He was unpredictable and could be your best friend one minute then he would back up and lunge at you. I was not yet a certified trainer but had some experience training my own dogs and shelter dogs. I naively thought I could fix him. I sought help from a behaviorist, my vet, and several trainers. I read everything I could about aggression. Emma later became my KPA instructor. Managing an aggressive dog is extremely stressful for the entire household other pets included. If he was not in his crate we had to lock the doors to the house in case someone dropped by.
I walked him in remote places and strange hours.
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Thankfully he never bit anyone but the management took its toll on us. With the support of many people including my wonderful vet I decided to put him down. We had young children in the house and it was too risky to have a lb aggressive dog in that environment. I learned: An aggressive dog can be sweet and loving most of the time.
You cannot pass an aggressive dog on to someone else. It is your responsibility to keep others safe from him and keep him safe. Now that I have more knowledge I often think about him and wonder if I could have done more. I do know that the whole house let out a big sigh of relief when he was gone even though I was heartbroken. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Thank you for this article. We had to make this very painful decision a couple of years ago.
We tried 3 different trainers, all kinds of testing was done to rule out medical issues, medicines were tried, etc. Hopefully some day I will. We were in this situation several years ago, with a Golden of all breeds! Scarlett was a sweet puppy, very toy and food driven. I had high hopes of competing with her until I found out that unregistered dogs could not compete yes, they can now.
She was especially fond of retrieving pine cones — something we had an unlimited supply of. She would not growl a normal dog growl at strangers.. She even scared me. This behaviour was getting out of control. She started to growl like that even at our other Golden. When she was 3 years old we got another puppy. At first she was very good with the puppy. We watched her even try to get the pup to play tug with her.
But then one day she decided the puppy was prey and tried to kill him — literally. She picked the puppy up and shook him and thru him. He was a large man and got her off and pinned to the ground before too much damage was done. He was lucky to be wearing a down-filled winter coat at the time. It was at that point he suggested we put her down.
We procrastinated until one day we live on a farm she saw our neighbours walking across our field and took off after them. It was our neighbours son, his girlfriend — and her 4 year old daughter. I panicked! I was screaming at them to pick up the child!!! It took a couple of screams before he clued in to what I was saying and at the last second picked up the child and put her on his shoulders. As it turned out, Scarlett thru a pinecone at their feet and backed away for them to throw it. It was then I realized just how little trust I had in our dog. We made the decision to put her to sleep.
Our vet told us that he had 3 yes, three other goldens from that litter that, in his opinion — should also be put to sleep. It was the Tuesday after Easter weekend. We took her into the vet office and there was only one other person and dog. She acted like she wanted to go visit… wagging her tail and happy faced of course I was not going to let that happen!
We took Scarlett into the room and lifted her up onto the table. My husband stood on one side of her and I was on the other. Our vet approached her — she liked our vet — and talked sweetly to her. Suddenly — truly out of nowhere she went into full blown attack. She literally turned into Cujo! I grabbed hair and skin on one side of her and my husband grabbed the other side. Our vet was up against the wall truly terrified!!! We took Scarlett back outside muzzled and once we were in the van and she had calmed down, we unmuzzled her and gave her the whole bottle of tranquilizers that our vet had given us.
It took about 30 minutes for them to seem to start working. We took her back in and without incident — our vet gave her the lethal injection. My husband and I cried and cried. She looked so peaceful and sweet laying there… she was such a beautiful looking dog. Sorry this was so long. I had a very similar situation with my 3 year old cat. I took him in as a kitten as a favor for a friend of a friend. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the mother cat and her kittens were feral. Initially, Salem was fine as a kitten with me and other visitors, and he got along fine with my two adult cats.
I then went through a period when I was living alone with no roommates and my primary visitors were my parents. Salem got along fine with them. A year later, I got married and Salem went from being a friendly kitten to being extremely fearful of anyone that was not me. With just me in the house, he was a perfectly normal cat. Anyone else, including my husband, he was utterly terrified and would hide in the basement rafters for days at a time, never coming out.
Interestingly, he did end up forming a strong attachment to a greyhound we adopted at the time his interactions with Apollo were just adorable. Over the course of the next 2 years, we tried everything we could think of to desensitize him to his anxiety over strange people, including training, medications, etc. I could not rehome him with anyone because he was terrified of strange people.
