be very cautious. It’s so hard when you want a family pet and it sounds like this guy is like having a loaded gun in the house. 🙁

      I like Lindsay’s suggestion of contacting the previous owner/handler. I hope they will be helpful to you. Beyond that, your options seem limited. It seems that you have already taken the appropriate precautions to control and manage his aggression as best you can. I reall\y hope his previous owner will be able to help. Best of luck to you. Keep us posted.

  103. I ended up here after crying all day over the sadness of having finally reached the breaking point with my 6 year old Soft Coated Wheaten. I have had her since she was 8 weeks old. She was not from a puppy mill nor was she ever mistreated, neglected or abused. No dog could ask for a more loving, caring home. She began tosuddenly display aggression to children and unfamiliar dogs at around 8 months of age and it is has progressively snowballed. I eventually became unable to have any guests in my home–my friends are all afraid of her– and have to be aware every second during walks that we do not get close to any other people or dogs as she becomes crazed–growling, lunging and snarling. The trouble is she has always been wonderful with me and, until recently with my parents and their small dogs. I was willing to completely alter my life for 5 years to accomodate her and have been to multiple regular vets, behaviorists and trainers. She is medicated and it still does very little. I tried dog accupressure and alternative therapies with no success. She has to be heavily sedated for grooming and even at that has tried to attack her groomer. I was told by one behaviorist that the dog is hard wired aggressive and we can likely not change that. Due to a job transfer last year I had to reloacte and move to an urban highrise full of small children and other dogs. I could not risk her attacking someone in the elevator or lobby so my parents have taken her in. Within a few months she had started attacking their little, gentle older dogs and has now begun to go after my mother. She bit mom last week and today tried to outright attack her. My mom loves this dog but is now terrified in her own home and scared to be in the same room. I have seen the dog when she goes into a crazed zone and she really becomes unreachable. I am beyond heartbroken. I know this day has been coming for a long time but am wracked with guilt as this dog and I are so devoted to each other and I love her so much. But I cannot risk the safety of my own family. I have tried to contact rescue groups but have to disclose that she is aggressive and they will not take her on as a result. She would last 2 minutes in a shelter before losing her mind and that would be even more inhumane a fate for her. I know what I have to do but feel like a horrible person and so guilty. At least it is a comfort to read I am not alone.

    1. Leslie,

      I’m so sorry that you, your family, and your dog have to go through this. So many of us here completely understand what you’re going through. I will pray for you. Healing will come in time.

    2. I am sorry for this situation you are in with your dog. It is not easy to be a dog owner when such a decision is to be made. It is obvious that you have exhausted all means. It is also apparent that you loved and cared for this dog as much as anyone anyone could. Do not second guess your decision. Your families safety must come first. I have mentioned in other posts to people in your situation this word of advice from my vet and dog trainer. When a dog becomes aggressive and he is no longer a puppy , especially if he bites, he has to be put down. The vet told me I could put him down now or after he bites a child in the face which would eventually happen. It was difficult, but it had to be done. It will get better with time, I promise you. It will also bring a sense of calmness to you and your family. It is the responsible thing to do. I hope this helps you.

    3. Leslie, I am sorry to hear what you and your dog are going through. I too had my dog from 8 weeks of age and felt that given that, a loving home and training should have been enough. He didn’t have an abusive background like some of the dogs with aggression issues. But like your dog, he just seemed to be wired with a challenging temperament. It was terrible to realize that all the love in the world couldn’t fully fix his problem. And you have certainly tried every avenue for rehabilitation. Have you read KC’s comment, above? It is helpful reassurance that sometimes dogs just have problems that are far beyond our control. It is devastating to have to choose euthanasia for a dependent we are responsible for and love. But you really don’t have other options, and putting your family’s safety over the love for your dog is the most right thing to do.

      We have all struggled with the guilt. I was told at the veterinarian that anyone who euthanizes their dog for any reasons feels guilty. You don’t have anything you should feel guilty about, but telling you that will likely not ease your guilt. It’s just how we are, as devoted dog parents. Just because you do the right thing doesn’t mean you will feel right. Unfair, but true.

      Again, I am sorry to hear about your situation. I hope you – and your doggie – will find some peace.

      1. Thank you to everyone for their kind words and understanding of what I have been going through with my girl. We set her appointment for last Monday which was cancelled due to the monster hurricane that hit late that day. She is still with us and my mom is too afraid to go near her but we are paralyzed by loving her so much and dreading what needs to be done. She again went after my mom’s dog and grabbed her by the neck over the weekend. As much as I know putting her down is the right thing I am sick with grief because she still gazes at me with such trust and loyalty. This is unbearable.

        1. Leslie, my heart goes out to you. I hope the vet will be able to accomodate you soon because having the euthanasia pending has got to be extra hard. My thoughts are with you and your dog, who will soon be at peace.

  104. I am so grateful to have found this post and to hear everyones heart breaking stories. We have a rescue dog who we rehomed a few months ago, he was a tray for 3 years, so as you can imagine has some issues. We have always had dogs from the local rescue, so it is not as if we an inexperienced dog owners. However it has soon become apparent that we cannot keep him. He has been aggressive to my older bitch, and has bitten both myself and my husband. It is not a resource guarding issue either. He is totally unpredictable and sometimes just wakes up and attacks anyone or anything near to him…which the other evening was my husband. Had he been a few millimeters out my husband would have lost his eye. We love this dog as 90% of the time he is as sweet as can be, but we cannot rehome him as that is just passing the problem on to someone else. We have to be responsible dog owners….so this is a very hard decision we are having to make.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear your story, El. Thank you for loving this dog, offering him a home and ultimately making the most realistic decision, even though it must be so difficult.

  105. Thank you for sharing your stories here. I had a long talk with the vet last night and for the third time he suggested that I put my dog down since he just bit me again. Today I had an even longer talk with one of the vet techs who warned me that people who haven’t lived through experience will judge me if I choose euthanasia, and advised me to say he became ill, since he truly is. My dog is ruled by his anxieties…since adopting him five months ago, I’ve tried group training, private training, over-the-counter calming aids and wraps, calming signals training, medical testing to rule out physical ailments, a host of other things, and finally two prescription medications. Nothing worked for my dear sweet boy, who as many have related about their dogs, is such a good dog 90% of the time. That 90% is what made me work so hard at trying to help him, but in the end, the doctors believe my boy is just hard-wired to be so anxious and scared that when he hits panic-mode, he is out of control and aggressive toward whoever happens to be there. and unfortunately, his triggers into a panic-state have become more and more random. I haven’t made that final phone call to schedule the procedure yet, but I know that when I do, it will be the best thing to let him go and finally let him be at peace. In the meantime, I will make his life as safe and fun as I can because after our walk this morning where he cowered and hid behind me in places where he has never done so before, and where there were no threats to our satefy, I know the call will have to be made soon.

    1. So sorry to hear about your dog’s issues. You have certainly tried everything to help him. It sounds like you have identified the only way to keep everyone safe and to find peace for him. It is so difficult, I wish you the best.

      Your vet tech is wise, a lot of people can’t truly relate to having to euthanize your dog for behavioral & psychological reasons. I didn’t understand either until I found myself in a similar situation. It is hard to realize that people may think you did the wrong thing when in truth you love that dog more than anyone does and would have done anything to make him better. But you are being a responsible dog parent faced with an impossible situation. You know him best.

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear about your situation. I hope that you get a chance to spend some quality time with him before the appointment – out doing his favorite things, giving him his favorite treats and so on.

      Thanks for giving him a loving home for the last five months, and I’m sorry to hear of the difficulties you are facing.

      1. His appointment was set for Tuesday even though the vet and tech urged me not to prolong my goodbyes. It’s as if once I made that call, he knew relief was in sight and he became the most perfect dog one could ask for. I came home from work early on Friday and realized there would be no way I could make it through the weekend knowing everything we did would be our last, especially since he was being a model dog and THAT’S the side of him I want to remember forever. Our vet had volunteered to come in on his day off so that HE could be the one to support me through the procedure. Even though I called him at 5:30 on Friday night, he made time for us on Saturday morning. Unfortunately a different tech was assigned to us, one who wasn’t up to speed on our case and who I just wanted to kick out of the room since she made me go through everything all over again, but my favorite tech did find me, hug me and apologize for not getting out of another appointment on time as I was on my way out the door. Even though my boy vomited up his anti-anxiety meds before the appointment, they said he didn’t even flinch when they gave him the sedative (they took him from the room so I wouldn’t have to see him muzzled). He came back, continued eating the treats I’d brought, and passed peacefully with his head in my lap as the doctor and I petted him. My doctor offered to help me find another rescue when I’m ready so I don’t have to go through this experience again and I will probably take him up on it once I have time to heal. This time I’ll probably get a dog who has been fostered instead of sheltered, so there will be more of a history, because I don’t think I’m strong enough to do this twice. My house seems so empty without the nervous pacing and frantic whining. I know he is in a better place and not a prisoner to his anxieties anymore, but I think I will always feel guilt for not being able to help him through his issues. I hate to think that he was an aggressive dog and that this was his only way out, but I do know he is finally at peace. thank you again to everyone for sharing your stories. I’m so glad to have found this page and to know I’m not the only person who has had to make this heart-wrenching decision. …and my vet tech was right: people suck and are completely nosy – immediately asking why instead of just expressing sorrow. The sudden illness line has worked but even then they want details. I just say its too hard to talk about it and hope they will forget. Thank you for letting me share….aside from the vet’s office, this is the only place where I feel I can share the real story and cry real tears for the dog who most thought was well-behaved because they never saw the poor scared soul that I tried so hard to protect from his fears so he wouldn’t bite anyone else. I can only be grateful to the two people he bit who chose not report him, one a stranger who was protecting his own dog from mine after a scuffle and got caught in the middle of a lunge, and the other a dear neighbor who loved and adored my boy as much as I do. She passed a couple weeks ago from a long illness but I hope they have found each other and that she will keep my boy company until I see him again.

        1. Anonymous,

          I hope you are doing much better today than when you made your post. It is such a difficult situation to go through, but having gone through the grieving process myself, I know that it will get so much better for you each and every day.

          God bless you in this trying time.

          1. Thank you, Jill. There are still many difficult days and I still cry at somewhat random times, but I know it will get better with time. I picked up his ashes and a clay paw print that the vet made yesterday. It was tough and I’d put it off, but I knew I wanted him home with me in the yard he loved. Thank you again to everyone who shares their stories here. It made this decision just a little more bearable knowing I’m not the only one who has had to do it.

  106. Becky, thinking of you at this difficult time. I have no doubt your boy is at peace and I hope you find that too. You did the right thing and let him go with dignity. It’s a decision too difficult for many and was the hardest thing to do, what a gift of love you have given him! Hugs

  107. I am so sorry for your loss. And I can relate to just about every comment you made. You didn’t have an aggressive dog, the way I see it. You had a good dog with some really serious aggressive issues. You did the only responsible thing you could. It is both a blessing and a curse that others have perceived your dog as well behaved – it’s nice to know others were able to appreciate good things about your dog, yet so heart wrenching that they will never understand the basis for what had to be done. As a dog lover this is awfully hard to swallow.

    I wish there was something I could say to ease the heartache. Best wishes to you, be kind to yourself in your grieving. You were a good dog parent and your dog was lucky to have such a compassionate owner. Dogs with aggression are often mistreated. Bless you for taking such loving care of him.

  108. I had my dog euthenised today, unexpectedly…. I knew she had serious aggression problems due to an horrific abuse from human beings in her first stage of life 8 wks old. I spent a lot of time with her original owner and spent HOURS every day having much loved walks and doing training on her. Then I moved out of area, didn’t see her for 3 years and her bad behaviour escalated. She never caused a level of harm warranting hospital treatment but her fear based anxiety aggression caused her to be extremely hostile to people, sadly, mainly children. With adults she would at least show advance warning, lowering her tail, growling, baring teeth. But with children it would mainly start with firing shots, snaps, snarls and confrontations. Worse with toddlers anywhere, parks, friends kids, and even worse babies in the home in carrier baskets. She never actually harmed anyone but that was due to constant intervention rather than her own decisions. So, I adopted her, thinking I could train her out of it. I did a lot of hard work with her, establishing myself as pack leader. However, during a vet visit today, for a skin condition, she was SO aggressive to the vet he asked me her history, which I was honest about, then told me directly after consulting with colleagues he was offering immediate euthenasia or they would consider reporting her as a dangerous dog. My intention was to retrain her to be fit for rehoming with an appropriate adult family. When I told him this, plus her history in all honesty, he was horrified and pointed out that I and I only had gained trust of this dog who was obviously well controlled by me personally but still dangerous. He assured me no rehoming centre would possibly take her, they would euthenise. So, I agreed. She fought HARD. It took 4 qualified staff plus me to restrain her just for the vet to get the needle in. The only time she was at peace was after she was dead. I have cried ALL DAY. I know my dog was dangerous. I know she was a ticking time bomb. But in reality she had actually never injured anyone. I feel guilt,.self doubt, maybe I was railroaded, euthenasia had been a future question not one for getting her skin allergy sorted appointment. I don’t think I would make the same decision. I’m distraught. It was an horrific way to see my dog die fighting 4 vets, even though muzzled and harnessed. Although that somewhat justified the point, I just feel awful and racked with the feeling I murdered my dog.

    1. Jules,

      I am so sorry for your loss today. It brings a tear to my eye because I felt like I was reading my day at the vet when I euthanized my dog for similar problems. First of all, your vet is a caring professional. They would never put down an animal unless it is necessary. Please stop second guessing your decision.Don’ beat yourself up. It took a lot of guts to do what was needed. For you to stay with your dog through this process shows how much you loved your dog. I myself stayed with my dog and had to fight with him to get the needle in him. It felt like murder as well,it wasn’t, but it was what had to be done. Looking back I am happy I stayed with him to the end. As time passes you will come to a better understanding of what you did today was necessary. As the vet told me, I could do it now or after he bites a child in the face. Your dog was already there. Your decision was that of a responsible dog owner. Give yourself a break. It will get better with time. Good Luck.

      1. Thank u Rich it sounds like we were in a very similar predicament. I am still crying today because my dog was only a small breed Jack & Beagle cross. She could surely have never done much damage to anyone in the worst case scenario that would have involved both HER and a child being left unsupervised which is highly unlikely. I wish I’d taken time out to think about it, she’d already improved with me in a very short time using Caesar Millan pack leader method. I regret my decision. I murdered a beautiful vibrant but slightly mentally tortured dog BEFORE she had the time to know what a long term stable home was. If I’d given her another 6 months she’d have improved so much more. But yes, under the circumstances, I’m glad I stayed to the end, saying her name and telling her she was a good girl. Seeing that vibrant dog fight and struggle for her life and probably she also didn’t want to leave me, of course I wish it wasn’t etched on my memory but I would never have abandoned her at the end. Today I realise it shouldn’t have been the end. I have participated in the murder of my slightly damaged but beautiful dog. :((

    2. Jules,

      I am so sorry for what you went through. It sounds as if you were blindsided, and now, having time to reflect, are having regrets. Maybe you’re blaming the vet on top of blaming yourself. If you had more time to make the decision, it would still be as hard.

      When we are in the midst of trying to do everything in our power to control an uncontrollable dog, we cannot see the truth about the situation. In time, hopefully you will come to see — like I finally did — the reality of your situation. Even reading your story posted here over again in the future might help you to recognize what is sadly real and true about your dog.

      After my grieving process, I am now at peace with my decision. I don’t love my dog less. I just recognize the reality of my past tumultuous situation with him. I saw him through rose-colored glasses, tried to control him physically when he attacked, and made excuses for him. Now, I can see the truth being far removed from that situation. I hope only the same for you.

      My deepest sympathy and empathy for you in this heart-breaking time. I truly understand how you feel and what you are going through.

      1. Hi Jill

        Yes, you are correct, I am now blaming the vet AND myself but more so them. They didn’t give me time to think…. and they railroaded me and bombarded me. Now I realised I am so stressed and depressed I wasn’t thinking the best. I already suffer chronic depression which I’m medicated for and on a wait list for psychological treatment. I have only just moved into my new flat which was incredibly stressful but thankfully has a large garden for the dog. Plus, insomnia, lack of sleep, I don’t know where you live but here in London UK there have been fireworks non-stop for weeks since the middle of October and still ongoing – partially due to Diwali, Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and now……. well any old reason. My dog was petrified of them at first and bearing in mind she was 7yrs, I had managed to train her out of going crazy in just a short time so clearly she was capable of great change. But I was personally tired, ground down, from this endless every night noise and having to keep her in check. Plus I had to constantly monitor her interactions with my beloved 20 yr old cat (she loved him, he distained her, she ate his food when he wasn’t looking, he ate hers then she would growl at him), she would wag her tail when she looked at him though. Then there was this skin condition (bird mite parasite) which came on suddenly and resulted in me having to bathe her every day and apply potions that didn’t work (hence our vet visit). When I went to the vet, I was frazzled, irritable, stressed, with life and with the dog and my situation. She growled snarled and snapped at him. I put her muzzle on which always makes a fear-based aggression dog MORE anxious. He seemed unkind, tired, and intolerant and moody himself. We never discussed her skin condition. He immediately suggested euthenising her. I wasn’t on my best form, far from it. I was suffering a painful period too. The dog was also not well and suffering from this incredible itching they get from bird mite. So that makes three of us not in a good mood. I just took the easy option instead of taking time out. I’m angry now. My dog deserved better. She deserved the chance to recover from the itching, to calm down, for me to take her for longer walks (which I hadn’t been doing) and continue with the training which had already in a short time worked. For the first time ever she was walking well on a lead without pulling, she had stopped ‘snapping’ at every single passer by and was calm in busy streets, the only time I needed to muzzle her was if I left her alone outside shops. She had for the first time ever started to interact normally with other dogs and had even made a dog friend. One of my last memories of her the night before she was put down is her running to the window and peering out wagging her tail because she heard my upstairs neighbour come home with her dog. The vet should have said go away and think about it. INSTEAD I feel that for the sake of us all being moody, for the sake of an easy option, and because it was SO strongly put to me, I participated in the murder of my dog. I have done severe wrong by an innocent animal. I miss her already. My flat is quiet and miserable, I’m sitting here crying non-stop. I don’t think I can forgive myself for this. My friend says I should sue the vet but what for? The argument would be bizarre and it would never bring my dog back. I’m so guilty. Like Judge Judy always says, it’s the guilty ones that cry. I have suffered bereavement and I know it doesn’t feel like this when my own personal guilt isn’t part of it. Not just a little bit, a LOT.

        1. Jules,

          My heart is absolutely broken for you. I know to some extent what you are going through. Just putting my dog down caused guilt for a long time coupled with the grieving. It was horrible. I don’t wish it on anyone, and I feel so bad for you.

          My vet did the same thing to me, but she was not as forceful. She didn’t threaten to report my dog to authorities. She just opined that training would not work, and he needed to be put down. I did not make my decision on the spot. Instead I hired a trainer to come into my home twice a week to work with him, but his behavior just got worse. His attacks on my old dog became more frequent, and he continued biting people in the house.

          The last dog attack was bad, because I seriously injured my knee while breaking it up. While crying in pain holding my knee, I told my husband to call the vet and take him “tonight.” I crated him and never interacted with him the rest of the night. If I did, I would have changed my mind once again and tortured myself in my thoughts and emotions not to mention my old dog who couldn’t defend himself and all the people in my house who experienced his bites. I never said goodbye. Never held him again. So, although I wasn’t forced, I made the decision in a time of negative emotions and a chaotic situation. In my mind at the time, I felt forced. We just couldn’t continue living that way. I was constantly on edge and on guard with him.

