Making The Hard Decision When A Dog Is Too Aggressive

Andrea Dickson, editor of personal finance blog Wise Bread, sent us this story of making the hard decision when a dog owner has a dog that is aggressive:

I’ve been told before that the hardest decision to make is the mature decision. I’m sure I first heard the saying from my mother, who was trying to get me to stop spending irresponsibly. But it only occurred to me recently just how true it really is – the most important decisions are the hardest to make, and the most mature decision is often the most horrible option.

My friend, I’ll call her Anna, recently adopted a dog from a shelter outside of Seattle. He was a medium-sized sporting dog, and he took to her immediately. The shelter said that he had had some minor aggression problems (something like extreme barking) and that they had put him through an intensive training course to cure him of his annoying behavior.

Anna was very excited to have a dog in her life. A canine lover through and through, Anna would often come to hang out at my place, where my dogs would loll about on her lap, vying for her attention and her doggie massages. Anna never cared if she was covered in dog hair; she tolerated my dogs’ sneaky face-licking, and was always patient and sweet, even if my dogs were annoying (which they frequently are). Having her own dog to love was obviously a very important thing for her, and she was determined to give this abandoned pooch a good, safe, and happy existence.

Anna brought the dog home and within a few days, began to notice some behavioral problems. The dog, who I’ll call Rover, had some strange territorial aggressiveness. Rover would greet family and friends enthusiastically, with plenty of tail wags, but might suddenly growl should the person linger in the foyer while preparing to leave. Anyone who got into the car at the same time as Rover was considered a friend, but if anyone (save Anna) attempted to get into the car after Rover was already happily ensconced in the back seat, he would growl menacingly.

The rest of the story after the jump.

Concerned, Anna brought him back to the shelter that she had adopted him from, and they spent another weekend with a “refresher course”. Anna called me, asking for advice on dog training, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to help her. She came to the conclusion that Rover had been trained as a guard dog, and that his problem only pertained to the entryway to his home, and the car. Which is too bad, really, because those are two fairly important and prominent areas in a dog’s life.

After a couple more weeks, Rover began snapping at people. The snapping wasn’t encouraging, but what made it more worrisome was that he gave no warning – the growling had stopped. Rover would simply lunge at a passerby with no prior indication of the impending attack. Anna managed to hold him back, but was worried what the increasingly frightening behavior. Another thing that concerned her was that, occasionally, Rover would stare at Anna as though he had never seen her before. “It’s, like, zero recognition,” she sighed over the phone. “Like he’s trying to figure out where I came from. Really, it’s like his eyes sort of go blank. It’s really creepy.”

Anna was paying for a dog specialist to come and analyze Rover’s behavior, to see if there was anything that could be done – behavior modification classes, doggie Prozac, whatever. In the meantime, she vowed never to leave him alone or in a situation where he could hurt someone, and to treat him as well as she could. Rover was a perfect dog, outside of his strange snapping. He was perfectly house trained. He never tore up anything in the house, never chewed on a shoe. As far as being inside, he was a consummate gentleman.

One day Anna walked Rover to Trader Joe’s with her friend, Marie. Marie had been there when Anna adopted Rover, and she was very comfortable around him. She stayed outside, holding Rover’s leash, while Anna ran in to buy some groceries.

Rover almost immediately bit someone. Marie didn’t even have a second to yank him back as his jaws locked onto the thigh of a young man who was walking past. Rover gave no sign of fear, no warning growl. When Anna returned to see what had happened, her heart dropped. The young man was incredibly gracious, despite the fact that his skin was broken. He declined to press charges against Anna.

Anna knew at that point that Rover simply couldn’t be trusted. She contemplated keeping him muzzled, but that seemed to agitate him even further. The dog behaviorists she spoke to assessed the situation as hopeless. They proffered that Rover wasn’t even showing classic signs of distress – he wasn’t growling or barking, just attacking innocent people without warning. Dogs do occasionally become psychotic, and Anna was looking at her own little Hannibal Lector.

Anna called the shelter once again and found out that not only was Rover an aggressive dog, but that he had been returned to the shelter multiple times for biting children. (Anna would find out much later that the “aggression-correcting” training course that Rover had initially been put through was a severe negative reinforcement program, in which that animal was punished physically should he pull too hard on the leash or growl at a stranger.)