In the end, the only people he could tolerate was me. I had to make the horrible decision of euthanizing a young, perfectly healthy, beautiful cat because his quality of life was relegated to hiding in terror whenever anyone other than me was in the house. To this day, I still have guilt over having to make that choice, even though logically it was the best thing I could do. Emotionally I was a wreck, and I am always thankful that the vet was so understanding of the situation even he was upset that there was nothing more that could be done. I think in the end, as was pointed out in the blog, one has to try to step back and look at the quality of life of the dog or cat or any animal and balancing that with what our heart wants to do.
This, I feel, is the greatest responsibility anyone must undertake when becoming a pet owner. Thanks for posting this. Fourteen years ago we made this decision about our dog. He had attacked us on several occasions — the last time coming across a room when there had been no interaction with him. He was two years old, was 28 inches at the shoulder and weighed 45kg. On this last occasion he bit me between my shoulder blades as I swung round to protect myself — and I knew in that moment that we could not keep ourselves and him safe.
We had worked with a behaviourist and our vet. Both supported us in our decision which did help. He was PTS quietly in our arms and fourteen years on I am still in tears as I talk about it — and I still feel guilty. The only real comfort is knowing that it was peaceful and dignified and it was not taken out of our hands.
It is the hardest decision to make. My head knows it was our only choice at that time. My heart was broken by it. The one thing that you had not mentioned here is the use of nutraceuticals or pharmaceuticals.
I was facing the prospect of putting my dog down and sought help through a behavioral vet who recommended that we try the nutraceuticals and counter conditioning and desensitization training. I still see this as every once in a while for absolutely no reason he will growl and lunge at someone. When in my home alone with me he is a lovebug. When someone that he does not know comes to visit he is put in his crate and I ask my visitors to toss food at him so I can condition him to strangers. He is only 14 months old and I am hoping that through maturity and confidence he will get better but I probably will never take a chance of letting him run loose without a muzzle.
He bit me a few months ago so I know that I am not safe either. I am bipolar so I understand the electrical storm issue and what he must be going through. I am on meds that help me so I am hoping that this does the same for my dog. I have a dangerous dog. One that has never bitten.
But we keep having setbacks. Thank you for an eloquently written, empathetic article on a very, very tough subject. Her issues were all fear based and luckily for us with a year of intense, intense did I say intense? She lived to the ripe age of This was such a fantastic article — thank you for weighing in on something so difficult. I found a lot of sympathy and comfort from your words, because I am still healing from making that tough decision with an adopted 5 year old dog 2 years ago.
She had ten bites on her record I think I was too naive to take seriously at the time due to her incredible charisma in person — one being a Level 4 to what she interpreted as an intruder owner was not home and he entered her yard. She also had several scuffles with her dog sibling, and was a known small animal hunter left outside a lot and killed birds and squirrels. I chalked a lot of it up to a bad housing situation, and a lack of routine her owner was gone much of the time and she was left un-exercised and alone.
But I ignored how powerful those ingrained habits are in a dog over the course of 5 years.
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As I got to know her in my house, I realized she was living with an unbearable amount of anxiety. I had a roommate at the time who thankfully could babysit her while I was at work. But to keep others — animals and people — safe, I had no choice but to crate her when no one was home because she was an escape artist.
Her triggers for the first few months seemed predictable, and I watched her like a hawk and could tell from her body language when she was starting to stress and about to snap. Medical work up showed nothing — and I consulted several trainers who all suggested she was most likely just genetically predisposed to this and her living situation cemented it. Well inevitable, a mistake in management happened and she bit someone in the leg while I was there.
I loved her so much, but I had to ask myself what I was willing to sacrifice for this dog. What kind of quality of life does a dog that is this unpredictable have? What kind of quality of life would I have with a dog this unpredictable? Could I ethically rehome a dog with this much aggressive history when severe separation anxiety is a part of the equation as well?
If she ended up in quarantine at animal control due to a bite — how would such a stressful experience affect her and her behavior at home? I decided to let her go She was highly reactive to people and dogs—everyone who was not in our family. She also was ambivalent toward my son, bit him several times without breaking skin, even after over a month of counterconditioning to accept him. She also bit one of our visitors and broke skin. You are stuck with a number of possible outcomes and decisions, none of them good. Koli, a Sheltie x Aussie, lived 16 yrs.