          I’m now 8 months past it, and I can honestly say that the peace in my household and myself are wonderful now. I can attest to the fact that it eventually gets easier. I’m sure everyone needs a different time frame for healing. Take your time and don’t be so hard on yourself, especially with all of your other health issues. Just take all the time you need.

          PS. I’m in Pennsylvania USA. Good to talk to someone in the UK. Keep us posted on your progress. Take care.

        2. Jules, I am sorry for your loss. What a tragic situation. One thing I could suggest is that in your grief and review of the sad events, is that you try to remember your dog as she really was. While it’s great to remember the good things about your dog, try not to forget or minimize her problems in your memory. That doesn’t mean you remember her with any less love, but just that your memories are true to her and the situation. I mention that because when I focus on only my dog’s good qualities to the exclusion of the serious aggressive issues, it is so much harder to make sense of what happened and cope with it. In your first post, the behaviors you mention from your dog ARE extremely concerning. Your vet was able to interpret these behaviors in a more objective light and based (presumably) on years of experience with dogs. The professionals may see details in the dog’s behavior that we, as amateurs, cannot. Please believe me when I say that not every dog can be helped or fully rehabilitated from their aggression, no matter how much we love them. After seven years of “practicing” such aggressive behaviors, the chances of training and managing her aggression in a safe way are low, even with a professional trainer’s help, as I understand it.

          Still, how awful to have to go through this. Please take care of yourself.

  109. I am about to make a very difficult decision and have my 10 year old dog Emma euthanized
    2 weeks ago we had a dinner party and Emma was resting on our couch.
    A dinner guest went over and began petting her and thought he would lean down for a kiss. Emma bit him on his nose, a very serious bite requiring plastic surgery and a skin graft.
    We are devastated and don’t know what to do.
    Our Vet said it may be time to euthanize due to the severity of the bite.
    Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Elaine,

      I had to put my dog down under different circumstances. The way a dog bites is as important as the bite itself. If the dog felt threatened by your guest or if the dog was sleeping and your guest awoke him, it is not right to put the dog down without taking the dogs entire history into account. has the dog shown others instances of aggression, such as growling or snapping, clenching teeth, resource guarding etc. If this is the first instance of biting or agression I would consult a trainer and another vet. It would not be fair to the dog if he was startled or bit out of fear because your vet encroach his safety zone. Good Luck and let us know how it works out.

      1. Elaine,

        I’m in agreement with the others. If your dog has no bite or aggression history, let him live his years out in happiness. Now knowing he’s capable of a bite, maybe you could keep him in a different room or crate him when guests are over.

        I am an insurance adjuster in PA. Depending on your state’s laws, the dog is given the first bite if he has not shown prior aggression or bites. For example, if this is his first bite and the guest “provoked” him by waking a sleeping dog, then liability is not on you, despite the horrific injury. Now, you are on notice of his aggression and you are not allowed another bite injury to others. Just keep him away from strangers. Ride out this storm if he does not have a history.

        Best wishes. He deserves some wonderful golden years with your pampering and protection.

  110. Elaine, I am sorry to hear about the bite. What an unfortunate incident. I was going to make similar suggestions to what Rich said. What kind of history does your dog have? Is this the culmination of years of aggression or completely out of the blue?

    That situation must have been horrifying. Though the details of our situations are different, my dog attacked someone and it was the one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen. Knowing that MY dog inflicted harm on a person was shocking. I hope you are not in any legal trouble?

    Best wishes to you. It’s a tough situation.

  111. I adopted a boxer about 6 weeks ago. I walked him around cats, dogs and people without any problems. He is about 3 years old and has a torn ear that indicates a fight with other dogs. I am told he was picked up as a stray and scheduled for euthanizing when Atlanta Pet Rescue found him. He is very friendly with people and extremely agressive toward all animals, cat, dogs, rabbits, deer and squirrels. All my neighbors, friends, family and trainers I have seen tell me to return the dog. The dog will be euthanized and I have formed a strong bond with the dog. He is very strong and walked on a rope type choker, about 20mm so there is as little pain inflicted as possible, and a harness. All of his training has been done with professionals and my wife and myself.

    I am 75 and folks think my health is not appropiate for such a strong dog. I have come to tears thinking of him being euthanized. People do not understand why I have become so attached in such a short time.

    I am at a lost of what is right, Are all the people right and I am wrong?

    Bruce Johnson

    1. I do not know, however it is Thanksgiving DAy and instead of having dinner with friends I am nursing a dog bite the 7th one in less that three months form a dog I adopted from the shelter. My vet told me a month ago that I should put her down and I would not listen. She is a beautiful 7 pound Maltese, who would think. I am 66 and I never thought I would even consider putting this dog down. I will be taking her to the vet on Friday and she must be put down. I can’t stand the thought of someone hurting or abusing her because she bites.. My own son said , Mom I would kill that dog myself if he bit one of my kids. I have cried all night and have tears now just looking at this beautiful little dog, I know something is wrong with her that I can not fix an dI thought I could fix everyone. I guess all you can ever really do, is do the right thing. I will say I will never get another dog from a rescue again, I have learned my lesson. Dogs that are given up, there is reason. I hope this helps, as reading the other stories has helped me. Please pray for me tomorrow as I let my little Annie go.

      1. Jerrie,

        I’m so sorry that you have to go through this like those of us on this blog have. I had a 13-pound Yorkie who had the same problem. He bit lots of people, but I just crated him when people were around. However, it’s too difficult to have a dog like that when he or she bites his/her own master. The dog owner should be able to handle his/her own dog without being bitten again and again.

        I will definitely pray for you. It’s such a hard thing to go through. I wish you well during your healing. Be easy on yourself, and take your time through the healing process.

      2. Jerrie,

        I am so sorry for your loss. From the sound of it, you did the right thing. You loved your dog and wanted the best for her but as you say, sometimes there are things we can’t fix. I hope you will be able to move forward through your grief and heal, knowing you did what you could.

        I would like to reply to your comments about rescuing a dog. I know how you feel. I was fearful of how to avoid going through a similar circumstance again but also wanted a new dog to love. I had adopted my dog when he was only 8 weeks of age from a shelter, he had been transferred here from a southern state with an unknown genetic background and was sick with kennel cough when I adopted him. But he still seemed to be a normal, adorable, spunky little puppy. Oftentimes dogs with behavioral problems come from a previously abusive home or tough circumstances, right? I would have thought that a dog we got as a puppy would be okay, although we were inexperienced we tried to do all the right things, obedience training, socialization, etc. Yet we ended up tragically euthanizing him when he was only 2 years old when we determined he behaviors were just too risky. I was scared of how to avoid this relatively unlikely situation again and considered going to a breeder in the hopes that a known genetic background might help. A very helpful woman at our vet’s office assured me that adopting a mixed breed dog was still a good way to go, the majority of the time it works out great but it is sensible to choose carefully. We ended up driving to a smaller shelter in a more rural area as we had read on-line a fabulous description of a particular dog’s temperament. Having a slower turnover than the bigger shelter in our area, we felt a greater confidence that they knew this dog well (though there are other ways to achieve this too). We adopted a 2 year old lab/newfie mix and he is lovely. He is just wired differently than our last dog. He is big, gentle, and his only crimes are licking too much and a little bit of counter surfing mischief. Now we are really able to appreciate how insignificant a little doggie mischief is compared with “real” problems. I feel so fortunate that he and I were able to rescue each other. I am still grieving my first dog but have plenty of room to love my newer dog. I just wanted to share this story to give you hope for the future. Our circumstances are indeed relatively rare, which is likely why this is one of the few forums we can go to for support.

        Speaking of which, Lindsay – thank you so much for providing this space within your blog.

        Jerrie, you are in my prayers. May your dog now be at peace.

      3. No! Please don’t say you won’t rescue a dog again! Its not true that they are all problem dogs, many are given up simply because their previous owners were too lazy to have a dog and all the responsibility that entails. Many are perfectly well balanced, happy dogs that just need loving homes. Good rescues will do assessments of the dog’s character and temperament to determine whether it is suitable to be re-homed – obviously the shelter you got your dog from didn’t do that properly or they’d have noticed her biting problem.

        My own dog is a rescue and he’s wonderful! He’d never bite any person, I dread to think of dogs like him being euthanized because people thought that puppies from a breeder make better pets. They don’t necessarily by the way. My cousin got her dog as a pup from a registered breeder and he turned into a highly aggressive, people-biter. He started off with strangers, and eventually was biting my cousin’s kids. She had to put him down a couple of years ago. She has since got a new dog from the same rescue I got mine from and the new one is a lovely sweet thing.

    2. Bruce,

      I feel for you. I easily bond with dogs in a short period of time also. It seems in this situation you should be able to prevent him from attacking animals (as long as you don’t have other pets, of course).

      I STRONGLY recommend a German collar instead of the one you mentioned. You will be able to control the dog much easier, the dog being strong or not and you being 75 or not. I was able to easily train and control physically a 120-pound German Shepherd (and an out-of-control, 13-pound Yorkie). They work! The German collar looks daunting, but it really doesn’t hurt (put it on your arm and snap it back like you would on a dog — it doesn’t hurt at all), and it doesn’t create the scar tissue in the dog’s neck like the regular choker collars, according to my former dog trainer. Use a short snapping pull when your dog pulls, and your dog will get it. After a short period of training this way, your dog will get the picture as soon as you put the collar on him. This is the only type of choker I ever use or will use. It works, doesn’t hurt, doesn’t create scar tissue. Never leave it on the dog unattended though.

      Hope this helps and you and your new dog enjoy life together!

    3. Bruce,

      Only you know the right answer. I am sorry you are facing this difficult decision. I would do what you feel is right.

      Personally, I do not believe a dog should be killed for aggression towards other dogs. I think it is possible to manage the aggression by keeping the dog away from other animals and/or using a muzzle and other appropriate training tools.

      On the other hand, owning a dog like that can be quite the burden and liability. I don’t know if it’s something I could do or not.

      Best of luck to you as you make your decisions.

    4. Bruce,

      I am sorry to hear about this tough situation. The right answer isn’t immediately clear to me either, reading about your circumstances.

      I guess the only way to be able to keep the dog and be safe would be to
      achieve total environmental control and to engage in behavioral modification. I don’t know if there is any way to be certain of this though. What kind of yard containment do you have for the dog? I am thinking that this dog would absolutely need a good fence wherever he lives, if indeed he does. You would feel terrible if he got out and killed another pet. I can understand that this strong boxer with his aggressive tendencies is probably not an ideal match for you at 75, though being younger wouldn’t make this dog easy to safely manage either.

      It feels like such an injustice when a dog lover wants to help and love a dog only to find themselves in such an impossible situation – an ethical dilemma and also one in which you are unlikely to feel at peace emotionally with either decision that you make. At least that is how I feel about my own situation. I will forever miss my own dog and will never be able to fully make sense of how a dog with such a good heart could also have serious problems that were beyond my ability to heal. All the love in the world (and training) didn’t change that, and ultimately I determined his behavior was too risky to others. My position on it is that I had to put the safety of others over my love for my dog. Additionally, having to be so hypervigilant of him all the time was very stressful, that is a tough way to live as well. In my circumstances my dog was aggressive to a child (he had never displayed aggression toward kids prior to that and lived with a couple), but he had shown past aggression towards adults and was aggressive with dogs in some circumstances.

      You could also consult with a behaviorist, if you are so inclined to get yet another professional opinion. I would weigh the opinion of a behaviorist a little more heavily than that of a trainer for this kind of problem. Though it seems likely they may give you the same advise. If you do decide that it is safest for this dog to be euthanized, I would encourage you to bring him to your own vet and be with him for the euthanasia rather than returning him to the shelter for it, if you are financially able. It is hard to go through but you will will have the small comfort of knowing he died while being loved for by someone important to him (you), rather than at the hands of strangers in a more stressful setting.

      I could go on and on – I have so much empathy for you and your dog in these difficult circumstances. Best wishes.

  112. Hello,
    Not sure why I’m leaving a message… Maybe someone can advise me what to do… As I am in turmoil.
    I have 2 Great Danes both from reputable breeders here in Australia. My female, Penelope, is almost 3 years and my male called Astro-Boy, ( not de-sexed) is just over 1 and 70kgs.
    I have never seen any aggression from my female but with my male he tends to get over excited when playing and the aggression starts and they both have an ‘argument’, resulting in 2 non-life threatening expensive vet visits for my female Dane.
    To cut a long story short I had a a foxy/cross male desexed dog. He was 8 years old, very timid and approx 3 kgs in weight. My male has attacked my foxy on 2 occasions, both were totally unprovoked attacks. Once they were lying on the bed with me and the 2nd time my foxy cross was snatched from my daughters lap and he was shaken and killed. At no point in the attacks did the male Astro-Boy make any noise or growling.

    Having spoken to the breeders, they immediately said have him ‘put to sleep’ the reason given was ‘this is not Great Dane behaviour and he must have a mental condition’. Also I have spoken to Great Dane Rescue who also say the same because they can’t rehome a dog that’s killed. However, having spoken to numerous dog behaviourists they differ from saying ‘put him to sleep’ or ‘work with Astro its natural for dogs to hunt’.
    My dilemma… What to do? I love Astro-Boy, but I have to admit I’m alittle bit fearful now as I have 3 children all under 8 years ( he has never shown aggression to my children or me). I look at him and my heart is filled with sadness and confusion.
    Please help.
    Justine- Australia

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      No one can tell you what to do. You have to make your best judgement, and I am so sorry to hear about your situation.

      This is just my opinion, nothing more, but I personally do not believe dogs should be put down due to aggression around other dogs. I think dog aggression is something that can be managed by keeping the dog out of situations that would bring out the aggression. In some cases, working with an experienced behaviorist can really help, too.

      Your case is especially hard because of the size of your dog. That is an extra liability for yourself as well as any individual or rescue group that takes him.

      As another option, have you thought about rehoming your female Dane? She would be easier to adopt out. You could make sure she goes to a good home, and then you would have an easier time managing the male.

      On the other hand, if you are worried about the safety of your children, then no one would fault you for putting down the male. Kids have to come first. I am so sorry you face such a hard choice, and I wish you and your family the best.

    2. I know it’s early still with his size, but could you have him desexed now? I know it might lead to growth and joint issues, but he hasn’t hit his peak in sexual maturity, and getting rid of the excess testosterone might help temper him a bit.

      The other thing is that Dog/dog aggression is TOTALLY different than dog/human aggression. Our Chance never came after us once.

      I agree- try to find a behaviorist though- they can be a god-send.

    3. Hi, Justine from Australia,

      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through, as I’ve been there too — the turmoil of being undecided is very difficult.

      I agree with both Lindsay and Becky — I would have offered both opinions. Only you can make this decision. We know only part of the story. You are deep in the situation and know what is best for your family.

      With my dog, when I first rescued him, his behavior was much more dominant towards my female dog UNTIL I had him neutered. He calmed down so much after his operation (which was one of his problems that was managed with the neutering alone). I highly recommend that you neuter him as soon as possible and then make your decision after you’ve had an opportunity to observe his new behavior for awhile (provided you are confident that you’re children are not in danger, of course).

      Your male Dane is definitely in the role of alpha, and it sounds like he’s protecting you and your family from the other dogs (I’m sorry for the loss of your other dog). A behavioral trainer can give you some great ideas in managing that behavior.

      Please let us know how you make out. I wish you the best with your beautiful dogs.

      1. My dog was neutered and still had aggression problems which led to him being put down. If the pro’s are recommending he be put down you need to listen to them. They handle animals for a living and must live with their decisions which I am sure they do not take lightly. If you have small children their safety must come first. Please don’t wait for someone to be hurt or even killed.

        1. Rich,

          Dogs attacking a dog is TOTALLY different than a dog attacking a human. While neutering did not solve your dog’s aggression problem, it MAY solve hers, especially since he hasn’t hit full sexual maturity (normally peaks around 18 months).

          1. The word “May” is too dangerous to use when you are talking about the lives of little children. Hopefully she will not gamble with their lives.

          2. Thank you so very much for all your replies, I really appreciate it. In response to a few of the points; I will not re-home my female Dane, Penelope, to concentrate on Astro-boy. It’s just something I wouldnt do, she is a wonderful girl and NEVER has she given me any doubt to trust her.
            Astro-Boy has not shown any aggression to my children/ other humans… If he ever did I would not even need to consider ‘letting him go’, I would do it immediately. I am watching him like a hawk (but i think that more of my fear as i saw him attack and kill my little dog.
            My dilemma is that he killed my small dog after snatching him from my daughters lap. The trauma from witnessing that still ‘plays in my mind’ like a DVD. I have had dogs all my life and its not in my nature to give up ‘lightly’. I will do as suggested and contact the vets today re de-sexing and hopefully that will assist. As for a behaviourist- I have spoken to a few from phone numbers I have located. But how do I know if they are ‘good at their job’? No person I know has actually used one and I don’t want a ‘Quack’ (useless one) giving me advice.?
            Again, I would like to send a HUGE thank you to all that have given me advice. I really appreciate it. Good luck with all your own issues with your 4 legged companions.
            Justine – Australia

    1. Hi Justine,

      I am sorry for the loss of your dog and that you are having to contemplate the loss of Astro-Boy as well (love the name Astro for a dane:)). Reading the responses to your post, I’m inclined to agree to some extent with all of them – hence the dilemma, right? It’s good that you have lots of dog experience so that you are saavy at reading dog body language, etc.

      In terms of the behaviorist, it might be wise to go with a veterinary behaviorist. Here is a link about what’s different about them (though you may already know all this) http://www.advancedvetcare.com.au/all-about-us/clients/veterinary-behaviour/what-is-a-veterinary-behaviourist I know nothing about the behaviorist mentioned on this website but maybe it’s a good place to start.

      I wish you the best.

  113. I have an 8-year old German Shepherd/Bloodhound mix named Bacchus. He’s 95 lbs and is my best friend. I’ve had him since he was 6 months old and he’s the only dog I’ve ever owned. Over the last 7 1/2 years, he’s bitten me 3 times (all within the first 2 years). I can always come up with excuses and blame it on extenuating circumstances (extremely high pollen counts flaring up his allergies and sensitive doggie nose; thunderstorms and lightening causing trees to fall within 10 feet of us and scaring him; etc.). But he’s also bitten 2 kids, a Petsmart employee, my boyfriend and one of his friends. The last two were within the last 3 months. He’s also attacked (with seemingly no provocation at all) 2 of my boyfriend’s 3 Greyhounds. One of the Greyhounds had to have her leg put in a cast for 3 weeks because the gash was so deep and wide that they couldn’t do stitches to help her. When Bacchus and I are at my house, just the two of us, I never have any problems with him. It’s been nearly 6 years since the last time he bit me personally. I’ve spent a lot of time training him and 99% of the time he is perfectly well behaved. But I’m always nervous when he’s around other people or dogs. I never quite know if I can trust him or not. I have to muzzle him when I take him to the vet and he has to be sedated in order for them to do anything with him at all because he barks and lunges and thrashes about so much when he’s there, but he’s calm and lazy and peaceful and cuddly at home. I often feel like I have two separate dogs living in one body. I know him well enough that I can usually predict which dog I’m going to be dealing with, but the rules he follows aren’t easy for new people in his world to understand. I can’t kennel him because he has the same response at a kennel that he does at the vet. I crate him at home with no problem, but if anyone besides me tries to close his crate door, he barks and snarls and his eyes get all bloodshot and he starts to lunge at them. My boyfriend hired a dog trainer to come to his house and work with his Greyhounds and Bacchus all together but after the second session, she refused to work with Bacchus any more and asked me to sign a waiver saying I wouldn’t sue her if he bites someone. It hadn’t even occurred to me until she mentioned it and I wouldn’t dream of it anyway. My boyfriend has told me that he wants to propose to me. He wants to get married and have kids, but he’s fearful of having Bacchus in his home or around his dogs or around children of any age. He’s been very careful not to ask me to “get rid of him,” but it’s also clear that we can’t really move forward with our lives while Bacchus is still part of mine. I don’t know what to do. I love Bacchus so much but I don’t want to feel like I’m putting my life on hold waiting for him to get old and die. I can’t find a new home for him, because he’s so attached to me and has so many behavioral issues that it wouldn’t be fair to him or to any new owner that tried to deal with him. I feel lost and confused. Any advice anyone here can share would be a huge help. Even my 2 best friends, who are both dog people and have known Bacchus as long as I have, have said that he wouldn’t do well in a home with anyone other than me.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Jessica, thank you for sharing your story with us. I am sorry to hear of your situation.