Anna realized with a heavy heart that she had two choices. She could keep Grover locked up inside and never allow him around guests or friends. Or she could have him put down. She called the vet and scheduled an euthanization.

I know Anna was heartbroken, because she emailed me for days about her plan. “I tried so hard,” she said. “But nothing that we were doing was making it any better, and no one has any solution for me.” Despite knowing that she could afford the emotional or financial cost of keeping a dangerous dog, Anna was very torn over her decision. Rover clearly adored her and was anxious to make her happy. She loved coming home to find him waiting for her. He was a good companion, as long as she was the only one around.

The night before he was to be put to sleep, Anna let Rover sleep in her bed with him. Rover was ecstatic, since he had always been relegated to his big bed on the floor.

At the last minute, Anna’s lousy boss didn’t allow her to take time off to be present for Rover’s euthanization. Marie agreed to go with him. True to his nature, Rover attempted to attack someone in the vet’s lobby.

After being given a sedative pill, Rover was snoring loudly, with his head in Marie’s lap, and a shot was administered that stopped his heart. He wasn’t frightened or angry, and clearly oblivious to what was going on from start to finish.

Aside from feeling sorry for Anna, I felt like the shelter should be sued for adopting and readopting an animal who was known to have severe aggression issues. Anna seems to have no interest in pursuing legal action against them, and to be fair, I’m not sure if there’s much of a case to be made. But I’d like them to be help accountable for their irresponsible and dangerous decisions.

I love dogs. I want every dog to have a good home, but some dogs are simply not capable of living and interacting safely with humans. Even PAWS recognizes this. The shelter that Anna adopted from should know better than to try to retrain and adopt out a dog that has a history of biting children.

Anna made a mature, courageous, and heartbreaking decision. I know that for her, it was a situation that taught her a number of lessons, but I’m horrified that she had to be the one to make the call. The decision to euthanize a dangerous dog should have been made long ago, before Anna had a chance to meet and adore him. I suppose that Rover’s few short happy weeks with Anna were good for him, but when I think of the danger that he posed, of the potential kids who could have lost a finger or worse to Rover’s unpredictable jaws, it infuriates me.

24 Responses to “Making The Hard Decision When A Dog Is Too Aggressive”

  1. sandi says:

    I have come across many a Rover, involved with different shelters. Many are euthanized, and with some I have found out that drug dealers will adopt so called non aggressive types, or macho types as a decoy. I wonder if Rover was used for drug protection??

    She did the right thing. Of course there are many other factors that enter a dog like Rover, thyroid, bad genes, mental disorders.


  2. Gindy says:

    We had a dog like this, our raised from puppyhood GSD. At aged 5, she started to act aggressively to dogs, not people. The reason was she was slowly losing her hearing and eyesight and was confusing other dogs’ body language. Her ‘fight first ask questions later’ reactions were understandable after we discovered the physical source of her behavior.
    I know Anna did everything she could, but perhaps a full physical with blood work might have shown a hormonal imbalance correctable with drug therapy. That’s what we had to do with our dog and once we knew what bugged her, we avoided other dogs until she had adapted to her disabilities more thoroughly.

  3. Chris says:

    A rescue organization I had spoken with had a dog in their care that was similar to Rover. Although a perfectly fine dog, sometimes his eyes would glaze over and he would bite anything or anyone nearby. The diagnosis was vaccinosis and the only “cure” was to use titer tests to verify antibody levels in his blood and to minimize the use of vaccines in the future. The rescue felt that he was unsafe to adopt out.

  4. Sky Eyes Woman says:

    Kudos to Anna for making the right decision for Rover. Of course it is a terrible feeling, to have to put a healthy dog down. Let me just say, though, it would have felt a lot worse if he had badly mauled or killed someone before she decided to put him down. It was clear that was the direction he was heading.

    A customer I see on a pretty regular basis at my job has a dog like this. I’m afraid of what might happen in this situation too. She is a very nice sixty-ish lady with some minor physical disabilities that make it hard for her to control her dog, a very strong 4 year old Shar-Pei which she adopted from a rescue. He is neutered, but is very dog-aggressive and very touchy with people too. We have to go outside and help her get the dog out of her vehicle when she brings him in to be groomed or to see the vet and every time anyone goes out there to get him he goes crazy defending “his” car until the lady calms him down enough to come out. Then it’s a quick dash inside where we always hope he doesn’t see another dog, or he’ll go nuts trying to get the other dog while we wrestle with him to get him into the back.