I credit him with my introduction to the world of aggression in dogs and my passion for training dogs. Fast forward 23 yrs and once again I find myself with another fear aggressive dog. Dazzle was mistrustful of other dogs. He was okay with small dogs but anything bigger than him caused him to worry and growl. He never had the freedom to go on a walk or hiking because we might encounter an off-leash dog.
Fortunately, I recognized the behavior and was able to prevent him lashing out at other dogs mostly by avoidance and micro-managing him at all times. I miss his smiling face, his energy, his snoring at night, his love for me. The household is much more relaxed now and I find I can breathe easier without having to be on guard always. But I will always miss my incredible buddy. Thank you for this thoughtful article! I have a border collie who has shown signs of aggression. Actually, I think I met you at one of your talks just as I was considering euthanasia.
Fast forward about four years, and I have been able to give her a quality life with the help of medication and will never ever judge others for using meds or choosing euthanasia. I am currently dealing with this situation in a very young dog. Going forward with my decision to euthanize will still be difficult, but I hope in time I will be able to live with it. Thank you for opening this discussion. I have had to euthanize a beloved dog for increasing aggression. He never bit a person, but it was becoming clear to me that the likelihood of that happening was increasing enough that I was seriously worried.
It is beyond traumatic even if you know it is the right decision. It is extremely unhelpful when well meaning folks tell you that every dog deserves a chance, that every dog can be saved. And euthanasia is far from the worst thing that can happen to a dog. The stress of living on edge all the time, as many aggressive dogs do, is worse.
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Thank you for this thoughtful post. I am so grateful for this article. Even 4 years after having to put Joey down, I still feel sadness. I saw his face on Petfinder. I was familiar with the shelter where he was, which was a high kill shelter in a more rural county outside of St. I read numerous times about NOT adopting a dog based on looks. They thought he was about 6 months to a year old. We had a 9 year old Westie at home. The first 2 years were fine. Then he started nipping. We asked anyone that approached him not to put their hands out to pet him. We were nervous having people to our home.
We had a trainer and 3 behaviorists working with him. He was on medication. We tried one more class, which was for dog on dog aggressive dogs, and only had 4 in the class. The trainer, a woman with obedience ribbons lining the walls of her facility and a tough ex St. Louis city cop to boot, observed as something hit Joey and he became unhinged.
After class, with Joey in a crate, we had a quiet discussion. But, our Westie my very first dog at age 47! I never had to euthanize a dog before. I hope this article is a comfort to any of you that face the sadness and the necessity of this situation. Thank-you for posting this article! I had a behavior Foster that we ultimately decided to euthanize because of aggression. Like you said in your post the unfortunate reality of finding a successful home is extremely low probability. Any change in his environment made his little speckled head explode.
He would grab the nearest blanket and start suckling in what seemed like an attempt to block out the world that strssed him out. He was the sweetest dog around those that he knew, which was the hard part. The hardest part for me was housing him during his 10 day bite quarentine. I could not bear the thought of his last 10 days being in court holds at our shelter, so he spent them in his happy place. My solace was that this guy had a loving and adventurous ending. Many hikes, lakes, canine play sessions and cuddles. We rescued our bloodhounds litter mate at 1.
He had food aggression and aggressive if you tried to put him in a car. He overcame most of the issues but the food. My husband was the only one who could feed him. Otherwise he became so very loving. He seemed over excited. After my bloodhounds got into a fight one day, I was looking him over and he began growling. Stepping back I put my hands up as to say ok I am sorry. He lunged for me in a full dog attack and full dog attack voice. My husband pulled him off me.
I needed stitches but never went because I was afraid he would be taken away. After that he would growl when I kenneled him and started growling if I got up at night. I was afraid to re enter my room. I had 2 teenagers, one who was home alone after school and he began growling at her. I was sick with feer for my daughter and myself.
He even stayed with the trainer and showed aggression to other trainers. The trainer blamed Me for his behavior me for being afraid of him. We followed training plan and went to social events where he wore a basket muzzle for the safety of others.