      I can’t tell you what to do, but I can try to imagine myself in the same situation and I would probably choose to have the dog euthanized. Before doing so, I would have a serious conversation with my boyfriend about all my feelings related to the situation. It might be easy to put the blame on my boyfriend down the road, especially if I am feeling guilty about the dog, and I don’t think that would be fair.

      I would take at least one full day dedicated to my dog to do all of his favorite things. I would take him on a long walk, play his favorite games, give him his favorite treats. Then I would say goodbye.

      I wish you peace with whatever decision you make.

  114. Jessica, I really feel for you. Reading the facts as you’ve written them, my personal assessment is that – it’s time. I don’t often like to come out and give a definite opinion as of course only you can know your dog best and the decision is such a serious one, but the facts here speak pretty loudly for themselves. I can relate a lot to what you have been through with your dog. We euthanized our beloved dog when he was only 2 years old after, shockingly, he attacked a little boy. As you have done, I had done everything I could to train him and manage his aggressive behavior safely, but I identified this as a line that couldn’t be crossed. Had we not taken that action then, I imagine I could easily be writing a similar post to yours down the line as he likely would have had more incidents to list. Like you, I don’t think he could have been safely rehomed, and even if so, we had such a strong bond that I couldn’t stand the thought of it and can’t imagine what it would have done to him.

    It’s not fair to your boyfriend’s other dogs to have to be at risk when your dog is around, and the bite that occured with one of them sounds pretty serious. It’s scary that he’s bitten so many people, though I can appreciate what you say about his bites with you being early on, my dog too made a lot of progress with me after a rocky adolescence too. As a trainer told me, while it is of course right and admirable to be so dedicated to your dog and to try to work through his issues, having a dog isn’t supposed to be that hard and dangerous. You shouldn’t have to live in fear that he will harm someone. It sounds like he functions like a loaded gun. I am sure your stress level is very high as a result of having to be hypervigilant with him. You shouldn’t have to live in a situation where you have to delay marriage, and starting a family (if you are so inclined) because your dog is too aggressive to allow that. It says something that the trainer who was hired to help manage this situation refused to continue training.

    I chose to put the safety of others over my love for my dog. It is the hardest thing I’ve been through to date. I miss him every day, although the grief has gotten lighter, I doubt I will ever “get over him.” But if your dog causes serious injury to someone – especially those vulnerable kids – you will never get over that either.

    Best of luck to you. It is such a tough situation to be in. I hope you and your dog will find peace. Keep us posted.

  115. Just stumbled across this article by chance. My husband and I are having our 2 year old American Bulldog euthanized in 2 days. We have had this dog since he was about 7 weeks old. Our son brought him home. We had really no information about his background or the individual that my son got him from. As a young pup, he seemed to be afraid of barking dogs and loud noises. He first showed food agression at about 3 months and we worked with him to stop that issue. About 6 months ago, out of the blue, he attacked and bit my husband. This happened a couple of days in a row. We took the dog to our Vet and boarded him with a kennel owner who had experience with these dogs and spoke with a trainer specializing in this breed. The trainer said that the dog was like an adolescent testing his boundries and gave us advice on how to turn him around.

    We took the advice of the trainer and things went back to normal for a while. This week, the agression has returned with my husband being bitten 3 times and the dog attacking our 15 year old black lab for no reason. I was able to intervene and stop the attack, but he has tried to get to her on several other occasions since.

    We have come to the decision that he has become dangerous and unpredictable. We live in a neighborhood with small children (who absolutely love him). We are heart broken, but realize this is something that has to be done. Our Vet told my husband (who had been biten in the upper arm) that if he could jump up and bite him on the arm, he would not have much trouble going for the throat.

    We have invested a tremendous amount of time, energy and love in this dog and though Monday will be a very hard day, we know that we are doing the right thing. We will have sweet, sweet memories of his good days.

  116. Diane, I am sorry to hear about your situation and your dog. It’s certainly sounds like you’ve done what you could to manage his aggression but haven’t been able to achieve safety. It sounds like you are making a sensible decision. I am sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you.

  117. Diana (who posted on 12/7),

    I’m not seeing your post on here, but I received an email notification and read your heartbreaking story. I am tearing up reading it. I feel so much empathy and sympathy for you, because I went through a very similar situation. My 11 pound dog did much the same as yours, and he was just as loyal to me as your dog was to you. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. My heart was so broken, because I loved my dog and he was attached to me.

    I had to keep the logical thought that he was hurting others. I wouldn’t want to keep getting bit by a dog or have the fear of that every time I walked into someone’s house. Owning a dog should not be that hard. Pets should be pleasant, fun, and comforting.

    I can assure you that my grief lessened over time when I never thought it would in the first months. It does get better. Of course, I still miss my dog and think of him often, but I’m not as grieved and don’t cry as hard or as often any more (it’s only been 9 months for me). The early days are hard, so don’t be so hard on yourself. You will go through a lot of emotion. Just don’t allow guilt to take root. You did the right logical thing to protect everyone else. Your heart just needs time to catch up with that.

  118. I think its very easy to prejudge people when they talk of looking to euthanase their problem dog but until you are in that position yourself you just wouldnt understand.

    Sadly I’m now facing this decision with our much loved 5 year old pointer x springer dog. He was rehomed by us for the third time at 9 months old (should have rang alarm bells at the time but we fell i love with him….what more can i say) having had a very sad start to life, firstly removed from his litter way too early and castrated at only a handful of weeks old and owned by a pensioner who both mistreated him and didnt exercise or train him. Was then rehomed by a lovely lady who frankly went too far the other way with him, constant attention, no boundaries and again not enough exercise. When we got him was fair to say a fair bit of damage was already done.

    Not too long after taking him on it became apparent that he was becoming more and more dominant over territory and displaying increasing amounts of nervous aggression to other dogs…..this soon extended to strangers and eventualy on occasion my wife and I.

    We sought specialist help though that helped little, and we made the choice to try and adapt our circumstances to make things work. Over the years its fair to say some of his behaviours have improved, 99% of the time hes a wonderful companion, is much better with strange people and other dogs than he ever used to be but then we had a child……

    Our son is now 18 months old and sadly we just cant trust the dog anymore. With his nervous agression issue and that he has bitten (though not badly) and had displayed agressive behavour towards our child (but hasnt bitten him) i now know for sure our home is not the right environment for him. Also the chances of rehoming him with his history are very slim. We’re devestated but we feel we have little choice but to do this if we cant find him a suitable home. Absolutley no way would i have him put in a home to end up being put to sleep on his own; we’ll be there with him should it come to it.

    When you get a dog you never think for a moment that you will face having to put your dog down for anything other than health reasons…..wouldnt wish it on anyone. Ultimately i have to put both the dog and my sons best interests at heart. Feel for anyone else having to deal with this situation

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Paul,

      Thank you for sharing your situation. I am sorry to hear you are going through this, and I wish you the best. I do know others will benefit from knowing they are not alone.

      1. Thanks for the kind responses. Fortunately our story ends very happily….we’ve now re-homed our dog with a family we know who live close by who have a much better set up for him (bigger home, grown up children and work from home so has constant human contact); perfect as he is now a great deal happier and less stressed and they love him too….we will also get to see him occasionally which is fantastic.

        There is of course still a large void which I cant say is disappearing as the days go on; four and a half years with him means the house feels naturally quite empty without him but all in all couldnt have wished for a better outcome.

        1. Paul,
          It is nice to know someone else understands how I feel. I had to let my best friend go this way and not a day goes by that I don’t mourn my Justus. A big beautiful border collie with perfect black and white markings but with big blue eyes. I called him my “handsome man”. Because of his size and having grand babies crawling on the floor I did not let the dog inside. I did have a small inside dog, that appeared to taunt Justus through the window. Justus became angry toward dogs. This dog had a runner line the depth of the back yard. He had a nice dog house but would rather sleep in a shallow hole near the sliding glass door. I would look out the window often, daily and see my door mourning for attention. I would promise but my attempts with my schedule were limited. During a storm a dead limb fell from a tree and hit his hip. The Dr, said that he could have pain from this because of arthritis. So many reasons that I may have caused my poor dog to become aggressive. He was fed on time fresh water twice daily and loved on a few minutes trough out the day. He needed more and I should never have tried to keep him as a pup. I could not trust this five year old dog with another family especially with small children. I became homeless and had no where to take him. I had just begun learning how to help him when my life fell apart. I just didn’t know what else to do. So when I think of that guy that I watched out the window, fed, played with and dreamed about being with more, promising those big blue eyes one day we would have a big big yard and be able to run and run! It never happened and my spirit heart cries. Thank you for sharing your story and I am sorry you are in this dilemma. I pray Heavenly Father will let me have Justus back in the next world. I really need to run through fields of grace with Justus.

          I just read down and am so thankful you were able to find someone to take your dog and the dog is able to have his needs met fully. You are so blest. The day I took Justus to the pound where the dog pound man told me repeatedly that he would not adopt my dog out. He had been to the house and met aggression when he tried to get close to Justus. There was a man sitting in there that morning when a hysterical 50ish woman brought in the most beautiful dog. The dog was immediately taken to the back going quietly with tail between legs. I had said my good byes at the house and on the way. I hated this. The man observing looked like he might be able to help my dog. I have prayed that he did intercept and find Justus one of those families who would take Justus in and heal him. I am so glad for you.

          1. Linda, that story breaks my heart. I am sorry for your loss and hope that your dog found peace and that life is treating you better.

  119. Paul, I am sorry to hear about your situation and your dog. There are no easy answers. Your child’s safety is paramount, and the arrival of a child can drastically alter the ability to manage a dog’s aggressive tendencies. I hope that perhaps a perfect, childless home will present itself as an option, but short of that there are not a lot of options. It’s such a painful decision to have to make. I wish you and your family the best.

  120. Tripped over this most helpful blog today. I am at my wit’s end with a 14-month old spayed 65-pound pit bull/chow/God-knows-what dog. Earlier today she went insane on my daughter’s dog, to the point of drawing blood. She needed to be beaten off of the non-aggressive dog.

    Not the first time this has happened. First, this dog is notoriously food aggressive. I’ve tried everything—hand feeding, feeding separately. Second, this is not the first time she’s gone after another dog, or a cat, or ME. A couple of months ago she was in the house and came bounding across the room, hair raised, teeth barred, barking and growling, because my kitten and I were standing too close to a chew toy that neither of us saw. The only thing that saved us was I was using a walker and threw the walker at the dog while the kitten escaped. A couple of weeks after that, she went after me while I was hand-feeding the three dogs (one neutered German Shep/PB; my dog and her littermate) treats while sitting at eye level. I managed to kick her in the chest before she made it to my face.

    I believe part of this dog’s problem is that she was not raised by a dog—she was dumped at a vet’s office as a newborn with the remainder of her litter, and hand-raised by an animal health technician. This dog has no concept of alpha, who is the alpha, and the consequences of picking a fight with the alpha. My idiot husband and his permissive behavior toward this dog doesn’t help. If she’s being aggressive, he calls to her and rewards her with food. He is extremely dog-ignorant. He also doesn’t believe that it’s a problem if a dog goes after a cat or another dog.

    I have tried spending one-on-one time with this dog and something always happens. The last time I had her at my side, she ran off when the UPS guy drove up and was aggressive toward him. Being disabled, I could not catch or restrain her, and only by divine intervention was he not bitten. She does not come when called unless she feels like it and she knows there is food in hand, and if it is possible to use narcissist, selfish and manipulative as qualities to describe a dog, those are the best words I can use. I’ve had dogs all my life but never anything like this.

    Two of the three dogs should be leaving my property soon, and while I hope this settles the one dog down, frankly I am afraid of her. I have had a shelter worker tell me that if I’m afraid of the dog, and do not trust her and have seen her be aggressive, that there is no shame in euthanizing her.

    When I was a child, my beloved little chihuahua-pug mix dog was killed by a German Shepherd. Bandit didn’t die outright during the fight, but had both kidneys damaged in the fight and died a few days later, alone at the vet’s. I never got to say goodbye to him, and I remember how much it hurt to lose him because of an aggressive dog. I don’t want to put anyone through what I went through 45 years ago.

    By reading everyone’s post, I am understanding that the hard decision needs to be made, and I need to make it before a cat, another dog, or a human being is harmed. She cannot safely be re-homed, and I know this to be a fact. Besides, who in their right mind knowingly takes on a dog like this?

    Her next attack will be her last, I think. It may take me half a day to catch her, but I will take her to the vet and end this ridiculousness. I will never adopt another dog that has a drop of pit bull or chow in it. Back to the Shelties and Aussies that I know and have never had problems with, ever.

    1. To allow her one more chance is to give her one more VICTIM! That is what a friend told us about my husband’s springer. I took him to the vet that day. Remember that victim could be you! My friend’s sister tried to breakup a fight between her two dogs and was seriously bitten in the face. You know what needs to be done, do it now.

    2. Please don’t blame the breed- that is ignorance speaking. You said it yourself- she was separated from her mom neonatally- she most likely missed out on key socialization.

      Also, before you blame it on not knowing how to “treat an alpha” I suggest you look into the flaws of dominance theory and why Cesar Milan type training and mentality can further fuel aggression and anxiety!

      Not a professional, but it seems that you are dealing with resource guarding, and a TERRIER with a high prey drive. Terriers are stubborn when it comes to their prey- that’s what they were bred to do- hunt!

      In the end it is a difficult decision, but it is yours alone.

      1. Becky, If I could flag your latest post, I would. Your latest post especially is quite judgmental, opinionated, and attacking. It comes off very unwelcoming for those trying to find a place of solace and sharing in a difficult time. You really need to start censoring yourself. We are here to be a refuge for others going through heartbreaking times just like we did.

        Catherine, I feel for you. I had a similar situation. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but my stress level (and everyone else’s in my household including my other dogs) is nil now. I normally rescue dogs in need, and this was my first dog with such horrible behavioral problems no matter how those problems came to be. For the safety of my family and other dogs, I had to make a hard choice, which turned out to be the best for everyone involved. My heart is healing, and it gets easier all the time.

        Lisa is right, though, the next attack could be fatal to one of your other pets or very injurious to a child or person.

        I wish you the best in your decision-making at this very difficult time.

      2. Becky, I totally agree with you. It’s not the breed, and Cesar Millan’s punishment-based approaches have sent dog behavior backwards 30 years. I’ve been in the same situation as Catherine, it was tough and heartbreaking. The only improvement I found was from high quality counter-conditioning, but ultimately a dog’s temperament is much harder to change than its behavior. Sadly, all that energy could be used more valuably rescuing non-aggressive dogs without a home – and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Someday we’ll find a cure for the root causes of all dog fear and aggression. Until then we can only do our best.

        Take care everyone, CJ

        1. Catherine, I am sorry to hear about the situation with your dog. My dog also had issues with resource guarding. It’s tough. There is a book on it, “Mine! A Practical Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs” that offered me some insight and a practical training guide (though professional assistance is warranted). My dog’s got better – especially once his “come” command was rock solid, so that I could get him to drop and leave the item rather than needing to take it away from him, which had been problematic. It never went away though, it was just mananged. It sounds as though your dog’s issues with it are difficult. I mention this for thoroughness though it sounds as though the situation may be beyond books. In my dog’s case his ultimate aggressive episode was not related to guarding and yet we still ended up with a tragic situation and euthanasia.

          During his adolescence, I was afraid of my dog also. It’s a terrible feeling to be legitimately afraid of someone you live with. I can understand what you are going through in that regard.

          A previous poster used the phrase “It’s better to be a week early than a day late.” I would encourage you to make any decisions you need to make now rather than waiting for a disaster that you expect will strike. If you decide to proceed with euthanasia under a more controlled circumstance, perhaps you will be able to spend some quality time with your dog (if this is feasible) and to make her trip to the vet’s as peaceful and loving as possible. Has your vet offered any insights or advice regarding your dog’s behavior or recommended euthanasia? Best of luck to you and your dog.

          CJ, I appreciate your comments about changing behavior versus temperament. You are so right on when you say that we can only do our best. A lot of us on this site have experienced first hand that sometimes are best just isn’t enough to get a dog with aggression rehabilitated safely and effectively. It’s heartbreaking.

    3. I should have listened back in December, but I couldn’t stand the idea that in 55 years of life I failed to raise a dog that could be a good citizen. I had my first dog when I was 2, a Papillion-Chihuahua mix, and have raised several dogs from puppyhood into their old age. I have never ever had a dog that bit, fought and was as aggressive and disobedient as this one. I kept hoping that kindness would prevail, but it hasn’t and it never will.

      Today while in the front yard with me, she and her litter mate (both spayed) went after a small white fluffy dog. The vet bill on said fluffy dog is $2400, but the owner had her off-leash so I’m prepared to go to court. My dogs were unrestrained in my front yard and left my yard to go after the unrestrained smaller dog, who didn’t make a peep until the two were on her.

      Stoli will be euthanized in the morning, and Pru (a follower and the usual subject of Stoli’s aggression who has been beaten up twice this week) has one more chance. I would have taken her in immediately, but I couldn’t catch her. I had to chase her into the back yard after the attack, couldn’t get near her. I finally cornered her but she was ape-shit crazy growling, snarling with raised hair, and I wasn’t going to attempt to catch her and take her in the car to the vet in that state. I’m simply too disabled to fight with a 60+ pound dog.

      Doesn’t matter how hard I try to get these dogs to come when called, I can’t do anything with them. My husband is of no help, he refused to take the dog in after her very first attack on my and the kitten, and there’s no such thing as animal control coming by to take vicious owned dogs in this county due to budget cuts. A vet bill in his hands has shown him the light. She’s gone in the morning.

      I don’t care what people say about it “not being the breed.” I have never experienced such a Jeckyl-and-Hyde self-centered hair-trigger dog in my life. Whatever she’s crossbred with, pit bull/mastiff/chow, I am beginning to understand how breed-specific legislation takes hold. Right about now I’d support it. I have never failed to understand a dog like I have this one. Eighty percent of the time she’s fine, as long as you don’t put any demands on her, like “come” and “sit.” If you so much as make eye contact with her, she’s on high alert, growling, barking and fur raised. Leash training has been impossible, with the dog pulling, growling, snarling and biting at the leash. Even as a puppy she was impossible to leash train—she’d throw herself on the ground and growl.

      Tonight I don’t feel bad about her impending death at all. My back hurts like hell from breaking up the fight which ended only because the dogs were distracted by a second little fluffy dog and a chow, both unrestrained off-leash, with the owner following them all. I got in between the little dogs and yelled at my two, who hightailed it back to their garage. I will never own another dog of any kind, I seem to do better with cats.