    I’m sort of afraid of this dog, and it won’t surprise me at all to hear of him attacking a dog or a person someday. You should have seen us in there the day she decided he needed a new harness. I wound up having to try and put it on him and it was rather scary.

  5. Mary says:

    I have a problem with putting all the blame on the shelter and it does not sound like everything was done to try and find the cause of the aggression, but I know people want the simpler solution. I think when she had her friend do the ‘hard’ part it shows that Anna did not care much for the dog in the first place.

  6. Lynne says:

    “…it shows that Anna did not care much for the dog in the first place.”

    How amazing that you can look into someone’s heart and see their deepest feelings! It reminds me of Bill Frist’s long-distance diagnosis of Terry Schiavo.

    May you never have to walk a mile in Anna’s shoes.

  7. Andrea says:

    To the reader who mentioned blood work - that had been done, and no physical or hormonal abnormalities had been found. I didn’t mention it because I felt like the story was long enough already.

    To Mary: in addition to being very hard to follow, you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. This struggle went on for a couple of months. The dog had already been returned to the shelter TWICE before Anna adopted him, both times for physically attacking children. Their response was to physically punish him. How could I NOT blame the shelter for this?

    Nothing about Anna’s decision was ’simple’.

  8. straybaby says:

    Sky Eyes Woman says:
    July 3rd, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    dog aggression can be managed, has anyone worked with this dog? it might reduce the stress and make the other *issues* more managable also. reducing the level of stress/excitement overall will make for a calmer more managable dog. my dog has fear issues and by working with calming and reducing stress, i was able to make great strides with her.

    just thought i would toss that out in case the woman is willing and hasn’t gone that route yet :)

  9. straybaby says:

    “Their response was to physically punish him.”

    I would be more hesitant to adopt a dog w/issues that had been worked with that way than not at all. So sad they chose that route.

    So sorry for what your friend went through :( I thought I may have to go that route when my dog got worse. Luckily, I kept a journal of EVERYTHING she experienced in her day so I could speak with a vet and behaviorist better. I discovered she became worse 12-24hrs after a hard play in the park. She was hurting her neck which had been injured in a dog attack. Nothing you could *see*, but a readjustment of how we played and healing time really changed her. Just the thought of thinking about it, still breaks me up. Hopefully your friend will be able to open her heart and home again in the future and will have an extremely wonderful life with a dog.

    and if you ever see the *boss*, well, can’t really say what i would like you to do to him . . . family site and all . . .

  10. Katie says:

    I believe Anna did the right thing, none of us knows what truly caused the aggression in this dog, and not knowing what the trigger was, I believe Anna did the right thing. If a child had been mauled, think of the horror Anna would have lived with her whole life, think of what could have happened to this dog. He was loved, and went to the bridge quietly and with compassion.

    The shelter should have been honest with Anna, and told her up front the history of this dog so she could have made an informed choice. I don’t believe it is fair or right of a shelter to adopt out an animal that is aggressive to an unsuspecting person or family. How horrible for Anna to become attached to this dog and than having to make a difficult decision.


  11. furmom says:

    Anna did her best with a difficult dog. A decent behavioral specialist may or may not have been able to help, the shelters retraining program may have made it worse. But a smarter vet should have been consulted. A thorough health work up may have identified a reason for his behavior. We had a GSD who had previously been perfectly fine for several years and became randomly aggressive in just a couple of unexplainable situations. He had never been harshly treated in any way. His behavior turned out to be related to seizure activity and he behaved fine on seizure medications, a relatively cheap treatment in his case. Low thyroid and a few other physical illnesses could cause strange behavior.If a vet had investigated all possible treatment s for Anna’s dog and nothing worked I would feel better about the choice of euthanasia. Again Anna could not have known this without a more knowledgeable vet.

  12. JJ 2 says:

    Couldn’t Rover perhaps have been trained as a police dog? I hear that’s what they’re doing these days in many of these aggressive dog cases…often it seems to work out.