He began attacking the bank door when I would try to let him in from playing outside. He attached me again 8 months later after first event. He turned one husband when he tried to help me from the lunging and latching bite. We had been trying anxio remedies and had already had a full work up at vet but nothing had shown anything. So why? I was certain he was sick but no one could find it. But that last day I had to make the most horrible call to my vet on a Sunday to put him down.
It was a hour and half drive to our vet and friend. He was so sad and sorry as he always was after an attack or crazy growling episode. He was miserable and hated being like that. We put down a very healthy dog and it just about killed me. The trainer still blames me for not trying hard enough.
But I did and it made me sick. Someone else would have either beat him or he would of ended up in a kill Shelter. What if he had hurt someone else or a child if we gave him away? This was a heart wrenching decision that I tried anything to fix the issue. I wanted the doc to find a disease because we could fix it. I still wonder if he had something we missed. It has taken me 4 years to become less afraid of strange dogs. I was even afraid if my other dog for no reason. Thank you for this article because no one really understands what the handler goes through when making these decisions that are heart wrenching.
The problem is I love him too much to consider. He has severe separation axienty and is currently on an anti-depressant. Sedatives make him worse. We have to basket muzzle him and then sedate him completely for vet visits. Fortunately we have a fantastic vet. My fear is Wally is now eight years old and will his aggression get worse as he ages.
We have a very very dominant female rescue. She respects my husband but challenges me, has food aggression, and selective dog aggression. My husband has worked with her with obedience to commands and it has certainly helped. We have 4 other male dogs and cats. She is very OCD. Everything has to be the same, and I think this is part of what triggers her. But, I feel like we are on borrowed time. We will not rehome her. That has helped to level out her moods for he past month. So, for now, we are hopeful and we enjoy her. Thank you for the article. Thanks so much for this article.
It is much more sophisticated and nuanced, considering many more decision making factors, than one I saw on a different facebook page earlier this week. This will be the one I share. I have a choclate retriever who I love to bits! He loves people and he used to love dogs…he has been attacked and bitten by various dogs in his lifetime since a 6 months old puppy. He never reacted until after few times when he was around 1 year old. He was never aggressive to people but even so I have to confess I went through a face when I was wishing a sudden illness or accident so we had a reason to put him to sleep even though it killed me the idea!
Going out for walks had begun to be like a nightmare always watching for other dogs approaching have to say if owners would be more responsable maybe many issues would not occur! Called in a very good trainer passed on by my vet and after 2 years of training, intense training we are now enjoying a different life even though is never or hardly ever off the lead.
We have long lead up to 10 metre and his recall has improved and he is much better with other dogs around even if not too close. With patient owners we also had some approaches resulting in lovely moments. But It is an ongoing proces and probably will be like this for all his life…all this to say that in some cases and with the right approach there is light after the tunnel. We now have another lab gril who is 1 yearand 4 months and after careful introduction they now love each other and certainly she has helped him in the process.
Never had issues with people with him as he absolutely loves everyone but I was terrified that he could cause harm to other dogs he is 34Kg or worst kill them and risking to have him taken away had become my worst nightmare. Take care out here! Such a thoughtful article, Dr.
McConnell, and you raise so many good points. I feel like the discussion often comes down to the variables you mention, but with an important caveat—every single dog one adopts has a risk of behavior issues, and I think people should know there are no guarantees—just like with people. Once an owner becomes aware of the risk, well—I was never able to not be conscious of it. Rather than worry about him and visitors, we gated off. Problem solved, for the most part. I am a dog trainer and I also foster difficult dogs for my rescue. I have had to euthanize three dogs and every time it was agonizing.
When I have clients that call about their dogs, many of them are grateful to just talk to someone who has been in their shoes. It is isolating, to say the least. Folks who have never had to make this decision can often be the most judgmental. The first was a fear biter. She had come from a hoarder and was never handled. After two years of working with her in my home very carefully, she bit me when I needed to grab her level 4 bite with multiple grabs.
Unfortunately, a normal adopter or the child of a normal adopter would grab a dog in the same circumstances. This, along with her fear, meant that she was not safe and she was euthanized. The second was euthanized for extreme fear he came from the same hoarder, but at a different time.
This guy would never have bitten. He shut completely down when afraid. Medication was tried over the course of two to three years. He would not come out of his crate. He would not eat when anything was around him dog or human. He was so miserable. It took that entire two years to desensitize him enough so that he would eat while I was sitting 20 feet away. Outside, he would do nothing but shake. His quality of life was incredibly poor, despite my best efforts.