      People who come to this blog after me: Lisa is correct: to allow a vicious dog one more chance is to give her one more victim. Only by the grace of God has this dog not bitten a human being. She won’t have the chance. I don’t believe that whatever it is in this dog’s head, her blood, her breed, whatever—is salvageable. What’s really pathetic is I am certain this dog’s mother has likely had two or three more litters of unwanted mongrel puppies in the 16 months since this dog was born, ’cause that’s how people in this area roll when they have pit bull or pit bull-cross dogs. Spaying/neutering ruins their brio. Of course those same people don’t see all of the municipal dog shelters (kill shelters) or rescue groups that are overrun with pit pull/pit bull crosses. I wonder how many of those dogs are turned in because of the crap I’m going through with my dog?

      1. Catherine, I am sorry to hear that your situation with your dog(s) hasn’t improved. I hope that the victim dog will be okay – for $2400 the damage must be quite severe. How crazy that all of these dogs were unrestrained. Are you in a more rural area?

        The comments about the breed will likely raise a lot of emotions in others. I can understand that it seems like the breed when your experience has been so different than with other dogs you have had. A lot of experts do say that pits may be more prone to have dog aggression issues than some breeds and so have to be managed carefully for that. I have seen lots of pits at the dog park who are completely loving and playful too, just wonderful pets. In the case of my dog (not a pit) I think that a significant part of the problem was genetic – but not so much his breed as perhaps his individual litter. I believe he came from a situation like the one you describe – irresponsible litters. So frustrating for those of us who try to rescue and care for these dogs that others are just being sloppy and irresponsible.

        I can certainly understand that you feel angry and frustrated. Can I implore you, though, if it’s not too late, to channel the memory of the 80% of her that is “fine,” as you mention? I hope you are not offended by me asking this, I just believe so passionately that every dog who must be euthanized be sent out of this world with love, or at least with minimal anxiety or fear. It makes me so sad to think of anything less. I suspect that if you are able to put the anger aside to send her off peacefully you will take comfort in it later. As difficult as the situation has been, I don’t think your dog is being a jerk intentionally. She was probably dealt a bad hand, as one trainer said to me about my dog.

        I hope that you and your dog will find peace.

        1. Hi Rachel

          Yes, I live in a rural area, down a 1/4-mile long dead-end road, in a cul-de-sac. There are 4 houses on the cul-de-sac; the victim dog lives 2 houses up the road, about 100 yards from the opening of the cul-de-sac. Many people do not restrain their dogs properly, I see the dogs who got beat up and its two friends out in the street all of the time. Ours are secured in the back yard but they are experts at chewing through the wood fences and digging holes everywhere. They are allowed in front as a treat and only when we are out front at the same time. The neutered male is never allowed out front as he runs down the street, barks at horses and then runs to a church a quarter mile away and barks like an idiot. The females do/did not leave the cul-de-sac. None of the dogs come when called unless they see a treat in hand. That is the biggest problem and probably why this ended as it did. I tried reward-based learning but none of these dogs will do a thing unless they see a food reward in hand.

          The victim dog has a fractured leg, pelvic injuries and severe bite marks on her belly and throat. My two dogs went in for the kill. The attack lasted a minute, by the time I walked over (I cannot run and walk slowly) the dog’s owner had finally arrived. I don’t think her dog would have been attacked had she been with the dog in the first place. My dogs put on a show, but when you stand up to them, they back down.

          My daughter brought up an interesting theory about why this dog went bad, and I’d appreciate it if some of you could evaluate her statement. She knew a guy who had s boxer-mix female who was reliable and best friends to his 2-year old daughter. When he took the dog in to be spayed, she was in heat (don’t know if she was just coming in or almost done). She was spayed and underwent a radical personality change which culminated in the dog killing a neighbor’s Chihuahua. That dog ended up in a boxer rescue and apparently was rehabbed, or so they say. Stoli was spayed while still in heat in mid-June (she was no longer bleeding but apparently her uterus revealed she was in heat). A month later is the first time she attacked the kitten and me for standing too close to a rawhide chew toy, and when she started regularly beating up the follower dog, her littermate. My daughter says the boxer owner said the spay in heat caused his dog permanent PMS or something like it.

          At any rate, my husband says no more dogs and I will respect that. Unless a Sheltie, Aussie or Border Collie stray onto my driveway I cannot purposely adopt another dog. I understand how those dogs work! Anything else pops up I’ll have to call animal control to come get it. I’m not going through this again ever.

          1. Lindsay Stordahl

            So sorry to hear you have had to go through all this, Catherine. Really, I don’t think there are ever any simple, obvious answers to why dogs behave a certain way.

      2. Catherine,

        I am sorry to hear about your situation. This decision must have been difficult, but it was necessary. The safety of other dogs and people that come in contact with your dog must prevail above all else. It is difficult to make the right choice when you get caught up emotionally in the situation. As an outsider with no vested interest I can see that your decision is a responsible one as well. Good luck and please don’t let this discourage you from getting another dog in the future. There are plenty of them out there who need a loving home.

  121. Having already posted on Dec 27 urging Becky to put down her aggressive dog, I feel the need to give everyone else the other side of the issue.

    My 30 something son and his fiancé rescued a dog with the nickname Bob the Biter. He is a miniature dachshund who had been returned to rescue easily a dozen times. After a week or so they seriously considered returning him. He only bit people typically on the hand but without warning. They researched and also studied his behavior to learn what would prompt him to bite. They also had another dachshund who Bob was buddies with and three cats that he was terrified of.

    Flash forward 5 years, Bob hasn’t bitten anyone in a couple of years. He absolutely loves the toddler next door and will let her do anything to him. (Don’t ask me how they discovered that). They have no doubt that if they tried to pick him up while sleeping he would bite or other things they know are triggers. No one knows what he went through as a puppy to get like this.

    Of course at 14 lbs he’s not overly dangerous but his bite can be nasty. He’s just not going to rip half your face off!

    Should every aggressive dog be put down? Absolutely not! But for some dogs it’s the right thing to do. Some people over react and others don’t act soon enough. When my son was 9 months old my then dachshund nipped him leaving a mark on his cheek. The dog was not aggressive in anyway. She just wasn’t putting up with being hit on the head. The baby got it and they were best buds and often slept together.

  122. Are there are comments that could help me? My beautiful 2 yr old toy Yorkie
    Just tore off the ear and ripped open the neck of my teacup yorkie. She had to
    have major surgery at emergency hospital. The 2 yr old attacks constantly. Pets,
    people and unprovoked. My vet says we have no choice. I don’t feel she is able
    to be re homed. I also feel she will be abused due to her behavior. I can’t bear
    that thought. I think of me and her playing kissey face and I break down.
    thank you

    1. Hi Joni,

      Sorry to hear about your really tough situation. Need more info to be helpful. What have you tried to change the attacking Yorkie’s behavior?

  123. hey
    We have tried almost everything. When she was 8 months old, had her spayed,
    by, we thought, a good vet. Found out, he did not monitor oxygen and she
    only breathed the poisen gases. In a few days, she was bleeding from her mouth
    and rear end. her organs were breaking down. she was in the hospital a week
    and almost died. She has never been the same. I know something happened
    at that time that can’t be fixed. My husband has a bandaged hand and she tries
    to attack me. I am afraid of her. We had 3 attacks last week and right now, we just
    keep her isolated. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

  124. Hi Joni,

    If you’re sure that may be the cause, then you may want to find a vet with experience doing CT, MRI or EEG brain analysis in the context of aggression. That is a long shot, and may be expensive.

    It sounds like you care a lot about your dog. It also sounds like you’re in a situation where euthenasia may be warranted, sadly. Only you can decide if that’s the right option.

    You may want to try the online service at Tufts University (Dr. Dodson) for more detailed advice.

    Sorry and best of luck,
    Chris

    1. Joni, I am sorry to hear about your dog’s aggression, and that your other dog was so badly injured. The problem does sound severe and I would guess your vet is probably right. If you want to exhaust your options, you could consult a behaviorist, or most ideally, a veterinary behaviorist. They are highly skilled at assessing a dog’s behavior and can tell you if your dog can be rehabilitated, and if so, assist you with training. Sometimes medication may be prescribed. A consultation may cost you several hundred dollars. Given what you describe, in my opinion, it would be reasonable to move to euthanasia without this step as well, though, given that your dog is aggressive to both humans and dogs and has caused potentially life threatening injuries to your other dog already. Just my amateur thoughts. No matter what you do, it is a hard decision. Living with an aggressive dog can be highly stressful. With my dog I decided I had to put safety first, despite my love for him. I took him to the vet and held him and told him I loved him and made sure his death was peaceful. That’s all I could do for him, ultimately. Best wishes to you. Keep us posted.

  125. I can’t believe I came across this board. I am struggling with making the decision to put down our female pit bull. We adopted her from another family 20 months ago. There was no information about her being aggressive, just skittish. She has serious scars which indicate she may have been in fights prior to her coming to us. Also, her teeth are either missing or worn down indicating she may have been kept in a crate/cage for extended periods of time and was trying to escape. Her physical appearing indicates that she has had several litters so she may have been used for breeding. We adpoted her right after she was spayed.

    She always seemed “picky” about people she liked. She is very attached to me and if it were just she and I, she would be a wonderful dog. However, she is in a house with my husband and our 2 other (6 yr old maile hound/beagle mixes – brothers from the same litter). One of the males is her best buddy; they sleep together, play together, basically just pal around all the time. The other dog is a little more nervous and she tends to chase him around. When we had her for 4 months, she got into a scuffle with the other dog and he needed stiches in his ear and a 2 day hospital stay. She has nipped him a few times, since then. Last night, those 2 dogs got into a scuffle which my daughter tried to break up. She ended up with a large bite on her hand that required a trip the the emergency room. The male dog has lacerations on his leg and is having some difficulty walking on it.

    She barks at anyone who comes into our house or yard. There are only a few people aside from myself and my 2 adult daughters who she will actually be friendly toward. She growls at my husband when he comes home from work, growls at my daughters’ boyfriends, so it seems that she has an aversion to males. Growls at people on the street when we walk so I always end up crossing the street or walking on streets I know have fewer people walking.

    I love her very much. She is a smart dog and with me, very sweet. My husband is insistent that we get rid of her for practical reasons, most of all that he fears she wiil end up biting someone very seriously and we will have a legal liablity.

    We are unsure how old she is but aside from some skin allergies, she is healthy. However, I know we can’t keep her and I cannot imagine her living in a shelter or with another family.

    I guess I’m posting this hopeful that someone will give me encouragement that whatever decision I come to will be the right one.

    So sad. But I agree with other posters who can’t justify spending time, effort and money on a poor dog who may never be OK, when there are countless dogs looking for homes.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Pattie,

      So sorry to hear of your situation. Your dog sounds like she is very loving, but obviously she has some issues. I do not know what the right answer is, and I certainly support you no matter what you decide to do. I hope that sharing your situation here has helped you at least a little. Take care.

    2. Pattie,

      You know your dog better than anyone, so the decision you make will be the right one.

      In trying to brainstorm what (if anything) could be done for this dog instead of or prior to euthanasia, I momentarily wondered if a different household (single dog) could be helpful. I do, however, relate to what you write about being unable to imagine her in a different home. I felt the same way about my own dog. Life with her does sounds like it’s gotten scary – growling at a member of the household, injuring your other dog. Biting your daughter too, of course, though it sounds like that may have been unintentional, but still.

      For help in your decision making, you could speak with your vet, and if your humane society is like ours they may have a behavior helpline you can call for free advice. Personally I agree with you about not bringing her to a shelter – she would almost certainly be euthanized there, and the unfamiliar environment would be more scary.

      I can relate to the heartbreak. It’s a terrible situation to be in. The decision is so hard. I wish you the best and hope you can find peace with whatever decision you make. Sorry for not responding to your post sooner, I know how helpful it can be to hear from people who have been through it. Take care.

  126. For everyone struggling with this issue, I recommend a great book called “The dog Who Loved Too Much” by Nicolas Dodman. He is the leading vet expert on dog behavior and pharmacology. I got this when I rescued a dachshund with fear aggression issues. She is now easily manageable. Then when I got together with a man with a Springer Spaniel with the same problems it helped us decide to put him down.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I just read a portion of it on amazon, and it seems like a really interesting read. I wish I had had this book when my dog’s aggression emerged in adolescence, at the very least it would have granted me a better insight into what was going on. It makes me angry thinking of what a poor job the behaviorist we hired did in helping us when there are such better behaviorists out there, as evidenced by this book.

  127. Please look into this amazing rescue that takes on these difficult cases & provides another option: http://www.smilingdogfarms.com. Please donate to them!

    I, too, had a dog with such sever aggression issues. I couldn’t keep her after several trainers, thousands of dollars, 3 bite attacks, & moving 3 times. I am so grateful that she can live out her days here now.

    In addition, moving Bowie to Smiling Dog Farms opened up our home to 3 other rescues.

    1. Rachel,
      I work with a rescue as a volunteer and we are so small that coming up with the funds to move an a dog to smiling farms looks near impossible and yet that looks like the place for him. I am so heartbroken and hate that money has to be the issue. Not sure what we will do with our beautiful boy that wants to kill small animals and other dogs. Maybe we will be able to find a way, I hope and pray so but I wanted to thank you for recommending Smiling farms.

  128. I found this site while searching for help for our pit/boxer mix. We rescued her when she was six months old, & had spent that entire time on a chain. She started really showing aggression 2 years ago. As we were waiting to go into the obedience class, a strange dog came around the corner of the aisle, and rushed to our dog, making an attempt to show dominance. Our dog immediately took action, and she’s been aggressive ever since.
    I’ve done everything I know to help this dog. Most of the time, she’s a doll and sweet as can be, but her aggression seems to be getting worse. She’s jumped on our other dogs (hurting our oldest dog serious enough to require surgery), bit me, growls at both me and DH, and goes nuts if she sees another dog or if someone comes to our house.

    I know her behavior is a liability, so in the morning, we’ve decided to take her to the vet and have her euthanized. I don’t know what else to do. I feel I’ve failed her as an owner; that there’s something I’ve not done right, or maybe I’m overlooking something that might help her. 99% of the time, she’s sweet as can be, but in that 1%, it’s like she escalates from zero to crazy in 1.5 seconds.

    My heart is breaking as I write this. Right now, she’s here beside me and I’ve no idea how I’m going to go through with it. I used to work in a vet’s office, so I’ve seen dogs put down because of aggression and all kinds of reasons. I’ve had to put my own pets to sleep because they were old and sick, so I’m not new to it, but I’ve never had to do it simply because the dog was “bad”. It’s not her fault; she can’t help the way she is, and I don’t know how to help her, except let her go.

    1. Sherry,

      You haven’t failed her as an owner, and she’s not “bad”- she’s ill. You’ve DONE what you can, and there’s nothing else you can do except to set her free from the demons that she is battling in her mind.

      My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family tonight and tomorrow.

  129. Sherry,

    I’m so sorry. We went through this a few months ago with a dog who showed aggression to our toddler but was great most of the time. It’s so sad and difficult and lonely. It’s so hard to have to be OK through it. As I’m sure you know, it gets easier. I do still have a lot of pain even though I know for sure we did the right thing. People here are really wonderful, and reading some posts really helped me, and I hope they help you too. Take care.

  130. Yes, thank you for your replies..it has helped me also. As I stated in the earlier post, we had no trouble with aggression until that first dog approached her so suddenly, and I think that instilled a fear in my dog…that all other dogs are a threat, and she goes on the offense immediately when she sees one.

    My husband and I both cried so much last night, and I am going to call the trainer who did our obedience class and talk with her today. When we did the obedience classes, my husband did well with the training at first, but the dog would always get to him with the “sad eye” look, and he would give in, undermining everything I was trying to reinforce. I think part of our dogs’ problem is she thinks she’s the pack leader.

    After giving it a great deal of thought, I told DH this morning that today is a new day, and thus begins a new way of living for us and the dogs (we have a Great Dane mix who has severe separation anxiety..our oldest dog, who is a Heinz 57 variety, already knows her “place” in the pack). So far this morning, they have learned the couch is “off limits” and they have their own “place” for them to curl up, which is away from us, but still within sight. After they realized they had to stay in their “place”, they settled down comfortably and we were able to go about our morning routine as if they weren’t here.

    Since our aggressive dog is so headstrong, it’s gonna take a lot of consistency to get her to the frame of mind that our oldest dog is, and I don’t know if that is even possible or if this plan will work, but I want to give it one more try, because I’m not ready to give up on her yet. He agreed to the plan, even though it would be tough at first, because this is our last hope at having a really good dog. If it doesn’t work, then we will definitely have no other choice.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It sounds like this training approach is the right step for you and your family to try. Best of luck to you, Sherry. I hope everything goes well. It’s obvious how much you love and care for your dog.

  131. I just want to thank everyone who’s offered their stories and support through this site. I had to say goodbye to my best friend last month and although I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forgive myself I find comfort in experiencing the love all the above owners offered their less then perfect dogs. As someone wiser then me said it is the loneliest decision. It’s a decision made harder by the fact that most people just can’t imagine what it’s like to choose to put down a dog you loves you with every bit of their being, one who looks to you solely for your love and support. Having to say goodbye for everyone else s safety seems like such a betrayal. I’m not going to say it’s gets easier or say it’s right to put down an aggressive dog but I will tell everyone looking for support that you are not alone.

  132. I wanted to thank all of you. I found this blog as we wait until Saturday when we are scheduled to put down a pit mix that was dumped in our neighborhood six months ago. She wandered up to my drive, and after no luck re-homing her, she became ours. We have two perfectly stable dogs, and our new friend was aggressive towards them at first, but after some careful work she blended in.

    Unfortunately we have had two incidents in which she attacked other dogs in the neighborhood. The most recent was Monday when she broke free of her leash and took down a large shepherd. It took everything I had in about ten hard punches to her face to get her to let loose. Fortunately the shepherd is fine, but we realized we just cant keep her any longer due to this flaw. Normally she’s a complete sweetie, but the chance that she could kill an innocent pet means she can’t stay with us. No one will take her, so Saturday morning she’ll get a meal, a nice walk like always, then we’ll put her down.

    Your comments on this blog have provided me with a great deal of comfort in a terribly difficult time. I love her to pieces, but I can’t let her hurt another pet. Its not easy, and it doesn’t always feel good to do the right thing, but unfortunately we can’t save them all.

    Godspeed Ruby girl, I’ll miss you.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      How sad 🙁 I’m so sorry.

      I wish I could say something that would make you feel better, but I don’t know what you are going through. Thank you for sharing your story.

  133. I am sorry to hear about your pit mix. It sounds as though you tried to give her a good home. It’s so hard when our dogs who are generally so sweet have dangerous problems. I am sorry for what you are both going to, and wish you the best.

  134. I know I have already said this but the book The Dog Who Loved Too Much by Dr Nicholas Dodson Has excellent information on aggressive dogs. Dr Dodson is a premier dog behaviorist at Tufts Veterinary University. Tufts does behavior consulting both at the school and remotely. If you can’t go there you send a video and talk with the vets on the phone. I believe it is a six month program. Dr Dodson feels that the probably the only justification for euthanizing is “rage” syndrome which is what my husband’s Springer had. When we first mentioned his aggression the vet immediately said “Springer Rage”. We had no idea.

    You can get the book used from Amazon quite cheaply.

  135. In one hour, we leave for the vet with our beloved dobermann of only 11 months. After trying since puppyhood to curbed his need to dominate me and my son, strangers, neighbors, children, our cat etc, the time has come where we realize it is just too dangerous now. Yesterday he bit my son because he was displeased that he was preparing food. Food that our dog felt was his right to have instead. He bit a guest several times later in the day, went in fact totally crazy like I have never seen any dog before, complete redzone, and bit me twice in the process of trying to kill said guest. We have tried everything we could and after yet another consultation with our behavior expert, she assessed that the ticking timebomb was now among us and asked if we were prepared for the dangers lurking. Tip of the iceberg she said… Tears all over this keyboard, sheesh.. Love him to bits and will forever feel that we never did enough, didn’t try hard enough, didn’t forgive often enough, didn’t understand enough.
    Thank you for being here as an outlet and for all the support everyone is shown. I never ever thought I would be in this situation, deciding whether my dog should live or die. I do not wish it upon anybody, I really don’t. Dammit love hurts sometimes… Hugs to everyone who has to go through times like these.