  13. furmom says:

    I’d say xnay on the police dog. Police dogs usually have to work around normal people without biting them, sometimes in pretty tense situations, and be able to pick out the bad guy and nail only him. As a guard dog with a night watchman perhaps, where any stranger he sees is fair game maybe. If his aggression is due to physical causes or mental disorder you have a loaded gun until they are treated, retraining would be tricky. Police dogs are not all that aggressive, they just have a heck of a good time arresting bad guys. They aren’t mean, they just love their job.

  14. Purina Puke says:

    My grandmother has an aggressive dog. He has bitten and attacked all of us for years. I’m scared to even be around him now. The other day he even tried to attack my cat. Something he hadn’t done before in the past.

    We can’t clip his nails or cut his fur. We can’t get a leash on him. He tries to bite us if we try. We have to take him to the vet and he has to put him out in order to do everything. He is a small dog but was bred to be a guard dog and is incredibly strong for his size.

    He has never been abused at all. In fact my grandmother spoils him rotten. Which I think is part of the problem!

    Just being around this dog is extremely stressful. I have begged my family to be more careful with him and to try everything possible to help him. I am always afraid he may attack someone outside of the family and if that happens and he’s reported my grandmother may be FORCED to put him down.

    I love animals and I love my family but I don’t think my grandmother is a good dog owner. Her dog needs medication or training or something before he seriously hurts someone. She’s already had to go to a doctor twice because when he bit her it became infected.

    ITCHMO ADMIN: Try posting this in our forums ( and see if anyone can give you some advice.

  15. Alisa says:

    I don’t think that suing the shelter would be a good decision. Just because he had bitten children doesn’t mean that he is unadoptable. Children are often aggressive toward dogs and can be very frightening to them. Since Anna didn’t have kids most likely they didn’t see a problem. The shelter did tell her he had some aggression issues in the past. She was taking a risk by adopting him. She probably knew that and that’s why she didn’t sue. More people need to use common sense instead of pointing a finger and slapping on a lawsuit. As for the training method, it doesn’t sound like it was too great, but it would be very hard to prove in court that the training increased the dogs aggressive behavior.

  16. Laura says:

    So many issues…i’m not sure where to begin.

    The shelter probably thought they were doing the right thing by adopting Rover to someone without children…since he had been known to bite children. IMO, they should have notified Anna of the pre-existing issues in full detail. Then she would have known not to take Rover to a playground, park, schoolyard, etc. where the potential for disaster was. The shelter must have hoped for a better life for Rover or they would not have let him be adopted.

    Poor Anna…what a hard thing to have to go through. Not only did she have her well being to think of but also the best interest of Rover. Just being alive does not always guarentee a wonderful life for some animals…especially shelter animals when you do not know what has happened to them in the past. I do hope that once Anna’s heart has healed she will adopt another companion. There are so many dogs in need of a good home like Anna’s.

    A very good friend of mine is involved with rescue. Many local shelters call her to evaluate some of their most aggressive dogs. Some of the dogs that are at the shelter have been through to much torture, suffering and pain to be adopted out. The kindest thing that can be done for some is to end their suffering once and for all. I know to some it will sound hard, cruel and plain disgusting to euthanize a perfectly healthy dog. It is the hardest decision to end a life. Dog rescue work is not for the faint of heart.

    On the other hand, many of these aggressive animals can go on to live a wonderful life. Many just need training, socialization and love. Some need to be tested for thyroid issues…it’s amazing what a simple blood test will reveal.

    Don’t give up Anna…the right companion is out there waiting for you to find him/her! IMO, not only did you do the right thing but you made the best decision for Rover too.

  17. Mary says:

    Like Anna, I had to make that heartbreaking decision
    with our dog Bandit. He was a stray and in the first
    few months, a wonderful dog. When the aggressive
    behavior first started, a friend suggested that perhaps
    having him neutered would calm him down. This we did
    but it didn’t help.

    It got to the point that Bandit was running our lives.
    If he was on the sofa, we had to wait for him to get
    off before we could sit down. The growls graduated to
    snarling and to be honest, I was afraid of him when he
    was in one of his *moods.* Other times he would be
    so loveable that he’d positively lick you to death.