The third was a vibrant girl. She loved me. She loved dogs smaller than she was. But, all of her behavioral issues and triggers meant that it was almost impossible to keep her under threshold outside. She was a huge bite risk to other people, especially folks coming into the home like a first responder in an emergency. And, this girl was euthanized because I had to consider the quality of life of potential adopters, along with her quality of life. I spent over two years working with her and making very little progress. I had to consider the ethics of adopting out a dog that was so difficult that a dog trainer had issues.
And, after quite a few consultations with dog training friends and my vet, I euthanized her. The last one broke me for fostering. It almost broke me for being a dog trainer. My own dogs in the time of the final foster suffered. I suffered. She suffered. We all suffered as I tried desperately to fix her. And, I failed. The guilt and self-blame were awful. Because that last thing really matters. I am not saying just euthanize. And, when we are in a partnership with our dogs, both of our lives need to be taken into account.
I adopted my first APBT 23 years ago, an obviously abused victim with many health issues. I accepted his attacks on my other dog at six months, and I started a crate and rotate routine that ended that problem. However, he began showing aggression to men seemingly out of nowhere. I consulted to very good trainers, and the result was a heightened aggression towards people in general.
I was losing control in my own house as he became aggressive to me at about one year into the adoption. I knew that I could not pass this dog to someone else. I t became clear that I could no longer live with him. So, I had to let him go. He was euthanized 13 months after I adopted him. I cannot even describe the guilt I felt at having made that decision. It was years before I could come to grips with it. Thanks Trisha for this and the link to VetzInsight. I had to put down a foster who was aggressive just after Christmas and it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
This helped me understand that, like a dog with a physical illness, he was suffering and that it was a kindness to end that suffering. I really appreciate you writing on this topic. Watching a physically strong dog be put down is so hard. He was suffering mentally just as much as old dogs suffer physically. I had it easy—he had been caught in a distemper outbreak as a puppy and had deteriorated neurologically, so I at least new the cause.
But regardless, a dog who is suffering enough to hurt those around him out of fear is not happy and is not living a good life. Thank you everyone for sharing. I most recently fostered a pit bull mix from the local city shelter where I volunteer. I have no training except love of dogs and brought her home, followed the 2 week shut down of no introductions to people other than our household which was my husband. After the 2 weeks Gracie who was so loving to me and my husband started showing aggressive signs to other adults.
I took her back to the shelter for behaviors checks etc and with a heavy heart was about to pass her to another more experienced foster when Gracie bit my adult daughter who visited. It was not a bad bite but the shelter had their rule. She loved me, I loved her and she became my protector. Re; Vera Stewart and her engish cocker. It seems to be a cocker thing! He is also very hyper , so much so he suffer from exercise induced collapse.
He would run until he dropped. He does well with the exchange program and luckily, he only guards from the other dogs, not people. We also work on give and take often to reinforce the best choice for him. Love the breed! Hope all works for your cocker. They are such a loving breed! I volunteer with a rescue group and on the Christmas eve of I had the task of taking one of our foster dogs to be euthanized for aggression. I had never met the dog personally before this day and though he engaged with me a little it was obvious he was looking for another dog to connect with he was anxious and nervous.
The dog in question had basically been a feral puppy who was friendly. But he just did not want to be with people not the way most dogs do. He preferred the company of dogs. He was returned to our group for just not connecting with the owners. He was then put in a boarding situation which only made things worse. After several weeks in boarding trying to find him a suitable foster home things came to a head.
He had showed no aggression towards people at all but then bit one of the kennel workers. We had no foster home for him to go to. Its Christmas eve everyone is out of town or with family and the boarding facility could not keep him any longer with his current behavior. I knew deep in my heart someone could have helped this dog. I still feel I should have helped this dog regardless of my sanity or that of my personal dogs.
I know he may never have been the type of dog to curl up on the couch with you. But he could have been the type of dog to curl up with another dog in the home. The worst part was the drive from the boarding facility to the vets office. He laid his head on my shoulder the whole way to the vet.
My heart just broke. I sat there in the vet parking lot for at least 20 minutes, trying to figure out a way to foster him myself. I was going out of town the next week and where would he go? A boarding facility was out of the question obviously. No one in the group had room or could manage another dog with his issues. Logically I had no options for him and neither did the rescue. So he and I walked into the only solution I had, the vets office.