  136. Heidi,

    I am so sorry to hear about your dog. It is a horrible situation to be in. You are doing the most right thing you can by putting the safety of others first. I had to do the same thing, 9 months ago now. While I am confident that I made the decision that had to be made for the situation we were in, I will forever wonder if the outcome would have been different had I figured him out better and sooner in his puppyhood – despite my best efforts to do so his behavior was so foreign to me. So I can relate to what you say about always feeling that I didn’t do enough well enough. It’s NOT your fault. But I understand that being told that isn’t always enough to let go of that feeling. It’s fair to keep in mind though, that all of us dog owners aren’t working with the same raw materials – dogs come with their own temperaments and issues.

    Thanks for being a responsible, loving dog parent. It certainly sounds like you did the best you could. I am very sorry for your loss. Be kind to yourself in your grief, it’s rough.

  137. I have just put down the phone from making an appt. to put down my 9 yr. old St. Bernard mixed female. Last night she saw a dog walking past the house and I did not have the door shut properly apparently and she jumped up and chased the dog that was being walked down and attacked it, it took me a while to react but i got her off of the other dog , she had her whole neck in her mouth. This is the second time this has happened in the last 8 weeks, the last time she shoved past me as I was going out the door to go to work and attacked a different dog the same way. I rescued her 8 years ago and the aggression toward other dogs has never got any better, even with professional training. I have a small 3# Maltese that is 14 years old and a cat and she does not show aggression towards them…yet Back home in PA she attacked one of my best friends dogs and I lost that friend because they demanded i put her down and that was 5 years ago… I cannot stand to watch these innocent dogs being attacked , and what if I didnt get there in time yesterday???? I know it was my fault because I didnt lock the front door tight, but I am human. I rescued her and gave her tons of love and do still love her dearly, but here in Fla. if your dog attacks another animal and kills it , the dog is put to sleep. AND the owner is responsible for all vet bills and lawsuits. I just am not able to assume that financial liability, or hurt any more innocent pets If a dog attacked my dog while I was walking it I would be very upset, so i cannot continue to do it to other pet owners. With all the training and love , it still has not become any better, nor can I promise it wont,happen again, a hard decision and i know i will be struggling with it for a very long time to come.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      How sad. I’m so sorry to hear about your tough situation. I know you are making the right choice, and my thoughts are with you.

    2. As much as I hate to admit and write this, there is a lot more peace in my backyard without Stoli—no food aggression, no resource guarding, no dog fights, no racing toward me growling because they forgot I was in the back yard, no meaningless barking at all hours. Yes, I miss the 80 percent of her that was a good dog, a great companion, but life was hell knowing the 20 percent batshit crazy aggressive dog was waiting to take over at any moment.

      Robin, I know your heart is hurting so much right now. You are doing the right and responsible thing. Responsibility is something that good pet owners don’t shirk from.

      The total vet bill for the unattended, unleashed dog Stoli went after was $3400. My husband and I paid half, but we won’t be paying for any follow-up care as the beat-up dog was unattended and unleashed. My dog was with me, unleashed, but would not come when called. I expect the small dog’s owner hasn’t learned a thing and the next time I see the dog in my yard unattended, pooping (which it does), I’m going to chase it into the garage and call animal control to haul it off.

  138. Robin,

    It sounds like you’ve done what you could for your dog, and are now doing what you need to do to keep other dogs safe. It is a hard, painful decision to have to make, but it sounds like you are being a responsible dog owner. I am sorry -in advance – for your loss. Take care.

  139. Update:
    I posted back in January about our pit/boxer mix. After trying to work with her even more since then, unfortunately things progressed to the point where I had to have her euthanized last Monday. The week before, she went nuts when someone came to our front door, and when I approached the door, she turned and bit me on the hand…not hard, but enough to bring blood. That Sunday night, I had to pull her off our 12 year old dog, who is too feeble with arthritis to be able to fight back much, and I’d already broke them up twice before during that weekend.
    As many dogs as I’ve had through the years, I’ve never had one with the problems that plagued this poor beautiful soul. She was constantly on alert, and would just simply freak out at the least little noise. I was afraid for visitors to come to our house, because there was no controlling this dog, and we tried every tip and trick in the book. She could be so sweet and loving, then just suddenly “flip out”, and we never knew when it was going to happen because her anxiety level stayed up ALL the time.
    I’ve had a lot of guilt and second guessing of my choice, but even though my brain says I did the right thing, my heart begs to differ. The only thing I didn’t try was the anti anxiety drugs for dogs, and in a way I regret that so much, because I keep thinking maybe that would have been the one thing that made a difference, but after talking at length with my vet, and a wonderful tech who had been through the same thing with an aggressive dog she had, I understand the drugs probably wouldn’t have helped, because my dogs’ problem ran so much deeper than we could probably ever reach, given her age.
    I truly believe my dog had a fear that could not have been overcome, and that the drugs would have only been a “band-aid”. I want to believe in a way she was suffering, because with the anxiety level she had and constantly stressing, it truly was literally driving her crazy. I personally know what severe stress and anxiety feels like, and if it’s anything for a dog like it is for a human, I can sort of understand why she acted the way she did, with the fear biting and aggressiveness.
    Our hearts are still shattered, and I’ve blamed myself over and over. My husband wasn’t able to go with me to the vets’ that day, so I said goodbye to my sweet girl alone. I felt like a monster, because she was so good while we were there, acting calm and never flinching, which made it even harder. I stayed with her for a long time after, and the tech stayed also, grieving with me, because she knew what I was going through.

    Even though I know I did what I had to do to keep us, our other dogs, and other people safe, I still don’t know that it was “right”. I struggle every day with that, and I guess I always will. My heart hurts so bad, and there’s an emptiness in our house now that cannot be filled. With the others, they were old and sick, so it was different, but with this one, the only comfort I can find is in the fact she was sick, but it was her mind, not her body. At least now, she’s free from the fears and anxieties she suffered from, and maybe someday, I’ll be able to fully accept that, hopefully in some way, I gave her the peace she so deserved.

    1. I’m so sorry, Sherry. Your older dog does indeed deserve to live safely and without fear of being beat up, and you sure don’t deserve to be bitten.

      After living through this aggressive dog “episode,” every time I see a Facebook meme with a pit bull/PB-cross photo and caption “There are no bad dogs, only bad owners,” I am so tempted to post “That’s not true.” Though the word “bad” may not be the best word, there ARE some dogs who are simply so flawed that the best owner could very easily be turned into a “bad” owner simply out of frustration. I don’t think I am a bad dog owner, though I am now so gun shy that I don’t think I will own another dog again. I’m caring for my daughter’s two PB-cross dogs but neither is aggressive and each knows its “role” in their pack of two. Once they are gone, I’m done. When Stoli was alive, she wanted to be alpha but did it by fear, the neutered male avoiding her and the spayed female, her littermate, being the target for aggression and dominance. Now the male is a happy alpha and the female is a happy follower. The three of us actually played together last night, for the first time ever.

      And after reading through all of the comments, it looks like many of the poor flawed creatures were pit bull crosses—gee, thank you irresponsible pit bull owners for not spaying/neutering and letting/purposely “breeding” your dogs willy-nilly and then leaving people like us to deal with the problem dogs who were born thanks to YOUR irresponsible choice. Every evening my FB page is flooded by “urgent/death row” photos of dogs, a huge majority of which are fairly young pit bull/PB-cross dogs. Is there something in adolescence that makes these dogs suddenly “undesirable” resulting in their being dumped at shelters, and most no doubt being euthanized for lack of good homes?

      1. I know exactly what you mean by those Facebook meme things, Catherine…I posted something about that just this morning, and I’ve practically stopped going on Facebook because seeing these things just tear me up all over again. I know my dog was mentally ill, not “bad” and it wasn’t her fault or mine. Plus, some of those things like to claim “stop blaming the wrong end of the leash”…those are the ones I hate the most. I wasn’t a bad owner and as I put in my post, people who have never lived it can’t possibly understand…we sure didn’t until it happened to us. That’s why coming on here gives me comfort, because you all know exactly what it’s like to do everything you can and it still not be enough.
        I also know what you mean by being afraid of owning another dog. I have the same fear that it will happen all over again, and my heart just can’t take it.

        1. I just got back from chasing my daughter and her boyfriend’s stupid dogs—the neutered male, 3/4 German Shep and 1/4 PB patrols the fence looking for places to chew or push through, and the PB-cross littermate of my deceased aggressive dog just follows him everywhere—and one of the people who’d “found” the dogs had a simply beautiful Border Collie named Buddy on leash who was as friendly and mannered (though eager to get on his walk!) as I’ve ever seen.

          Spending just 5 minutes with Buddy after I’d chased down the two stupid dogs and put them in the car reminded me of how wonderful dogs really are. It makes me very sad that I ever allowed myself to think that pit bull cross dogs are the same as Border Collies or any herding group dog. The Border Collie’s owner even commented he’d never own a PB or PB cross dog—too sneaky, too unpredictable, too difficult to train when compared to a herding group dog. I honestly think dog owners, especially those like me who think they can handle a PB/PB-cross, need to be told that these dogs are just wired differently. I’m not going to say wired wrong because there are people who can deal with them. I’m on record as one who cannot. I won’t be fooled again.

          I do hope that once my daughter’s dogs are gone that my husband’s heart softens a bit and we can begin to look for the right dog for us within the herding group. Aussie, Sheltie, Border Collie, Queensland Heeler—all dogs I’ve had experience with, and have raised and loved. I understand them.

          1. Lindsay Stordahl

            Catherine, I’m so sorry you’ve had a difficult time with your pitbull type dogs.

            Personally, I try to look at every dog as an individual, especially when so many dogs are mixed breeds of unknown heritage.

            I hope you are able to find the right dog for you when the time comes, no matter what type of dog he or she is.

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sherry, I wish I could say something that would help. All I can say is I’m so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing it with us. I know you made the right choice, and I hope you can find peace with your decision. So sorry you had to go through it, and I’m glad your dog was loved.

  140. Sherry, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry that it didn’t work out with your dog. You certainly tried to help this dog to “fix” and manage her problems. As with my dog, it sounds as though she had a short fuse – a comment someone made to me about my dog that I thought summed things up accurately. Sometimes all the love in the world isn’t enough to fix these serious problems. You made the decision that was “most right” – though as you say, it will likely never feel right. I am sorry for the grief you are going through – for me it was such an intense loss, complicated of course by the tragicness of the situation and my role in it. Be kind to yourself and try to forgive yourself. You really did everything you could for your dog. It sounds like you gave her a good life – certainly you treated her with a lot more love than she experienced at the beginning of her life. You made the hard, responsible decision and as a result your older dog can live out the rest of his/her life with the fear of another attack. As sad as it is, you did what you had to. I hope you can find some peace in this.

    Catherine, in regards to “there are no bad dogs only bad owners” – I agree. While I also object to the term “bad” dogs, I think that people who say this are very fortunate because they’ve not had to learn the hard way that being a good, loving, dedicated dog owner isn’t always enough. Like people, dogs can be born with innate problems or with various temperaments, some of which are a lot more challenging than others. It is disheartening to have to sometimes be misunderstood and judged by other dog lovers who have not had this perspective shattered by a tragic situation such as ours. Until you’ve lived with a dog who has serious aggression problems, it is hard to understand it. The judgment really is the salt in the wound.

  141. I am so glad that I found this blog today. My heart is broken. Last night, I took my dog to the emergency pet care clinic to be euthanized. If I would have waited until Monday, I would have changed my mind. In December, our 12 year old Lab had to be put to sleep. She had various health issues and it came to the point where she did not have a good quality of life. I had not planned on getting another dog because my husband and I already had three other dogs. My husband was out of town when I had out dog put to sleep. He had our other two dogs with him and I had my 15 year old Chihuahua at home. I had her before he and I got together. My Chihuahua was a good friend of the Lab that I had euthanized. She missed the Lab so much that she stopped eating and kept looking for her friend. This made me feel worse than I already did. I went into Petsmart to buy some things for her. This Petsmart has a Humane Society branch. I went in there to take a look and that is when I fell in love with Milo. He was a terrier, dachshund, and Llahsa Apso mix who was a year old. He was great! He livened my Chihuahua up. She was frisky and so happy with him around. He hardly barked and was very obedient. A couple of weeks after I got him, she died of kidney failure. I ended up getting a Chihuahua mix. He and Milo became the best of friends.

    My husband took some time off from work to come home and that is when Milo changed. As soon as my husband came through the door with our two dogs, Milo attacked our Lab and Lab/hound mix. I had never seen him act this way. I pulled him away and he went at them again. My two big dogs are socialized so they just defended themselves. Each of them weighs 100 pounds and Milo only weighed 22.
    Milo finally figured out that he was going to get his butt kicked so he stopped. After that, he got along well with the two big dogs. What Milo started to do is pee in the house. He started marking furniture, walls, etc. in front of us. We got him a belly band and this made him stop urinating all over the place.

    Milo became an escape artist. He began to dig holes to get out of our yard. We blocked these, but last week he went under our chain link fence to attack our neighbor’s German Shepard. Another neighbor saw this and came to tell us about it. After our neighbor left, the dog’s owners came over to tell us about the dog fight and to complain that Milo was very aggressive. When they were out in their yard, Milo would throw himself against the fence at them. I dismissed this because the dog’s owner used to tease our big dogs. Last year, I caught him doing this a couple of times. He would let his dog poop alongside our fence that faces the alley and this would make our dogs crazy. I thought he was doing this to Milo also. Milo behaved most of this week, but yesterday is when I saw him go nuts. In the morning, the wife of couple who complained was walking her bike up the alley, and Milo went beserk! He would not listen to me and he followed her, alongside the fence, gnashing his teeth and flinging himself on the fence. This got our big dogs riled up as well and frightened the woman. I was able to call the big dogs off, but Milo kept it up. Later in the afternoon, I heard him barking furiously and went to check on him, he was trying to attack our other neighbor’s dog through our wooden fence. He had a crazy look on his face, was biting at the fence and trying to bust through it. The fence is a very old one made of woven boards and he could have easily gotten through it. Awhile later, my neighbor came over to complain about him. She said that this was not the first time he has done this and that she was outside when he was trying to go through the fence. Milo has gone after her when she did not have her dog with her.

    We had gotten complaints about Milo being yappy, but I had never seen him like this. My husband told me that a week ago Milo had bitten him, but he decided not to say anything. When Milo bit him, he broke the skin on my husband’s hand. As much as it tore my heart up, I decided to take Milo to get him euthanized. I have had dogs since I can remember. I know what it is like to own a vicious dog and to have to live in fear of them biting someone. Also, as a little girl, I experienced the dogcatcher coming to my home and taking one of our dogs away because he bit someone. I could not go through this again. I was not about to take Milo back to the Humane Society as my husband suggested. Milo could not be adopted and he would have been put down anyway. My husband did not like Milo, so when I told him what I wanted to do, he didn’t have any qualms about me taking him to the vet.

    I was with Milo when he got his injections. Milo died peacefully in my arms.
    I refused to have him be alone as he was being killed. I owed him that much because he helped me deal with the deaths of two of my dogs in the span of three weeks. He kept me sane and I was able to get out of bed and get through the day.
    I know that I did the right thing, but still, it hurts so much. Rest in peace sweet Milo.

    I want to apologize for the long post, but I needed to express my feelings.

  142. Hi
    We rescued a staffie x in November , thy told us he was a stray and was about 2 years and had been spayed .
    Two days later he came into season ! And the vet said she was more like 6-7 years old .
    This didn’t matter to us , however her fear based aggression towards other dogs large or small does .
    We are midnight walkers as he is so aggressive when she sees a dog ,s he’s always on high alert when we go out and is a completely different dog , as inside she is loving and such a good girl .
    She has bitten two dogs up to date , one she grabbed round the neck . We are ll o depressed and frightened when walkies is due. .
    We have insulted two behaviourist and one of them said you’ll never change her , the other wants to work on dog desensitising , this always ends in her barking snarling growling snapping and lunging
    I dare not think what could happen if she ever managed to slip her collar .
    We are thinking of euthanising as cannot be going to court or more importantly want another dog hurt .
    Please help
    Juliet xx

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Jules. I’m afraid I won’t be of much help other than to say I think you are doing the right thing by consulting with some behaviorists, making some attempts to help your dog but also considering euthanizing her. There is no easy answer, and only you and your family know what’s best. You may want to look into the book Feisty Fido by Patricia McConnell. It has some tips on how to slowly help a dog feel calm around other dogs on walks.

      1. Thank you Lindsay
        Your kind and understanding words meant a lot xx
        After serious thoughts and discussions our family took the most painful decision in the world and have poor Ruby put to sleep .
        She was deeply troubled outside and totally in a zone that we could not bring her out of . We tried so very hard .
        Our house is quiet , and has a sadness so deep . We loved her so much .
        I hope she understands our decision ?
        Our hearts are very heavy with guilt and many unspoken wishes that she was like other dogs .
        Miss u rubes xxxx
        Love u good girl xxxx

  143. Thank you all for the replies to my post. I honestly believe in my heart that something was wrong with my dog. Looking back, the state of anxiety this dog was in constantly was not right..something was off there. I don’t know what it was, but the vet agreed with me; whatever was going on was in her brain. It wasn’t that she was a “bad” dog, she just couldn’t help it because, we believe, she was mentally ill. (I worked with this vet for some time, so he wasn’t telling me this just to be consoling). Something would just flip in her brain, like a switch, and anything could trigger it.
    To say that the life has been sucked out of our house since she left would be an understatement. The quietness around here is deafening, and only now am I beginning to get used to it. My older dog is beginning to realize she can bark without fear of being jumped on, so she is slowly relaxing and coming out of her shell.
    I’m so sorry that all of us here has had to experience this. It breaks my heart that others out there are going through the same thing and may not have the support I’ve had on here and at my vet’s office. Thank you so much for being here.

    Sherry

  144. I believe most dogs can have their behavior changed. Try Don Sullivan’s method. There is plenty of people who disagree with him but I will personally vouch that his program works in most cases and can save your dog. The package comes with the collars and two training dvd’s. I am a volunteer at our local animal shelter where I walk dogs. There is a lab there now who I am absolutely in love with but because of a few agressive incidents they might be euthanizing him in a few weeks. I know the don Sullivan method would work on him because it worked on my dog but they won’t even let me try it because of liability reasons. You have your dog at home- that is a luxury. Try it, do what he says on the dog aggressiveness section of the DVD. I thought it was stupid at first but I was willing to try anything. Trust me it works, and no I do not work for or get paid by that organization. Just want to help.

    1. Dominance theory DOES not work on dogs that have severe anxiety (which is the root cause of the majority of “aggression” issues.

      Beating the fear out of the dog does not result in a “confident” or “submissive” dog- only in a terrified dog who no longer has the confidence to handle a situation. It doesn’t remedy the aggression- only bottles it up until a dog can no longer tolerate life and snaps.