    For two years we walked on egg shells around him… never
    knowing when he would be Dr Jekyl or Mr Hyde. My son, at the
    time was very ill and needed a visits from a Home Health Nurse
    twice a week. Every day when I went to work it was with a
    fear that I’d come home to find my son’s throat ripped out by
    a dog that neither of us could control… My son was too weak to,
    and I was out of suggestions or methods to try.

    My last straw was on an a quiet evening while I was watching
    TV and Bandit was at my feet. I reached down to scratch him
    behind his ear and his fur went up. For 3 minutes I was
    subjected to the most frightening snarling and attack stance
    I’d ever seen. I held my breath and in quiet tones I tried to
    calm him… not moving a muscle while I did so. It was then
    that I made the decision that he should be put down. This dog
    was not adoptable and there’s no way I would put someone
    else in the same situation.

    Truest me, I cried my eyes out when I took him to our vet
    the next day. I stayed there until the shot took effect and
    cried some more. I’d never had to put down a dog that
    seemed so physically healthy. To make matters worse, he
    was in one of his good moods and just seemed to trust me

    Sometimes it absolutely sucks to have to make those life
    and death decisions! My vet said it was quite possible that
    whoever “discarded” him before I found him had abused
    Bandit. I don’t know if that’s the case or if it makes ending
    a life any easier. I still look at his pictures and wish things
    had turned out different.

    Since then we’ve adopted two more “throw-aways” and they
    are a joy to be around. We now have 3 rescued dogs and 3
    cats… all fixed, contented, and members of our home.

    So yes, Anna, I know exactly what you went through.

  18. Mary says:

    sorry.. almost posted the reply twice.

  19. Linda says:

    I read your story with great sadness, but after what I experienced with my dog, I can relate to the difficult decision. After many years, it still upsets me to think about my dog. He was part of a litter that was most likely the result of my Golden Retriever/Basset mix escaping while in heat. She had mated with a very aggressive Rottweiler. We kept two dogs from the litter, one a chocolate brown who turned out to be the sweetest most loving dog in the world, and Buster. Both dogs were very gentle and sweet as puppies, but as Buster got older, he developed severe aggression issues. He could be wonderful one moment and then he would get a glazed look in his eyes and attack his sister, my son, or me. Sometimes he “guarded” doorways to prevent us from leaving, other times he just ran across the yard and attacked one of us. I tried to find various solutions but remember being told by a dog trainer or a vet that some dogs are just “schizophrenic” and cannot be trained. Finally, when we had to bring him to a kennel for boarding because we were going out of town, I left town earlier and my son actually had to lock himself out of the house because the dog, perhaps sensing he was going to be boarded, went totally out of control. Nothing would allow my son to get near him. He finally had to call the local animal control and witness the horror of the dog being dragged across the sidewalk as they tried to get him into the animal control vehicle. A year or so later when the animal control officer was checking the neighborhood for updated licenses, he told me it took them three days to get the dog calm enough to handle him so they could euthanize him. He also told me that they never, ever adopt out a dog which has been brought in for aggression. He said most animals become subdued when they are brought in from animal control, but my dog had been “crazy” and even frightened the people there. It grieves me to know what this dog went through.

    I have had at least six dogs over the course of my life and my family members have had many dogs. I never encountered this kind of problem before or since. To assume that this behavior is somehow accidently trained into a dog is not correct. All my dogs had the same type of training and socialization, so it was obviously a dysfunction in this particular animal.

    Knowing all that doesn’t make it any less painful. My memories are of a sweet, loving dog. But then I remember the look he would get in his eyes, and I feel better about the decision I made before he could injure or kill someone.