They had a special room for when they euthanized dogs. I sat down on the floor with him he was anxious of course but they gave him something to relax him first and he finally laid down beside me. I stroked his head while they gave him the second shot. Slowly his little chest stopped moving up and down and he was gone. I hated rescue on that day. I know that what I did was the right thing for that dog at that time. Even if we found another boarding facility that would take him for a time he would have been miserable. The kindest thing for him with the resources we had was to put him to sleep.
It was extremely difficult as it should be and it still haunts me and probably always will. I carry his dog tag on my key chain to this day so that I never forget his little face or his head on my shoulder or what could have been. Either the owner keeps the dog or a trainer who has been working with the dog takes it in. Accidents happen and your children will pay the price 5 if the dog is not human aggressive but is instead dangerously animal aggressive, can you again micro manage the dogs every breath and make sure it never so much as sees another animal?
I have been a professional trainer for only 2 yrs now and really enjoy helping ppl and dogs. Aggressive dogs can be a lot to deal with. However, often times I find the issue to be lack of rules, discipline and or exercise. Before I entered into the training world I got a Border Collie and as a new owner did not know the importance of a daily walk. I never had the issues that many ppl speck of that reflect in a dog that is not walked. One day I realizes that from the day 1 I brought my pup home I was excited and teaching him tricks.
Almost a new one every week and then a lot of controlled fetch also. He always was asked to use his mind and this made for a great dog. If anyone has a high energy dog, scared or aggressive dog please have a train or trainers look them over before you make your decision. Some trainers like ourselves offer free evaluations. Take advantage of this to see how the trainer interacts with your dog, how they train and how they can be of service to you. Happy Training. I truly believe it has to be one of the hardest situations to be in and my heart and admiration goes out to all of you who have dealt with it bravely no matter what was decided as the solution.
I did have a friend a while ago who had adopted a mix-breed from the shelter as an 8 week old puppy. By the time I met her, the dog had already been showing signs of aggression, mostly towards her. She had been bitten quite a few times, but she loved this dog so desperately that she was in a kind of denial.
While all of her friends she lived alone were telling her to get rid of the dog, she kept saying she could handle it. She had many behaviorist work with the dog and he had been on multiple medications. He had the kind of aggression that seemed to come out of nowhere that now makes you believe it was some sort of seizure. He laid beside the bed and growled at her every time she tried to get up. Dare I compare it to living with an abusive spouse? It certainly looked like it, even to the point where she would hide her wounds from her friends because she knew that they would get on her case.
Anyway, she eventually did put him down when he viciously attacked a visitor to her house and only then was she convinced that she had no choice. I love to watch and read true crime stories yes, a guilty pleasure. After a while you do come to believe that some people are just wired differently. I never put myself or him in a situation that cannot be controlled.
He is a rat terrier mix and although small, can be quite intimidating to other humans or dogs. We have made some progress and this will be a lifetime challenge I think. Altho I love him to bits, humans need to come first and I am giving him all the chances in this world. Thank you! I take in fear aggressive rescues and have seen Nancy Williams in the past with these dogs.
I did have to put one down that after 2 years of working with him when I tried to change his collar out he came at me and kept coming. It was like a kind of brain damage and the kindest thing I could do was end his pain. I miss him still and he lives in my heart always. But he is at peace now.
I feel for everyone who has written a response to this most excellent article. I failed them. Thanks for an excellent article. This was only the second time I have done so in my career. It was agonizing, and the client was dismissive of my recommendation. Anticipating this, I urged the client to consult with a vet behaviorist as soon as possible if she were not willing to follow my recommendation.
I wish her well, and dearly hope that she can find a way to prevent further injuries to all who will be exposed to this dog. Your article confirmed for me that I served her well in a very difficult situation for all concerned. I was on the receiving end of a viscous and unprovoked dog attack in my teens which sent me to the hospital. Apparently, this dog had previously attacked others as well. The day after my attack the police shot him dead when he lunged for them. If he had been my dog, I would have rather have had him euthanized than shot dead.