  145. Yes, I do still believe some dogs can be rehabilitated, but I also believe there are dogs who are mentally ill, or suffer from severe anxiety and a fear so deep nothing can change them. Such was the case with my dog. We don’t know why she was this way, as we gave her no reason to fear us, anyone, or any other animal. We tried everything recommended, and she might show some improvement for a week or so, but that “lightning fast” reaction was always there, and she was in a constant state of tension and anxiety.
    As Becky stated, beating a dog is not the answer, and can actually make a fear based aggressive dog worse, not better. A dog with severe fear problems will only end up fearing the owner and people in general even more, thus resulting in a higher anxiety level.
    Since our dog was a rescue, we have no way of knowing what exactly happened to her before she came to live with us. She had been tied out with a chain ( & that’s a whole different soap box for me), and basically ignored, I think, until we got her. I’m sure this had great bearing on her mental state, as she was not socialized properly, and by the time we got her, she had already developed a high level of anxiety. Sadly, she slowly deteriorated, even though we tried everything we knew to fix her. If I could’ve found a magic pill that would have made her better, I would have gladly given any price for it, just to save her.
    So, with all this being said, sometimes it is not the owner’s fault either. I know you hear and see things like “there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. It’s time to start blaming the other end of the leash”. It just tears me up to read this things (I can’t go on social media anymore because of it), because people posting all this, (my friends), have not ever had to deal with a dog who has severe mental problems. Now I know they don’t mean any harm when they post this stuff, and I agree..in certain situations, it CAN be the owner’s fault, because, there are no “bad” dogs, and there are owners out there who mistreat their pets and cause them to be aggressive, but in some cases, I believe the dog is truly mentally ill, and that’s NOT the owners fault. One has no way of knowing how a dog’s mental state is going to develop, even if you adopt it as a puppy. It can be raised with the most care and love a dog could ever want or need, and still, something just goes wrong.
    I know this is very long, and I thank you for reading it. It’s been a rough two weeks at our house, and I just want people to understand that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there is no fix, and that’s certainly not your fault, or your dogs’ fault. My dog was mentally unstable, and there was nothing I could do about it, except take the most drastic step left. Does it still hurt? Every day. Do I feel guilt? Oh yeah, you bet, and probably always will. The only comfort I have is believing I released her from her the restraints of her physical body, because I do believe that in a way, she was suffering, not from any physical pain, but in her mind. My sweet baby was a beautiful soul who didn’t deserve the rough beginning she was dealt, and now, she is now finally free from the tension and anxiety that plagued her for so long.

    Sherry

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I agree with you. It’s not always the owner’s fault. I fostered a yorkie mix that would attack, and I met his previous owner. I believe she loved him and did the best she could. He was originally from a pet shop, so his genetics and early upbringing were probably far from ideal. When I fostered him, he was still very aggressive despite my best attempts to work with him on training, structure, discipline, exercise, socialization and of course, love.

      Sorry for your loss, Sherry.

    2. Sherry,

      I will be giving our dog to a young girl trainer who has tried to help me. She is going to try and “rehab” him with the help of another more experienced trainer, but eventually he may have to be euthanized. We have had a very similar experience. We took him in at 13 weeks, not know much of his history. Other than his random, unpredictable aggression he is the best dog I have ever had. But, he just bit my daughter in the face (he tends to go in that direction) so one way or another he must go. It is breaking my heart. It has been a roller coaster ride for years with him and I have tried so much. It really hurts to have a dog that you love, but cannot trust. I really appreciate your sharing. It helps to know that someone else has gone through this. My only consolation is that he may wind up with someone who can manage his behavior. If not, the euthanasia is probably the most humane solution. He is mentally ill, I believe, and that is so sad.

      1. Joe
        I’m so sorry you have to give up your pet. I wanted to find my Patch another home, but I was afraid she would end up with someone who would not care for her after a while. Her problems ran deeper than we could ever reach, so for us, euthanasia was the only option, because she would flip at the slightest thing, and had already begun to bite.
        I don’t know if you’ve read all my posts on here, beginning back in January. We rescued her at 6 months, most of which she spent at the end of a chain, which I believe was the root of her problem. She was mentally ill, and I discussed this at length with our vet, who also believed with her behavior, it was beyond the point of rehabilitation and meds. This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as a pet owner, and it was definitely not easy. I miss her every day; the emptiness in this house now that’s she’s gone is unbelievable. She was so lively and the sweetest you’d ever hope to meet, but the fear and anxiety this dog had was, I believe, torture for her. I could try to hug her sometimes and she would pull away and growl at me. I have no idea why..she had no reason to fear us; all we ever tried to give her was love and a good home.
        She was only 3 years old, and I don’t think she was in any physical pain, just mentally. I believe those early months she was on a chain and not socialized properly had great bearing on her emotionally and mentally. I don’t know if the people who had her were physically abusive, but she was always skiddish and wary, even when she had no reason to be.
        I really hope whoever gets your dog can help it overcome the problems it is experiencing, but just like humans, dogs can also have mental problems, and since they can’t tell us the problems they are having, we have to guess at what treatment works best. Unfortunately, sometimes it is the hardest and most painful one (for us) imaginable, but I do believe in my heart they are finally freed from whatever anguish they may be going through. This is the only thing that has gave me any comfort through this.

        Blessings to you
        Sherry

  146. Sherry It sounds like you are describing my situation to a “T”
    We have poured every resource into our little guy (a 3 yr old JR/Chi mix who we rescued from the shelter here) we knew he had aggressive tendencies and 3 failed adoptions. But, we thought we could pour resources into him and “fix” him. Behaviorists, meds rehab, counter conditioning, every trick in the book and we’d have a good few weeks and he’s snap and take 3 giant steps back.
    He is still with us as we await the results from the last round of tests to come back. But if they come back negative as I suspect they will, the decision has been made to put him to sleep. I have been crying for days straight, I keep wondering if there is something we’ve missed. But, it my heart I know we did everything possible and then some. The shelter will take him back to live out his life in a kennel..I don’t think that is fair and would torture him even more. I do believe he is mentally ill, he has Mr Hyde living in him (thats what we call him when he’s “off”) and putting him to sleep will release him of his mental pain. So tragic. Thanks for letting me vent and for having this here to read, makes me feel not alone!!
    Leslie

    1. Leslie, good for you for having given that dog his only chance and trying to rehabilitate him. It says a lot about you as a person that you were willing to risk your own heart by trying to help a “troubled” dog. In my own experience I was astonished to realize that all the love (and training/intervention) in the world isn’t always enough to help a dog with aggressive issues. Just wanted to offer some words of support – lots of us can relate to what you are going through with your dog. I hope you and your dog can find some peace.

    2. Dear Leslie
      I can totally understand
      And I feel your pain x
      Our family is feeling it too .
      Some dogs especially rescues have deep troubles that no one ,not even with the best will in the world can fix .
      Lord knows we tried and so did u ,
      Love to u and your family
      Jules xxxx

  147. I am in the midst of making this painful decision. We got our dog as an emergency rescue 6 years ago. I took one look and fell in love with her. We decided to keep her. She’s a red nosed pit bull.

    She is a nervous dog and always has been. We know nothing of her history. We got her at about two years old. She fights with any other female dog she comes across and tries to dominate male dogs. We’ve tried every program out there, including a very expensive, on location, two week boot camp. She came back knowing basic commands but that was it. Still nervous. I run her most morning in the backyard and still she’s a bundle of nerves. And any chance she gets, she goes after our other female dog. We’d tried rehoming her in the past but, due to her breed, that’s impossibly difficult.

    Today I came home from running errands, leaving my two younger sons (9, 11) in the care of my daughter (18). As I was pulling into the driveway, my daughter called that the dogs were fighting. I ran inside to find the usual disaster when they fight — bloody dogs, bloody room and sheer madness. I rushed both dogs (in separate trips) to the vet. Normally they’re kept apart. Pit is in her crate when she’s not outside, other dogs are loose inside when not outside. Today their paths crossed and the pit went after my other dog, as she always does

    We can’t, with a clear conscience, turn her over to the pound because she won’t get adopted, will languish in a crate (not unlike she’s doing now, right?) and be euthanized with strangers and who knows in what manner. We can’t, with a clear conscience, rehome her as who knows if they’ll give her what she needs and, most importantly, what if she went after a person? Or killed someone’s dog and the person getting in the middle of it was bitten? I love this dog so much but I can’t trust her and with little boys in my house, it’s just not an option any longer. I’d rather have her go peacefully with me holding her. It’ll kill me, and i’ll feel guilty, but at this juncture I think it’s what’s best for her and for us.

    1. Kay, I am so, so sorry to read what you are going through. I lived this one myself nearly 2 months ago. My spayed PB-cross Stoli had a hair trigger and would go after her littermate if Prudence so much as breathed wrong or crossed Stoli’s path at the wrong time (except we couldn’t figure out what the wrong time was!).

      Stoli’s final “blind rage” was directed at an unattended, unleashed poodle/chi/God knows what small dog to the tune of $3400 in vet bills. She’d gone after me twice already. Stoli would not release from the smaller dog until the small dog’s owner finally sashayed on the scene, accompanied by another unleashed small white dog and and an unleashed chow.

      You know in your heart your dog is sick—not in body, but mind. It sounds like you have gone through extraordinary lengths to make this work. You gave her six good years that she would not have otherwise had. Be gentle on yourself, try not to play the “what if” game (I’ve done it a lot these past several weeks), and eventually you will remember the good things about her, and let go of the small, mentally ill part of her.

      I will say that the remaining two dogs are a lot less on edge, and less destructive, with Stoli gone.

      Thinking of you… who’d have known that so many of us have had to make this decision? I am glad we all have a place to go so we understand we are not alone, nor are we “bad people.”

      1. Catherine,
        I’m also glad we have a place we can share our stories and pain. God knows it hurts so much. We loved ours like a child, and if she could’ve told me what exactly the problem was, I would have moved Heaven and Earth to fix it, but she couldn’t. She loved people and I honestly don’t believe she “wanted” to harm anyone, or any other dog for that matter, but the fear and anxiousness took over, and immediately she went on the defensive. She would attack with no warning. Sometimes all my older dog had to do was get too close, and it was on.
        She couldn’t help her condition progressed, nor is there anything else we could’ve done to help her. She had only attacked another dog one time before last fall, and that incident happened over a year before. He approached her very fast from behind, and she wasn’t having any part of that. Then, last September, she attacked our chi,and she had NEVER offered to bother that little dog. After that, it was almost a daily thing. That’s why I believe something was wrong in her brain. Chemically, psychologically, or a physical tumor; we have no way of knowing, but it was some type of neurosis. It just progressed too fast, & the vet agreed.
        So, I stayed with her at the vets. She was so calm and never flinched when it was time. God I hated myself then, because she wouldn’t look at us, and in a way, it makes me wonder if she knew what was happening. I was in the floor with her, and I put her in my lap. I’m sure she picked up on my feelings, but whether she actually knew I was trying to help, I don’t know.
        Anyway, the only comfort I have is being able to come on here, and read what others have gone through and are still going through, and write. I feel for each one of you, because I’ve been there, and am still there. I never thought I would have to make a decision like that, and I sure don’t want to ever again. It’s different when they are old and sick, but when they are young, like mine was, and still have a long life ahead, you’re left with regrets, guilt, and “what ifs”. I don’t know how long it will take for all that to go away, but right now, I’m still crying every day, and probably will for a while. I do believe wherever she is, she at peace now; the fear, tension, and anxiety she suffered with here are not causing her pain anymore, and that helps me cope a little better.

        Sherry

  148. I don’t know if it’s right to euthanize aggressive dogs. I do know aggressive dogs can be changed from my experience. I adopted a jack russel terrier from craigslist for free(he wouldn’t be free if he did not have problems). He had fear aggression towards people and dogs. He attacked my dog the first day he came to our home. He was scared when anybody tried to pet him. He tried to attack a few dogs when the dog got too close to him. He went into attack mode anytime a dog is close to his body especially his end. I was always ready to react quickly to control the leash when any dog approached. I showed him my disapproval anytime he showed aggression meanwhile I give him lots of love, attention, exercise, socialization under supervision. Now he has became a mellow, obedient dog in one year.

    1. Fang,

      I don’t think anyone’s saying just euthanize a dog after the first bite. If you read the comments, you’ll see people who have drained their savings accounts and lost other pets in the process of trying to rehabilitate a dog.

      Some dogs are just mentally ill. Just like in humans. Some dogs will not move past their anxiety/aggression no matter how many medications, behaviorists, and treatments you pursue.

      Not every dog can be saved. It’s an unfortunate reality of life. It’s great you were able to rehabilitate your dog. I spent over $8,000 on my dog, consulted the best behaviorists in the area, and created as much safe space for him as possible. He was fine 99% of the time- passed a temperament test for a local dog park, had many play dates with other dogs, etc. I have a picture of him and the dog that he killed curled up together on the couch- as happy as can be.

      Sometimes, mental illness truly is the root of the problem- and unfortunately hard decisions have to be made

      1. So very true… and I can’t imagine living inside the head of these dogs. I have just today set up an appt. to euthanize one of these dogs that is in my care (in-home euthanasia). We just can’t save them all, no matter how much time and resources we put into them, there are those dogs whose mental illness is so crippling to them, that they have no quality of life. I can’t imagine having to live in fear all the time,being scared of being outside, and terrified of people, panic attacks (as this dog has), I don’t think any dog should have to suffer a lifetime of that. No one ever makes these decisions lightly, especially when they hoped for better outcomes, but in the end we as the human have to make the right decision for the dog…..

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      That’s wonderful you were able to help your dog. Of course, every situation is different. Each dog is unique.

  149. It has been almost two years since we put our 1 year old Shepard/Mix down. It was a difficult decision and one I still live with on a regular basis. After reading stories and seeing firs thand what a dog with a serious aggression problem can do, in terms of seriously injuring and even killing someone, I know we made the right decision. I have stated a few times before, that our vet waived the 10 day cooling off period because of the dog’s behavior and serious bite history. If a vet, who loves animals, is telling you to put down your dog , you need to listen. We were told we could put him down now or after he bites a young child in the face. It did not make it any less easier.We brought him to a trainer and did everything we could to make him better. Usually we already know what the answer is. We just don’t want to make the choice to end a dog’s life.I wish everyone well with what ever decision you must make. It comes with the responsibility of owning a dog.

  150. I’m glad I found this website. I’m facing having to euthanize one of my rescues due to escalating dog aggression. I’ve been to a behaviorist (diagnosed with global fear) and tried to modify home life to no avail. Usually I’m the only one to get bitten when breaking up fights but this last time my other dog lost a toe. I truly feel she would not adapt if re homed because she is so shy around people other than me. I guess I’ve let this go on too long and this last fight was my wake up call. My other two dogs deserve a safe, peaceful home for their final years. I have cried endlessly over this dilemma but know in my heart it’s the responsible thing to do. This is hands down the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

  151. Whitney, I’m sorry to hear about your dog. It sounds like you are making the only safe, responsible decision you can. If your dog has global fear she is not living peacefully, it’s got to be tough to feel afraid all the time. And as you say you’ve got to look out for your other dogs too. It is absolutely the hardest decision ever. But it sounds like you are doing the best you can do for all of your dogs. Best wishes to you in this tough situation.

    1. Rachel,
      Thanks for your reply. I hope others reading this who are in the same position can find some peace and comfort knowing they are not alone in this. I’m trying not to let emotion guide my judgement over safety and responsibility but that is easier said than done in my case. No easy answers. It’s hard to see the reality of all we are tolerating when we are so deep into it. I really appreciate everyone sharing their experiences here.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        So sorry to hear you have to go through this. Thanks for sharing your experience here. It is a help to others.

  152. I’m currently going through the same situation that many seem to have dealt with. I recently adopted a Belgian Shepherd. Of course, I did not question her when she was re-homing him for FREE, I just thought I’d be doing a good thing by helping her and him. You could tell she didn’t take great care of him…worms, underweight, a cough…but I figured I could “save” him.
    When I first brought him home he was shy, barked at new people, but didn’t attempt to bite. Within 2 weeks though, I found out he was a lunger and biter. I had a friend over and he jumped up and bit his shoulder. I’ve had him for 4 months; he’s now 14 months old. I’ve attempted to work with him, he obeys commands very well, unless he gets into his zone. When we walk, he will try to lunge at most any person, child, or other dog. No warning barks, does not matter if they’re close or far, he’s a go get them type of dog.
    Recently, I had a friend over, muzzled my dog and had him on leash, he calmed down after a while, but then just because of a sudden move, he lunged and bit my friend through the muzzle. It was so quick I couldn’t pull back in time. He broke skin and I cannot imagine what he would have done without the muzzle. I’ve seen a behaviorist, but their methods didn’t work. My vet said because he’s afraid of everything, has high anxiety and is breed to be a working dog, he is a ticking time bomb. Could be trainable but there are no guarantees. I thought we were making progress, but after this bite I’m a little worried. I don’t want to wait to make a decision until he causes a severe injury. I’m exhausted from always being on alert with him. I cannot have guest unless he’s crated, and living in an apartment home, I have to walk him around the neighborhood so keeping him away from people is not an option. I know rehoming is an irresponsible option and would never wish this on anyone. I’m just torn.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I wish I had the answers for you, Shari. I know you will do what you believe is best, and really only you know what is best. I’m sorry to hear you have to go through this and make such a hard choice, no matter what your decision is.

    2. Shari, I’m sorry to hear about the problems with your dog. I wish I had some great advice for you. Living with and managing a dog with aggression is so stressful. It does sound like he is a ticking time bomb, as you say. Best wishes to you and your dog, whatever you decide to do.

    3. Shari…I do not know what your current status is now (your post was several months ago. Your situation is all similar to my daughter’s except she had Oliver as a puppy. He was well trained but seemed to have some crossed wires in his brain. He couldn’t’t be trusted, has bitten my daughter, her husband, me and my husband. He even bit a trainer who never returned. He attended doggie “boot camp”. The vet even put him on meds. After all that he did not improve. Now she has baby and it is frightening to imagine what could happen even though Oliver seems to love him. Love doesn’t matter to him when he snaps. So after 7 years, due to him almost biting a friend’s child, she made the incredibly difficult and painful decision to have him euthanized just today. She had even tried to find a place for him but no one was willing to try to rehab him. I firmly believe she made the right, and, best choice under the circumstances. It hurt terribly because he was still her “baby” and he could be so sweet! So, yes, I understand and definitely feel that sometimes it is the only choice. I wish you the best.

    4. Hi Shari,
      I know this post was a while ago, but I’m interested to see what happened in this situation. I am going through exactly the same thing right now and I am torn. The whole “I’m exhausted from being on constant alert with him” resonates with me. Let me know how this situation turned out.
      Thanks!
      Meghan

  153. My husband and I made the very difficult decision to have our 7 year old Boxer, Norman, humanely put to sleep Sunday in our home. He was becoming more and more agressive toward other people and dogs (while on a leash) and had viciously attacked our other dog several times. An unprovoked attack last Saturday night (on our other dog) was what made us make the final decision. He had attacked him the week before, while on our honeymoon, and our pet sitter could not get them separated. She had to run to our neighbors for help. Both dogs looked like they had been through a war. The attacks were was so scary and getting worse and more unpredictable over the last year.

    Norman was a love bug to the people in his family. He was all white with one brindle brown ear. He had a crooked jaw and his lip often got stuck on his tooth. He was so cute it was ridiculous.
    He had health and mental health issues (separation anxiety and Inflammatory Bowel Disease) that got worse over the last couple of years (we had him on an all raw diet, which did help).
    BUT when he was good, he was so happy and loving. He bounced around the house with his ball and played keep away with my step kids and their football. We recently had a full work-up done and found nothing else abnormal. Prozac was prescribed but we were warned that it does not usually help with dog aggression and people aggression. Another vet thought it might be an organic brain issue or possible brian cancer, but cannot be sure.

    Norman was my jogging partner and saw me through some really tough times in my life. I will always be grateful to him and hope he understands. He loved my 10 year old step-son and stuck to him like glue on the weekends. I still feel guilt and such sadness of the decision that we made but I was so afraid it would happen when we had our kids, ages 13 and 10. My pet sitter had already been bitten trying to separate them and so had my husband.