  20. BarbLuvsDogs says:

    I’m so sorry Anna had to make the decision, but I applaud her resolve. I’m close to a similar decision right now. From my experience, she made a mature and wise choice to keep others safe - all it takes is one instance during the dog’s lifetime when you’re not in full control of the dog and it could be tragic for all with a person getting bit. Each situation is different, but the overriding concern in my mind is what level of risk exists. It’s just not fair to the people who could be bitten to leave a dog alive if the control is not 99.9% sure to prevent a bite. I think we have to be realistic and evaluate not the ideal that’s possible, but the real situation that particular dog is in.
    I recommend a website for lots of free training info, especially with aggression issues: The trainer raises GSD’s for protection work and explains the different tyypes of drives and aggression in some detail, plus how to use a prong collar and leash corrections without abusing the dog, how to fit a muzzle and lots more.
    I’ve had a very dog-aggressive dog and now I have a foster dog with quick aggression toward people. I’ll be deeply sad if we choose to put her down, but I also could never forgive myself if I let my tender feelings keep me from making a responsible choice. I just focus on doing everything I can and stay ready to accept I may come to the end of what I can do and it’s still not enough. The rescue group had seen some fear aggression, but it wasn’t until she was homed and bonded with me that she got more confident, protective and reactive - her true colors and lack of proper socialzation came flying out.
    This dog’s a stray Australian Cattle Dog/Dalmation or pointer mix with unknown past, no training before rescue at age 3yrs and huge reactions around the door or any gate, car door etc. Given the breed mix, this problem is probably based in genetics with lack of training and maybe exposure to aggravation at doors to “train” her to be even more aggressive. At home, she’ll bite a person she knows well and sees almost daily - except me - unless she can smell them thru the door for a minute first. Also has very high prey drive to chase and bite any person moving fast. But she doesn’t “glaze over” - she reacts fast like a snake to a combination of stimuli: if she’s aroused enough, she’ll channel the energy into aggression. She also reacts to fear in the person, so she’ll lunge at a stranger who fears dogs, but stay calm around other stangers who are calm. She could be playing fetch enthusiastically, then see a stranger walking past the fence to her yard - and she’ll suddenly shift into a full attack, but if she hadn’t been so excited by play, she’d respond to a voice command and stay put or go to the fence slowly and stay quiet. It’s taken months to get to this point. Consequently, she’s in limbo - can’t be adopted, even by me, while I try to elminate the dangerous behaviors.
    At home, she’ll attack anyone who comes to the door, but can be kept calm enough on command to stay in a downstay while on a leash with muzzle on and gradually greet a stranger that I welcome in. She tolerates a roomy wire cage muzzle well and that has allowed me to socialize her with strangers to the point where she’s calm most of the time in public and responds well to a quick correction with a prong collar. However, she’s still a lightning fast biter in new situations (arouses very fast) and with some people. So, I keep her in the muzzle except when alone at home. I’ve seen her greet 50 strangers in a crowded plaza, then, with tail wagging and hackles still down, suddenly lunge at the face of one person - usually a man, but can be a woman - never kids. There doesn’t seem to be any particular type of person I can identify. She hits some internal threshold and fires like a shot without growling or any other warning I can see.
    The next step is getting a behaviorist vet to evaluate her and possibly try Prozac. If that doesn’t do it, or isn’t even a reccomendation, we may have to put her down. The lifetime risk that sometime when she’s at home with the muzzle off, if a door is not properly closed and she gets out, she’ll surely bite someone. I have installed an extra interior door to prevent human error, but I think of the stories in the paper where the dog that’s “always” kept safely under lock and key gets out that one “oops!” time and attacks. It’s not the dog’s fault. It’s the owner ignoring the possibility that this dog is like having a loaded gun walking around on 4 legs.

  21. Rhonda says:

    I found this googling on the subject. I am in the end of an agonizing week of deciding to put our young dog (~3 years) BIG (70 pounds) down after increasing aggressive actions. We took him as a stray found in the park starving about two years ago. So far the activity has been limited to other dogs but he has growled recently at one of our sons (19) when he told him to get off the couch. In the past six months he has bitten three dogs when introduced and two were puppies (a very bad sign). Last Sunday he joined in a fuss between our two older dogs and attacked the oldest one requiring stitches to her ear. We spent the week talking to two good behaviour trainers in the area (one said no way would she take the dog). One was not encouraging, but said she would evaluate the dog after a veternarian check and mentioned drugs. That set me searching on Google and this was the first thing I read. It was timely. I am one who believes you need to be there when any of your charges die (many dogs, a couple cats and four horses during my time). My husband and I worked all week to help the kids accept that we would be putting this big “baby” down. And then I was the one who was wanting to be sure that I had looked at all the options. We have young children coming to stay at the house next week and although this dog has not attacked a human, I am not comfortable with him around them and so we must put him down. We don’t want to find out the “training” or drugs didn’t work by experiencing the time they fail.