We currently have a dog in our neighbourhood who has a dangerous dog designation and who is under a muzzle order. Once, in the space of about 15 minutes he sent three dogs and one person for emergency care. The owner works hard to manage their dog and if there is an incendent they will call Animal Control and report it themselves. This is such a difficult topic as I think there are many dogs that are euthenized for aggression that should not be and then there are those where it might just be best if they were.
I agree with Harley in that some dogs can be worked with, but when you have a dog that has intent to do harm regardless of the circumstances then it is unlikley they will be able to be turned around or adequately managed. I know that I would not be willing to take the risk of owning a dog with severe aggression issues. I would not want to put others in harms way, but selfishly, even more, I would not want to have someone else abuse, shoot, lock-up or harm the dog that I cared about.
For me, it would be better to know that the dog was humanely euthanized. But I have seen the aftermath of people not making the decision. The emotional scars last long after the physical ones heal. Sometimes we try too hard. I know it is hard to euthanize a loved dog. I love other people. And they have a right to live in and walk their neighborhoods without fear. We walk in the dark. We go to out of the way places with our dogs. We have a responsibility to our own dogs, but we also have a responsibility to our neighbors.
Our situation was slightly different but still just as painful. Our 13 year old golden started exhibiting severe symptoms of separation anxiety. We consulted with the vet and put together strategies to help her, but in the end, it seems like the confusion caused by her progressing dementia just added so much to her anxiety, we were never able to help her. For a couple with no kids, this was a huge adjustment. Fortunately, my parents were near by and could be counted on for daycare and evenings as necessary, but still life changing.
After about a year, her dementia had progressed so sometimes she was inconsolable. She started exhibiting more random acts of barking like at the piano, for no apparent reason. Making a decision to put down a physically healthy dog, one who for 14 was still getting around very well, eating solidly, good blood work, was one of the hardest decisions ever.
It is easy to explain putting down a dog who is physically suffering — people understand that. We had a lovely last day. She seemed to feel well, ran to the house, recognized us, got lots of snuggles etc. The vet has been with us for 20 years, and in fact, did this dogs chemo treatment, so she was affected by this too. But we did the right thing, and we did it well. This was hard, and we did feel a little guilt for a while. However, guilt adds no value to our lives, and we knew in our heart of hearts that this was the right thing for her — without question. Sure, but in the end, we all do the best we can with what we have to work with at that time.
High energy, yes, but, I am willing to get him the exercise he needs. The first 4 days, everything was fine with Emma. She let me groom her she seemed happy, and then the honeymoon was over. I would walk past her on her bed and she would growl. If I even walked by the bathroom door she would growl and become aggressive.
She began biting if she was laying on the middle of the floor and someone my husband or I would step over her. Absolutely, no aggression to the other dog at all. I had promised her a forever home, and had to exhaust all resources, but knowing in the back of my head that euthanizing may very well be an option. While her bites never required stitches, they seemed to be escalating and with less warning. She was becoming more and more stressed. I have to help her find her way. Big mistake adopting from them! My vet gave my the name of a Behavioral Veterinarian about an hour away.
I made an appointment and was told that she was severely under socialized, and as we know socializing older dogs is not the easiest of chores. Of course, she told me to get to a behaviorist to work with closely. While, at the Veterinarian Behaviorist, I saw some business cards of a dog training facility very close to me who had someone that did behavior work. So, I started Emma in Confidence Building classes. She did well, we went through 2 6 week courses of CB 1 and 2. They were starting up Canine Nose Work classes and asked if I would be interested.
They convinced me. Well, this was the catalyst for us, whether it was just the time spent together and building a trust, feeding her from my hand when she found the hides? And, the aggression in which she does it is minimal. I can call her for a treat and she runs to the kitchen breaking the cycle. She cuddles with me, asks for affection. She allows the groomer to comb and brush her without difficulty. So, some of her behaviors have changed and the rest, I manage. The best part of all of this, is that I am becoming a dog trainer, who eventually would like to get into the behavior aspect of things, and I am almost a Certified Nose Work Instructor.
I realized, that there are never enough outlets for people with dogs with issues, and so many people have NO IDEA what to do. If I can help one dog have a better life, than it is worth it! Re-homing is not as simple as it might seem, even if you find a good home. I should have re-homed one of my two male Bostons. I had two rescued Bostons, Carla, a puppy mill mom, and Toby, a completely undisciplined male, rescued after a home fire.