    My heart goes out to those who have been in similar situations. There is no easy decision and rehoming at an older age is almost impossible in most cases and I am not sure that is humane for a dog already so attached to his family. I explored a behaviorist, but for me, there were just too many risk factors. My husband travels and I am home 3 nights a week alone with them. I feel like I failed him in some way, though I know our options were very limited. He died in my arms with Paul at my side, feeling our love and touch, and hearing how much we all loved him. We told him that Nanny, Hoggie, and Murry would meet him soon.

    I had a silly dream this morning. I was in a white sequin dress, walking down the road when a brown haired man in a white sequined car pulled up, smiled, and drove off. I can’t help but wonder if that was a connection, if that was my boy….

    1. Thank you for sharing your situation. I am having a similar experience and get a bit of relief knowing I am not alone in having to make such a difficult decision. I’ve lived around it for so long its hard to see how bad it has gotten. Knowing in our minds that it’s right does not make it any easier on our hearts.

    2. Joanne, I’m sorry for your loss. Norman sounds like my dog, in that he had many wonderful attributes combined with dangerous aggressive behaviors. It is so tough. You did what you had to do for safety of your other dog and for people. Best wishes to you during this difficult time. Certainly it’s tough to lose a dog regardless of the circumstances but the complicated emotions involved in having to euthanize a dog for behavior problems are especially hard. Leaves a little scar on the heart, in my mind. Take care.

  154. I had a beautiful black lab/boxer/pit mix that looked exactly like the dog in the above picture. He was a wonderful dog at home around the family but if people came to visit and also when we would take him on walks he would just flip like a lot of the descriptions above. I did everything that was within my power to save him but to no avail. I ended up having to take him to the shelter and I already knew what his fate would be if I took him in so this is why I tried so hard to work with him. They deemed him unadoptable and put him to sleep on 04/19/2013. My heart aches because I loved him so much and I can’t look at his picture or be reminded of him without breaking down. This wasn’t the end I wanted for King but my only hope is that he is in a better place chewing on his rawhides. RIP King I love you.

    1. Vanessa, I am sorry for your loss. It sounds like he was a great dog in many ways. So tough when that’s combined with aggression. Best wishes to you in your grief.

  155. I want to thank everyone for their stories and comments in regards to mine. This decision is not an easy one, but it helps to know that you aren’t the only one in world going throught this. Today I took my Lou Bear (his nickname) to the vets office and sat with him during his last moments. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but after an incident this past Sunday, I realized it was for the best. I truely don’t think he was 100% happy in life; between his high anxiety and fear of strangers, he lived inside mostly and in a crate if people came over. He was never able to freely chase a ball or run outside. I already miss him so much but I know he’s been released of his pains.

  156. I want to thank everyone on this thread who has helped me cope with the decision to euthanize (I hate that word) my little guy, Duke. This was the most difficult decision I have made in my life. He went to the Bridge on 4/4 and I cry every day. Only people who have experienced the same understand what I feel.
    Thanks for being there.

    1. Leslie, I am sorry for your loss. 100% agreed, it is the most difficult and painful decision I have ever made too. This thread on Lindsay’s blog is such a blessing as there are few people otherwise who can understand the particular pain of our situations.

  157. I have recently come to the conclusion that we are going to have to euthanize our 6 year old black lab.

    He showed up in our neighborhood around the age of 5 to 6 months and we took him in after no one claimed him. We discovered that first day he had never been inside a house – he had no idea how to step up over the threshold from outside. He was not housebroken. Whenever he got into the garage he peed on the concrete floor. He did not know how to play or fetch. We came to the conclusion that someone had kept him in a concrete floored kennel or in the garage his whole life and did not interact much with him or train him. We housebroke him, crate trained him, taught him to play, got him shots and neutered, and loved him.

    After six years with him we are preparing to have him euthanized because even though he is very even tempered around our family, he has always been somewhat stranger aggressive but, more importantly, has begun to show random aggression to unfamiliar children that come to our house with my children. He has growled and lunged or snapped at three different young children over the last year and a half, unprovoked. No more chances. I cannot live with him injuring an innocent child.

    I will not dump him in a shelter, if one would even take him, to have him languish in a cage, unloved, only to be euthanized alone at some later date.

    I believe the lack of socialization during his first 5 to 6 months is key here. He was always extremely stubborn during training even though he knows I am the boss and will submit to me belly up. I think because no one bothered with him from the time he was separated from his first mom until the time I got him 4 to 5 months later he developed a very strong sense of independence because he was allowed to do whatever he wanted all that time. No matter how much I have worked with him, there are behaviors I cannot get him to stop. Early and consistent socialization is key – there is something programmed in his thinking that I just cannot undo. It reminds me of those kids who are raised in orphanages and get adopted at 5 and 6 years old but have attachment disorders. No matter how great and loving the family that adopts them is, they have issues with bonding and trusting.

  158. Oh Jen, how sad. I am so sorry to read about your dog. I too had to choose child safety over my love for my dog. It is a very painful decision. There is a great book called “Dog Heaven” for your kids, if you are so inclined. Best wishes to you and your dog. 🙁

  159. Jen,
    I have other posts about my story on here if you want to scroll back through and read them (if you haven’t already), but your story sounds similar to mine, except when we got our Pit/Boxer mix, Patch, at 6 months, she had been on a chain almost her entire short life at that point, and with hardly any human interaction, she was very hyper and excitable around people…just so happy to have any affection at all. I thought she would calm down after having her at our house (she was indoors, as is all our dogs) after a few days, but she didn’t. She stayed hyper and highly anxious; always on alert.

    We did obedience classes, behavior therapy, you name it. We tried everything we knew, and when she attacked our little chi last fall, I knew it had to be done. My husband, however, was always very quick to take up for her (she was his baby), and wouldn’t do it then. Finally, after several incidents where she growled at us, snapped at him, bit me, and constantly attacked our older dog if she looked at her wrong, he knew it too. He told me to take her, then hated himself after it was done, even though deep down, he knew.

    I do believe Patch had some kind of neurosis. We don’t know what, but something was wrong. As you stated in your post, there were things we just could not get her to stop doing, no matter what we did.

    So, on March 11th, she and I made our final trip to the vet. That was the hardest decision I’ve ever made; to know I was purposely putting down a dog who was sweet as could be most of the time. I felt I was letting the negative behavior win. She knew her basic commands and would do them willingly, but if she got loose, and she did a couple of times, “stop!” was not one of them. I felt I failed her, and hated myself for it; still do.

    Afterward, the house just seemed so empty..like the life was gone out of it. For days, my husband and I went around on auto-pilot, numb from pain. Our other 2 dogs though, slowly began to act like their old selves, and I realized just how much intimidation they must have been under while Patch was here. Now they’ve learned they can bark again without fear of being jumped on and having to fight.

    I miss her every day; that won’t ever change, esp. when I curl up on the couch, she was always right there with me. I keep thinking another dog will come to us to help us heal, but I don’t know when or how. I just know I can’t go get one and bring it here, because I don’t know if I can ever trust another dog again. We had 2 dogs that just came to us out of the blue, after we’d lost another dog, and I believe they were sent somehow just for that purpose, so maybe another dog is in our future, but only if it comes by fate, not by our choosing.

    Patch changed me forever; my life won’t ever be the same after that decision, and I’m glad I’ve got a place to share my story; to know other people have faced the same thing I’ve been through, and have felt the same pain, and I’ve got a place to come to and read peoples’ stories and maybe help them in some way, just as coming here has helped me.

    Sherry

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We made our final trip to the vet with our precious little boy, Gatsby, yesterday. This past February, I rescued him from a kill shelter – he had been picked up as a stray. We knew little about him other than he had been on the street a long time, was underweight, and was fearful. The shelter thought he was between 2-3 years old and had at one time been a pet because he was housebroken and knew basic commands.

      His fear aggression toward other dogs and people outside our family was evident early on. We sought help from a behaviorist and started a regiment of training and Reconcile(Prozac), Gatsby was a 15 lb. love bug 90% of the time, but he was haunted. He would become agitated and shake with fear at triggers we could not detect – one minute he was fine and the next he was snarling and lunging. We were committed to working with him – we wanted to give him a home and a loving environment to make his pain go away.

      Unfortunately, his aggression became more heightened and his fear took him over. He was in his own world of fear more and more and when we tried to comfort him, his reaction was to bite us. My husband and I decided it was best to free him from his pain and the vet agreed we had done everything we could. I feel so guilty – I let him down and am having a very difficult time coming to terms with our decision to euthanize. I have a giant hole in my heart and feel so empty without him.

  160. We are having our staffy cross pitbull who is 5 years old put to sleep in the morning he is a rescued dog who my husband removed from a home where he was being beatan when he was a year old. He is a very lovely dog but over the last 6 months he has bevome very aggresive for no known reason if we tell him no or to get in his bed he will bite us but for the last 3 weeks he has just turned on us 1 min then is fine and acting like nothing has happened
    He is our baby and after trying everything its killing me inside but its the only thing i can do

  161. Victoria, I am sorry to hear about your dog. How heartbreaking. Was he fine until until 6 months ago, or has his behavior just escalated? Regardless, sorry to hear the bad news and best wishes to you during this difficult time.

  162. I am so glad I found this forum, for the last few weeks I have been fighting with this decision. We have a mix Sherman Shepherd/Rottweiler. We adopted him for the shelter when he was 6 months old, now he is 3 years old. I noticed his aggression almost from the beginning but I read so many blogs about how with the proper training any dog can be well behaved, I tried 3 different trainers, 9 months ago I tried with the last trainer, that was thousands of dollars, they took him for 3 weeks, they were very optimist as far as the results, even though they told me they have never dealt with a dog as aggressive as him. He is basically scared of everything and everybody and because of that his reaction is very aggressive, he is not aggressive towards dogs (which is surprising). Within few weeks when he came back home his old personality started to come back and even though he gets plenty of exercise, he cannot control his anger, if I have friends coming over (which it rarely happens a because of him), he has to be in a room by himself and while people are still in the house he is in a rage no stop barking and growling, he gets so out of control that even after the people are gone we need to stay out of his way because he seems to be blind in anger. What really breaks my heart is that I live in a small town and the vets around will not help me, as far as euthanize him, my only option is to take him to the shelter where he will be hold for a days (even though he is very aggressive) and put to sleep after, but they will not allow anybody to be present and is killing me the thought of just leaving him there. I wish I had the resources to keep trying but I am really afraid this will escalate and he will really hurt somebody. Thank you for listening (reading).

    1. Gabriela, how sad about your dog. Aggression can be so tough to remedy. We tried hard with our dog too and were ultimately unsuccessful. With a big strong dog like that with persistent human aggression it can certainly be a recipe for disaster. Has he ever bitten anyone? I am astounded that the veterinarians are not willing to euthanize given what you describe. What reason do they give? Is it a possibility to take him to a vet in a different town rather than take the shelter route? Best of luck to you and your dog, keep us posted.

    2. The local vet and his staff were reluctant to put our aggressive dog down—she was all of 15 months old. They said they do not put down dogs due to “inconvenience” (no one wanted to say “aggressiveness” or “beating up an unattended, unleashed smaller dog to the tune of $3200”) and would not put a young dog down unless there was a court/police order. The authorities were not involved in Stoli’s last act of violence. Perhaps I should have called animal control on the owner of the small dog. Really, she was most at fault.

      We reminded the vet that we’d been long-term clients and we among the first to use his services when he came to town in the mid-1970s. To be honest, I would not be surprised to find out they’d called around for a rescue to take her. The vet was out of the office when my husband took her in. Ninety percent of the time she was a perfectly lovely companion and I’m sure she was on her best behavior while there. So very sad that there’s nothing like a pill or brain surgery to “cure” this.

    3. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear of this, Gabriela. I hope there is a vet in a nearby town you could go to.

  163. Very upset and frustrated, our 6 month old puppy has possession problems. Yesterday I was bitten. Not happy. Torn about what to do. I will never trust him again. You cannot even approach him when he has something he has found in his mouth. He will not trade for it. Hence being bitten. I have had him since he was 10 weeks old. I am sick about what to do. He has been in training since he has been 12 weeks old. Is it possible to get through this?

    1. Linda, don’t panic he is only a puppy and this can be dealt with!

      People often make the mistake of not taking growling and resource guarding seriously in a tiny puppy so for everyone else do not tolerate it from day one!

      Number one the puppy does not believe that you are “top dog” or he would not dare to bite you. You need to work on this issue first. Make him “work” for every thing as in “sit and stay” until you tell him he can eat. Sit before going in or out a door. He must ask permission to get on the couch with you etcetera.

      Tufts University has excellent behaviorists and you can worknwithbthem without going there. Check out their program.

      http://www.tufts.edu/vet/petfax/

      Read every book you can find on this subject! NOW is the time to save this puppy! It will only get worse if you allow it to go on and he gets bigger!

      Good luck. You can do this.

      Lisa

  164. Linda, I could have written this post. We had the same situation a couple of years ago with our puppy. Resource guarding is serious and scary! Trading up did not work for us either. A couple of thoughts – there is a book on the subject called “Mine!” by Jean Donaldson. It lays out how to address resource guarding. However, it’s really a good situation for professional help. In our situation the behaviorist we hired was not very helpful (though a different behaviorist may have done much better!). We did a board and train situation after I was attacked by our dog in a resource guarding situation. I don’t know that that is the best answer, but we were completely desperate at that point and out of options after other strategies had failed us. The problem was much more manageable after that. He still had resource guarding instincts, but because his obedience was excellent, I learned that if he had an object that I could see he was going to guard, I could tell him “come!” and he would leave the item and come to me, sometimes grumbling. I didn’t have to try to take the items from him and therefore the issue was well managed. The reason I follow this thread is because we tragically had to euthanize him at the age of 2 after he attacked a little boy – BUT that situation had nothing at all to do with resource guarding. Unfortunately his problems were complex. 🙁

    I don’t have any easy answers for you but can offer empathy and I would absolutely get some one on one professional help. Resource guarding is unlikely to go away without intervention (as I understand it) but dog adolescence can be pretty rocky and I think there is still hope that the problem can be managed. Good luck to you, would love to hear updates!

    1. I am so sorry about your dog. All I can do is hope we have not reached the point of no return. We have called our trainer and they will help us if we desire. Right now I have to wait for the Town to come out and see the dog. A report had to be filed because I required a Doctors attention. The dog has a Vets appointment as well. Thank you for the book recommendation, I just purchased it on line. This is my fifth golden retriever and I have never dealt with this issue before and I am at a total loss and very scared.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Best of luck to you, Linda. Sorry to hear you were bitten so seriously. It must have been scary. I hope you are able to find a way to manage the problem.

  165. We have a 10 year old female boxer that became agressive to our other 2 dogs over the past year & a 1/2. She has injured our chihuahua a few times. I had her before my husband or my 2 children so this difference in my perfect companion is making me physically ill. She is currently taking medication for arthritis, joint pain, incontinence & and anxiety. I am not sure what my next option is. I have contemplated letting her “rest”. Please help if you think training or therapy may help her.

    1. I am so sorry to hear that your older dog is starting to have some aggressive tendencies. To me, it sounds like she is in pain (based on the meds you mentioned) and she may just have a very low threshold for pain, “play”, and aggravation at this point. Can you crate and rotate so that the old gal has her own space, and you don’t have to worry about unsupervised interactions?

  166. As I sit here crying and missing my dog, I am so happy I found this blog.
    On Saturday we returned our dalmation/boxer Dax, to the rescue group we got him from. We adopted him to be a companion for our bichon/pekignese, Heidi after her 15 year old companion had died. Dax is a sweet, goofy, high energy boy and we loved him very much. We did not expect him to get as big as he did. The rescue group estimated 50 lbs and he ended up close to 70. The reason we returned him was because he attacked Heidi several times over toys and it was difficult to get him off of her. We brought him to two different trainers and it seemed to have worked. Then about a month ago her attacked her again for no apparent reason and gave her a laceration above her eye. Heidi enjoyed playing with him but he can just be so rough with her and at times she acted terrified to walk by him. I just felt my obligation was to Heidi to keep her safe and feeling secure. I read stories about smaller dogs being killed by the larger dog in the home and I just couldn’t take the chance.
    We were treated poorly by the woman from the rescue group when we brought him back, no compassion whatsoever. They posted the return on facebook
    (without mentioning why) and nasty comments have been made about people who return their dogs. I am most concerned that they have listed him as eligble for adoption immediately and did not mention that he may not be good with smaller dogs. I just don’t want him to be returned again.
    I feel like I have failed him and I miss him SO much.

    1. Hi Julie,

      Unfortunately often people do not understand the situation until they have been in it themselves. We had to have our little dog euthanized because he was aggressive and bit dogs and people….half the time he didn’t know what he was doing. You have not failed your dog, you just did what you believe to be the right thing. Know that you gave Dax a loving home and did all that you could for him, and ignore other people. They were not in the situation. Be strong, it will get better.

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear of this Julie. I’m sorry to hear that it did not work out with Dax in your home, and I’m sorry the rescue group treated you so poorly. Unfortunately, that seems to be the norm with rescue groups. Please do not feel like you have done anything wrong.

  167. I am currently going through the pain of thinking about putting my 8 year old German Shepherd, Bobo, to sleep. It is the hardest thing I have had to do, being that the choice is mine. I got her when she was just a puppy and it was love at first sight. Se is so unique in so many ways. She is a full cream color with a white belly and muzzle and her personality is out of this world. Even as a puppy she had a big personality. I have had dozens of dogs in my short 20 years of life but Bobo is like no other. She is my best friend and like my own child. She was fine as a puppy and ran around our small town with her companion, Tucker, a husky. She was very friendly with all other dogs and people. About two years later Tucker disappeared. We had some neighbors who really didn’t like him and were very open about it and I think they finally acted on it. Anyway, after that she started to change. She developed a huge dislike of strangers but mainly males (our neighbors were two males), started chasing cars, and even started going after other dogs in the area. My mom and i tried to break her from all of these in a loving way but we didn’t have the funds to get a trainer or try anything. We eventually had to put her on a cable, which I did not like one bit! But it was our only option at that point. I walked her everyday and did all in my power to make the most of her life that way. Then she broke the cable so we got a pen and she climbed out of that, we put a top on the pen and she broke off a canine chewing a hole in the fence to get out, we got a thicker stronger cable and she broke that one, as well. We tried everything and she got out of them all.
    A serious turning point was when she got off her cable one day and attacked a dog across the street. She broke it’s leg in a matter of seconds. I took the stray to the vet and nursed the poor thing back to health in my house until it was well and found a good home for it. It was the least I could do. After escaping once again, Bobo, attacked a neighbor’s dog in their yard. He didn’t press charges but I paid for his vet bill as well. I was devastated. I tried keeping her in the house after that and she did well, until anyone besides our household came in. She has never bitten anyone yet but she has lunged at my boyfriend, my uncle, my grandmother, and any other stranger.
    I finally moved out in the country where it is spacious and peaceful. She liked it out here and seemed to be more at peace but our closest neighbors live a good mile up the road and they had a boxer, so I had to put her on a cable again to be safe and walk her every day I could.
    Last night, I got the terrible news at work from my dad that Bobo had broken her extremely thick “heavy duty” collar and ran up the road. He tried to stop her but couldn’t beat her to the neighbors house. There was a small dog in the road on the way that she attacked, and my dad tried to get there in time, he was screaming at her to stop but she was in attack mode only. Anyway, the little dog is dead…and she went after the boxer afterwards. Luckily, my dad jumped on her before she could jump on the boxer and dragged her home. He put her in the house and went back to the neighbors to tell them what had happened but they weren’t home.
    I cried all night because I knew what had to be done. Bobo is dangerous and if I had thousands or even hundreds of dollars to spend to attempt to make her better i would but being a college student and a waitress with bills I just can’t. I wish I could do something else but she breaks every collar, underground fencing is a joke to her, and she eats her way through fences. But she is dangerous. I keep thinking “what if that had been a child.”
    I love Bobo more than words can explain. I’m an artist and have numerous pieces of work that revolve around her, she has two sculptures of herself on my nightstand and her first bath pictures are all over my refrigerator. I can’t stop crying. How can I make the decision to end my best friend’s life? This is so hard…

    1. I’m sorry you are going through this, but I’m trying to figure out why you’ve left your dog outside unattended? Do some reading over what the National Canine Research Institute has found regarding aggression in dogs. The most fatal dog bites come from dogs that are chained in their yard or otherwise kept away from their families.