    I appreciate the stories of people in similar situations. I am not going to search further. The three boys understand, but one wants pictures with the dog first and he’s not home until Sunday so I’ll schedule for Monday take time off for myself afterwards to walk the dogs and put away Luke’s toys since he’s the only one that still played with them.

    Thanks for the right message at the right time.
    My Dad told me once that if you have animals you will likely outlive them and it is our responsibility as the caretakers, to do right by them at the end even if that means making the hard decisions.

  22. Vicki says:

    I do sympathize with this woman’s story. Today I find myself in the same situation. I have a two year old Keshone Terrier mix. She has bitten two people in the last four months who have came over to visit us. We have tried to work with her on her territorial aggression issues. This is the hardest decision I have ever had to make. She is so gentle with our family and we all love her but she will lunge at anyone coming into our space. We have tried to socialize her but she is totally unpredictable. We are struggling financially and cannot afford the medical and behavioral training she needs. I have been crying for two days on the thought of having to have her put to sleep. I called a shelter close to us and they said aggressive dogs are usually put to sleep. I would not want to pass my problem onto another family. I would be delighted however if she could be treated and allowed to live a stress free life. I also have a jack russell that is seven and great with everyone. But the poor thing is being bullied by our Keshone. I know that it is best to let go of her before anymore people can be hurt. My boys are devastated at saying goodbye.

  23. kyle says:

    I just had to put my 2 year old dog Charlie (Coonhound, Boxer mix) down for his dominance aggression. He had bit me several (5+) times when I attempted to move him from the bed or the couch. He would also become aggressive when I attempted to trim his nails or touch his extremities. He would also become blindly aggressive towards my other dogs and would need to by physically restrained from attacking. He was deffensive and on edge whenver we had guests over and usually needed to be crated until the guests left. We finally found a friend that took Charlie in at his farm. Charlie had other dogs to play with and land to burn off his energy. He lasted about 3 weeks on the farm before he started to aggress towards the other dogs on the farm. He would be unrelenting in his aggression and turned on the man I gave him to. The last straw was when he became aggressive with a dog on the farm and the daughter of the man that took him in all because she was giving attention to the other dog. I had to have him put down because he had ran out of options. I had tried behavioralists, ‘bark busters’, obediance, a shock collar, a muzzle, gental leader and isolation. He was just too big of a liability. I loved him deeply and he was a perfect dog 90% of the time. I felt and still do feel bad for the decision that I had to make, but it was the right one, just as in your friends case. It is a decision that a sain person will agonize over and never truly get over. Anyone that passes judgement on a person that has to put a dog down for aggression should shut up until they have been in the same position and had the guts to make the big decisions instead of taunting from the cheap seats of life. Throwing unforunded opinions around is intolerable.

  24. Duanna Ulyate says:

    This is an excellent website. Recently I adopted a 2 yr old GSD, female, from a no kill shelter. I have always had a Golden and a Shepherd. i lost my Mother and lat Shepherd last year–the wonderful dog was 15 and raised my current Golden Retriever–an excellent, well trained and very sweet dog. I have had dogs–9–and horses–4 for years and this GSD was fine the first week but became very agressive, lunging and barking and then attacked unprovocked!! My poor Golden was being bit on the throat and ears. The woman at the shelter that ws the primary dog walker,said this dog was so sweet and got along with all animals. She was a great salewoman!!She also said that the dog knew some basic commands–that was not true althought in the 7 weeks we tried i did teach it to sit, stay and lie down–also to walk heeling by the walker–but still she was so unpredictable!! Most of what they said was not true I later found out–it never socialized with other animals, paced in the kennel and was in this kennel 1 and half years of its life–breaking up the last fight–she was trying to kill my Golden, both my husband and I got bit–my huband’s wound was very bloody and my poor Golden was bit up pretty badly. The woman that runs the shelter was very apologetic and said that this dog should be with adults and no other animals or children–this was her conclusion after we brought the dog back–my husband’s finger still dripping blood!! There is a certain naivete to some people–well meaning but cannot read animals well or even represent them fairly.

    I learned a good lesson–always follow my own intuition and be much more objective and observant and test the dogs with its socialization–these people that volunteer give lots of affection and very short walks but but no limitations and boundaries or training and they are not professional.

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