Boz and Toby had numerous physical fights, some resulting in injuries requiring stitches. These fights could occur spontaneously, for reasons I never did understand. Boz slept in a crate, so we were okay at night. Toby ate in the bathroom with the door closed.
Just remembering all this is making me cry. I got a young female from a rescue group. She is perfect, with no emotional baggage or behavior problems in any way. I am retired so I spend almost all of the time with her. Now I am fretting because she needs, and would enjoy, more exercise than I can give her. My rational mind says I should get her a companion. She loves other dogs. I would like to do right by her, but my emotions and my reason are in conflict.
I had this experience a few years ago with a 6yr old rescue Border Collie. He was fear aggressive with other dogs and nervous of strangers and children. He was ball-obsessed so I walked him in quiet places and kept him distracted from other dogs, but inevitably there were dogs who were pushy and ended up bitten. He nipped a couple of people, nothing terribly damaging but the final event was when he, without any obvious trigger and with me only feet away, flew at the face of familiar seated guest and ripped open his top lip and left his front tooth loose.
Louise decided to approach Brooke's school about the bullying: "But the moment I tried to do something about it, it got much worse. The school raised it with some of the parents but they insisted their children weren't bullies. Eventually the whole class turned against Brooke. Having had no luck with the school, Louise decided to tackle the issue herself in a bid to help her daughter. Reading newspaper reports about bullying, she discovered that around 20 children per year under the age of 16 commit suicide because of bullying. She started questioning children and found that it was far more prevalent than she had thought.
What the children told her made her realise that bullying is increasingly of an insidious, psychological nature, which is difficult for teachers to detect. This is devastating because all children want to be accepted by their peer group. Louise recognises that this might just sound like the cruel behaviour all children occasionally inflict upon one another. Bullying is a prolonged campaign to cause distress and to deliberately undermine and isolate over a period of time.
It's not just a tiff but a structured campaign as happened to my daughter. Louise decided to turn the children's experiences into dramatic monologues that can be acted out in schools with the aim of nipping incipient bullying in the bud. The scripts, published in , highlight classroom situations that can lead to bullying.
For example, one child might make up stories or say rude things about another to embarrass them; or a child might hide another's belongings. Sadly, the monologues were not published in time to help Brooke, who was bullied until she left the school at age Louise continued to send Brooke to the same school, even after she realised she was being bullied, because she did not believe the problem would be solved by running away from it. Also, Brooke was studying for the entrance exam for her current school and Louise did not want to allow the bullies to ruin her daughter's future.
But to Louise's delight Brooke's former prep school has bought the monologues. The scripts proved a hit and Louise started giving talks and researching the causes of bullying. Tips include developing a quick tongue, because bullies hate being humiliated. Louise's younger daughter Arabella is a quick-witted and fearless year-old who has never been bullied: "A girl asked Arabella why she didn't wear make-up.
But you obviously do. Brooke, now 15, has learned to stand up for herself and is settled happily, though she still refuses to visit her old school. Louise believes that part of the reason that bullying is getting worse because children are fed bullies as role models: "Children see celebrities promoting a 'me' society in which you must demoralise and isolate other people in order to get ahead.
Deliberately humiliating people, vulgarity and lack of manners are seen as normal behaviour. These are all the wrong values. Louise teaches children that you can succeed without resorting to such behaviour, citing Jonny Wilkinson and David Beckham as role models. But she disagrees with the theory that schools themselves are perpetuating the problem by bullying children into doing things under threat of punishment:. In fact, parents I speak to say bullying among children is rife because teachers have lost the ability to control the classes.
They're not allowed to discipline the children, and pupils even bully and humiliate the teachers now. With her total commitment to her cause, Louise is confident that she can achieve what she set out to do. Children, parents and teachers all want changes. I was putting up a poster in a library and the librarian told me that her year-old daughter was in intensive care after taking an overdose because of being bullied. We can tackle bullying by recognising how it starts and taking action and, on a wider level, by refashioning what our children admire.
No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards. Angry "I had put what happened to Laurence all those years ago out of my mind but with his suicide it came back. But she disagrees with the theory that schools themselves are perpetuating the problem by bullying children into doing things under threat of punishment: "There has to be authority for the children's own good. Share or comment on this article:.
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