      Dogs are pack animals and need to be with their humans. To chain them or pen them in a yard is cruel, and not how one should take care of a dog. I’m sorry that you are facing this decision, but you set your dog up for failure by not meeting its basic needs for companionship and exercise. I’d probably break lose and be a jerk if I was chained outside in the elements and only got exercise on the days that someone found the time to take me out for a walk.

  168. Lauren,

    I am sorry to hear about your dog. What a tragic situation. And how horribly sad that the smaller dog is dead. I don’t know what advice to give. You clearly love your dog very much. Best wishes to you and your dog, whatever you decide.

  169. I am glad to find this site.
    I had a rescue border collie that me and my 11 year old son offered a home to at months. I was told by the shelter that he had SOME on lead FRUSTRATION. That turned out to be a LOT of on lead and off lead aggression towards other dogs.
    It reached the point where going past any dog was a fraught business and he would lunge, snarl, be utterly unresponsive and impossible to handle.
    I stuck it out for three years because away from other dogs on his own in the field he was a focussed worker and I felt he deserved every chance possible to beat his background.
    I worked hard to train him out of the aggressive behaviour with some results, but the bottom line was he could never be trusted to behave consistently and I didn’t feel it was fair on him or the rest of the family to have to undergo a twice daily ordeal in order to exercise him.
    Having people glare, swear, kick out at him and scoop their dogs up furiously meant nobody in the family was enjoying the situation.
    The final straw for me was when he lunged and snapped at the face of my sons friend. The following day I took him back to the shelter and told them he could not be trusted in a family with kids or around other dogs either on or off the lead.
    The shelter said they had a retired rural couple in mind for a rehome, I honestly couldn’t see it being a success, but then what if it was? Who am I to decide what amount of stress and worry people should be willing to put up with in order to give a dog a home?
    What has upset me is the amount of hate thrown my way by people who assume that because I was not willing to offer a forever home after three years of trying to a dog that was a potential danger to both other dogs and my guests, I am a quitter or a poor owner.
    The lie that there are never bad dogs only bad owners is a totally unhelpful statement and one that often ends up with people too scared to call time on a dangerous animal and get the help and support that they need to bring their lives back to normal. This bullying of kind, hard trying moral owners is what results in eventual bloodshed and disaster.
    The stress and danger that an aggressive dog causes both in and outside of the home can NEVER be understood until you have been there and the guilt that a loving owner feels after failing to help their dog correct this behaviour is not alleviated by sweeping statements or judgements made in ignorance.
    Our family were all gutted to fail to help our rescue collie, but the relief we felt when we no longer had to live in fear of his next meltdown or hold him muzzled and thrashing as other owners sidled past was as enormous as it was guilty.
    It’s been nearly a year now and it still upsets me when I read crass statements on the internet that insist EVERY dog can be rehabilitated with patience and love and that every failure is down to the owner. It isn’t true and I’m sending love and big hugs to every loving owner who has had to accept the terrible realisation and sad consequence of what happens when love and patience is not enough.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you so much for your comment, Fran. I’m so sorry to hear about your story. I’m sorry you had to give up your dog. You are obviously a loving, caring person and dog lover, and I’m sad to hear how people have been so cruel and heartless to you.

  170. Dear Fran
    I am so sorry to hear of your pain and upset .
    My family and I rescued a jack staffy x and after reading your post I felt compelled to let you know that my gorgeous Ruby showed the same behaviours as your collie .
    Ruby was a different dog outside , she too snarled , barked , thrashed and would try everything to get off the lead and hurt other dogs . We were midnight walkers in the end !
    The big dream of our teenage children walking rubes was never going to happen as she was so unpredictable ! We honestly tried everything , I hired a behaviourist and walker her 3 times a day to relieve any pent up anger .
    It put us all under so much stress , our lives were spent worrying and hiding !
    The final straw came when she bit a dog that was off lead , our worst nightmare came true we set off for a midnight walk and a lab came trotting out from a blind corner off lead ruby went crazy and lunged at the lab snarling and bit the poor labs throat .
    Ill cut a very long , stressful and the worst feeling of guilt and pain I have ever felt in my life to a close by saying we had to have our rubes put to rest as I believe she really had mental issues , and no amount of training and desensitisation can change these dogs .
    You showed your collie love and the ultimate love of letting her have peace away from other dogs xx
    You will be fine and remember to take each day as it comes , some days will be harder than others but time is the best healer xx
    Love Juliet xxx

  171. Hi Fran,

    Your situation really resonated with me and you are absolutely right about the crass statements sometimes posted on the internet such as ‘their are no bad dogs just bad owners’. I used to spout this myself until I found myself in a similar situation to you and had to put our little dog to sleep. I know that some people think what I did was wrong, but I know it was the right and only thing that we could have done. Our little boy is at peace now. I have to admit to that it was a relief not to have to worry about being attacked or someone else being bitten. Thanks for sharing your experience and sorry you had to go through it x

  172. I am so thankful that I have found this forum. I have been agonizing for weeks over the thought of putting our black lab down. We have had her for nine years. She was two when my son rescued her from the shelter. She had previously been badly abused and there were some slight aggression issues although not with us. She has always suffered from anxiety and fear issues although she had nothing to fear from us. She would run and hide if anyone in the house raised their voice (like during a hockey game). She is now eleven years old and having some health issues that we are treating, however, her aggression lately is escalating. She has snapped at me recently and other people that she knows. A friend of my son’s that the dog knows and would snuggle up to happen to stop by here last week and she bit him. Not a bad bite but that she bit at all is serious and as I said it has been escalating. I do not want her to spend her last days in a shelter and she can’t be rehomed because I know she will bite some one. It’s the most painful thing in the world to make this decision. Our vet says to take solace in the fact that we gave her nine years she probably other wise would not have had and that her health issues are progressing as well and she should be euthanized but the guilt I feel every time I look at her is unbearable. My head says “it’s the right thing to do” but my heart says “how could you?” The decision was made tonight and she will be taken on Tuesday for an ice cream and a final walk. I’m crying as I write this. Thank you all on here for letting me know I am not alone in this situation. Bless you all

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      What a gift you have given her. That ice cream and final walk sounds so nice. Maybe take some pictures too if you think that will help at all. So sorry to hear of your situation. Take care.

      1. I am sorry to hear about your lab. It seems to me that her escalating aggression could be regarded as an additional symptom of her health problems – she just doesn’t feel good. You can (I hope) take comfort in knowing that you are not just having to euthanize her for aggression but also to relieve any suffering she has from her advancing age and mounting health problems. Her bites are a sign that something just isn’t right. Poor girl. It sucks to get old. 🙁

        Thank you for being such a caring, responsible owner to her. My heart goes out to you.

  173. People keep saying that since the dog was mentally ill, it was ok to kill it. But what if people had this attitude towards mentally ill humans? How is it fine for dogs, but not for humans? If you become mentally ill, do you want someone to kill you?

    1. Sara, your comment is ignorant. These are animals, not humans. That is the first key difference.

      There are resources in place to provide care for the mentally ill in America, even if they cannot afford treatment. That’s not the case for companion animals. There are no inpatient residential treatment centers or hospitals for dogs.

      When a human with a mental illness is medicated, you have the opportunity to explain this situation to the person with a chance that they will comprehend their condition.
      This is never the case for an animal.

      It is also accepted practice to euthanize a pet when they have become old and no longer have an enjoyable quality of life. It’s what most refer to as the humane and compassionate decision. That is not something you can legally do for a human.

      You act like we make these decisions flippantly. You really need to get off your high horse unless you have walked a mile in our shoes.

    2. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m sorry to read such an insensitive comment from you, Sarah. I see that you love animals and that you mean well.

    3. Sarah,

      I hope that you never have to go through this, but if you do, you’ll fully understand the pain and responsibility of this decision. I still cry about my dog and feel this deep pain and emptiness inside when I think about him. However, I had to make this horrible decision before he hurt another person. Something in his genetics made him terrified of all people and it wasn’t that he would get aggressive if they were near, it was that if he would want to go after them, whether they were 10 ft away or 50. A child would of never stood a chance if he had gotten to them. Walking him made me a nervous wreck. Always being on alert.

      Once he bit me, simply because a stranger got too close, I knew the problem WOULD escalate and it was a matter of time before he injured someone badly. I loved this dog and making that choice, sitting in the room with him knowing I’d never see him again, killed me inside but I couldn’t take him out in public ever. What kind of life is that for a dog?

  174. We made the decision to euthanize my boyfriend’s springer spaniel when he attacked my puppy a third time for no reason. But there was more to the decision than the aggression which on reflection we realized had always been there. He had attacked at least 10 puppies and small dogs over the years. He was on Prozac. The dog was a nervous wreck. He was never really happy. To take him in my car I had to put him in his crate in the back of my SUV otherwise he would be in my lap. His panting was so intense I had to run the rear defrost in the middle of summer. He could not have anyone dog-sit because he would hide the whole time truly petrified. He had some good moments but the fear was always there. Who would want to go through life truly petrified and filled with anxiety? He got plenty of exercise, was on drugs, and he was loved. It just wasn’t enough. My husband said “I will never forgive myself if he seriously hurts that puppy”. To try to re-home him would have killed him. Much like a sick elderly dog sometimes we as pet openers have to do the humane thing and end their suffering.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Very sorry to hear of your loss. I know you did what was best. Thank you for sharing your story here, because I know it will be helpfulntonothers facing similar situations.

  175. I’m so glad to find this site just so I have a place to verbalize how painful it is to have to make the decision to euthanize my 10 year old cocker spaniel tomorrow. I just came back from the emergency room because of his biting me. In the last year he has also bitten my husband and his dog sitter. We rescued him 10 years ago when he was 6 months old and have loved him beyond words. He has always had fear aggression and we have both been bitten a couple of times but always thought it would be the last time. This morning he snapped when I tried to see if he might have a tick under his chin. I think that we have no choice. I could try and find a permanent kennel for him but living inside a chain link prison for the rest of his life is no life at all and I can’t do that to him. Please if anyone has a better idea, I’m ready to listen.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      im not sure if there is a better answer, Betty. So sorry to hear of your situation. I wish you the best.

    2. I have only one comment. Because he is an older dog and this bite seems extreme, I would make certain he is not in pain from an undiagnosed problem. Dogs are more prone to bite when in pain. Just a thought. The vet will probably want to check if she hasn’t seen him in awhile anyway.

      When we had to put my husband’s dog down my vet made certain that we had explored ALL other options. Most vets will refuse to euthanzie a healthy dog that they believe has other options. Vets have even been know to rescue dogs in this situation when they believe that euthanizing them is wrong. Afterall most vets love dogs.

  176. I have just found this website and after reading the posts here I feel I finally did the right thing having my beautiful siberian husky boy euthanised. I got him as a puppy, he was full of worms and very small for his age. He was so quiet and nervous. From the moment we got him home he had severe food aggression and was very snappy. I already own siberians and have owned dogs all my life. This dog was extremely anxious, but I loved him so much. We tried socialising him, obedience, behaviourist, our local vet recommended a trainer who helped with him, we contacted a siberian husky specialist, our friends, family. Lots of his problems were dealt with, lots of them were managed. Our lives had to change in order to work with dog. It was not dominance, or lack of training, exercise, love or attention. He bit people and other dogs. We had to walk him away from other dogs just to keep them safe. He could not go off leash unless in an enclosed space on his own or with safe companions, who were very wary of him. Our female husky played with him but was always a little wary. He once attacked her so severely her ear had to be stitched. We drove home from our local walking area, we live in New Zealand where there are countless outdoor areas on our doorstep, where both dogs had run on their long leads, we had been out for at least two hours, our usual routine. I walked him to his area and my husband took our other dog to her area to remove the leads and allow the dogs to drink. I took off his long lead and he had a drink and then came and sat near me, as usual. I then stood up and started to gather up his long lead to hang it up he suddenly lunged at me, grabbing my arm. He bit hard and my wrist was dripping blood. I looked at him and he didnt seem like the same dog. He then just dropped to the floor and was all submissive. I did nothing to provoke him, he was calm, there was no change to the routine, he showed no signs of aggression, even looking at me with that soft eye expression, no stiff tail, no hackles, no growl. There were none of the usual signs. The following day I spoke with my vet and we decided to say goodbye to him. He was 3 and a half years old and it has broken my heart. I loved him so much and I tried, oh I tried so hard with him, I would have done anything for him, but it was not to be he was becoming dangerous and so unpredictable. I have read so many posts from people always saying all dogs can be saved and it is always the owners fault. I defy anyone to say that when they look into the eyes of a extremely difficult dog and have to balance the safety of their family with the life of their beloved pet. No-one makes the decision easily and it is a mental scar to bear for ever. I will never forget him, or forgive myself. But these posts here make me realise I am not alone. thank you x

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear of your loss. I believe some dogs are unsafe for society no matter how much we love them. You did nothing wrong. Take care.

  177. Linda,

    I am sorry to hear of your loss. It is so heartbreaking. I can relate to much of what you write. Reading about your situation, it seems clear to me that you did the right thing. Thank you for being a responsible dog owner and recognizing the limitations in what had become a dangerous situation. I too had to put safety over the love I had for my dog, and would have moved heaven and earth to save him, if I could have. But sadly, doing everything you can is not always enough. I wish you the best.

  178. Hi, Many thanks for your kind comments, it really does help me to come to terms with losing him. So many websites that cover dog training etc do not have a live blog such as this and most of the information and advice is generic and that just doesn’t help when the situation you are dealing with is so specific. It is comforting to know I am not the only one. Although I do still have another dog, our house is now so empty and our walks are lonely unless we find another dog and owner to walk with. It really is such a massive impact. Hopefully in time it will be easier. Once again, many thanks x linda.

  179. Norma Cooney aka Loopy

    So sorry to hear about your doggy :(. I think you did the only thing you could do before somebody or someone got hurt. It’s so hard to say goodbye to our fur babies. I have one now that is dog aggressive but loves people of all ages. I’m working with him but its not an easy task for sure.

  180. I got back from my house and took a nap, only to wake up from a call from my grandmother that my 6 year old dog bit her at the hand, hard. She loves to steal food, no matter how hard I try to hide it. One small mistake and she’s after it. She stole some tissue paper and she scattered it all around her bed. My grandmother forgot about her aggressive nature and went to pick up the tissue, only to be bitten instead.
    My dog, a stray and adopted at around 4-6 months old is the last thing on your mind if you wanted a dream dog. I took her in and she did this, betraying my trust.
    She gets aggressive if you get into her area. She gets angry when you close the door in front of her. I don’t know how to control her and I don’t know what to do.
    She didn’t bite anyone for a long time because we took precautions, and my grandmother was careless this time. What am I to do with her?
    She’s ungrateful for walks and gets unfriendly sometimes after she gets what she wants.
    I’ve been anything but fully happy with this dog. My parents and I are considering to put her down because she’s been anything but a good dog.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      How frustrating. Sorry to hear your grandma was bitten. Must be a tough situation for everyone. Is there a trainer in your area you could trust to get a second opinion? Sometimes it helps to just get another viewpoint from someone who doesn’t live with the dog.

  181. Carissa,

    I am sorry to hear about your dog biting your grandmother and the difficulty with her. I wonder what you mean when you say she is ungrateful for walks? Dogs certainly view the world a lot differently than we do and a book such as “The Culture Clash” might be helpful for you in trying to understand your dog.

    I second Lindsay’s advice about consulting a professional, reputable trainer. S/he may be able to help and that would be a great thing to try before you move to euthanasia. Best of luck to you and your dog.

  182. Hello Friends,

    I have recently dealt with a very tragic situation. On June 5th at 10:20 pm while on our nightly walk, my sweet pomeranian named Arlo was killed in an unprovoked dog attack on his first birthday. The owner of the attack dog fled the scene and left me and my dying dog on the sidewalk. My beloved Arlo died in my arms on the way to an emergency vet.

    I am reaching out asking for help. NY currently does not enforce dog owner accountability in unprovoked dog-on-dog attacks. This means that dogs can continually attack and kill other dogs without the owners being forced to attend obedience training, muzzling when in public spaces, neutering, or maintaining an insurance policy on their dog. Who’s to say that next time it won’t be a small child?

    As you know, a major component of pet ownership is the responsibility to provide not only food, shelter and companionship, but training and education so that the dog, just like a child, learns appropriate behavior. Since the attack happened I have had multiple people come forward saying they have seen the owner not having control of their dog. Therefore, the owner knew the dog was aggressive and did not take the precautionary measures that were obviously needed, resulting in Arlo’s death.

    I am absolutely not seeking to have the dog euthanized as I believe owners need to be held accountable for the actions of their dog.

    I have created a petition to implement “Arlo’s Law.” “Arlo’s Law,” aims to enforce that victims of such incidents be granted a Dangerous Dog Hearing. It is only then that said rulings (training, muzzling, neutering, etc) can be enforced and lives of other dogs can be protected. Dogs are family members and their lives and safety must be taken into consideration. Owners need to be held accountable for unprovoked dog-on-dog attacks.

    Please, if you can be so kind, take a moment to read and sign the petition (link below) and SHARE it with everyone you know. People do not need to be a NY resident to sign, as the goal is to change the law on a national level. This will help protect all dogs and will keep dog owners accountable for their dogs behavior.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/justice-for-arlo-ny-department-of-health-grant-dangerous-dog-hearings-in-cases-of-lethal-and-unprovoked-dog-on-dog-attacks

    Our dogs are more than just pieces of property and hold more than monetary value, they are our children, our friends, and our loyal companions. Dogs cannot defend themselves, it is us who must act as their voice!

  183. I’m so thankful to have found this website. We had to put our dog, Barkley, down yesterday and I am just a disaster. I can’t stop thinking of being in the room with him and am crying uncontrollably.
    We adopted him when he was 10 weeks old and he was almost 9 years. We loved him more than anything. He’s been my best friend for so long I still can’t believe he’s gone. He has always had fear issues and I’ve worked with a number of trainers over the course of his life. Over the past couple years he became extremely dog aggressive and aggressive to strangers. We’d been able to control it by carefully leash walking him, fencing our yard, and locking him up when people were over. With our family, though, he was always incredibly sweet and submissive.
    Last week he attacked our 2.5 yr old son literally out of the blue. We were all in the same room. No food, no toys, no contact, nothing – he just attacked him. Our son had to get many sutures on his face and it was traumatic for everyone. He will thankfully heal with minimal scarring and doesn’t seem to be very upset about what happened, probably because he’s so young.
    We talked with different vets, trainers, and rescue organizations and they all agreed that because of Barkley’s age, fear aggression, and now bite to a child’s face, there was no option but to put him down. I can’t stop thinking about being in that room with him and feeling like a terrible person. I feel like I betrayed him. In my mind and heart I know we did the right thing, but it’s just impossible to accept right now. I